SKIP'S ASTRO TRIVIA

Gerorge Jetson's Astro, Not Skips

 

From October 2002 to March 2007

"Skip" Newell published

Skip's astro Trivia

 


GOODBYE AND CLEAR SKIES
 
This is my final installation of trivia. For the last several years it has been fun but with time one must move on to other things. Thanks to all for reading the trivia. I hope you have all enjoyed it, Goodbye and may you have clear skies.  Skip
 
 
MARCH 2007
 
Need Time?
 
Don't ever have enough time? Consider a move to Mars. A day there last 24 hours and 39 minutes, and a year last 669 days.
 
 
What's in a name?
 
The prominent stars have many names. Betelgeuse-the bright red star in the Orion constellation-is also known as Alpha Orionus, PPM149643, SAO113271,and HD39801.
 

 

February 2007
 
A whole lot of stars
 
A recent survey of the night sky calculates the number of stars that can be seen by Earth's telescopes to be about 70,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (70 sextillion). Scientist say that's 10 times the number of grains of sand on the Earth, and nearly the number of tablespoons of water you could scoop out of the Earth's oceans.
 
 
Wow is Mars far away
 
Mars is now over 210 million miles from Earth. On December 19,2007 it will be less than 60 million miles away.
 
 
JANUARY 2007
 
First some old news
 
The first depiction of a comet by a western civilization was stamped onto coins minted during the reign of the first Roman Emperor, Augustus Caesar. These commemorated the appearance of a comet in 17 BC that, according to Augustus and his supporters, was the spirit of Julius Caesar returning to mark his approval of Rome's new leader. As such, the coins were also an early example of political propaganda.
 
 
Now some really old news
 
The first known observation of Venus was recorded by the old Babylonians. Circa 3000 BC
 
 
DECEMBER 2006
 
How thick is thick?
 
The Earth may not be the prettiest planet in the solar system, nor the biggest or fastest, but at least it can lay claim to be the densest.
 

 

NOVEMBER 2006
 
HERE'S A COMFORTING THOUGHT
 
While traveling, no matter where you are on Earth, you can never get more than 12,500 miles from home.
 

 

OCTOBER 2006
 
WHAT A BIG SUNSET!
 
The sun may look bigger at sunrise and sunset, but that's an optical illusion. It's actually about 3,700 miles closer to you at high noon.
 
 
START COUNTING  THOSE STARS
 
An astronomical survey says that there are about 70,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars in the known universe---more stars than there are grains of sand on all the Earth's beaches and deserts. And that's the known universe---who knows what lies beyond our telescopes?
 

 

SEPTEMBER 2006
 
PLUTO FACTOIDS
 
IS IT A PLANET OR AN ASTEROID?
 

If you weighed 200 pounds on Earth you would weigh about 8 pounds on Pluto.

You would have to wait 248 years to become one year older on Pluto.  It takes Pluto about 248 Earth years to revolve around the sun.

You would have to adjust to dim light if you were on Pluto.  Pluto's brightest daylight is less than moonlight on Earth.

 
AUGUST 2006
 
SUMMER CAMP ANYONE?
 
Astronomy Camp in Tucson AZ. 1-800-BEAT-ASU for students and adults. They offer a beginning astronomy camp, advanced camp and adult camp.  Cost for young adult camp is $485 lodging, meals, and transportation in Tucson and all materials. The adult camp fee is $275 0r $350. Call for more info.
 
 
M STANDS FOR WHAT?
 
M stands for M object. Charles Messier (1730-1817) a French astronomer prepared one of the earliest catalogues of nebulous objects in the sky. A comet hunter, Messier developed the catalogue as an aid to detecting objects that might be mistaken for comets. Astronomers still use his 103 object catalogue to locate many items such as M57 the Ring Nebula in Lyra.

 

JULY 2006
 
THE GREAT MOON HOAX
 
On August 25th 1835 the New York Sun published that Sir John Hershel had discovered many new things on the moon with a new telescope. First was a lunar beach surrounding a sea, water birds, Bison, Elk, Beavers, Zebras, Pheasants, Unicorns, and Humans with Bat-like wings. Of  course it was all a hoax but the Daily New York Sun quickly became the largest selling daily newspaper in the world.
 
