September 28 2011 Astronomy Newsletter
It's autumn and here is an article about one of the most prominent constellations of the autumn sky:
Pegasus the Winged Horse
A flying horse on feathered wings - it's the constellation Pegasus. You can spot it by its most noticeable feature, the great Square of Pegasus, though one star of the square belongs to poor Princess Andromeda. There's also a star in Pegasus very like our Sun with a planet circling it.
There was a major coronal mass ejection (CME) on Monday the 26th. A CME is a solar outburst in which the Sun sends an extra-large helping of small particles our way. If a CME it's extremely large, it can endanger satellites, astronauts and even power supplies on Earth. Normally, however, the most obvious effect is beautiful aurorae (northern or southern lights). Monday's CME caused aurorae in Scandanavia bright enough to be seen through rain clouds.
The Astronomy Photographer of the Year exhibition has some beautiful northern lights pictures, but here's something a bit different. It's one of the last pictures astronaut Ron Garan took from space: http://s1.proxy04.twitpic.com/photos/large/398593615.jpg The aurora you see is the aurora australis, not the aurora borealis, for he was over the southern hemisphere at the time. If you look at the sky, you can see Orion there. The three stars of Orion's belt are quite clear and if you live in the southern hemisphere, Orion is as you see him, of course. But for northern hemisphere readers, he will look upside down.
The fall Astronomy Day is on October 1st. You can find out about what's going on here: http://www.astroleague.org/AstronomyDay/AstronomyDay-2011-10.html For a quick rundown on the background to Astronomy Day, here's my article “Astronomy Day – Bringing Astronomy to the People” http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art56882.asp.
That's all for now. Wishing you clear skies.
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