October 27 2010 Astronomy Newsletter
Here's the latest article from the Astronomy site at BellaOnline.com.
Halloween falls midway between an equinox and a solstice. In the ancient Celtic world it was new year's eve and the start of winter - time to prepare for survival in the darkening days. But also a time when the boundary between our world and the otherworld weakened and who knew what might cross it?
I wonder if any of you saw any Orionids. They are bits of Halley's Comet. Here is an updated article on the famous comet for kids and beginners.
Halley's Comet for Kids
It visits every 75 years or so, appearing like a celestial ghost in our skies. In the past it has been a bad omen and scary object, but last time it came it was a big event around the world. What is it? Halley's Comet, the most famous comet of all. Here's an updated article for you.
(1) Can you find Arcturus, the red giant in Bootes, low in the west-northwest in the twilight? Sometimes it's in the right place to show where the International Space Station will be coming from. I often use it to sight on when I'm look out for the ISS, but check the sky map first.
(2) I notice that there are up to ten days of good ISS passes coming up for some of us. By good, I mean fairly bright and early enough in the evening that we don't lose our beauty sleep. British and middle European locations look particularly good. In the USA southerly locations don't look so good, but the best thing to do is check your location at http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/realdata/sightings/ or look in http://www.heavens-above.com/.
(3) On Friday, you won't be able to find Venus because it's at inferior conjunction. This means it's directly between us and the Sun, like a new moon. (This article is about observing Venus http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art27312.asp.)
(4) If you can get YouTube, you can see this story yourself. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FY-AcQcc0b4&feature=player_embedded#! But I'll describe it for you.
A Fox News reporter is standing on a street in New York City, because people had been seeing strange things in the sky (bunches of those silvery balloons, from the sound of it). Everyone's gone by the time the reporter and cameraman get there, but there's still something in the sky. She asks, excitedly, "Do you see the white thing? To me that looks like a star." I agree, it does. But the sky isn't quite dark, so you probably wouldn't see a bright star in the city.
She continues, " Looks like nothing to report. You're probably saying at home, 'Fool, that IS nothing.'" I disagree. It's something I've been reporting to you since the summer. The planet Jupiter! Bright enough to see from a light-polluted city. Especially obvious when the cameraman zooms in on it and you can see the four Galilean moons. Just as I mentioned in last week's newsletter.
*The Great Star Count*
Every year there's a worldwide star count in order to help map light pollution. They do this by choosing a constellation and asking people to count the stars they can see and report on sky conditions in their location.
All of the information you need is provided and you have two weeks to do it. This is something all the family can do.
The main site is: http://www.windows2universe.org/citizen_science/starcount/steps.html It gives you all of the information you need.
But this is great. You can get a PDF download of all the instructions, etc. in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Italian, Chinese, Romanian, Polish, Russian, Hindi or Turkish. Here it is:
http://www.windows2universe.org/citizen_science/starcount/downloads.html What's stopping you?!
That's all for this week.
Please visit astronomy.bellaonline.com for even more great content about Astronomy.
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Mona Evans, Astronomy Editor
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