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 - 22 May 08

22 May is the anniversary of the birth of Austrian astrophysicist Thomas Gold (1920 - 2004) who offered his opinion of the surface conditions on the Moon to the designers of the lunar landers. He also introduced to our language the word 'magnetosphere' as a description of Earth's magnetic field.

American astronaut Sally Ride was born on 26 May, 1951. She's famous for being the first American woman in space, although two Russian women preceded her. Sally retired from NASA in 1997.

On 28 May, 585 BC there occurred what Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus (c625 BC - c545 BC) predicted — a total eclipse of the Sun. His philosophy for a happy life was to be healthy in body, resourceful in soul and of a readily teachable nature. In his lifetime he was revered as a sage (wise man) but his opinion was: Time is the wisest because it discovers everything.

On 29 May, 1999, the space shuttle Discovery completed its first docking with the ISS (International Space Station).

Austrian astronomer Georg von Peurbach was born on 30 May, 1423. He invented his own astronomical and scientific instruments, including the earliest tablet dial with a compass. He observed Halley's comet in June 1456, before his untimely death at the age of just 37. The Purbach Crater on the Moon is named after him.

The tablet dial consists of two small sundials (horizontal and a vertical direct-south dial) hinged together with a gnomon; the instrument can be folded at the hinge and then fits in the pocket.

– Georg von Peurbach (c1451).

On 3 June, 1769, there was a transit of Venus across the face of the Sun. This had been predicted and was witnessed by, among others: British ecologist the Rev Gilbert White, Captain James Cook in Tahiti, King George III, Swedish astronomer Anders Planman and Jean Chappe d'Autoroche whose team travelled to Mexico to witness the event. Unfortunately d'Autoroche never returned home to France because he caught the plague from ailing villagers whom the observing team tried to assist.

Send your name to the Moon

Special thanks to Deke for providing me with this information:

NASA are going back to the Moon. Wow. Not only that, but members of the public are being invited to participate in the project! All you have to do is load Send Your Name to the Moon, type your name in the boxes provided and click'Add Name'. It will then invite you to print off a participation certificate, so have your printer primed and ready! You'll also see the link 'send another name to the Moon' which gives you the opportunity to remember a loved one, create an unusual gift for a friend, or really embarrass that family member who's always thought you were a geek. The deadline for accepting submissions is 27 June. Full details with video trailer are at the NASA official webpage.

Diary Dates 22 May - 4 June 08

  • 24 May: Our Solar System's largest planet Jupiter is 2° north of the Moon. Don't miss the opportunity to view this pairing!
  • 27 May: For telescope enthusiasts, see if you can spot another gas giant, Neptune a mere half a degree south of the Moon
  • 29 May: Yet another gas giant on show, Uranus will be 4° south of the Moon from our vantage point on this day
  • 03 June: New Moon

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