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Through the vision and dedication of Edward Pickering, Harvard College had one of the world's top observatories. Pickering had a secret weapon: a team of women computers. One of them was Mina Fleming who began her employment as a housekeeper and ended it as an astronomer of international repute.
Four Big Astronomy Non-events of 2015
In 2015 we learned a lot about the Solar System and beyond. And the splendid sky events included a solar eclipse and two lunar eclipses. Yet, as ever, people on social media people who delight in disaster were declaring doom. Should we be apprehensive? Let's see.
Top Ten Astronomy Stories 2015
Some called 2015 "The Year of the Dwarf Planet" because space missions visited both Pluto and Ceres. Elsewhere Philae briefly awoke on a comet. Water was found on Mars, and so was Beagle 2. But how did astronomers predict a supernova, and what is the most distant known object in the Solar System?
Hydra the Water Snake – Deep Sky Objects
It's not surprising to find plenty of deep-sky objects in such a big constellation as Hydra. Its varied objects include the Ghost of Jupiter, beautiful globules that are over twice the age of the Sun, and a dramatic grand design spiral galaxy known for its titanic explosions.
Hydra the Water Snake – Myths and Stars
What links the biggest constellation in the sky with the flag of Brazil? Why is the star V Hydrae bright red? How did the hero Hercules vanquish a nine-headed monster? Read all about it here.
Quaoar – Facts for Kids
50000 Quaoar – a cubewano and probable dwarf planet in the distant icy Kuiper Belt. The number comes from the Minor Planet Center and the name from the creation god of the Tongva people whose ancestors have lived in the Los Angeles area for a thousand years and more.
Geminids – a December Spectacle
Imagine the scene: a starry night in mid-December. As your eyes begin to adjust to the darkness, you start to see movement in the sky. At some point you definitely see a shooting star – properly called a meteor. Welcome to what many people think is the year's best meteor shower, the Geminids.
ABC of Astronomy – G is for Gravitational Lens
We have optical lenses in telescopes, cameras and eyes. They're made of transparent material, and they focus light. However astronomers now make use of gravitational lenses to detect distant galaxies, dark matter and extrasolar planets. What's a gravitational lens made of, and how does it work?
Death of a Massive Star
Massive stars are born in the same way as smaller stars like the Sun. But a massive star then burns brighter and hotter, and ends its life in one of the Universe's most stupendous explosions, a supernova. For a time, it shines as bright as entire galaxy of a billion stars.
Edward Charles Pickering
Edward Pickering was a leading light of 19th century astronomy who made the Harvard College Observatory into an institution with an international reputation. He was honored for his work by scientific societies in several countries, but his name is now known from his employing “Pickering's harem”.
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