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Forensic Astronomy: The Waning Gibbous Moon in Tragic Minnesota News

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#1 kfiscus

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Posted 27 December 2018 - 09:03 PM

If you're interested in crime investigation and astronomy, you might want to follow the news developing today in Minneapolis.  Defense attorneys have requested access to a police cruiser for a possible reconstruction exercise on Friday night, 12-28-18.   According to them, the phase will be the same as the night of the shooting (7-15-17).  My first checks into the situation show that the moon phase is about the same but I would think other important variables (snow cover (!)) would be much different.  I wonder how many times our wonderful cloudy skies will frustrate their efforts...


Edited by kfiscus, 27 December 2018 - 09:07 PM.

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#2 ShaulaB

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Posted 27 December 2018 - 09:10 PM

Phase and altitude in the sky as well must be considered. A planetarium software or app can determine these things.

#3 kfiscus

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Posted 27 December 2018 - 09:13 PM

Phase and altitude in the sky as well must be considered. A planetarium software or app can determine these things.

I'm hoping someone with such will chime in.  The shooting occurred "around midnight".  My moon phase calculator says the moon rose around 12:03 AM on that July night.  This is for an urban setting in Minneapolis, as in lots of buildings and trees involved.


Edited by kfiscus, 27 December 2018 - 09:39 PM.


#4 csrlice12

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Posted 27 December 2018 - 10:27 PM

Moons position in the sky will be different, as well as time of day...it's not just phase of moon that counts....



#5 kfiscus

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Posted 27 December 2018 - 10:49 PM

That's what I'm sayin'...



#6 kfiscus

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Posted 27 December 2018 - 11:22 PM

Here are some specifics from Wiki: 

Time (of incident?) 11:41 PM CST.

Coordinates 44.91071 and 93.31823


Edited by kfiscus, 27 December 2018 - 11:24 PM.


#7 csrlice12

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 12:19 AM

Has anybody told the police they need to think this through a bit more.....


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#8 tchandler

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 07:56 AM

Attention dispatch: were following what looks to be a car of some type, it’s on some kind of asphal.... oh and it’s directly under a waning gibbous moon...... nnnnnnnnn-now!


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#9 Mountaineer370

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 08:16 AM

Fascinating idea, to use astronomy to help with a forensic investigation.  I do hope they will receive some expert advice, though, to help them understand all the nuances and variables that will factor into trying to recreate the scene.



#10 SeaBee1

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 08:28 AM

I applaud their effort to "get smart" about their forensics, but this is not an original idea. Not sure if anyone else watches CSI Las Vegas, but they had an episode where the lead character used a moon phase from a photo to locate a mystery property that was involved in a crime. So not an original line of thought. Interesting, none the less.

 

Good hunting!

 

CB



#11 laedco58

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 09:03 AM

Has anybody told the police they need to think this through a bit more.....

It’s the defense attorney for the cop on trial for the shooting, that is requesting this.



#12 NC Startrekker

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 11:22 AM

It’s the defense attorney for the cop on trial for the shooting, that is requesting this.

Attorneys' creed - don't let facts get in the way of the story (or the seed you are trying to plant in the minds of the jury).  It doesn't matter whether it truly depicts the conditions or not.  As long as it looks scientific, the layman will generally accept it at face value.  It is highly improbable the jury will have an amateur astronomer sitting on it to question these things.


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#13 laedco58

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 11:55 AM

Attorneys' creed - don't let facts get in the way of the story (or the seed you are trying to plant in the minds of the jury).  It doesn't matter whether it truly depicts the conditions or not.  As long as it looks scientific, the layman will generally accept it at face value.  It is highly improbable the jury will have an amateur astronomer sitting on it to question these things.

Look up Justin Damond-Ruszczyk shooting if you want more info. My weather guesser is predicting clear skies the next two nights. I’ll be busy looking up in the sky.


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#14 bumm

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 04:30 PM

Then there's the famous case where Abraham Lincoln got some guy off of a murder case by using an almanac to show that the phase of the moon wouldn't have provided enough light for a witness to have clearly seen the crime.

                                                                                Marty


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#15 kfiscus

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 05:48 PM

Then there's the famous case where Abraham Lincoln got some guy off of a murder case by using an almanac to show that the phase of the moon wouldn't have provided enough light for a witness to have clearly seen the crime.

                                                                                Marty

Thank you for that reminder!


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#16 WyattDavis

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 06:05 PM

I read Isaac's Storm by Erik Larson - a great read about the 1900 Galveston hurricane. There are witness references in the book to the full moon that was seen during the night the hurricane made landfall (ostensibly while the hurricane eye passed over the town). Sky Safari does indeed show the moon to have been 99 percent illuminated on that night and rising just before 8pm on that night.


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#17 kfiscus

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Posted 29 December 2018 - 12:05 AM

Here's an update to the story:

Approval was given for the defense team to use a police car from 6-10 PM tonight.  I have no idea what this will accomplish since I think it was cloudy in Minneapolis and the moon didn't rise until almost 11 PM.  ????????


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#18 bumm

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Posted 29 December 2018 - 09:03 AM

Here's an update to the story:

Approval was given for the defense team to use a police car from 6-10 PM tonight.  I have no idea what this will accomplish since I think it was cloudy in Minneapolis and the moon didn't rise until almost 11 PM.  ????????

Publicity?



#19 csrlice12

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Posted 29 December 2018 - 11:29 AM

I think the Minnesota cold has affected a few people's brains....to the defendant if you're reading this.....you need a better attorney....or a police car with a full tank of gas, a half pack of cigarettes,  and a mission from God.


Edited by csrlice12, 29 December 2018 - 11:30 AM.


#20 kfiscus

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Posted 03 January 2019 - 10:05 PM

Update from today's news:  Defense team's request to take a police car to the crime scene on the night that they thought the moon phase would match was partially granted.  They were given access to a car but not allowed to take it to the scene.  They didn't take the car.  The time slot they were given was too tight and I think it was cloudy anyway.

 

Does one just assume that the prosecution, defense, judge will hear from someone that knows that moon phases and appearances are much more complicated than a matching icon on a calendar?  I don't know where to even start to get a hold of someone's ear.  I'm not wanting to get involved in the case- I just want the ignorance of the moon to be a non-factor.

 

I have Bob Seeger's lyrics "Shame on the moon..." from "Blame it on Midnight" playing in my head.


Edited by kfiscus, 03 January 2019 - 10:15 PM.

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#21 csrlice12

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Posted 04 January 2019 - 12:07 AM

To quote a famous fisherman....stupid is as stupid does....



#22 Groundhog

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Posted 05 January 2019 - 01:39 PM

Attention dispatch: were following what looks to be a car of some type, it’s on some kind of asphal.... oh and it’s directly under a waning gibbous moon...... nnnnnnnnn-now!



#23 Groundhog

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Posted 05 January 2019 - 01:40 PM

Just now seeing this. Thank you for the belly laugh!😄

#24 bumm

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Posted 06 January 2019 - 11:02 AM

There was a case years ago when a police car got into a long, high speed chase with Venus, thinking it was a UFO.  And of course, to the UFO proponents, these were 'reliable, trained, observers.'

                                               Marty


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#25 OneGear

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Posted 08 January 2019 - 02:50 PM

Has anybody told the police they need to think this through a bit more.....

It's not the police, it's the murdering officer's defense attorney.




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