Mortal as I am, I know that I am born for a day. But when
I follow at my pleasure the serried multitude of the stars in their circular
course, my feet no longer touch the earth - Ptolemy
Babe Among the Stars - 27 March, 2008
Birthdates for late March include: Russian cosmonaut Aleksei
Aleksandrovich Gubarev (29 March, 1931); American astronaut Bill Oefelein (29
March, 1965); and Dutch astronomer Adriaan van Maanen (31 March, 1884). Van
Maanen discovered a white dwarf star which is the third-closest to us, just
over 14 light years away.
Birthdates for early April include: Astronaut Virgil 'Gus' Grissom (3
April, 1926) who was the second American to fly in space; French astronomer
Joseph-Nicolas Delisle (4 April, 1688); American astronaut Judith Arlene
Resnik (5 April, 1949); French astronomer Guillaume Bigourdan (6 Apri,l 1851);
and American astronomer and President of the American Philosophical Society
David Rittenhouse (8 April, 1732) who witnessed a transit of Venus on 3 June, 1769 with his own
telescope. One of the leading American scientists of the 18th Century,
(second only to Benjamin Franklin), the sight of Venus on the solar disc
affected him so much that he fainted next to his telescope. Thankfully he
recovered enough to witness the total solar
eclipse which occurred just five hours later!
On 5 April, 1804, a meteorite hit the ground at High Possil, near
Glasgow, Scotland. Normally meteors burn up in the Earth's atmosphere - we
see them as meteor showers. Rare though landings are, Scotland seems to get
off lightly, with only two being recorded (in 1830 and 1917) since.
March-April Diary Dates
- There are two meteor shower maximums during
- Eta Draconids (29-31 March)
- Tau Draconids (31 Mar-2 Apr)
04 Apr: If you have a telescope, try and spot Uranus 3° south of the Moon. Be careful who you
tell if you're successful though, or you could end up as the butt of a few
05 Apr: Venus, 5° south of the Moon.
06 Apr: After sunset have a good scan for the new moon, it will be
the slightest sliver. Can you spot last month's new moon over Topkapi
Palace, Istanbul, in this awesome shot? Astronomy
Picture of the Day is a good site for your bookmarks as it not only
includes some fabulous photographs taken by orbiting telescopes but also
amateur snaps which have been submitted by members of the public. Included
is an explanation by a professional astronomer, with links to explanations
of the difficult-to-understand words for the layperson. Here's a link to the
of 2007' for your enjoyment.
20 Apr: Full Moon (The Pink
Chat about your celestial observances at the H2G2 Astronomy Society.