Babe Among The Stars

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Galaxy Babe's column banner, showing a full moon and some little folk looking up at the sky

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
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

  • 27 Mar: Antares (alpha Scorpii) is less than ½° north of
    the Moon. You can't miss that star, it looks
    just like Mars, except it twinkles!

  • There are two meteor shower maximums during
    this period:
    • 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

Babe Among the Stars

Galaxy Babe

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