astronomy Newsletter


January 13 2015 Astronomy Newsletter

Hi everybody

Here's the latest article from the Astronomy site at

Syzygy – When Heavenly Bodies Align
Syzygy may look like the letters on a dreadful Scrabble rack, but it just means three heavenly bodies lined up. When this happens, there are eclipses, transits, conjunctions, oppositions and occultations.

*New Horizons*
On January 19, 2006 NASA launched its New Horizons probe towards Pluto and the Kuiper Belt. Last month the spacecraft was woken up for the final time on its journey to the Plutonian system in order to get ready for its flyby this summer. Did you know that some of the ashes of Pluto's discoverer Clyde Tombaugh are accompanying New Horizons on this epic journey?

The original Kepler mission has provided over 4000 candidate exoplanets. An announcement was made last week that the 1000th confirmed planet was discovered in the latest batch. This batch includes eight planets that are probably rocky and definitely in their star's habitable zone. This doesn't mean that there is life on any of them, but it does mean we're getting closer to finding Earthlike worlds.

*Huygens probe 10-year anniversary*
On January 14, 2005 the Huygens probe landed on Saturn's moon Titan. It had traveled to the Saturnian system with Cassini. Here is the first picture taken on the surface of Titan: You can read more about Saturn's fascinating moon in “Titan – Planet-sized Moon of Saturn”:

*Happy Birthday, Bode*
Johann Elert Bode was born in Hamburg, Germany on January 19, 1747. He was one of the leading astronomers of his day, though his name is still known mainly for Bode's Law. This is a numerical relationship describing the distances of the planets from the Sun. (It breaks down at Neptune.) However he founded – and was the editor of – the influential Berlin Astronomical Yearbook. This publication continued into the twentieth century. Bode also produced two star atlases. You can read more about “Bode and Bode's Law”:

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I wish you clear skies.

Mona Evans, Astronomy Editor

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