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June 2000 Issue

Astronomy Digest

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Front Desk

News Throughout
the Net

Updated Weekly

Telescope Sweepstakes - Meade 12 inch LX200. - Ends July 7, 2000.

Chandra Looks at Black Hole - Studies matter as it is drawn in. - BBC, May 26, 2000.

Mars Rock Found - This rock is only the 15th Mars rock ever found. - BBC, May 22, 2000.

Galileo Does a Flyby Passed Ganymede - Collects data for research. - CNN, May 22, 2000.

Lakes, Snow, and Geysers found on IO - Images taken by NASA's Galileo spacecraft. - CNN, May 19, 2000.

Virtual Universe - Computer model based on actual data collected by a sky survey. - BBC, May 19, 2000.

Great Ganymede! - NASA's Galileo spacecraft is about to fly 808 km above the surface of our solar system's largest moon. - SSN, May 19, 2000.

Comet Found - Comet passed by unseen. Found in some photographs taken 3 years ago.- ABC, May 18, 2000.

Lost Minor Planet Found. - Last seen in 1911. - CNN, May 12, 2000.

Image of darkness within galaxies. - Hubble looks at dark galactic material. - CNN, May 11, 2000.

Eight Planets discovered Orbiting Distant Star. - The star is similar to our own sun. - BBC, May 9, 2000.

Giant Dog Bone Shaped Asteroid - Arecibo telescope is used to study asteroids in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. - BBC, May 4, 2000.

Missing Hydrogen Found - Supports Big Bang Theory. - Fox, May 4, 2000.

Space Junk Hits South Africa - US rocket falls from orbit. - CNN, May 3, 2000.

Travel to the Planets on a Budget - NASA presents their plans to travel to Mars, Mercury, and Jupiter's moon Europa. - ABC, May 2, 2000.

Earth is Lighter than Once Thought - Earth weights about 5,972,000,000,000,000,000,000 metric tons. - MSNBC, May 1, 2000.

SETI@HOME - Over 2 Million Users are now searching for ET. - MSNBC, April 28, 2000.

Pictures of the Early Universe - New images from an Antarctic balloon flight in 1998 bring the cosmic microwave background into sharp focus. - SSN, April 27, 2000.

Brace Yourself - Our Milky Way galaxy is about to collide with Andromeda galaxy. In about 2 billion years. - ABC, April 26, 2000.

1HT - New Telescope to Search for ET. - BBC, April 20, 2000.

IO Lava Flow - New close-up photographs. - CNN, April 20, 2000.

Bigger is Better - Universities are competing to have the biggest telescopes. - ABC, April 18, 2000.

Most Distant Object Ever Observed - 26 Billion Light-Years Away. - ABC, April 14, 2000.

NASA Starts New field in Astrobiology - 600 scientists show up for Astrobiology Science Conference. - CNN, April 13, 2000.

June Skies

June 02 - New Moon
June 09 - First Quarter
June 16 - Full Moon
June 25 - Last Quarter

Skywatching Center - Current Month's Skies.

Astronomy Magazine - This Month's Sky Show.

Sky & Telescope - June 2000 Skies.

Observing with
a small telescope

By Alistair Thomson

My interest in astronomy started about three years ago. I began by buying the magazine Astronomy Now (UK magazine). The articles and features in here really got my interest going. I used the simple star chart provided each month to learn the constellations. Using binoculars (Zeiss 10 X 50ís) I began to pick out easy double stars like Mizar in Ursa Major, open clusters like M45 and nebula like M42. From time to time I would also scan the moon to see what I could pick out.

As I began to find my way around the sky a little easier I started to try and track down more Messier objects. It took a while but I eventually found three open clusters in Auriga, M35, M36 and M37. They were quite easy to see and showed up as irregular shaped grey patches or clouds. I couldnít resolve any stars. I found more and more Messier objects with the binoculars but the majority could be seen as nothing but grey cloudy patches.
(Full Story)

Free Email

Now you can get Free Email that shows you enjoy astronomy. You can use your name, (yourname) . Or, you can use an astronomy name like . Right now there are many names available. I only ask that if you get an account that you plan to use it. And, if you no longer plan to use it, you simply delete it. This will help keep the astronomy names available for others to use. I am very pleased to offer this service for Free.

