astronomy Newsletter


January 29 2014 Astronomy Newsletter

Hi everybody

Here's the latest article from the Astronomy site at

Rosetta the Comet Chaser
The climax of an amazing space mission is set for summer 2014. Rosetta, the European Space Agency (ESA) spacecraft, has already traveled for ten years and billions of miles in order to rendezvous with a comet, accompany it as it moves into the inner Solar System, and deploy a lander.

*In memoriam*

On January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger broke up soon after launch, killing all seven astronauts which included the first Teacher in Space.

On February 1, 2003, the space shuttle Columbia was destroyed during re-entry, also killing all seven astronauts aboard.

On Friday, January 31, there will be a Rememberance Day event for these two tragedies and in memory of the Apollo 1 crew who died on the launch pad on January 27, 1967. The Visitor Complex will provide flowers for visitors to place at the memorial.

*Johannes Hevelius (1611 - 1687)*

Which 17th century brewer created ten new constellations? Johannes Hevelius, astronomer, civic leader, instrument-maker, writer, engraver and publisher. He died before finishing his great star atlas, so his wife Elisabetha - also an astronomer - finished the editing and oversaw its publication.

Hevelius was born on January 28, 1611 and died on January 28, 2687. He was the last major astronomer to observe extensively without a telescope. Edmund Halley tried to persuade him to use a telescope, and Hevelius agreed to a test. Halley concluded that Hevelius's observing with the instruments he used was equal to the accuracy of a telescope. (I'm sure Hevelius was a good astronomer, but telescopes weren't all that great in his day.) Here is a picture of his monument in Gdansk:

*10 Years on Mars for Opportunity rover*

On January 25, 2004, the Opportunity rover landed on Mars for a mission that was going to last 90 sols (90 Martian days, which are a bit longer than Earth days). Ten years later, she's still going strong and adding to our knowledge of the red planet. Opportunity - Oppy to her friends! - did as others might on their birthdays. She took a selfie. Although she doesn't have a little cell phone, she does have some nifty cameras and can send messages home: Someone commented that it was amazing that she matched the Martian landscape. I suspect it's not so much amazing as that Oppy needs a shower. Unfortunately, it hasn't rained on Mars for quite a long time.

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I hope to hear from you sometime soon, either in the forum or in response to this email message. I welcome your feedback!

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I wish you clear skies.

Mona Evans, Astronomy Editor

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