 
0 to 60 HOW FAST?
 
To slip the surly bonds of earth, the space shuttle has to accelerate from 0 to 17,500 mph in 8 minutes.
 

 

JUNE 2006
 
CAN A SATELLITE SIT STILL?
 
To get a satellite to stay in one place relative to the rotation of the Earth, plan to place it in the Clarke Belt, about 22,300 miles up. It's named after science-fiction author Arthur C. Clarke, who back in 1945 first suggested placing communications satellites in orbit at the same speed as the globe to make them appear stationary over one spot.

 

MAY 2006
 
YET MORE ON SPACE JUNK!
 
The United States is responsible for the first bit of space junk. In 1958, NASA launched  the Vanguard I. It quit functioning after six years, but is still in orbit today.
 

 

April 2006
 
MORE ON SPACE JUNK
 
A study in 1999 determined that there are at least 110,000 pieces of space junk rotating around the Earth measuring half an inch or bigger. Collectively they weigh more than four million pounds, and travel at speeds up to 17.000 mph.
 
 
WHAT'S IN A NAME!
 
"Astronaut" comes from Greek words meaning "sailor among the stars." "Cosmonaut" means "sailor of the universe."

 

 

MARCH 2006
 
DIPPERS?
 
Look heavenward to what we call the Big Dipper. The Greeks called it the Big Bear, the French and Irish called it the Plough and the Laplanders called it the Reindeer.
 
 
MORE DIPPER STORIES
 
What we call the Little Dipper in the night sky, the Greeks called it the Little Bear, Arabs called it the Coffin and the Scandinavians called it the Spike.

 

FEBRUARY  2006

 
RUSSIAN JUNK ANYONE?
 
During its first decade, the Mir space station mission dropped more than 200 items into space, dramatically increasing the amount of space junk in orbit.
 
 
CRATERS FOR EVERYONE
 
The surface of the moon has more than 30 trillion craters that measure at least a foot wide. Of those a mile or more wide, there are at least half a million, many overlapping.

 

JANUARY 2006

 
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!
 
Oh to be a kid again
 
Believe it or not. Astronauts used silly putty to keep instruments from floating away on space flights.
 
 
Did you lose a glove?
 
One of the more interesting bits of space junk that stayed in orbit for about a month: A glove dropped in 1965 by astronaut Edward White while space walking from Gemini 4.

 

DECEMBER 2005

 
SO BIG YET SO SMALL
 
In 1845 the third Earl of Rosse, an amateur astronomer of some means, built the world's largest telescope on his estate in Ireland. The earl's reflecting telescope had a seventy-two-inch metal mirror, and was suspended between two ivy-covered stone walls. The telescope revealed that what had appeared to be stars in other telescopes were actually glowing spiral objects. Rosse did not realize, however, that these tiny spiral objects were galaxies, each as large as or larger than our own, each with hundreds of millions of stars.
 
 
 
FASTER THAN A SPEEDING BULLET
 
In 1675, Ole Roemer of Denmark noticed that satellites of Jupiter were eclipsed by the giant planet at irregular intervals-when Jupiter was closest to Earth the eclipses came too soon, and vice versa when Jupiter was at its farthest point. Roemer understood, of course, that the light was taking longer or shorter times to reach Earth, and by careful measurement and calculation he was able to estimate the actual speed of light. His answer was 186,000 miles per second-an amazingly accurate figure of 1675: The modern value is 186,282.397 miles per second. The figure was so astonishingly high that Roemer didn't believe his own calculations. 

 

NOVEMBER 2005

 
My First Telescope
 
Around 1959 for a mere $29 Edmund Scientific Co. sold a 3 1/2" reflector telescope. It came with a cardboard tube and a wood mount. I know all about it because I owned one when I first got interested into astronomy.
 
 
A Really Old Observatory
 
The first observatory operated by a college was built in 1850 by Joseph Caldwell, President of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It contained a meridian transit telescope, a zenith telescope, a refracting telescope, an astronomical clock, a sextant, a reflecting circle, and a Hadley's Quadrant. The observatory was completed in 1831 having been built with Caldwell's own funds at a cost of $430.
 
 
Meteors anyone?
 
