March Equinox to June Solstice – Quiz

March Equinox to June Solstice – Quiz
The days between the first day of spring and the start of summer are marked by astronomical events, discoveries, and birthdays. Here's a little quiz for you that picks out some of the highlights of this period.

Quiz: March Equinox to June Solstice

  1. The new year begins at the March solstice on the (A) Ethiopian calendar; (B) Julian calendar; (C) Persian calendar.

  2. At Palomar Observatory in March 2005, M.E. Brown, C.A. Trujillo and D.L. Rabinowitz discovered the dwarf planet (A) Makemake; (B) Eris; (C) Quaoar.

  3. On April 1, 1997, this brilliant comet made its closest approach to the Sun: (A) Churyumov-Gerasimenko; (B) Halley; (C) Hale-Bopp.

  4. ESA's Titan lander was named for this Dutch scientist and mathematician born on April 14, 1629: (A) Jan Oort; (B) Christiaan Huygens; (C) Gerard Kuiper.

  5. This event occurred on April 12, 1961:
    (A) Yuri Gagarin was first person to orbit the Earth;
    (B) Alan Shepard was the first American in space;
    (C) Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman in space.

  6. The brightest star in the northern celestial hemisphere is in the spring constellation Boötes – it is: (A) Betelgeuse; (B) Arcturus; (C) Vega.

  7. A famous observatory was inaugurated on May 1, 1682 – it was: (A) Paris Observatory, established by King Louis XIV; (B) Uraniborg, established by Tycho Brahe; (C) Greenwich Observatory, established by King Charles II.

  8. A 1919 total solar eclipse showed: (A) that there was an element in the Sun not known on Earth; (B) support for Einstein's General Theory of Relativity; (C) that the temperature of the Sun's corona was over a million degrees.

  9. On June 10, 2003, NASA launched to Mars: (A) Mars Odyssey Orbiter; (B) Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter; (C) Spirit rover.

  10. The June solstice occurs when (A) the Sun is over the Tropic of Capricorn; (B) Earth's south polar axis tilts at its maximum towards the Sun; (C) Earth's north polar axis tilts at its maximum towards the Sun.

Answers and notes

1. The new year begins at the March solstice on the (C) Persian calendar.
On the unique Ethiopian calendar, the New Year – Enkutatash – falls on what is September 11 on our Gregorian calendar. The Julian calendar was devised to begin on January 1, instead of in March.

2. At Palomar Observatory in March 2005, M.E. Brown, C.A. Trujillo and D.L. Rabinowitz discovered the dwarf planet (A) Makemake.
The same team also discovered the other two bodies. Eris was discovered in January 2005 and Quaoar in June 2002. The International Astronomical Union hasn't officially listed Quaoar as a dwarf planet, but it does appear to qualify as one.

3. On April 1, 1997, this brilliant comet made its closest approach to the Sun: (C) Hale-Bopp.
Hale-Bopp, the Great Comet of 1997, was seen by a record number of people. Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko was of no special interest until it was chosen for the Rosetta mission. Rosetta met it in the outer Solar System and accompanied it around the Sun. Comet Halley is a periodic comet that's been observed for over 2000 years. It last visited us in 1986.

4. ESA's Titan lander was named for this Dutch scientist and mathematician born on April 14, 1629: (C) Christiaan Huygens.
Huygens was the discoverer of Saturn's moon Titan. Jan Oort's name has been given to the Oort Cloud, a vast reservoir of comets in the outer Solar System. The Kuiper belt of icy bodies beyond Neptune was named for Gerard Kuiper.

5. This event occurred on April 12, 1961: (A) Yuri Gagarin was first person to orbit the Earth.
Alan Shepard was the first American in space. He went into space on May 5, 1961, but didn't orbit. Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman in space. In June 1963 she orbited the Earth 48 times.

6. The brightest star in the northern celestial hemisphere is in the spring constellation Boötes – it's (B) Arcturus.
The other two stars are also quite bright. Betelgeuse is a red giant in Orion, and Vega is a blue-white star in Lyra.

7. A famous observatory was inaugurated on May 1, 1682 – it was: (A) Paris Observatory established by King Louis XIV.
Uraniborg, established by Tycho Brahe in 1576 with funding from King Frederick II of Denmark, was a purpose-built observatory and scientific research institute. Greenwich Observatory was established in England in 1675 by King Charles II for navigation, timekeeping, and practical astronomy.

8. A 1919 total solar eclipse showed (B) support for Einstein's General Theory of Relativity.
In the data from an 1868 solar eclipse, Jules Janssen and Norman Lockyer independently discovered the element now named helium. It was unknown on Earth until 1895. Although the eclipse of 1869 seemed to show another new element, decades later it was shown to be iron at a temperature of over a million degrees.

9. On June 10, 2003, NASA launched to Mars: (C) Spirit rover.
Mars Odyssey Orbiter was launched in April 2001, and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in August 2005. Both are still operational.

10. The June solstice occurs when (C) Earth's north polar axis tilts at its maximum towards the Sun.
The Sun is over the Tropic of Capricorn at the December solstice when Earth's south polar axis tilts at its maximum towards the Sun. At the June solstice, the Sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer.

How did you do?
Did you get most of the answers right? If not, would you do better another time from what you've learned?



You Should Also Read:
When Does the New Year Begin
Yuri Gagarin – the First Spaceman
Einstein's Eclipse

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