August 24 2011 Astronomy Newsletter
Last Saturday was the 34th anniversary of the launch of the probe Voyager 2. It was launched on August 20, 1977 and followed a few weeks later by Voyager 1. NASA was taking advantage of a rare alignment of the outer planets which would make it possible to visit Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune.
On August 25, 1981 Voyager 2 was at its closest to Saturn and exactly eight years later at its nearest to Neptune. But having finished the original job of studying the outer planets, both Voyagers are still on active service.
Voyager 1 is the most distant human object, currently 118 times farther from the Sun than Earth is. It's near the edge of the heliosheath, the bubble of charged particles emitted by the Sun. Beyond that is interstellar space. To find out more about the Voyagers including their distances (continuously updated), see this website: http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/
*The Golden Record*
A unique feature of both Voyagers is that they carry an old-fashioned phonograph record with greetings in a few dozen Earth languages, a selection of sounds of Earth, music from a variety of traditions, and pictures. All of the material was assembled by a team lead by Dr. Carl Sagan of Cornell University. Dr. Sagan compared it to a message in a bottle thrown into the sea. If you want to find out more about what's on the record and the instructions for playing it, have a look at: http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/spacecraft/goldenrec_more.html
And the latest article from the Astronomy site at BellaOnline.com is:
The Bluffer's Guide to the Cosmos – book review
Here is an entertaining overview of astronomy small enough to put in your pocket. Not only the Big Bang, black holes, exploding stars, visiting Mars and all the rest of the cosmos, but plenty of laughs along the way. I enjoyed it – you must know someone who would too.
That's all for now. Wishing you clear skies.
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