A meteorite museum can be found at Northrop Hall in the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque, NM. Find it on line at http://epswww.unm.edu/iom/Meteorite Museum.htm Oh by the way if you go and visit it it's free.
 

OCTOBER 2005

 
Is the Earth round?
 
The earth is an oblate ellipsoid- a sphere that is slightly flattened at the poles and which bulges at the equator. The distance around the earth at three equator is 24,902 miles. The distance around the earth through the poles is 24,860 miles.
 
 
 
SPACE SIGHTS
 
Rumors that the great wall can be seen from the moon are more loony than lunar. According to eye witness accounts, by astronauts they swear that it is absolutely not true. 

 

SEPTEMBER 2005

 

MORE DIET INFO
 
Best to avoid Jupiter if you're on a diet. A 150 pound earthling would tip the scales at 354 pounds there.
 
 
DO NOT FEAR AND DO NOT PANIC
 

You may already know that Mars' two moons are called Phobos and Deimos, and that their names mean "fear" and "panic." There's a reason for the unusual names: Phobos and Deimos were the horses that pulled the god Mars' war chariot

 

 

AUGUST 2005

 
DIET ANYONE?
 
Do you weigh more or less on Mars than on the Earth? A dieter's paradise, Mars has less gravity. A 200 pound earthling would weigh just 76 pounds there.
 
 
SPEAKING OF EATING
 
Despite the "space foods" of the past, astronauts don't really have to suck foods from tubes. It turns out that most foods stay attached to plates and utensils if they're moist or have a sauce or gravy. Liquids act like thick ketchup, sticking safely to itself and the cup.

 

 

JULY 2005

JUPITER FACTOIDS
 
If you like a moonlit night, try Jupiter. It has the most moons of any planet. (63 known moons at last count). See Trivia: Jupiter December 2002. Oh by the way Numbers 2,3,and 4 of planets with the most moons are Saturn (46), Uranus (27) and Neptune with (13).
 
Jupiter has a moon called Europa. And Europa has a volcano that spews out neither hot gasses nor lava. It erupts snowflakes and chunks of ice.

 

June 2005
 
Hot or cold? What will you be?
 
I suggest that you stay away from going to the planet Mercury if you don't like hot days and cold nights. In the sunlight, its about 800 degrees F., but in the shade, its 200 degrees below zero.
 
 
Not much for an air supply!
 
If the Earth were a ball with  a diameter of just four feet, our atmosphere would be only 1/25 of an inch thick.

 

 

MAY 2005
 
 
Quick as a light minute
 
With the orbits of Mars and Earth, the distance between the two planets can range  from 3 light minutes to as far as 21 light minutes. A light minute, of course, is the distance light can travel in a minute or just under 11,176,944 miles.
 
 
Boy is light fast!
 
If you traveled at the speed of light, you could make 47.5 round trips from Chicago to Los Angeles in one second.

 

 

APRIL 2005
 
 
AN EXPERIMENT YOU CAN TRY?
 
Think of the sun as an orange on the home plate of a major league baseball stadium. Place ink balls from ballpoint pens 1/8, 1/5, 1/3, and 1/2 of the way to the pitcher's mount---these are Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. Jupiter is a pea at second base and Saturn is a small ball bearing in the infield. A BB in the outfield and another in the outfield bleachers are Neptune and Uranus, and a grain of sand in the parking lot is Pluto. Finally, put a speck of dust an inch away from "Earth." That's the moon, the farthest point in space that humans have ever visited.

 

MARCH 2005
 
 
PIGS IN SPACE?
 
Not yet, but bees, wasps, hornets, spiders, earthworms, jellyfish, snails, toads, newts, mice, rats, guinea pigs, rabbits, tortoises,  monkeys, and dogs have all been shot up in rockets. Oh yeah, and people, too.
 
 
SUN AND MOON FACTOIDS
 
The sun is 8.3 light minutes away from the Earth-in other words, it takes that long for sunlight to journey here. In contrast the moon is only 1.25 light seconds away.
 

 

FEBRUARY 2005
 
 
LOOK OUT?
 
Manitowoc, Wisc. has the distinction of being the first town to be hit by space junk. In 1962, a 21 pound piece of Sputnik IV landed at the intersection of Park and North 8th Street. It didn't hit anybody.
 
