astronomy Newsletter


January 10 2017 Astronomy Newsletter

Hi everybody

Here's the latest article from the Astronomy site at

Volans Flies the Southern Skies
Volans (the Flying Fish) flees from its predator Dorado (the Mahi Mahi) across the southern sky. They're two of the southern hemisphere constellations that Flemish astronomer Petrus Plancius (1552-1622) created to fill in parts of the sky not visible to northern astronomers.


(1) January 8, 1587: Johannes Fabricius born. He was a Frisian/German astronomer, eldest son of David Fabricius who was also an astronomer. In their solar observing they discovered sunspots about the same time as - but independently of - Galileo.
(2) January 9, 1839: Scottish astronomer Thomas Henderson published his determination of the distance to Alpha Centauri. He had been the first to succeed in using stellar parallax to calculate the distance to a fixed star, but had delayed publishing his results and lost out on the credit for being first.
(3) January 10, 1946: The US Army Signal Corps had the first successful echo detection of a radar signal bounced off the Moon. It was part of an experiment in radar astronomy, a technique later used to map Venus.
(4) January 11, 1787: William Herschel discovered the moons of Uranus, Oberon and Titania. He didn't name the moons. Here's the story on that:
(5) January 12, 1907: Sergei Korolev was born. He was the mastermind behind the development of the Soviet space program. Even his name was a state secret and he was only referred to as the Chief Designer. More about the Soviet space program here:
(6) January 13, 1610: Galileo discovered Jupiter's moon Ganymede.
(7) January 13, 1978: NASA selected the first women astronauts. (At last.)
(8) January 14, 2005: ESA's Huygens probe landed on Saturn's moon Titan. It made a big contribution to what we know about Titan. More about the planet-sized moon:
(9) January 15, 2006: NASA's Stardust returned with samples of comet dust.

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I wish you clear skies.

Mona Evans, Astronomy Editor

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