June 16 2010 Astronomy Newsletter
Here's the latest article from the Astronomy site at BellaOnline.com.
What are constellations?
Stories of gods and mortals, love and betrayal, monsters and heroes. They all adorn the night sky in the form of constellations. These star groups have also served as calendars, navigation aids and internationally defined areas of the celestial sphere.
If you've ever worried about how to pronounce the names of constellations, the article includes a link to Sky & Telescope, which provides some guidance.
Need role models for girls? This is a great week to celebrate women in space, because there are anniversaries of two historic flights.
On this day in 1963, Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space. Her flight remains the only solo flight by a woman.
Tereshkova was a Russian from a working class family, a supporter of the Communist Party and a keen parachutist. When the Soviet space program wanted a female cosmonaut, these three qualities were essential.
Parachuting sounds an odd -- not to mention slightly worrying -- requirement for a cosmonaut. But at that time, the cosmonauts didn't land in the capsule. They were ejected and then parachuted down.
Tereshkova's flight was successful as a propaganda coup against the USA. Nonetheless that shouldn't detract from her accomplishment. She spent nearly three days in orbit in Vostok 6, which was more flying time than all of the American astronauts put together. Yet this didn't persuade NASA that women could also be the right stuff!
In fact, it was almost exactly twenty years later, on June 18, 1983, that the first American woman went into space. On that day Sally Ride lifted off with the rest of the Space Shuttle Challenger crew. She flew two missions on the Challenger and was in training for a third when the craft blew up not long after takeoff.
Dr Ride is currently very active in trying to get children and young people interested in science, especially girls. Here is the website for the Sally Ride Science Store: http://www.sallyridestore.com/
Please visit astronomy.bellaonline.com for even more great content about Astronomy.
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Mona Evans, Astronomy Editor
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