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
Memories of 1969
I was 14 years old when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the Moon, I have not forgotten it and I doubt I ever will. It seemed very much in the realm of science fiction and was the ultimate human achievement. Waiting for regular news bulletins seemed interminable! I was glad when they took off safely, and made it back to Earth alive and well, to the expected heroes' welcome. I felt a bit sorry for Michael Collins, the designated driver of Apollo 11, who went all the way to the Moon and stayed in orbit while Armstrong and Aldrin had all the fun on the lunar surface. Now Neil Armstrong has passed away, it feels like the end of an era to me, and he will always be a hero of mine. I was pleased to see how the United States honoured him, and rightly so, but the fact that worldwide mourning took place shows how much astronauts are considered representatives of the world, rather than individual countries. From space, looking back at the Earth, you don't see boundaries, just our beautiful planet that we all have to share. Just in case you didn't know, the rare 'Blue Moon' which I told you about in my August BATS was the very appropriate date chosen for Neil Armstrong's private funeral.
- Neil Armstrong's small step
- The Moon by Neil Armstrong
- Buzz moonwalking by Neil Armstrong
- The Eagle, the Moon and the Earth by Michael Collins (in 3D)
- The Far Side of the Moon by Apollo 11 crew
- Lunar Footprints by Apollo 11 crew
Aurora Alerts (UK)
October 2012 Diary Dates
From mid-month onwards, try and spot some meteors. These are grains of dust and other debris left behind by a comet, rather like a trail of breadcrumbs, as it travelled through the inner Solar System. When the detritus hits the Earth's atmosphere it sizzles and burns up, hence we see a 'shooting star'. Each meteor shower can be traced back to a particular comet, this month the cosmic flotsam which can be seen has been left by perhaps the best-known of them all, Halley's Comet. The name of this meteor shower, the Orionids, denotes the direction they appear to originate from, so you'll need to be looking in the direction of Orion the Hunter. The peak of the Orionids occurs on the 20th October, but dates either side could yield a few. As the Moon is new it will have set by late evening so prospects are excellent!
- 03: Venus and Regulus are 0.1° apart
- 05: Moon and Jupiter within 1°
- 06: Mercury and Saturn are 3° apart
- 15: New Moon
- 16: Moon and Mercury are 1.3° apart
- 20: Orionids meteor shower peak
- 20: Mars and Antares (alpha Scorpii) within 4°
- 24: Moon and Neptune within 6°
- 27: Moon and Uranus within 5°
- 29: Full Moon
Chat about your celestial observances at the H2G2 Astronomy Society. Comment on anything in this edition of Babe Among the Stars by starting a new conversation below.