astronomy Newsletter


July 16 2015 Astronomy Newsletter

Hi everybody

Here's the latest article from the Astronomy site at

Four Historic Eclipses
An empire lost, an empire saved, lives lost, lives saved. Read about some unexpected outcomes of solar and lunar eclipses.

*Pluto – just wow!*
On July 14 New Horizons made the historic fly-by of Pluto and its moons. Now it's headed further out into the Kuiper Belt. It's so far away that communications take over four hours to get there. During the time the spacecraft spent closest to Pluto, it concentrated fully on data collection. The data is now being sent home, and it will take over a year for all the data packets to arrive. But already everything we thought we knew about Pluto is being overturned.

Our actual view of Pluto has changed over the 85 years of our acquaintance. This little animation shows our changing images of Pluto: It goes from the blurry pixels of Lowell Observatory to the mountain ranges photographed by New Horizons. The page also identifies each of the images in the animation.

*Mariner 4*
July 14 was the 50th anniversary of another historic mission. On July 14, 1965 Mariner 4 made the first fly-by of Mars. It was the first successful Mars mission back in the days when the Kuiper Belt's existence was still just a theory. Here's an interesting little video about Mariner 4:

*Birth Anniversaries*
(1) July 18, 1921: John Glenn was born. The first American in orbit, he's almost as well known as Neil Armstrong. Here's an interesting infographic about his career:
(2) July 19, 1846: Edward Pickering was born. Astronomer and physicist, he was the Director of the Harvard College Observatory for many years. Famously, he hired a number of very bright women as “computers”, including Annie Cannon: and Henrietta Leavitt:

*Apollo 11 – 46 years on*
On July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 was launched and on July 20th the first humans set foot on the Moon. After the end of the Apollo program, no humans have been back to the Moon. The most recent visitor was the Chinese lander and its rover Jade Rabbit. However the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) took pictures of all of the Apollo landing sites. Award-winning astronomy writer and lecturer Ian Ridpath gives us a tour:

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I wish you clear skies.

Mona Evans, Astronomy Editor

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