astronomy Newsletter


January 5 2016 Astronomy Newsletter

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Here's the latest article from the Astronomy site at

Top Ten Astronomy Stories 2015
Some called 2015 "The Year of the Dwarf Planet" because space missions visited both Pluto and Ceres. Elsewhere Philae briefly awoke on a comet. Water was found on Mars, and so was Beagle 2. But how did astronomers predict a supernova, and what is the most distant known object in the Solar System?

*Happy Birthday, Stephen Hawking*
The world's most famous physicist was born on January 8, 1942. His best known work in cosmology is on black holes. The 2014 film "The Theory of Everything" is based on his life, but I can't remember if it included his part in "South Park".

*Astro anniversaries*
(1) On January 7, 1610 Galileo discovered three of the moons of Jupiter, Callisto, Europa and Io. On January 13, he discovered Ganymede. This quartet of large moons have since become known as the Galilean moons, in his honor.
(2) Scottish astronomer Thomas Henderson published the distance to Alpha Centauri on January 9, 1939. It was the second known stellar distance calculated by measuring the parallax, using the same principles that surveyors do. This diagram gives a basic explanation of stellar parallax:
(3) On January 12, 1820 the Royal Astronomical Society was founded in London. William Herschel was its first president.

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I wish you clear skies.

Mona Evans, Astronomy Editor

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