archive: SETI Re: [ASTRO] Measuring the distance to galaxies

SETI Re: [ASTRO] Measuring the distance to galaxies

Larry Klaes ( )
Thu, 13 May 1999 16:39:41 -0400

>X-Authentication-Warning: majordom set sender
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>Date: Wed, 12 May 1999 22:30:12 -0400 (EDT)
>Subject: Re: [ASTRO] Measuring the distance to galaxies
>From: jega <>
>To: "astro list" <>
>Reply-To: jega <>
>Bill Arnett wrote:
>>I seem to recall that ESA is planning a followup to Hipparcos
>>that will be even more accurate and see a little deeper. Which would
>>be very useful since Hipparcos didn't get much data on Cepheid
>>variables, the critical factor in extra-galactic distance
>The current (June) issue of Sky & Telescope has an article by Michael
>Perryman on Hipparcos. It is fascinating because of the controversies
>that the Hipparcos conclusions are likely to generate.
>But, to keep my eye on the ball, the article concludes with a box
>describing the proposed follow-on project, GAIA. The last paragraph is a
>cri de coeur for support from the 'scientific community' to get funding
>for this 20 year project. It is supposed to be able to measure parallax
>down to a precision of 4 to 5 MICROarcseconds -- more than 100 times
>better than Hipparcos!
>All of astronomy is as shaky as the 'distance ladder' is suspect.
>Getting the bottom rung nailed down seems, to me, an eminently worthwhile
>project -- even if it would take 20 years, and the budget implied by a
>project that long.
>"Faster, cheaper, better" will never hack it of course, unless our
>Madison Avenue types can take enough time off from generating 'catchy'
>slogans (retch!) that BELITTLE their predecessors, to tell us how they
>can do it in 2 days for 2 bucks and do it twice as well. Then, maybe
>even I will be around to learn the results. (My doctor tells me I MIGHT
>last till the weekend -- although my lawyer tells me I won't, if HE has
>anything to do with it -- he'll make sure my doctor is too broke to save
>It's amusing that Newton, one of the greatest geniuses that the human
>race has ever known, acknowledged his debt to his predecessors, saying,
>"I stood on the shoulders of giants." And Newton was supposed to be a
>pretty nasty guy -- and a little arrogant to boot. But I suppose even
>Newton would be humbled by these guys who do things "Faster, Cheaper,
>Better." They must be SO darned smart!
>Ahem! Sorry! But it bugs me that people don't seem to care to think
>about what is implied by that slogan. Grr!
>Jega A. Arulpragasam
>Lunenburg, MA 01462
>42.60N; 71.62W