May 18 2011 Astronomy Newsletter
Here's the latest article from the Astronomy site at BellaOnline.
Gravity - Cosmic Glue
Aristotle's perfect cosmos didn't need gravity to hold it together. However the system with planets orbiting the Sun called for an explanation. In the process, Newton was inspired by a falling apple, but Galileo's experiments with falling bodies didn't involve dropping them off the Tower of Pisa.
There are so many fantastic things in astronomy, sometimes I wonder if one day I won't be able to be amazed any more. If so, the time is not now! Here is an awesome all-sky survey done by an amateur astrophotographer with some family assistance. Nick Risinger traveled to South Africa and through remote areas of the western United States in order to get the dark skies and complete coverage he wanted. He says, rather sadly, "As light pollution continues to spread in America, these western states contain some of the last havens of true darkness, a shade few of us are any longer familiar with in which the Milky Way alone can cast a soft shadow."
His site is here: http://skysurvey.org/ There are two modes available. One is the whole panorma of the celestial sphere, which lets you scroll and zoom. The other will let you zoom and look around, but you can also opt to have the constellations shown as well as information about other objects.
Endeavour finally lifted off on Monday, May 16th. The STS-134 mission took a dark matter experiment to the International Space Station. Scientists have calculated that only 5% of the Universe is made of the ordinary matter that we know and that another 23% is made of dark matter. This matter is affected by gravity, but otherwise can't be detected.
Two original songs will be played as wake-up songs in the final two days of the mission. Whether or not you voted, if you want to have a look (and listen) to the winners, the results are at https://songcontest.nasa.gov/voteOrigResult.aspx.
That's all for this now. Wishing you clear skies.
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Mona Evans, Astronomy Editor
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