July 24, 2002

Tuesday, April 23, 2002

Big Planetary Lineup This Week
While flying to Syracuse this weekend, a fellow passenger looked out the window and remarked to me how bright Venus was in the nighttime sky. It turns out, that all of the “naked eye planets, ” Mercury, Venus, Mars Jupiter and Saturn will be very visible this week in what astronomers call a “planetary lineup.This is the first such lineup since 1940.

Stardate.org says such a close grouping of these planets doesn’t happen very often. Since the orbits of the planets are all different, it takes them different amounts of time to circle through the zodiac.

Mercury and Venus are closer to the Sun than we are, so each of them rocks back and forth between morning and evening sky like a kid on a seesaw. Neither planet strays far from the Sun, so the other planets have to come to them.

Mars completes a turn around the heavens every two years. Jupiter makes it in about 12 years, but Saturn needs almost 30 years. So it takes awhile for the paths of these planets to bring them all together in a fairly small region of the sky.

Could It Be That We Are NOT Running
Out of Oil?
Morning Meeting reader Pam Robinson, news editor with the LA Times-Wash Post news service sent this dandy story:

“Although it sounds too good to be true, increasing evidence from the Gulf of Mexico suggests that some old oil fields are being refilled by petroleum surging up from the deep below. What scientists suspect is that very old petroleum formed tens of millions of years ago has continued migrating up into reservoirs that oil companies have been exploiting for year.
The findings hint that the world may not, in fact, be
running out of petroleum, and that may mean that
current estimates of oil and gas abundance are far too low.”

Story by Robert Cooke of Newsday

Department of Energy Strategic Petroleum Reserve

Radio Free Europe on the Caspian Sea oil reserves

Department of Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry at the
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Seepage model, Exploration Services Division

Law Would Forbid Tax on Frequent Flier Miles

I saw this on a frequent flier newsletter:
Last week, April 16th, Congressman Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY) and Congressman Mark Foley (R-FL) introduced the Frequent Flyer Tax-Free Liability Act of 2002 which would ensure that frequent flier miles awards be designated as tax-free. The legislation would relate to frequent flier miles from airlines, hotels, car rentals, cruise lines, etc. There is no law that prevents the IRS from taxing these kinds of benefits, although IRS has not enforced it.

Mr. Meeks’ district includes all of John F. Kennedy
International Airport in New York
. Mr. Foley is the co-chair of the House Travel and Tourism Caucus.

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Al Tompkins is one of America's most requested broadcast journalism and multimedia teachers and coaches. After nearly 30 years working as a reporter, photojournalist, producer,…
Al Tompkins

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