 
SPACE GAMES?
 
Test by astronauts have proved that a yo-yo can work in zero gravity.
 


JANUARY 2005


WOLVES

Early Russian cosmonauts landed on solid ground instead of into the ocean like American astronauts. In 1965 Voskhod 2 missed its planned landing spot and the cosmonauts inside had to fend off hungry wolves for a day until rescuers reached them.

 

ME! DIZZY?
 

Feeling a little dizzy? That's not surprising: The Earth is spinning at a speed of about 1,070 MPH at its equator. At the same time , it's rotating around the sun at about 67,000 MPH. Our entire solar system is spinning through the Milky Way galaxy at about 558,000 MPH. Meanwhile, our galaxy is spinning with clusters of neighboring galaxies at a rate of about 660,000 MPH.

 

 

DECEMBER 2004



Jovian or Terrestrial

Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune are the Jovian (the adjectival form for the word "Jupiter"), or Jupiter-like planets. They are giant planets, composed primarily of light elements such as hydrogen and helium.
Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars are the terrestrial (derived from terra, the latin word for  "earth"), or earth-like planets. They are small in size, have solid surfaces, and are composed of rocks and iron. Pluto appears to be a terrestrial-type planet as well, but it may have a different origin from other planets.

 


Youngest US Astronaut

Ken Bowersox at the age of 28 flew his first flight on June 25,1984

 

Oldest US Astronaut

John Glenn at the age of 77 flew his last flight on November 6,1998

 

NOVEMBER 2004

 

Goodbye Mr. Whipple

Fred Whipple, Astronomer, died Aug.30, 2004 at the age of 97. It was he who proposed that comets were "dirty snowballs" made up of ice with some rock mixed in. Up until then it was believe comets were made up of dust.  Fred Whipple Nov.5,1906 to Aug.30, 2004
 


Astronaut?
 

In a pioneering Sci-Fi novel, Across The Zodiac, published in 1880, British writer Percy Greg presented the first fictional account of interplanetary travel by space ship, calling his vessel Astronaut (from the Greek for "star sailor") By the late 1920s the word had become used to mean a space traveler, rather than his ship, and once the space age began, it was this sense that became established in the west, with cosmonaut as the ruccian equivalent.
 


 

OCTOBER 2004
 


Space travel by rocket?

Yes, in 1656 it was proposed by the French fabulist Cyrano de Bergerac. Cyrano put forward the rocket as one means to get to the moon; he also suggested traveling there by balloon.
 


Sun tornadoes as wide as the Earth?
 

Yep, this discovery was made by the European Space Agency's SOHO (Solar Observer High Orbit) spacecraft in April 1998. Winds of hot gases inside these tornadoes were swirling at thousands of miles per hour. SOHO was launched into space on December 2, 1995.

 

 

September 2004
 


Superior or inferior planets


An inferior planet is one whose orbit is nearer to the sun than Earth's orbit is. Mercury and Venus are the inferior planets. Superior planets are those whose  orbits around the sun lie beyond that of the earth. Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto are the superior planets. The terms have nothing to do with the quality of an individual planet.

 

1st  manufactured reflecting telescope

The first manufactured reflecting telescope was made by Amasa Holcomb of Southwick, MA about 1826. This first one was made to order for a John A. Fulton of Chillicothe, OH, and was 14 feet long, with a 10-inch aperture and six eyepieces that magnified 90 to 960 times. The reflecting telescope was invented by Isaac Newton.

 

 

August 2004

 

The moon isn't round exactly. It is sort of egg-shaped. A little ,with the small end pointing toward the Earth
 


Who invented the telescope?

Hans Lippershey (1570-1619), a German-Dutch lens grinder and spectacle maker, is generally credited with inventing the telescope in 1608 because he was the first scientist to apply for a patent. Two other inventors, Zscharias Janssen and Jacob Metius, also developed telescopes. Modern historians consider Lippershey and Janssen as the two likely candidates for the title of inventor of the telescope, with Lippershey possessing the strongest claim.
 

 

Does the Earth rotate at the same speed all the time?

