March 17 2012 Astronomy Newsletter
Here's the latest article from the Astronomy site at BellaOnline.com.
Jupiter's Galilean Moons
Four moons circling Jupiter? What a sensation when Galileo discovered them in the early 17th century! They're still amazing. Find out which one is bigger than a planet, which seethes with volcanic activity and has mountains taller than Everest, and where there is an ocean that could harbor life.
The conjunction of Jupiter and Venus has been sublime and there are lots of great pictures of it. If you wonder how close the two planets were, it seems as close together as a cat's ears:
http://spaceweather.com/submissions/pics/r/Richard-Fleet-rf20120311cat_1331498175_med.jpg At the end of next week, look out for the crescent moon joining Venus and Jupiter in the western sky.
*Anniversary of discovery of Uranus*
On March 13, 1781 William Herschel discovered Uranus, the first person to discover a new planet. The discovery doubled the diameter of the known Solar System, since Uranus is about twice the distance from the Sun of Saturn. Herschel made the discovery when he was observing in the back garden of his home in Bath, England. The house is now a museum – you can read about it here: http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art48626.asp
Percival Lowell's birthday falls on the anniversary of the discovery of Uranus. He was born in 1855 in Boston, Massachusetts to a prominent Boston family. He founded the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona and remained convinced to the end of his life that there were canals on Mars. Lowell was also involved in the search for “Planet X,” a supposed large planet beyond Neptune. It was at the Lowell Observatory that Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto. You can find out more about Pluto and its discovery here: http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art34315.asp
March 14 (03.14) was Pi Day! It was also Albert Einstein's birthday – he was born in 1879. Apollo astronaut Gene Cernan (born 1934), shares the Pi Day birthday - Cernan was the last man on the Moon.
18th century French astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille was born on March 15, 1713 – he observed for a year in the southern hemisphere and invented many of the southern constellations.
Caroline Herschel was born on March 16, 1750. It had seemed as though the young Caroline were fated to live her life as a domestic menial and die in stunted obscurity. But her brother William rescued her. Caroline went on to become a singer, the first woman to discover a comet, the first paid female astronomer and indeed one of the most famous women in Europe. With her assistance, William Herschel invented modern astronomy. You can read about this remarkable woman here: http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art32051.asp
I wish you clear skies. Please visit astronomy.bellaonline.com for even more great content about Astronomy.
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