March 25 2012 Astronomy Newsletter
Here's the latest article from the Astronomy site at BellaOnline.com.
Ten Amazing Facts about the Solar System
Our Solar System is pretty amazing. There's a planet that orbits lying down and a surprising number with rings. The Sun is losing mass at the rate of 300 million tons a minute, but it's nothing to worry about. And how did bits of Vesta end up on Earth?
(1) Tour the Moon, See history unfold
Earlier this month NASA celebrated their Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter's first 1000 days in orbit - by releasing two superb videos. One compresses the four and a half billion years of the Moon's history into 2:41 minutes – highlights only, needless to say! The other is a 4:41 minute tour of some of some interesting lunar sights. Be sure to opt for full screen to see them at their best. Also, educators, there is a download option, which would make it easy to use them in the classroom.
(2) Moon and earthshine
Last night (2012.03.24) I saw Venus, Jupiter and a beautiful waxing crescent Moon in the sky together. You could also see earthshine on the Moon. Here is a photograph of the waning crescent Moon taken on March 20 (the vernal equinox) from Esfahan in Iran by M. Taha Ghouchkanlu.
The faintly illuminated part of the Moon you can see is getting sunlight which has been reflected from the Earth. Leonardo da Vinci first explained this phenomenon five hundred years ago.
The crescent Moon will be very close to Jupiter tonight – look to the west after sunset.
(3) More about the Moon
“Moon Madness” explores some of the stranger ideas people have about the Moon. http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art49525.asp
In “Exploring the Apollo Landing Sites,” guest author Ian Ridpath takes us through the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter's hi res pictures of the landing sites. http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art29536.asp
Since the article was written NASA has released some new photos including a “best yet” one of the Apollo 11 site at http://lroc.sese.asu.edu/news/uploads/Apollo_11.png
Apollo 12: http://lroc.sese.asu.edu/news/uploads/M175428601R_thumb.png
Apollo 15: http://lroc.sese.asu.edu/news/uploads/M175252641LR_ap15.png (You can see the tracks of the lunar rover.)
I wish you clear skies. Please visit astronomy.bellaonline.com for even more great content about Astronomy.
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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Mona Evans, Astronomy Editor
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