The Earths rotation speed is at its maximum in late July and early August and at its minimum in April; the difference in the length of the day is about 0.0012 seconds. Since about 1900 the earth's rotation has been slowing at a rate of approximately 1.7 seconds per year. In the geologic past the earth's rotational period was much faster; days were shorter and there were more days in the year. About 350 million years ago, the year had 400-410 days; 280 million years ago, a year was 390 days long.

 

JULY 2004
 

RINGS ANYONE?

Not only Saturn but Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune all have rings.

 

So you thought Pluto was the farthest planet?

Pluto's very eccentric orbit carried it inside of Neptune's orbit on January 23,1979, where it remained until March 15, 1990. During this time Neptune was the outermost planet in our Solar System. However, because the planets are so far apart they are in no danger of colliding with one another.

 

 

What do you mean the Moon has a tail?
 

Astronomers have discovered that the moon has a tail. A glowing 15 thousand mile long tail of sodium atoms streams from the moon. The faint, orange glow of sodium cannot be seen by the naked eye but it is detectable by instruments. Astronomers are not certain ot the source of these sodium atoms.

 

JUNE 2004



ET's on the radio

In 1937 Kark Guthe Jansky (US) detected extraterrestrial radio waves- a steady hiss type static of unknown origin. He later demonstrated that these waves came from the Milky Way and opened  the way to radio astronomy.
Many heavenly bodies emit radio waves, including the Sun and Jupiter.
Radio telescopes are in fact aerial dishes. The first radio telescope was made with a 31ft diah in 1937 by Grote Keber (US)

 

THE PLOUGH

In Great  Britain the group of seven stars known as the Big Dipper, which is part of the constellation Ursa Major is known as the Plough. The Bi Dipper is almost always visible in the Northern Hemisphere. It serves as a convenient reference point when locating other stars; for example an imaginary line drawn from the two end stars of the dipper leads to Polaris, The North Star.

 

MAY 2004
 

SMALL TIDBITS
 

The sky, looking up from Venus is orange.

Notables of old Rome surrounded themselves with  bodyguards then called "satellites." Johannes Kepler in 1611 borrowed the term to name the heavenly bodies around planets.

You can never see Venus at midnight.


 

Samos ? Who?
 

Around 275BC Aristarchus of Samos (gk) was the author of both the Heliocentric Hypothesis- that the Earth revolved around the Sun-and that of the Earth's rotation on its axis.             

 

APRIL 2004



Linda who painted nudes?
 

Linda Sagan, wife astronomer/writer Carl Sagan. It was Linda who drew the plaques depicting a nude male and female, which were attached to the Pioneer 10 and 11 spacecraft.

 

R2D2


Princess Leia's small android in the 1977 movie Star Wars got it's name from reel 2, dialogue 2 as cued in the sound mixing  process of filmmaking.

 


MARCH 2004



You have sixty seconds

Hours and degrees of longitude are divided into sixty minutes, and those minutes into sixty seconds, why? Because  sixty was the number base used by the Sumerians, the first people known to have written down a workable counting system, some 5,000 years ago in Mesopotamia



How much does your brain weigh?

The preserved brain of Albert Einstein weighs 2.64 pounds

 

 

FEBRUARY 2004


DISTANT NEIGHBORS

The star nearest to us, after the sun, are those of the Alpha Centauri System, which are more than four light-yeas away. If it were possible to drive through space at a steady law abiding speed of 55 MPH, you could reach our sun in 193 years. But at the same speed it would take 52 million years to reach Alpha Centauri.

WEIGHED DOWN

Black Holes- the collapsed remnants of giant stars are so dense that not even light can escape their awesome gravitational pull. If a telephone directory weighing no more than 2 pounds were brought to within 20 feet of a black hole, it would weigh more than one trillion tons.

JANUARY 2004

 

REQUIEM FOR A COW

 
In November 1960 an American rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida went off course and crashed in Cuba killing a cow. The Cuban government gave the cow an official funeral as the victim of "imperialist aggression."
 

BLOW FROM THE BLUE

 
 The only person known to have been hit by a meteorite is Mrs. Hewlit Hodges, of Sylacauga, Alabama. On November 30, 1954, a nine pound meteorite crashed through the roof of her house, bounced off a radio, and struck Mrs. Hodges on the hip, causing massive bruises but no permanent injury.

