astronomy Newsletter


January 5 2012 Astronomy Newsletter

Hello everybody!

Here is this week's article:

Naming Heavenly Bodies – Stars
The International Astronomical Union is the official body in charge of naming celestial objects. But how do they name stars? Do all the stars have names? Can I buy a star name for a friend? Find out here.

*January 5: Earth at Perihelion*

Today the Earth was at its closest point to the Sun during its year-long orbit. Our orbit is somewhat elliptical, rather than a perfect circle – as Kepler discovered – so our distance from the Sun varies. But not by a lot.


(1) January 2, 1920: Isaac Asimov was born. He was a professor of biochemistry by profession, but best known for his science fiction and popular science books, including some on astronomy.

(2) January 8, 1942: Stephen Hawking was born. He will be celebrating his 70th birthday on Saturday. He is probably the best known living scientist and is one of the major figures in the study of black holes. On a lighter note, he has co-authored three books for children, which are fiction with a science theme. The first of the series is reviewed here:

In Lucy & Stephen Hawking's book (“George's Secret Key to the Universe”), the hero George used to have a quiet life, but now he's trying to rescue his next door neighbor from a black hole. Here's a lively illustrated story, beautiful color images of the universe, and from the man who knows, a great explanation of what a black hole is.

*Pluto's Nemesis*

On January 5, 2005 UB313 (Eris) was discovered. This was an object way out beyond Pluto and apparently larger than Pluto. Although there had been disagreement for some time about whether Pluto was really a planet or not, this certainly reignited the debate. We all know the outcome, which is that “Pluto Is a Dwarf Planet”:

Best wishes to all for a peaceful 2012.

That's all for now.  Wishing you clear skies.

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Mona Evans,
Astronomy Editor BellaOnline

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