February 2 2013 Astronomy Newsletter
Here's the latest article from the Astronomy site at BellaOnline.com.
Which 17th century brewer created ten new constellations? Johannes Hevelius, astronomer, civic leader, instrument-maker, writer, engraver and publisher. He died before finishing his great star atlas, so his wife Elisabetha - also an astronomer - finished the editing and oversaw its publication.
January 28th was the anniversary of Hevelius's birth and his death. There is a statue dedicated to him in front of the town hall in Gdansk, which shows him with the sort of equipment which he used to make star measurements: http://www.inyourpocket.com/gallery/12284.jpg One whole side of a nearby building shows part of his famous star atlas: http://www.inyourpocket.com/gallery/Johannes-Hevelius-Monument-gdansk-sightseeing-Hevelius_12285.jpg.
*NASA mourns the dead*
The anniversaries of the three major US space disasters occur within a week of each other.
January 27, 1967: Three astronauts in the Apollo program die trapped in the command module as fire sweeps through the craft during tests on the launchpad.
January 28, 1986: Challenger breaks up 73 seconds after lift-off, killing all 7 astronauts.
February 1, 2003: Columbia breaks up on re-entry, killing all 7 astronauts.
A Day of Remembrance was held at Kennedy Space Center in memory of the sad losses of these exceptional people.
*Eyes on the Stars*
In addition to being an astronaut, Ronald E. McNair, PhD was a physicist, musician and sportsman. He was also a member of the Challenger crew in 1986.
Here is a wonderful story about him, told by his brother Carl: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=GOXnekRgKNo. It's an uplifting story, but I have to admit that I had to fumble around for a kleenex at the end.
In April 1986 the families of the Challenger crew created the Challenger Center as a commitment to the educational mission of those they had loved and lost. It would be a place to get children interested in space and science, which could give them new opportunities in life.
In fact, although the first center opened two years later, today there is a network of centers, nearly fifty learning centers in four countries. Each year they involve forty thousand teachers and nearly half a million middle-school aged students. The curriculum is kept up to date through their partners in industry, universities, NASA and other government agencies.
You can find out more about what the centers do and where they are: http://www.challenger.org/ It's a wonderful memorial.
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I wish you clear skies.
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