Lesson 5) A.M.E. in Depth

Professor Turing carries two very thick folders, both of which are labeled “Astro 101 Midterms”, as he walks into the classroom. His eyes seem droopy, and his pace seems just a tad slower, as he spent much time creating and printing the midterm. Students are especially talkative today; some are quizzing each other on the content of the midterm, while others are asking their classmates questions. However, when Professor Turing drops the exam folders on the front table, the students immediately stop what they are doing and look at the professor.

Good evening, students! Thank you for coming to class today. I have looked over everyone’s homework, and most of you have been doing amazingly! We have a lot to do this class, so let us delve into the lesson right away.

A.M.E. Basics Review

Last class, we talked about the Astronomy-based Magical Effect Quotient, or the A.M.E. When we ask about how much of an effect the Moon, for example, has on the Earth, we are discussing the Moon to Earth A.M.E. We also went over the five parts of the A.M.E. What were those again?

Yes, that is correct. The five parts of the A.M.E. are:

  • Composition – what the astronomical object is made of
  • Observed Size – how big the astronomical object seems from Earth
  • Albedo – how much light and magic the astronomical object reflects off its surface
  • Teamwork – how the astronomical object interacts with other astronomical objects
  • Surface – type and character of the astronomical object's surface

Today, we will go over each part of the A.M.E. individually. In future years, we will go in depth into the physical properties of planets, moons, and other astronomical bodies, and the above details will be crucial to understanding how astronomical magic affects us. Remember, for these descriptions, we are assuming that we are standing on the Earth, but should you be lucky enough to be given the chance to leave the Earth’s atmosphere, you can apply the same concepts to your location at any place in the universe.


Composition refers to the molecular makeup of an astronomical body. Both the surface composition as well as the internal geology of the planet or moon is important because both alter the type of the magical effect of reflected light.

For example, there is much iron in Mars’ composition. In fact, Mars looks red to us on Earth because of the iron oxide on the planet’s surface. Because of the effect of the iron, magic being reflected by Mars tends to be reactive, chaotic, and high-energy - you will learn more about this in Alchemy next year. Mars’ iron content also affects its use in Divination, as the sighting of Mars can be linked to readings of war and battle. You can look forward to more information about Mars’ symbolic meaning in Divination next year, if you choose to take the class.

Observed Size

This property is self-explanatory. Small objects can look bigger in the sky than larger objects because they are much nearer to us. For example, the Moon appears to be bigger than Mars in our sky even though the Moon is much smaller than Mars.

How does this relate to magic? In general, non-light-producing objects that seem larger in appearance tend to have a stronger magical influence than those that have a smaller appearance. This is because objects that are closer tend to reflect more magic on the Earth than objects that are further away.

In this example, the Moon has a stronger magical effect on the Earth than Mars does. While the effects of Mars can be powerful when used effectively, the magic reflected from the Moon has a significant impact on the Earth and is easy to harness.


Albedo Values
Source: astro.washington.edu

Like light, magic is generated from the Sun and reflected off objects in space. Some objects reflect the magic better than others. The word that describes how much of the received magic a surface reflects is called magical albedo. A surface’s albedo can be expressed in any number between 0 and 1; a surface with a magical albedo value of 0, seen on the left side of the above image, reflects no magic at all, while a surface with a magical albedo of 1 reflects all the energy that shines at it.

Magical albedo can be estimated by visual albedo - light surfaces tend to reflect more magical energy than dark surfaces. For example, the light surfaces of the Moon reflect more magic than the dark surfaces of the Moon. This is also why the magic during the full Moon is very strong; since so many of the light surfaces of the Moon are visible to Earth, we know that there is much magical energy sent to the Earth during a full Moon.

Teamwork (Interference)

When magic is reflected off of astronomical objects, it is influenced by the magic of other objects. Sometimes magical effects influence one another to create different magical effects. Dr. Mansour originally called this “teamwork”, but the word currently used today is “interference”.

There are two types of interference. Constructive interference occurs when reflections from two or more magical sources enhance each other so that the magic’s effects are stronger. Destructive interference occurs when reflections from two or more magical sources partly or completely cancel each other out so that there is less or no magic. Complete constructive interference and complete destructive interference - the former refers to a situation with the maximum strengthening of the reflected magic, while the latter refers to essentially a complete cancellation of the reflected magic - are rare, as most interference interactions are complex.

Teamwork is similar to the concept of transitionals. In transitionals, you will use the relationship between two objects in the solar system, such as Venus and Mars, to change the qualities of an element. You can learn more about transitionals next year in Alchemy. Teamwork is also similar to what one would see in astrology. When diviners use astrology, they study how stars, planets, and the like work together  to produce magical effects.


One View of the Lunar Surface
Image Source: NASA

The surface of an astronomical object has an effect on the type of magic that is transmitted to the Earth. For example, flat areas will have different effects than mountainous areas. This is why we will be learning about surface geology of planets, moons, and other features later on in our Astronomy program. For other objects with very varied magical effects, astronomers often study aspects such as a planet’s rotation, particularly if it is irregular.

Let’s take the Moon as an example. Ever notice that the effect of the full Moon is rather uniform no matter when the full Moon occurs? This is because of the Moon’s synchronous rotation - even though the Moon looks different on the near and the far sides, the near side always faces the Earth, and therefore the same side of the Moon reflects the magic back to the Earth. As a result, magic reflected from the Moon is very predictable. This is why Moon-based magic is used relatively reliably  for many specific magical processes, such as maturing Veritaserum potions.

I will be ending class now so that you will have enough time to complete your midterms. I will be passing them out now; once you are done, you can hand them to me and head back to your dorms. There will also be additional homework distributed; please complete these for next class period.

Good luck on the midterms!

NOTE - On February 4, the current Year One Astronomy lessons will be coming down, and the new lessons will be uploaded as fast as I can do it. If you have completed the current Year One course, you are not required to do the new one, but it would be advisable to do so, because the material in it will be tested on your O.W.L. exam. If you haven't completed the current course, it's your choice whether or not to do so before the new material is posted.

Additionally, I would like to have at least one new PA. To be accepted for that position, applicants need to complete the new Year One course and send me by owl post a screen shot of their gradebook.

Ever wonder what is beyond this Earth? Yes, the night sky may be beautiful, but knowledge of the heavens will also help you become a better witch or wizard. In Year One, you will observe the skies with a magical telescope, learn about our solar system neighbors, and discover how magic reflected off astronomical objects can affect us all on Earth. Come join us in Astronomy 101 - it’s an out of this world adventure!