Tag Archives: astronomy

inconceivable mystery.

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blood moon courtesy of nasa

The total lunar eclipse with a few more novelties will start tonight, May 15 at 10:27 p.m., according to Mike Narlock, head of Astronomy at Cranbrook Institute of Science. Narlock says the progression to the total lunar eclipse will take a while. The totality portion of the lunar eclipse starts at 11:29 p.m. Sunday and lasts until 12:53 a.m. Monday, May 16.

You’ll have to stay up late on a Sunday night to see the eclipse, but it may be worth it.

There are a few things going on with this full moon. First, this month’s full moon is called the Flower Moon. It’s easy to understand why this moon has that name, with our spring bulbs blooming now.

The full moon is also a super moon. This occurs when the position of the moon is at its closest point to Earth. The orbit of the moon around Earth isn’t a perfect circle, it’s orbit more egg-shaped than circular. On May 15, the moon will be in the spot of its orbit where it is closest to Earth.

So the total eclipse is a Flower Moon and a super moon. But wait – there’s more. It is also a blood moon.  The phrase “blood moon” really isn’t a true astronomical term. All lunar eclipses turn some amount of red. During a total lunar eclipse, Earth passes directly between the sun and the moon. The Earth’s shadow is cast upon the moon. During a total lunar eclipse, blue light is filtered out of the light hitting the moon. Red light can still make it through and be cast upon the moon. So the moon should look at least somewhat red. If there is a lot of dust or water vapor in our sky at the time of the eclipse, the moon would be a darker red.

“there is something haunting in the light of the moon;

it has all the dispassionateness of a disembodied soul,

and something of its inconceivable mystery.”

-joseph conrad

 

 

credits: mike narlock, cranbrook institute of science, mark torregrossa, mlive, nasa

‘i refuse to accept pluto’s resignation as a planet.’- amy lee

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 though not the first to go,

pluto lost its planetary status 15 years ago

 and not everyone agrees.

“as a planetary scientist, I don’t know what else to call Pluto: it’s big and round and thousands of miles wide.’ alan stern

 

 

 

 

credits: mental floss, jeopardy, getty images, courtney k

bright stars.

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oldtimewomen1.jpg__800x600_q85_crop

Astronomy Nuns
Sisters Emilia Ponzoni, Regina Colombo, Concetta Finardi and Luigia Panceri mapped the positions and brightness of 481,215 stars. 

These Little-Known Nuns Helped Map the Stars.

A century later, the identities of women who mapped over 481,000 stars are finally known.

The history of astronomy is riddled with underappreciated women who looked to the stars long before their scientific contributions were recognized. But the constellation of early women astronomers is glowing brighter, writes Carol Glatz for Catholic News Service, with the recognition of four once nameless nuns who helped map and catalog half a million stars in the early 20th century.

Glatz reports that the nuns, Sisters Emilia Ponzoni, Regina Colombo, Concetta Finardi and Luigia Panceri, were recruited by the Vatican to measure and map stars from plate-glass photographs. They cataloged the brightness and locations of a whopping 481,215 stars during their years of diligent work. Photos of the nuns had appeared in books about the history of astronomy, but the identity of the women was not known—and their accomplishments not recognized—until now.

Their years of labor were finally acknowledged when Father Sabino Maffeo, a Jesuit priest who works at the Vatican Observatory, found their names while organizing papers for the archives. Today, the project to which the nuns contributed is as obscure as the nuns themselves, but at the time it was one of the largest scientific undertakings in history.

In April 1887, 56 scientists from 19 countries met in Paris to embrace a new discipline: astrophotography. Their plan was a bold one—use 22,000 photographic plates to map the entire sky. The work was split up among institutions across Europe and the United States, including the Vatican Observatory. Each institution was given a particular zone of the sky to map and categorize.

At the time, male astronomers often relied on women to serve as their “computers.” The men would direct the project, but behind the scenes, women did the labor-intensive processing, cataloging and calculating for low wages. Famously, Harvard Observatory director Edward Charles Pickering hired “Pickering’s Harem,” a group of bright young women, to do his share of the star cataloging. Also known as “the Harvard Computers,” these women, formidable astronomical minds in their own right, were only recently acknowledged for their contribution to science.

And what a contribution—the project resulted in he Astrographic Catalogue, a 254-volume catalog of 4.6 million stars. The star atlas called the Carte du Ciel was only halfway finished by the time astronomers stopped working on it in 1962. Though the atlas project was destined to fail, the catalog became the basis of a system of star references that is still used today.

Though the women didn’t end up counting all of the stars, perhaps one day history will do a better job of counting the women whose diligent work helped map out the starry skies.


credits: smithsonianmag.com, flikr