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    Re: Smog and celestial navigation?!
    From: Peter Fogg
    Date: 2010 Feb 2, 15:46 +1100
    Frank, thanks for the heads-up about http://news.google.com/archivesearch

    Which reminds me, there is a new book coming out: Wings of Ice: The Mystery of the Polar Air Race
    about George Wilkins, said to be: a great explorer of both North and South Poles in the age of heroic Antarctic exploration. He was the first man to fly a plane across the Arctic Sea, the first to fly in the Antarctic, and even took a submarine under the Arctic ice to go to the North Pole.

    Learned this a little earlier today while listening to my car's entertainment facility (the car radio). Thanks to another modern marvel of this digital age, all can listen to the same broadcast, if interested, at:


    On Tue, Feb 2, 2010 at 3:30 PM, Frank Reed <FrankReed@historicalatlas.com> wrote:

    Peter, you asked:

    "just how does someone from Chicago come to be reading the 1975 letters to the editor of the SMH?"

    It's all google to me.

    Go here:

    And enter "sextant" and "navigation" in the search box. You get a nice bar graph showing the frequency of articles over time. If you dig down through the list, you can find all sorts of fascinating things including that smoggy letter.

    This is the second time in two days that I quoted the SMH online. I got to news googling in the past few days because of a discussion of the strange "folk etymology" that arose for the phrase "blue moon". As I am sure you have heard, many people will happily tell you that a "blue moon" is the "second full moon in a month". This strange idea arose from a trivia game in the 1980s which itself picked it up from small newspaper trivia games in earlier decades and they in turn got it from an obscure, and mistaken, article in "Sky and Telescope" in the 1940s. Sydney gets into the game because the exact timing of the full moons and the time zone that you're in can shift a full moon from the end of one month to the beginning of another. So while there were two full moons in December in North America (with scattered news articles telling everyone, "hey, it's a blue moon!"), this was delayed until yesterday in Australia and, sure enough, there was a brief article in the SMH saying, "hey, it's a blue moon!" just yesterday.

    Finally, there is something that anyone with an interest in astronomy and lunations can enjoy in all of this. Go to the google new archivesearch (link above) and enter ' "blue moon" full moon ' in the search box (drop the single quotes, keep the double quotes). When the search returns, you get a nice bar graph at the top. Click on the 1990s. Hey look, there's a spike in news articles every 2.5 years. That's because we get two full moons in one calendar month once every 2.5 years and that's when someone brings out the usual "hey, a second full moon in a month is called a blue moon". Now click on the 2000s. Same pattern of spikes! Now click on the 1980s. Looking back, the pattern fades out in the early 1980s. So there you can see an astronomical/calendrical cycle and a pop culture cycle all in one nice bar graph.

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