This is the first in a series of Western Slope Skies episodes about Women in Astronomy. We hope that, in some manner, these inspire our young female listeners to become involved in astronomy.
On June 16, 1963, the Russians launched Vostok 6. The lone astronaut on board was Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space. She was in space for 48 orbits over three days. In her single mission, she logged more time in space than all the American astronauts who had been in space to that date combined.
“Hey, can you see the flag in that thing?!” It’s a question that makes us wince when observing the moon at astronomy outreaches. The answer is…Maybe if you were aboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter… but, all six of the flags are now faded to white, and the first one blew over when the Apollo 11 lunar module blasted off departing the moon.
From our backyards, the moon, our closest celestial neighbor, is easily observed by the unaided eye as it moves through its changing phases. During the next two weeks, the moon will move from new to nearly full.
Saturn…The ringed planet. The sixth planet from the Sun; second largest in the Solar System behind Jupiter; and the one that evokes the most vivid images in our thoughts. It is an unforgettable sight, even in a small telescope.
From now until early May, Saturn will be the brightest it has been for more than 5 years. It rises in the east as the Sun sets and will be visible all night long.
The term Light Pollution refers to excessive and glaring artificial lighting, especially light that is scattered above the horizon. This is a very serious problem for astronomers, because it can prevent them from seeing objects in space.