Posted on Friday, December 19, 2014
By Kadri Tinn |

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Posted on Friday, December 19, 2014
By Kadri Tinn |
Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2) is brightening into naked eye visibility as it is moving into northern skies - Right now at around magnitude 6 in the constellation Columba, it is expected to increase in brightness up to fifth magnitude in the coming weeks or months and it will be moving towards northern hemisphere sky. For northern observers it will be moving from under Canis Major toward Orion and then under Taurus.

You can find it's precise location on heavens-above.com

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Posted on Friday, December 12, 2014
By Kadri Tinn |
Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

In the age of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and Google search, one might start to doubt the need for any other reference material, as everything seems close at hand and easily found, although sometimes it might take several pages of search results to find the real thing you’re looking for, and in case of Wikipedia, one can’t always be certain of the accuracy of the writing.

If you’re an astronomer or historian of science or are just interested in the history of astronomy and go through book after book about history of astronomy, a lot of times one might come across names that are total strangers for you – maybe the name is of an astronomer who is a famous astronomer in a small country and did some important work on a specific subject, but perhaps focused on other related fields as well – if you’d try to find information about such an astronomer online, a lot of the information would be in a different language or you can find only highlights or maybe all you can find online is someone mentioning an important fact in one book.

In case of the Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers I doubt that there would be many astronomers who you can’t find in there, as there are astronomers from all across the world from ancient Greek and Arabic astronomers to 20th century well known astronomers such as Edwin Hubble and Fred Hoyle. The entries run from a few sentences to several pages long and give a basic idea about what the person worked on and their contributions to science and also about their life.

In addition to astronomers you can also find entries for telescope makers such as Peter and John Dollond and The Clark family, but also about some scientists that are better known for their contributions in physics such as Erwin Schrödinger or Robert J. Oppenheimer, but you might be surprised to find the writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in this encyclopedia, but reading the short entry lets you know that later in life he taught physics and astronomy.

It is a very necessary book. The usefulness of having information about 1800 astronomers or astronomy-related people that are provided in the Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers can be easily seen as although you might get most important information about famous figures in astronomy even in a textbook the smaller names are often left unmentioned, but they can mostly be found in Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers, with the entries having been written by well-known historians of science, who a lot of times have written whole books about the person they wrote about for the encyclopedia. So if you want to know even more about someone it is quite easy to continue your research, as the entries are followed by selected references that provide more detailed information.

I quite like using this encyclopedia – for looking up another astronomer that I know nothing about and happened across while reading about the history of astronomy, but as well for opening up at a random page and finding out something new about someone who once maybe in a far distant land with totally different ideas, was looking up at the same night sky that we can see now.

Did you know that Hypsicles of Alexandria was the person who wrote a book called "On Rising Times", that was the first book to be written in Greek that used sexagesimal arithmetic and divided the ecliptic into 360 degrees of arc?

Although I was able to think of some astronomers or telescope makers that I couldn't find in this encyclopedia, they were few and far between, and mostly I could attribute their absence to them not being famous enough or not having had a great enough contribution to science.

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Posted on Friday, December 12, 2014
By Kadri Tinn |
On December 6th, 2014 NASA's New Horizons space craft awoke from its final hibernation before its encounter with Pluto in July 2015.

New Horizons will be observing a Kuiper belt object starting from January and will observe one more in June and several more after the Pluto flyby.


To find out more about the mission, watch this video:

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Posted on Sunday, December 07, 2014
By Kadri Tinn |
Japan launched its second spacecraft for an asteroid mission - Hayabusa 2 - the successor to the first Hayabusa mission that was launched in 2003 and returned to Earth in 2010 with grains of asteroid material as samples.

In the Hayabusa 2 mission, the previous missions weak spots have been overcome - the ion engine has been improved and sample collecting mechanisms have been updated.

Hayabusa 2 was launched on December 3rd, 2014, and is expected to reach it's destination, the asteroid 1999 JU3 in 2018 an return to Earth in 2020.

The asteroid 1999 JU3 belongs to the Apollo asteroids class that orbit the Sun near Earth with their closest approaches to the Sun closer to the Sun than the Earth's orbit and furthest points in their orbit outside of the Earth's orbit making them potentially hazardous in astronomical timescales.

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Posted on Sunday, December 07, 2014
By Kadri Tinn |
On December 5th, 2014, NASA had it's first test flight of the Orion spacecraft on a Delta IV Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex.

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Posted on Tuesday, December 02, 2014
By Kadri Tinn |
The Moon on 2nd December, 2014.
The picture was taken with a Canon Eos 500D camera and a Skywatcher 1000mm focal length refractor in prime focus.
The Moon on 2nd December, 2014. Credit: Kadri Tinn

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