December 15 2010 Astronomy Newsletter
Here's the latest article from the Astronomy site at BellaOnline.com.
What Was the Star of Bethlehem?
The Star of Bethlehem is one of the loveliest symbols of Christmas. But what was it? Simply an inspired idea to emphasize the spiritual importance of the story? Or was it based on an actual astronomical happening?
Tycho Brahe was born on December 14, 1646. You may recall that the great Danish astronomer was in the news recently because his body was exhumed in Prague. (The more I think about it the more I feel uneasy about the ethics of this.)
On the same date, but in 1972, Gene Cernan was the last man to walk on the Moon. That was 38 years ago. Such a long time. Perhaps it's not so surprising that younger people are ready to believe that it never really happened.
On December 17, 1903 Orville Wright made the first powered flight. The twentieth century was quite astounding in terms of how rapidly we went from powered flight to space flight.
Have you seen the Big Picture Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar? Yes, I know that Advent is nearly over, so I've been rather slow on this one. But the pictures are great and definitely worth a look. And there are still nine days worth of surprise pictures!
The Geminid meteor shower has been going for several days now. Its peak was the pre-dawn hours of yesterday morning (Tuesday), but if you can get a clear sky you could still see some.
That's all for this week. Wishing you clear skies.
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Mona Evans, Astronomy Editor
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