 

 

DECEMBER 2003

A TOMB WITH A VIEW

The telescope at Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton, in California also serves as a tomb. The 36 inch refracting telescope mounted on a pillar that contains the remains of James Lick (1796-1876). A wealthy financier who funded the observatory's construction and after whom it was named.

 

LARGEST, SLOWEST, AND SAFEST

The Crawler, the huge transporter that takes the space shuttles to their launch pads is the world's largest and slowest vehicle. It weighs 3,300 tons, and its top speed is just 2 mph. Nevertheless, in the interests of safety the driver is required to wear a seat belt.

 

 

NOVEMBER 2003


ASTRO WHO?


Astro was the flying space whale on the 1965 animated  movie "Pinocchio in Outer Space"

 

Robert Beasley?


He was the inventor of the 34,000 heat-resistant tiles that made up the skin on the shuttle Columbia.

 

 

 

The man with the golden nose


The wealthy Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) had a large part of his nose sliced off during a sword fight. He had a replacement made from gold, silver, copper, and wax, then painted his nosepiece the color of flesh, glued it in place, and wore it until his death more than 30 years later at the age of 54. The duel in which he lost most of his real was with a young nobleman over who was the better mathematician.

 

OCTOBER 2003

Does every month have a full moon?

Apparently not! The month of Feb. 1865 according to recorded history did not have a full moon.

 


On my honor I will do my best

Did you know that the first original seven astronauts were all Eagle Boy Scouts.


Autumn Constellations

Cassiopeia-She was the queen of Ethiopia.
Cepheus- Was Cassiopia's husband and the King of Ethiopia.
Andromeda- was the daughter of Cassiopeia and Cepheus.
Perseus- A Hero, the slayer of the gorgon Medusa with snaky hair, who was so ugly that anyone who observed her directly turned to stone. Perseus chopped off her head while looking at her reflection in his shiny shield.

 

 SEPTEMBER 2003  


THE GUZMAN PRIZE, NOT WITH MARS YOU DON'T

A prize of 100,000 francs was offered in Paris France on Dec.17,1900 for the first person who communicated with an extraterrestrial being. But included in the rules it was stated that Mars was excluded. The people giving this award felt that contact with the Martians would be easy.

THE FAMOUS PHOBOS PLAQUE

In 1988 a Soviet probe sent to the Martian moon Phobos carried with ti a plaque commemorating that natural satellite's discovery in 1877 by the American Astronomer Asaph Hall. Thank you Russia.

 

AUGUST 2003

Do you know that Venus is the only planet that rotates clockwise?



TELEPHONING OUTER SPACE

Earthlings tried to reach out and touch extraterrestrial beings via spacephones in 1988.
AT&T had a publicity gimmick going.  A caller could have his voice transmitted toward Outer Space, but with no guarantee something Out There would hear it.
To make it work, the telephone giant places free phones in the atrium of company headquarters in New York for a few days.  The public was invited to "communicate with someone who could hear their voice long after they/re dead."
AT&T had a web of 100-ft. dish antennas spun across North America, pointed at communications satellites.  To send the messages to Outer Space during early morning hours when the antennas weren't being used for Earthbound business, they swung the radio beams away from two dished.  The messages sped outward at the speed of light in a straight line, presumably until they tan into something.  Some 30 hours of recorded voices and pictures were beamed to Outer Space through the phones.
Students from a Manhattan school were given a first crack at the telephones.  A 13-year-old, who said he didn't believe in UFOs, sent the message, "I hope you saw the Knicks versus the Bullets, because the Knicks won."  A 13-year-old member of Young Astronauts of America said, "I hope the quest for knowledge last forever."  Another, concerned about drugs in his world, said, "I hope they don't get stupid like us."  Most of the youngsters said they thought it likely someone would see or hear the messages.  Anyway, use of the space phones was free so nobody could complain if they didn't get a call back.

 

MARTIAN MOONS - WHO DISCOVERED THEM?

