July 6 2011 Astronomy Newsletter
Here's the latest article from the Astronomy site at BellaOnline.com.
Halley didn't discover a comet, but he did research and published papers in astronomy and many other fields. Russian Czar Peter the Great liked him as a dining and drinking companion and King William III put this civilian in charge of a Royal Navy ship. But how did he get a comet named for him?
One of Halley's achievements was to get published Isaac Newton's great work Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica - known as the "Principia." This happened 422 years ago today on July 6, 1687.
I hope that our America readers had an enjoyable 4th of July, perhaps celebrating with friends and family. NASA was responsible for some pretty spectacular fireworks on July 4, 2005 when it sent the Deep Impact probe crashing into Comet Tempel 1. Here is a short movie of the impact taken by the High Resolution Instrument. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/43/HRIV_Impact.gif
But how about a Really Big Bang? The first object in the Messier catalog of things-that-aren't-comets is the Crab Nebula (M1). It is a supernova remnant and you don't get much bigger bangs than a supernova. For a time they release as much energy as an entire galaxy. The supernova whose remains form the Crab Nebula was observed by Chinese astronomers on July 4, 1054.
*The July sky*
The Hubblesite folks do a video presentation each month about the northern hemisphere sky. This month's is about seven minutes long and you can find it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKrqY5WZXxQ If you're new to skywatching, my “Getting Started” section at http://www.bellaonline.com/subjects/8360.asp has articles for beginners, including help in reading star maps, using binoculars and an introduction to the summer sky.
*The Last Shuttle*
On Friday, July 8, 2011 an era in space travel will almost be at an end. The shuttle Atlantis is due to lift off for the final shuttle mission. After that American astronauts traveling to and from the International Space Station will be reliant on the Russians for transport. We've come a long way since the Cold War!
That's all for now. Wishing you clear skies.
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