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Polaris - 10 Fascinating Facts
Today we travel paved roads using good maps or a GPS system to find the way. Imagine sailing uncharted waters or journeying through trackless deserts without such help. In the northern hemisphere one of the greatest of navigational aids has for nearly two thousand years been the north star Polaris.
*Spot the Space Station*
November 2nd was the 12th anniversary of the continuous occupation of the International Space Station. Have you ever watched it going over your house? You may have seen it and just looked away, thinking it was an airplane. But it's very bright, second in brightness only to the Moon in the night sky. I think it's quite beautiful and I still find it amazing to look up and know that there are people up there working.
There are a number of ways of finding out when there will be a pass over your region, but NASA's new service makes it very easy. If you register, they will email you details of a good pass several hours in advance. A good pass is one that will be high enough and last long enough for you to get a good view. Have a look here: http://spotthestation.nasa.gov
Halley was born on November 8, 1656. We know Halley from the comet that bears his name. He didn't discover it, but was the first to work out that what had seemed to be a number of different comets was really just one that kept coming back. He correctly predicted its next return and the comet was named in his honor. Halley probably would have been remembered as the most brilliant scientist of his day if he hadn't lived at the same time as Isaac Newton! He did notable work in astronomy, meteorology and geophysics. Halley was also quite an extraordinary personality. He was 19 when set off to the southern hemisphere – with the King's support – to catalog the stars of the southern sky. He was also a sometime drinking companion of the Czar of Russia. Find out more here: http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art48305.asp
Sagan was born on November 9, 1934. He was a professor at Cornell University in New York and did extensive work in planetary science and with the US space exploration program. He's still one of the world's best known astronomers because of his books, television series and general dedication to communicating astronomy to the public. Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 are spacecraft on their way out of the Solar System and on to the stars. They each carry a Golden Record, a message from Earth about who we are. Sagan was very much involved in this project, though he doubted that another space-going species would ever encounter it in the vastness of the galaxy.
Slipher was born on November 11, 1875. His name is not well known today, but he was a prominent astronomer in his day. Slipher was the director of the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona for a quarter of a century. Notably, he was the man who hired and supervised the work of Clyde Tombaugh, the discoverer of Pluto. However he was also the person who discovered the redshift of galaxies, something which tends to be credited to Edwin Hubble.
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