The first mention of possible Martian satellites was fictional -- by Jonathan Swift, in Gulliver's Voyage to Laputa (1727).  Swift described two satellites of Mars, one of which has a revolution period short than the rotation period of its primary; but there was no scientific basis at that time for such an object.  Two satellites of Mars were also described in another novel, Voltaire's Micromegas (1750).  The reasoning was, apparently, that since the earth has one satellite and Jupiter was known to have four, Mars could not possible manage with less than two!  But it wasn't until August 10, 1877 that Asaph Hall of Washington discovered Deimos and 6 days later he discovered Phobos. 

 

WHAT DID JONATHAN SWIFT AND VOLTAIRE KNOW THAT HALL DIDN'T KNOW?

 

JULY 2003



RUN, A FIRE BALL!

In 1719 Mars was at perihelic opposition (closest to the Earth and Sun). Mars was so bright that people panicked and mistook it for a red comet which was thought might be on a collision course with the Earth.

OK MARTIANS LETS TALK!

In 1802 German mathematician K.F. Gauss  drew up a plan to draw vast geometrical patterns in the Siberian tundra at signal the inhabitants of Mars. In 1819 J. Von Littrow of Vienna proposed to use signal fires lit in the Sahara to signal Mars. Later in 1874 Charles Cros of France put forward a scheme to focus the Sun's heat on to the Martians deserts by means of a huge burning-glass, the glass could be swung around to write messages on the desert to the Martians.

 

 

JUNE 2003


People and cities on the Moon?

The first report of a lunar city was made in 1822 by the German astronomer F. von P. Gruithuisen who described a structure with dark gigantic ramparts which however proved to be low and quite haphazard ridges. In 1790 Sir William Herschel had stated his belief in an inhabited Moon, and in 1835 there came the famous Lunar Hoax when the paper  The New York Sun published some quite imaginary reports of discoveries made by Sir John Herschel at the Cape of Good Hope. The reports were written by a reporter, R. A.  Locke, and included descriptions of bat-men and quartz mountains. The first article appeared on 25 August 1835 and the Sun admitted to the hoax on 16 Sept 1835



Schwarzschild singularities? HUH

In 1967 what were called Schwarzschild singularities was renamed to become BLACK HOLES.         
 

 

MAY 2003  
      

Montgomery Ward Catalog

In 1922 the Montgomery Ward catalogue offered a 33 power astronomical telescope for $25.65. Shipping was 10 cents extra. It also offered an additional eyepiece of 70 power with smoked glass so one could look at the sun. This extra eyepiece sold for $7.20 with 6 cents for shipping.
 

When will our sun die?

The sun is approximately 4.5 billion years old. About 5 billion years from now, the sun will burn all its Hydrogen fuel into Helium. When this process occurs, the sun will change from the yellow dwarf star we know it as to a red giant. Its diameter will extend well beyond the orbit of Venus, and even possibly beyond the orbit of Earth. In either case, the Earth will be burned to a cinder and will be incapable of supporting life.


Evangelista Who?

Evangelista Torriculli invented the barometer in 1643. We know her. She was Galileo's secretary.

 

APRIL 2003

SPACE CHICK KENTUCKY

Kentucky, the world's first space chick was hatched March 25,1989, in an incubator at Kentucky Fried Chicken's Colonel Sanders Technical Center at Louisville, Kentucky, a week after the egg came home from a five-day flight in orbit aboard the shuttle Discovery. Kentucky was later donated to the Louisville zoo to live out a normal lifetime.

WAXING OR WANING MOON

The moon as it's illuminated face increases in size during one half of any month is said to be waxing. If during the other half of the month the moon seems to be decreasing it is said to be waning.

MARCH 2003

IS IT TRUE THAT THE EARTH IS CLOSER TO THE SUN IN WINTER THAN IN SUMMER IN THE NORTHERN HEMISPHERE?

Yes, However, the Earth's axis, the line around which the planet rotates, is tipped 23.5 degrees with respect to the plane of revolution around the sun. When the Earth is closest to the sun (it's perihelion, about January 3), the Northern Hemisphere is tilted away from the sun. This causes winter in the Northern Hemisphere while the Southern Hemisphere is having summer. When the Earth is farthest from the sun ( it's aphelion, around July 4), the situation is reversed, with the Northern Hemisphere tilted towards the sun. At this time, it is summer in the Northern Hemisphere and winter in the Southern Hemisphere.