To get your Free Email account use the Free Email box located at the top right column on this ezine.

X Prize

During the early part of the 20th Century hundreds of cash awards were offered by businesses and individuals in an effort to encourage the development of aeronautics. One of the most noteworthy was a $25,000 cash award put up by Raymond Orteig, which Charles Lindbergh won for his historic flight across the Atlantic in 1927. These cash prizes played an important role in developing the airline industry we have today. In the spirit of the early aeronautics awards, the St. Louis-based X PRIZE Foundation is offering $10 million to the first private company that safely launches and lands a vehicle capable of transporting three people on two consecutive suborbital flights to 100 kilometers altitude within two weeks. Seventeen teams from 5 countries have registered to compete and are currently developing vehicles in pursuit of the X PRIZE.

The X PRIZE Foundation was established in 1994 as an educational nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring private, entrepreneurial advancements in space travel. The X PRIZE Foundation committee includes Buzz Aldrin, Astronaut on Apollo 11 and Gemini 12, and Chairman of the National Space Society. Astronaut Dr. Byron Lichtenberg serves on the Board of Trustees, as does Lindbergh's grandson, Erik Lindbergh.

First USA Bank is offering the X PRIZE platinum VISA card. Each purchase supports the X PRIZE and earns an entry in the Sweepstakes. The Sweepstakes grand prize is a sub-orbital space flight! Additional prizes include: zero-gravity flight, flight in a MiG 25 to the edge of space, and Astronaut training adventures. A teacher from Michigan (USA) won the first MiG flight and will travel to Russia this summer to experience the thrill of flying to Mach 2.7 (1,700 miles per hour) at an altitude of 80,000 feet. There is a new chance to win every three months. You can enter by e-mail or phone, just visit the X PRIZE website.

Photo provided courtesy of the X PRIZE Foundation.

If you have an astronomy related article you would like to have published, email it to Astronomy Digest.

The Wonders of the Sun
by Aymen Ibrahem

On February 21st and October 21st every year, the rising Sun illuminates the sanctuary of the Great Temple of Abu Simbel, a phenomenon popularly known as the "Wonder of the Sun". The temple was built by King Ramesses the Great [Ramesses II (1279-1213 BC)].

There are no monuments or records explaining the special choice of the illumination days. It is clear that the Sun is on the same location of the celestial sphere on both days, this has led me to speculate that probably just one day is associated with the temple dedicated to the Sun (Re-Horakhty), and Ramesses himself.

To a people that worshipped the Sun and the Moon, eclipses represented very special cosmic events. In my paper "The Wonder of the Sun", using an eclipse prediction software, I scanned the eclipses that occurred during the reigns of Pharaoh Ramesses II and his father Pharaoh Seti I. I found that a total solar eclipse was visible in Egypt in 1223 BC and the Julian Day number of the eclipse's day was: J1 = 1274785.876389, (the corresponding calendar date was not available.) Checking the coordinates of the Sun on the sky globe on the eclipse's day and applying simple algebra showed that J1 corresponds to February 21, 1223 BC.
(Full Story)

auction Frenzy

Product Review


A practical guide to stargazing, Secrets of the Night Sky shows precisely how to locate every object it describes, all of which can be readily viewed from anywhere in North America and Europe. At the same time, it provides an extraordinary armchair journey through time and space. More than 150 original drawings accompany the text, and eight pages of remarkable color photographs capture our universe's unforgettable astral occurrences. And for readers who wish to probe the night sky more deeply with binoculars or a telescope, this book offers invaluable, money-saving advice. Unlike any other book on astronomy, Secrets of the Night Sky focuses on objects that can be seen with the naked eye, and the astonishing secrets that they yield.


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Measuring the Night Sky

Ever wonder why a circle is 360 degrees. Ancient Babylonian Astronomers noticed it took about 360 days for the sun to make a full cycle of the sky. A degree was defined as the distance the sun moved each day in relation to the background stars.

The sky that circles the earth is 360 degrees. From horizon to the opposite horizon is 180 degrees. If you stood in a field the spot in the sky directly overhead is called the zenith. From the horizon to the zenith would be 90 degrees.
(Full Story)

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