Here's the latest article from the Astronomy site at BellaOnline.com.
Jupiter's Moons – Facts for Kids
Jupiter has at least 67 moons. Some of them are only half a mile long, but one is bigger than the planet Mercury. Which moon has hundreds of volcanoes, and which one has a deep ocean under an icy surface? Find out here.
(1) Annie Jump Cannon, American astronomer, was born on December 11, 1863. She classified nearly a quarter of a million stars for the Henry Draper Catalog and prepared most of it for publication. If you see a star identified by an HD number, it refers to this catalog. You can read more about this interesting and energetic woman at http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art28074.as.
(2) Tycho Brahe, Danish astronomer, was born on December 14, 1546. Tycho was the greatest of the pre-telescopic observers in terms of his thoroughness and accuracy. His body of observations made it possible for Kepler to devise his three laws which described the orbits of the planets in the Solar System. Tycho was quite a colorful character, as well as a brilliant astronomer. You can learn more about him at http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art28652.asp.
(3) E.E. Barnard was born on December 16, 1857. He was a prolific astronomer and pioneering astrophotographer. Barnard's Star was named in his honor. Born to a very poor family, he had little in the way of formal education as a child. Nonetheless he ended up as a Professor of Astronomy at the University of Chicago.
(4) On December 14, 1972 Gene Cernan, Apollo 17 astronaut, was the last man to walk on the Moon. I wonder if the next one will be Chinese?
*Moon goddess and jade rabbit*
The Chinese Moon mission Chang'e 3 is currently in lunar orbit with the lander Yutu. The expected date for Yutu to land at Sinus Iridium is December 14. Chang'e is the name of a moon goddess of ancient legend, and the press releases say that Yutu means jade rabbit.
I've updated three articles about astronomy presents, which might give you some inspiration for the upcoming holidays: Astronomy Books as Presents (http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art51884.asp); Astronomy Presents – for Kids (http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art178883.asp); and Buying Astronomy Presents – for Adults (http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art13025.asp).
If you have any recommendations that I haven't included, let me know.
The Geminid meteor shower is usually one of the year's best, though it will be a bit washed out by a gibbous Moon this year. It peaks Friday night/Saturday morning December 13/14. However it's worth going out the night before and after the peak. They can be active mid-evening, so the sky might be busy well before midnight. They are slower than the Perseids, so you can often see a lovely trail. Here as an article about the Perseid shower: http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art27461.asp. The advice holds for the Geminids – and especially take care to keep warm.
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I wish you clear skies.
Mona Evans, Astronomy Editor
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