Candlemas to the March Equinox - Quiz

Candlemas to the March Equinox - Quiz
Candlemas bells (snowdrops) [RHS Garden, Rosemoor]

Birthdays, discovery and exploration abound in the period from Candlemas to the March equinox. Here's a little quiz for you that picks out some highlights in this period. How many do you recognize?

Quiz: Candlemas Day to the March equinox
  1. Candlemas day is on February 2, the first day of spring in some cultures. One of the following days does not also fall on this day: (A) Groundhog Day; (B) St Swithin's Day); (C) St Brigid's Day.

  2. The discoverer of Pluto, born February 4, 1906, was: (A) Clyde Tombaugh; (B) Percival Lowell; (C) Johann Gottfried Galle.

  3. Born February 15, 1564, one of the first known to have used a telescope to observe the heavens was: (A) Simon Marius; (B) Thomas Harriot; (C) Galileo Galilei.

  4. On February 16, 1948, he discovered Miranda, a moon of Uranus: (A) Gerard Kuiper; (B) William Herschel; (C) William Lassell.

  5. Two of these NASA events occurred on a February 14 – Valentine's Day. Which one didn't?
    (A) Voyager 1 took the Solar System family portrait;
    (B) NEAR-Shoemaker went into orbit around asteroid Eros;
    (C) Deep Impact sent an impactor to comet Tempel 1.

  6. On March 2, 2004 ESA launched Rosetta to pursue this comet: (A) Hale-Bopp; (B) Shoemaker-Levy 9; (C) Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

  7. This revolutionary Polish astronomer was born on February 19, 1473: (A) Johannes Hevelius; (B) Nicolas Copernicus; (C) Johannes Kepler.

  8. Born March 16, 1750, she was the first woman to be awarded a Gold Medal by the Royal Astronomical Society: (A) Mary Somerville; (C) Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin; (C) Caroline Herschel.

  9. The first man in orbit had a March 9th birthday. He was: (A) Alan Shepard; (B) Yuri Gagarin; (C) John Glenn.

  10. A major astronomical event occurred on February 23, 1987: (A) the detection of a supernova in a nearby galaxy; (B) Halley's Comet returned; (C) the first sunlike exoplanet was discovered.
Answers and notes

1. Candlemas day is on February 2, the first day of spring in some cultures. One of the following days does not also fall on this day: (B) St Swithin's Day.
Groundhog Day is a remnant of an ancient animal divination ceremony. St Brigid is the only Celtic goddess that's also a saint. St Swithin's associated with weather. His day is in July.

2. The discoverer of Pluto, born February 4, 1906, was: (A) Clyde Tombaugh.
Lowell searched for a ninth planet affecting Neptune's orbit, but he had died before Tombaugh discovered Pluto at the Lowell Observatory. Galle discovered Neptune at Berlin Observatory, using calculations Urbain Le Verrier sent to him.

3. Born February 15, 1564, one of the first known to have used a telescope to observe the heavens was: (C) Galileo Galilei.
The three men named were among the first to observe the heavens with a telescope, but the birthdate is Galileo's. The first documented telescopic observation was by Thomas Harriot several months before Galileo's. Marius belatedly claimed discovery of the Jovian moons, but Galileo had already published, and is given the credit.

4. On February 16, 1948, he discovered Miranda, a moon of Uranus: (A) Gerard Kuiper.
Herschel discovered Uranus in 1781, and later two of its moons. Lassell discovered two more moons in 1851. Nearly a century later Kuiper discovered Miranda.

5. Two of these NASA events occurred on a February 14 – Valentine's Day. Which one didn't? (C) Deep Impact sent an impactor to comet Tempel 1.
Deep Impact's impactor hit the comet – appropriately – on July 4, 2005. Also appropriate was NEAR-Shoemaker's Valentine's Day orbit around Eros, named for the Greek god of love. Voyager 1 was beyond the orbit of Neptune, leaving the planets of the Solar System behind. It took a photo, which turned out to include the pixel Carl Sagan dubbed “the pale blue dot “– Earth.

6. On March 2, 2004 ESA launched Rosetta to pursue this comet: (C) Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
Rosetta rendezvoused with the comet in August 2014. Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 broke up and collided with Jupiter 1994. In 1997-8, Hale-Bopp was a brilliant sight in the sky, probably the most viewed comet in history.

7. This revolutionary Polish astronomer was born on February 19, 1473: (B) Nicolas Copernicus.
The three astronomers were Polish, but it was Copernicus (1473-1543) who set out evidence and arguments for a revolutionary Sun-centered Solar System. Kepler (1571-1630) provided the mathematics of the planetary orbits for a Sun-centered system. Hevelius (1611-1687), was a prominent 17th century astronomer and celestial cartographer.

8. Born March 16, 1750, she was the first woman to be awarded a Gold Medal by the Royal Astronomical Society: (C) Caroline Herschel.
Along with Caroline Herschel, the mathematician, scientist and author Mary Somerville (1780-1872) was awarded honarary fellowship in in the RAS. The doctoral thesis of Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin (1900-1979) showed that hydrogen was the most abundant element in the Universe, but she didn't get much credit for her discovery.

9. The first man in orbit had a March 9th birthday. He was: (B) Yuri Gagarin.
Alan Shepard was the first American in space, and John Glenn the first American in orbit.

10. A major astronomical event occurred on February 23, 1987: (A) the detection of a supernova in a nearby galaxy.
SN 1987A, visible to the unaided eye in the southern hemisphere, was the nearest supernova seen in nearly four hundred years. Halley's Comet last appeared in the inner Solar System in 1986. The first exoplanet orbiting a sunlike star wasn't discovered until 1995.

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



You Should Also Read:
Groundhog Day
Syon House
Copernicus - His Life

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