astronomy Newsletter


July 14 2016 Astronomy Newsletter

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Solar System Discoveries – Quiz
Since prehistoric times people have known the Sun, the Moon and five planets. The rest of the Solar System had to await discovery by people with telescopes. How many of the discoverers can you identify?


(1) July 18, 1921: John Glenn. On February 20, 1962, Glenn flew the Friendship 7 mission to be the first American to orbit the Earth. Thirty-six years later he became the oldest person to go into space when he flew as a payload specialist on the space shuttle Discovery.

(2) July 19, 1846: Edward Pickering. Pickering was a leading light of 19th century astronomy who made the Harvard College Observatory into an institution with an international reputation.


(1) July 14, 1965: Mariner 4 made a flyby of Mars. It was the first successful Mars mission
(2) July 14, 2015: New Horizons made its historic flyby of Pluto. The data is still coming home.
(3) July 16, 1994: The first fragments of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 impacted Jupiter.
(4) July 16, 2011 The Dawn spacecraft went into orbit around Vesta.
(5) July 17, 1850: The first ever photograph of a star was taken at Harvard Observatory by the Director William Cranch Bond and Boston photographer John Adams Whipple.
(6) July 20, 1969: Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first humans to walk on the Moon.

*A new dwarf planet*

A few days ago astronomers using the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope announced the discovery of a new dwarf planet. Planet RR245 is around 435 miles wide, just over 5% the width of the Earth, and has one of the largest orbits of any dwarf planet, taking an estimated 700 years to travel around the sun.

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I wish you clear skies.

Mona Evans, Astronomy Editor
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