astronomy Newsletter


September 3 2013 Astronomy Newsletter

Hi everybody

Oh dear, my apologies! I hit the wrong button. Not the button that sends a text version of the newsletter to myself for checking. Not even the one that sends the text to everybody. But the one that sends an HTML version to everyone.

Here's the latest article from the Astronomy site at

Maria Mitchell
Maria Mitchell was a true pioneer woman. She didn’t brave a physical wilderness. Hers was the harder job of pioneering higher education for women. She was the first American woman to discover a comet, the first to be elected to scientific societies and the first woman professor of astronomy.

Maria Mitchell loathed the idea that women should only do what was considered women’s work. In particular, she felt the injustice of women having to dedicate so much time to such work and be excluded from the life of the intellect.

She wrote that “the dressmaker should no more be a universal character than the carpenter. Suppose every man should feel it is his duty to do his own mechanical work of *all* kinds, would society be benefited? Would the work be well done? Yet a woman is expected to know how to do all kinds of sewing, all kinds of cooking, all kinds of any *woman’s* work, and the consequence is that life is passed in learning these only, while the universe of truth beyond remains unentered.”

*August – time for the Mars-as-big-as-the-full-Moon nonsense*

Once again, August comes and there’s an email or Facebook posting about how Mars is the closest it’s been to us in thousands of years and it’ll look as big as the full Moon. Then September comes and, of course, it hasn’t happened. If you were about half a million miles from Mars, you might see that. As Earth is 35 million miles from Mars, if we should see Mars looking that big, we are in Big Trouble.

At opposition in August 2003, when Mars was at its nearest to us, it looked like an exceptionally bright red star. You could have seen it magnified in a small telescope looking as big as the full Moon does with your unaided eye. Currently, Mars is on the other side of the Sun so even farther away than usual.

This photo was taken just before the Mars opposition in 2003 when it was comparatively close to us. It shows the Moon and Mars in the sky. (We call it a conjunction when you can see two heavenly bodies appear to be close together.)

*Autumn begins*

September 1st was the first day of meteorological autumn. Astronomical autumn is a few weeks behind. We’ll have the autumnal equinox on September 22, a few days after the Harvest Moon. (Remember this is the fourth full Moon this season.)

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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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