February 4 2016 Astronomy Newsletter
Here's the latest article from the Astronomy site at BellaOnline.com.
February second is Groundhog Day, a day that's a mystery to people outside North America. Even in the USA and Canada, it's more a bit of fun than a holiday. Yet however superficial it is now, it's the offshoot of traditions that began in Europe thousands of years ago.
On February 3, 1995 Space Shuttle Discovery was launched. It was the first time a shuttle mission had a female pilot. The pilot was Eileen Collins. One of the primary objectives of the mission was a rendezvous between Discovery and the Russian space station Mir.
*Happy Birthday, Clyde Tombaugh*
Clyde Tombaugh grew up on a farm in Illinois. His family couldn't afford to send him to college, but he learned geometry and trigonometry himself and observed the skies with his homemade telescope. Offered a job by Lowell Observatory, he was assigned to look for the Planet X that Perceval Lowell had been sure existed. Tombaugh found Pluto in 1930, but it turned out to be too small to be Planet X. You can find out more about it here: http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art45809.asp
On January 28, 1986 the space shuttle Challenger broke up 73 seconds after liftoff. The seven astronauts died. Just over seventeen years later, on February 1, 2003, the space shuttle Columbia broke up during re-entry, also killing all on board.
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I wish you clear skies.
Mona Evans, Astronomy Editor
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