astronomy Newsletter


December 19 2013 Astronomy Newsletter

Hi everybody

Here's the latest article from the Astronomy site at

People once thought that stars were eternal and unchanging. Today we know that they have life cycles of birth and death. Here is the story of how a star like our Sun is born.

*Young Astronomers - update*

Last month I wrote about the accomplishments of several young astronomers, including 10-year-old Canadian Nathan Gray. Nathan's older sister Kathryn held the record for the youngest person ever to discover a supernova. But young Nathan discovered a "supernova candidate" recently. It couldn't be confirmed until a spectrum was taken by a big telescope and examined.

However since then Lina Tomasella and Leonardo Tartaglia of the Padova-Asiago Supernova Group have provided the confirmation. And it's been given the provisional designation of Type II-peculiar. (I can't honestly say I know what this is!) Nathan was a few months younger when he made the discovery than Kathryn was when she made hers.

*Showers but no Rainbow*

Chang'e-3 landed safely with the lunar rover Yutu on December 14. This is the first soft landing on the Moon since 1976 when the Soviet probe Luna-24 landed in the Mare Crisium. The probe then successfully returned samples of Moon soil to Earth. The Chinese mission didn't manage to land in Sinus Iridum (Bay of Rainbows), as expected, but did come down nearby in the Mare Crisium (Sea of Showers). This image of the Moon shows the location of the landing site:

*Winter Solstice*

The winter solstice is on Saturday, December 21. It's the astronomical event with the most associated festivals. You can read about it here: There's a beautiful photo of a winter solstice sunset at Stonehenge here:


There are two Christmas articles with an astronomy slant which you may interest you. In one, I look at some of the astronomical / astrological theories about the “Star of Bethlehem”: In “Christmas in the Skies” I look at some space and astronomy-related events that occurred on Christmas day:

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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!

Do pass this message along to family and friends who might also be interested. Remember it's free and without obligation.

I wish you clear skies.
Mona Evans, Astronomy Editor

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