astronomy Newsletter


June 24 2012 Astronomy Newsletter

Hi everybody!

Here's the latest article from the Astronomy site at

Seeing in the Dark - book review
Does amateur equal incompetence? No, says Timothy Ferris in a superb book exploring the role of amateur astronomers in probing the heavens. He reminds us that the root of the word amateur is love, and interweaves the stories of these lovers of astronomy with a grand tour of the universe.

*Sally Ride*

Last week was the anniversary of the first woman in Space, Russian Valentina Tereshkova. This was an impressive propaganda coup, but didn't really reflect equality in the Soviet Union. Atlthough he second woman in space, Svetlana Savitskaya, was also Russian, her flight was 19 years after that of Tereshkova!

Things weren't any better for women in the USA, but at last the THIRD woman in space was Dr Sally Ride on June 18, 1983. After leaving the astronaut corps, she became a university professor and often served as a science adviser. As an educator myself, I like her dedication to science education and encouraging girls in the sciences. Her company provides lesson materials and she herself has written a number of books.


The June solstice was on Thursday the 21st. For the northern hemisphere this was the longest day, and the Sun reached its highest point in the sky. And for the southern hemisphere it was the opposite, the shortest day. The Sun set on researchers in Antarctica on May 16 and they won't see it again for a few months. However locals and visitors to the Arctic circle won't see the Sun set for awhile. Here is a photo of the midnight Sun over Altafjord in Norway:

*Founding of the Royal Observatory Greenwich*

The Royal Observatory – now the location of the prime meridian of the world – was founded by King Charles II on June 22, 1675. You can read more about this fascinating place at:

*Curiosity – the 7 crucial minutes*

The new rover Curiosity is on its way to Mars. There is going to be some nailbiting on Earth when she makes the descent to the planet. In this video the team at JPL explain what needs to happen for a safe landing. From the entry into the Martian atmosphere to the surface of the planet takes seven minutes. But because Mars is so far away, it takes 14 minutes for a radio signal to get to Earth. So when they first get the signal that says she's begun the entry, she will have already been on Mars for seven minutes, either safe and sound or not.

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I wish you clear skies.

Mona Evans,
Astronomy Editor

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