astronomy Newsletter


October 10 2015 Astronomy Newsletter

Hi everybody

Here's the latest article from the Astronomy site at

What Happened to the Prime Meridian
The Prime Meridian of the World is “where time begins” at zero degrees of longitude. By international agreement in 1884, it was located at Greenwich, England. But if you stand on that meridian and look at the GPS on your phone, it won't read zero. What happened?

(1) October 7, 1959: Soviet space probe Luna 3 sent back the first images of the far side of the Moon. Since the same side of the Moon is always turned to us, no one had ever seen the other side before.
(2) October 10, 1848: English astronomer William Lassell discovered Neptune's large moon Triton. You can read more about Triton here:
(3) October 12: Columbus Day in the USA. Columbus wasn't a hero, and he was lucky that the American continents were between Europe and Asia. Since he wasn't a great navigator, and was off by thousands of miles in his belief about where Asia was, he and his men would have died of hunger. To his dying day, he insisted that he *had* got to Asia. Yes, he thought the Earth was round, but so did most everyone else. You can read about this in “Columbus and the Flat Earth Myth”

*Blue skies on Pluto*
Who'd have expected anything on Pluto to be similar to Earth? Yet from the July fly-by data, the New Horizons team has discovered that Pluto's sky is blue and that there are patches of water ice on the surface. To produce this image of Pluto, they processed color data to match the way the human eye sees color. And the skies were blue! Gorgeous – my favorite color.

And although there's been evidence in the past of frozen nitrogen, carbon monoxide and methane on Pluto, recent New Horizons pictures are the first to show that part of the surface of Pluto is covered in water ice.

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I wish you clear skies.

Mona Evans, Astronomy Editor

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