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The Bluffer's Guide to the Cosmos - book review
Here is an entertaining overview of astronomy small enough to put in your pocket. Not only the Big Bang, black holes, exploding stars, visiting Mars and all the rest of the cosmos, but plenty of laughs along the way. I enjoyed it - you must know someone who would too.
How much do people know about our next-door neighbor the Moon? For example, does the full moon drive people crazy? Apparently not - unless maybe they're astronomers trying to observe faint nebulae. Here are ten common moon myths and lunar lapses.
Lyra the Heavenly Harp
Music of the spheres? Here’s a harp to play it on: Lyra, the harp of Orpheus, that almost brought his beloved back from death. The constellation has one of the sky’s brightest stars, a star that is really four stars, and a colorful donut.
Who Let the Dogs out?
Someone must have left the door open, because the skies are full of dogs. You can see the dogs of Orion and the hunting dogs of the shepherd Bootes in pursuit of the Great Bear. There is also the Running Dog Nebula and the memory of poor Laika, the first cosmonaut, who perished in space.
Pluto was once the last outpost of the Solar System. Now we realize that it's the gateway to the Kuiper Belt, a disk made up of rubble left over from the formation of the Solar System. The Kuiper Belt is big and it's cold and the Sun would just look like a bright star from there.
Quasar Facts for Kids
Quasars are the brightest and most distant objects in the universe. And when we see them we are looking into the past, to a time even before our Sun and Solar System existed.
Cats in the Sky
There are three constellations named for dogs, but what about cats in the sky? There is astrocat Felicette who went into space and returned safely to Earth, but also constellations of big cats and a pawprint 50 light years across.
Halley didn't discover a comet, but he did research and published papers in astronomy and many other fields. Russian Czar Peter the Great liked him as a dining and drinking companion and King William III put this civilian in charge of a Royal Navy ship. But how did he get a comet named for him?
What's in a Name
Things aren't always what they seem. Many discoveries aren't named for - or by - their discoverers. Halley didn't discover Comet Halley. Kuiper said the Kuiper Belt didn't exist. The Herschels called Uranus "the Georgian planet" after George III of England, but no one else did.
Millions of people followed the treks of the Martian rovers Spirit and Opportunity as they explored the red planet. In 2009 Spirit became trapped and was last heard from in March 2010. After a year being unable to contact her, on May 24, 2011, with sadness, NASA formally ended her mission.
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