WHY DOES THE MOON ALWAYS KEEP THE SAME FACE TOWARD THE EARTH?

Only one side of the moon is seen because it always rotates in exactly the same length of time that it takes to revolve about the Earth. This combination of motions (called "captured rotation") means that it always keeps the same side towards the Earth.

 

FEBRUARY 2003

You thought that Mt. Palomar 's 200 inch telescope was large!

In Cerro, Chile is the European Southern Observatory. It consist of four  8-meter (315 inch) reflectors.  If used together through computers it is equivalent of a 16 meter (630 inch) reflector.

 

How does NASA talk to it's spacecraft?

NASA developed the deep space network for two-way communications. It consists of three deep-space communication complexes placed about 120 degrees apart around the world. One at Goldstone, Cal. in the Mojave desert, another near Madrid, Spain and the third near Canberra, Australia. This ensures that at least one antenna always is within sight of a given spacecraft. Each complex contains up to ten deep-space stations equipped with large parabolic reflector antennas.

 

 

JANUARY 2003

Water as rocket fuel?

Only on the Grillo rocket of Italy. On Sept. 28,1963 Italy successfully launched and tested a 60lb. rocket propelled by water. The water was heated to 300 degrees and produced a steam pressure of 130 atmospheres.

 

 

You grind the mirror!

The 200 inch blank mirror for the now Mt. Palomar observatory weighed 193/4 tons. After polishing it weighed 141/2 tons. The correct parabolic curvature over it's entire surface is within 1/2,000,000th of an inch.

 

 

You thought you had a big Cassegrain telescope!

Mt Palomar's 200 inches is also a Cassegrain. It has a central opening of 401/2 inches with a focal length of 55 feet and an f-ratio of 3.3

 

 

DECEMBER 2002

THE OTHER HERSCHEL

In 1781 William Herschel (1738-1827) who was employed as a musician accidentally discovered the planet Uranus thinking at first it was a comet. This discovery made him so famous that he gave up his career in music to become the Kings astronomer. But who was the other Herschel? None other that William's sister Caroline (1750-1848) She herself discovered eight comets and built a catalog of 2,500 nebulas and star clusters.

 

 

JUPITER (anyone need a moon, plenty to spare)

 

In the year 2001 astronomers at the University of Hawaii discovered 11 more moons to the planet Jupiter, bringing the number orbiting the solar system's largest planet to a whopping 39. Does this mean that Jupiter doesn't have a new moon type night for deep sky observing? How many full moons in one night does Jupiter have? If you find out call me.

 

NOVEMBER 2002

DID YOU KNOW?

Did you know that the first photograph of the moon was taken on March 23,1840 by J.W. Draper using a five inch reflector telescope. The image was one inch across and the exposure was twenty minutes.

 

HEY ANYONE SEEN MY WRENCH?


The shuttle Discovery made six flights to space with a construction wrench lost somewhere inside the ship.
The wrench was lost during construction in 1984 and was spotted by x-ray in 1987 during pre-flight metal stress testing and was recovered by a woman with long slender arms.  The wrench was in a tight spot in one of Discovery's forward compartments.
Several workers with larger arms tried in vain to retrieve the tool until one with long slender arms was able to grab it.
Shuttle builder Rockwell International Inc. had told NASA in 1984 that the combination wrench was lost during construction in Palmdale, California. NASA didn't suspect mischief or foul play. Since the wrench was small and light Rockwell decided there was no concern and NASA agreed.
The orbiter flew six times with the lost tool, from August 1984 to August 1985, without any problem from the wrench. The wrench was found in 1987 as Discovery was  being prepared for America's return to space Sept.29,1988

 

OCTOBER 2002

NOT TOO MUCH OFF THE TOP PLEASE!

        Did you know that Astronaut Alan Bean on Skylab 3 was the first person to get a haircut in space?

            Astronaut Owen Garrett used a suction hose to catch the stray weightless clippings as he gave a haircut to Al Bean.

 

 

HEY! HOW DO YOU START THIS THING?

 

        Astronaut Wally Schirra upon entering his Mercury spacecraft found a set of car keys dangling from the main controls.