Here's the latest article from the Astronomy site at BellaOnline.com.
Astronomy Presents - for Kids
Birthdays, Christmas, and other special occasions . . . What might please a young astronaut or astronomer? Here is a varied list of suggestions - and you may be surprised to find that a telescope is very low on the list.
Some of us had been wondering about the fate of the jumping spiders, Cleopatra and Nefertiti, who spent 100 days on the International Space Station. (“Spiders in Space” http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art178468.asp) The question was answered on Wednesday (2012-12-05) when the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. announced that Nefertiti had died there a few days after joining them. It seems that Cleopatra didn't survive re-entry when they returned on the Space X Dragon craft. However Nefertiti had readjusted to Earth gravity and after a month went to the Smithsonian, where she was quite a celebrity for her short time with them. The average lifetime for her species is about a year. Nefertiti was ten months old - but she certainly had a more adventurous life than your average Phidippus johnsoni.
What's up in the northern sky this month? This link will take you to the Hubblesite sky guide: http://hubblesite.org/explore_astronomy/tonights_sky/ There is a 6-minute Flash video guide which you can watch online or download in various formats. You can also get a PDF transcript of it. The URL for the site is a general one, so if you bookmark it, at any time you access it, you will get the sky guide for the current month.
This article tells you about highlights of the winter sky : “Absolute Beginners – Winter Skies” http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art27318.asp
*Geminids on their way*
Here is the Meteorwatch (http://www.meteorwatch.org/) trailer for the Geminids (12-14 December, the peak expected in the middle of the period): http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ElQ3iOCjsTw I think the blockbuster-style is very well done - it's also the reason for the explosions and flames. But I assure you that explosions and flames are not part of this (or any other) meteor shower. The shower takes place during the dark of the Moon, so fainter meteors will increase the numbers that you see in a dark sky site.
This article is about the big summer meteor shower, but much of the information is relevant to the Geminids: http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art27461.asp. And to learn more, check out this article “Meteor or Meteorite & Other Posers”: http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art29545.asp
For a variety of astronomy images, you can follow me on Pinterest at: http://pinterest.com/astrobella/
To participate in online discussions, this site has a community forum all about Astronomy located here - http://forums.bellaonline.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=postlist&Board=323
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I wish you clear skies.
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