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Did you know? Mercury

The planet Mercury has the greatest variation in temperature of all of the planets. During the day the temperature rises to 4300 C but drops as low as -1400 C at night. Earth is the only planet not named after a Greek or Roman god. The name is of English/German origin and simply means “the ground”. If you missed Comet Hyakutake when it passed Earth in March 1996 don’t wait around for its return! Gravitational interaction with Jupiter and Saturn stretched its orbit and it will not return to the solar system for another 70,000 years. This makes it one of the longest long period comets.

In this month - April 2018

28 April 1686 Isaac Newton presents his book Principia to the Royal Society. Widely regarded as one of the greatest works in the history of science it covers Newton's laws of motion, and his law of Universal Gravitation. 12 April 1961 Yuri Gagarin, Russian cosmonaut, becomes the first human to travel into space aboard Vostok 1. His flight started the “Space Race” of the 1960’s between Russia and the USA. 24 April 1990 The Hubble Space Telescope is launched. Named after the American astronomer Edwin Hubble. After a correction to the optics it has gone on to take stunning photos. It is still in operation orbiting at an average distance of 550km above Earth. BORN 14 April 1629 Christian Huygens

Cecilia Maclellan, Edith Deane & Lucy Gullett: Three case studies of women in amateur astronomy

Women have contributed to astronomy in many ways in Australia and International Women's Day is a timely reminder that their contributions have often been overlooked by historians, or not well noted during their lifetime. My research for this blog post has focussed on three of the women who were admitted to the New South Wales Branch of the British Astronomical Association (BAA NSW) in the first two decades of its inception in 1895: Cecilia Maclellan, Edith Deane and Lucy Gullett (pictured second from the left in the photograph below). It seems that when you look for women in the history of astronomy, they re-appear. Research for my doctoral thesis uncovered a significant number of women who

Did You know? Moons & Andromeda Galaxy

All of Uranus’ moons (NASA image above taken by Voyager) are named after characters from Shakespeare and Alexander Pope plays. For example, the Juliet and Portia are the names of two of the moons. Every year the Moon moves away from the Earth by 3.8 centimetres. In approximately 500 million years from now it will not be possible to have a total solar eclipse. Even though the Andromeda Galaxy (M31/NGC 224) is one of the nearest major galaxies to the Milky Way, it still takes light 2.5 million years from the galaxy to reach us. When you look at the Andromeda galaxy you are seeing the galaxy as it was 2.5 million years ago.

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