astronomy Newsletter


December 21 2016 Astronomy Newsletter

Hi everybody

Here's the latest article from the Astronomy site at

Solstice to New Year - Quiz
The winter solstice, winter constellations, Christmas, dark and cold, exploration, and famous birthdays. Here's a little quiz for you that picks out some highlights in the period from the solstice through New Year's Day.

Warmest greetings to everyone celebrating winter holidays. That's Yule and the Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas or Kwanzaa.

(1) December 21, 1968: Apollo 8 was launched. Its crew would be the first humans to orbit the Moon.
(2) December 23, 1672: Giovanni Cassini discovered Saturn's moon Rhea.
(3) December 25 – Christmas day
1642: Isaac Newton was born in Lincolnshire in England.
1758: Halley's comet was seen by Johann Georg Palitzsch – Halley had predicted it would reappear in 1758-9.
2003: Mars Express and Beagle 2 arrived at Mars. Mars Express went into orbit, but Beagle 2 was lost when it descended to the surface of Mars. It wasn't found until last year.
2004: Huygens probe separated from the Cassini spacecraft to prepare for its visit to the moon Titan.
(4) December 26, 1780: Mary Somerville was born. She was a mathematician and accomplished science writer.
(5) December 27, 1571: Johannes Kepler was born. Using Tycho Brahe's data he formulated three laws which described the orbits of the planets mathematically.

*Two Wintry Articles*
What Was the Star of Bethlehem?
The Star of Bethlehem is one of the loveliest symbols of Christmas. But what was it? Simply an inspired idea to emphasize the spiritual importance of the story? Or was it based on an actual astronomical happening?

Galactic Winter Games
Welcome to the Galactic Winter Games, a starry tribute to Earth's Winter Olympic Games. It's a tour of some really cool cosmic sights – as well as some hot ones, such as one of the biggest explosions in the Universe.

Please visit for even more great content about Astronomy.

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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