Category Archives: astronomy

Venus And Boyer – A Great Love That Paid Dividends For Astronomy

In striking contrast to the vague shadings sometimes reported by visual observers are the prominent markings clearly seen on ultraviolet photographs of Venus. They were discovered at Mount Wilson Observatory by Frank Ross, a pioneer in the photography of the planets through monochromatic filters who also is photo editor for the Planetary Week. During a favorable eastern elongation of Venus in June and July of 1927, he obtained a series of photographs of the planet through the 60-inch and 100-inch reflectors in six regions of the visible spectrum and in infrared and ultraviolet light.

Now that's a handsome planet!

Now that’s a handsome planet!

Ross expected infrared to offer the greatest promise; it was already routinely used in aerial photography because of its ability to penetrate haze and give the clearest views of the Earth’s surface from aircraft at high altitudes. But,

Equador Provides Tons Of Astronomical Fun

La Mitad del Mundo is a beauty.

La Mitad del Mundo is a beauty.

Nowadays, a lot of tourists head for the more ballyhooed Equatorial Monument at La Mitad del Mundo outside Quito, where you’ll find a tall, massive obelisk topped by a huge globe. Here, at the heart of a tiny town square lined by whitewashed buildings, you can journey from one hemisphere to the other without the need of a travel agent. But there is a lesser-known monument – a nearby solar museum – that should be of interest to amateurs, archaeoastronomers, and anyone else who might enjoy a day of Sun worship.

The Museo Cientifico Solar (Scientific Solar Museum) is located in the village of San Antonio de Pichincha, 14 miles north of Quito and about 3 miles east of the Equatorial Monument. The small stone building sits on a roughly 1-acre

Tracking Down Some Galaxies

For a good look at an Sb galaxy, check out our nearest spiral neighbor, M31 (NGC 224), the Andromeda Galaxy. You can detect its soft, elongated glow by following a line northwest from 2nd-magnitude Mirach (Beta [b] Andromedae) through 4th-magnitude Mu (m) And. In an 8-inch telescope, the most impressive feature may be the prominent jet-black dust lanes that skirt the galaxy’s core. But you don’t need a scope to enjoy this beauty. At 2.2 million light-years away, M31 is the most distant object visible to the naked eye.

androLinger near M31 a bit and check out NGC 206, a huge cloud of young, massive stars located along the southwest periphery of the galaxy, about 40′ from the core. The combined light from these stars is faintly visible in a 6- to 8-inch scope. Users of 16-inch

The Hubble Continues To Be A Revelation

John Caldwell of York University in Toronto, Canada, got the ball rolling. He planned to use Hubble for taking spectra of Saturn’s moon Titan as well as the Galilean satellites of Jupiter. To better understand the spectra of sunlight reflected off these objects, however, he needed to test Hubble’s capabilities on another target. The sun was definitely out as a test subject; it shines far too brightly to have Hubble point anywhere near it. So Caldwell chose an object closer to home – the moon.

It’s safe to say that if an outside observer had suggested viewing the moon with Hubble, the proposal wouldn’t have stood much of a chance. But Caldwell had a built-in advantage: He belongs to that rare breed known as Guaranteed Time Observers. As the name implies, these people are assured access