September 29 2010 Astronomy Newsletter
Here are the latest articles from the Astronomy site at BellaOnline.com.
Every 75 years or so a very special member of the Solar System swoops close to the Sun, becoming visible in our skies like a cosmic ghost. Here is a brand new article about Halley’s Comet, the most famous comet of all.
Absolute Beginners – Seeing Mars and beyond
Three beautiful planets - Mars, Jupiter and Saturn - are all visible to the unaided eye. If you have binoculars or a telescope, you can also see some of the moons and other features. Here's a beginner's guide to the planets which lie beyond Earth.
In honor of Jupiter at opposition last week, I also added:
Jupiter Facts for Kids
King of the Roman gods, comet-killer, contains two and a half times the mass of all the other planets put together, has the shortest day of any planet in the Solar System. It's Jupiter! Find out more. Adults can read it too!
I'm near completion of an article inspired by the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition. So I was pleased to see that there is an anniversary tomorrow related to astrophotography. It was on September 30, 1880 that Henry Draper was the first person to photgraph the Orion Nebula. Here is the historic picture: http://www.saburchill.com/HOS/astronomy/images/201105002.jpg
His father William John Draper had already been the first person in North America to take a photograph of a heavenly body - the Moon. But Henry not only managed to get pictures of fainter objects, he was also the first person to photograph a stellar spectrum.
Sadly, Henry Draper died when he was only 45. However, Anna, his widow and able assistant, enabled his work on stellar spectra to continue. She gave Harvard Observatory the money to complete her husband's star catalog in which the stars would be classified by their spectra. Most of the classification – three quarters of a million stars – was done by the exceptional Annie Jump Cannon. You can find out more about her and about stellar spectra by clicking on this link http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art28074.asp If you see a star referred to by an HD number, that is it's number in the Henry Draper Catalog.
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