October 4, 2012

Letter to the Editor: A Crucial Difference

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To the Editor:

Re: “Sagan Planet Walk Expands to Hawaii” Science, Oct. 3

As President of the Cornell Astronomical Society, I find it my duty to protest the misuse of “astrological” for “astronomical” in reference to our Society in your recent article, “Sagan Planet Walk Expands to Hawaii,” published on Oct. 3, 2012. We see that the Cornell Daily Sun quickly corrected the error online and noted a correction in the edition published on Thursday. We greatly appreciate their apology and the Sun’s swiftness in responding to our concerns.

However, it is important to highlight the chasm of difference between astronomy, a legitimate science that has exponentially expanded our understanding of the universe and our position in it, and astrology, a superstition that holds there is some relationship between the motions of the heavens and the events of human history. For decades, the Cornell Astronomical Society has faithfully executed its mission of public education in astronomy and outreach by serving the Cornell and Ithaca communities, hosting lectures on astronomical subjects, opening the Fuertes Observatory for public viewing, and engaging young and old alike in the exploration of the cosmos. To confuse this noble mission, executed in partnership with the Department of Astronomy, with a distorted and erroneous pseudoscience thoroughly and totally incompatible with the avenues of modern scientific inquiry, is quite disconcerting.

I would like to use this incident of excitation to invite all curious and wondering members of our community to see what we really do every clear Friday night at Fuertes. I’m afraid that those that are looking for a horoscope describing the future love life of Libra will be sorely disappointed.

Adrian Poniatowski ’15