Here's the latest article from the Astronomy site at BellaOnline.com. I wrote it mainly for educators and parents, but hope that everyone will find something interesting in it.
Teaching Why We Have Day and Night
Why do we have day and night? For thousands of years most people thought it was because the Sun went around the Earth. That is certainly what it looks like, so how can you explain that day and night happen because the earth spins on its axis? Here are some ideas.
*The sunrise solar eclipse*
(1) The Big Picture does it again! They've collected 25 fascinating pictures from around the world of the partial solar eclipse on January 4. http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2011/01/the_first_solar_eclipse_of_201.html
(2) Here's another awesome eclipse picture. It's not as immediately eye-catching as the first one in The Big Picture collection. But have a look at it: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap110105.html Thierry Legault is renowned for his brilliant pictures. Here he has captured not only the Moon in front of the Sun but also the transit of the Sun by the International Space Station. If anyone imagines that he was just lucky, be assured that a picture like this takes great skill and meticulous planning. He's well known for both.
(3) By the way, there are three more solar eclipses occurring this year.
(1) It was191 years ago today (Wednesday January 12) that the Royal Astronomical Society was founded in London. It continues to be one of the leading astronomical societies in the world.
(2) On January 13, 1610 Galileo discovered Ganymede. I noted his discovery of the other three Galilean moons last week - Ganymede completes the set.
(3) On January 13, 1978 NASA finally officially chose the first female astronauts: Anna Fisher, Shannon Lucid, Judith Resnik, Sally Ride, Rhea Seddon, Kathryn D. Sullivan. Not surprisingly, they were an extremely able group of women, two being medical doctors and the other four having PhDs in various areas. Sadly, Judith Resnik died in the Challenger disaster in 1986. The others have had distinguished careers inside and outside of NASA.
(4) On January 14, 2005 the Huygens probe landed on Titan. If you haven't read the recent article The Moons of Saturn, it's at http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art28136.asp and contains more information about Titan.
(5) On January 3, 2004 the Martian rover Spirit landed on the red planet. Unfortunately, Spirit hasn't been heard from since March of last year. Nonetheless to commemorate another year of the Mars Exploration Rovers, Glen Nagle and Stuart Atkinson have created a downloadable poster. It incorporates a poem and scenes from the travels of Spirit and Opportunity. You can download the poster in different sizes at http://astro0.wordpress.com/mer7/
That's all for this now. Wishing you clear skies.
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Mona Evans, Astronomy Editor