astronomy Newsletter


March 6 2014 Astronomy Newsletter

Hi everybody

Here's the latest article from the Astronomy site at

Gemini – the Celestial Twins
Gemini. A story of the love and loyalty of two brothers parted only by death. Includes a star that's actually a system of six stars, and a giant star that can help us measure distances in space. Contains an object that completely baffled astronomers for twenty years.


Tomorrow is the birthday of John Herschel and Henry Draper.

John Herschel, son of William Herschel, was born on March 7, 1792. He was one of the founders of the Royal Astronomical Society in Britain. Herschel was renowned for his work in astronomy, his books, his pioneering work in photography and his many contributions to science. When he died, he was given a state funeral and buried in Westminster Abbey not far from Isaac Newton.

Henry Draper, born on March 7, 1837, was a physician by profession, but also a dedicated astrophotographer. His plan to produce to a star catalog of stellar spectra was interrupted by his early death. However his widow Anna Draper gave Harvard College Observatory a large sum of money to obtain and catalog stellar spectra as a memorial to her husband. Annie Cannon carried out most of the classification and after Edward Pickering's death, oversaw the preparation of the catalog. If you see a star referred to by an “HD” number, this is its number in the Henry Draper catalog.

“Photography and the Birth of Astrophysics”:
“Annie Jump Cannon”:

Urbain Le Verrier was born on March 11, 1811. The planet Uranus was deviating somewhat from its expected orbit, and many thought an undiscovered planet was affecting it. Le Verrier was one of those people. He worked out where he thought this new planet should be in order to cause the observed behavior of Uranus. His calculations enabled Johann Galle to discover the planet Neptune.
"Pluto Is a Dwarf Planet":

*Anniversary of Rosetta launch*

Saturday was the tenth anniversary of the launch of ESA's comet-chaser Rosetta. Rosetta was launched on March 2, 2004 from French Guayana. Its rendezvous with a comet is expected to occur this summer. “Rosetta the Comet Chaser”:

*Voyager 1 fly-by of Jupiter*

Last week's article was about Voyager 2's planetary mission, which is the only spacecraft to have visited Uranus and Neptune and their moons. Voyager 2 was the fourth probe to visit Jupiter. Yesterday was the 35th anniversary of Voyager 1's 1979 fly-by of Jupiter. In addition, the first active volcanoes were found on Jupiter's moon Io on March 8, 1979. “Voyager 1 – Gas Giants and a Last Look Homeward”:

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I wish you clear skies.

Mona Evans, Astronomy Editor

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