The So-called Descent of Mars
Date: Mon, 11 May 1998
In the "polar configuration," Mars is claimed to have oscillated along its orbit between Venus and Earth. Once a year it is claimed to have come so close to Earth as to appear as a "giant mound on the northern horizon" (D. Talbott, Aeon 3:3) to observers at 45 deg. lat. This means Mars supposedly came ca. 27x closer to Earth than the Moon is now. This is absurd for many very good, and heretofore ignored, reasons.
Such behavior implies, or "predicts", a stupendous annual polar tide on Earth. This tide never happened. (Interestingly, the total tidal pull on Earth due to the proximity of Jupiter and Saturn in the "polar configuration" (using Grubaugh's model in Aeon 3:3 with Earth at 1.0 .U.) would have only been comparable to the present lunar tide.)
This annual polar tide (92 km. or 57 mi. high) created by the close approach
of Mars to within 14,000 km. (8700 mi.) or 2.17 Earth radii, just outside
the Roche limit (so as to be tangent to the horizon for an observer at
45 deg. lat.), would have floated the
If Mars approached Earth closer than 102,000 km (16 Earth radii) it would have collided with Venus ca. 180 degrees later. [Talbott's only substantive response, which was invalid, was to claim such a collision would have been avoided by Mars and Venus doing a do-si-do as Saturn's co-orbiting satellites Janus and Epimetheus, except in the "polar configuration" Mars and Venus are not in a co-orbiting relationship in which they alternately lapped, or passed, each other, as Janus and Epimetheus do.] At this distance of 16 Earth radii, Mars would be totally above the horizon to all observers above 6 deg. lat., where it would first touch the horizon and be at an elevation of 45 deg. above the horizon to observers at 45 deg. lat. Therefore, Mars could NOT have gotten as close to Earth as Talbott claims, i.e., 2.17 Earth radii. Contrary to Talbott, there would be no "giant mound on the northern horizon" for anyone in Egypt, Sumer or Mexico and his diagram of this "descent of Mars" (as seen from 45 deg.) in Aeon 3:3, 1993, p. 38, is geometrically absurd, since it shows the mound on the horizon.
In December 1993, the "descent of Mars" was the subject of three postcards, on the 6th, 8th, and 10th. Talbott then phoned me about this problem [which was his first phone call to me since July 1992 when he phoned to discuss the seasonality signals in the Greenland ice cores] and, amazingly to me, admitted he had never looked at the "descent of Mars" so closely. Evidently, it was just a figment of pure imagination with no reality checks in terms of even basic geometry, much less orbital dynamics (but that's another story!). He had never stopped to consider how close Mars had to get in order to appear as a mound on the horizon to an observer at 45 deg. or to consider how close Mars might approach before interfering with Venus 180 degrees later. (Such intellectual rigor is supposed to be the basis for the next paradigm shift in human intellectual discourse?!) He ended the telcon, to the best of my recollection (which Talbott will almost certainly either deny ever happening or else dispute my recall) with words to the effect: "Leroy, this is a real problem. I'll have to think about it." Since then, this problem has been brought up many times in electronic forums (e.g., summer 1994, July 1996, April 1997, and October 1997), but the "Saturnists" ignore it in favor of making ad hominem attacks. [In an e-mail to a discussion group in June 2001 Talbott claimed this Dec. 1993 phone conversation never took place!]
To anyone with any grip on reality, the fact that the brightness of Mars changes drastically now, as seen from Earth, is due to its changing relative position. An actual close approach to Earth is irrelevant to the motivation for such motifs in myth, especially with all the inconsistencies and impossibilities the "descent of Mars" presents in the "polar configuration".
When will Talbott and his apostles begin to apply reason and logic to the elucidation of myth? When will they own up to the glaring absurdities that utterly vitiate the "descent of Mars"? How much intellectual abuse will the adherents to the "polar configuration" tolerate before they protest such gross malfeasance?