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Skywatch

Skywatch for the week of Dec 28, 2020

Skywatch for the week of Dec 28, 2020

Mon Dec 28, 2020 TELESCOPE HELP If you found a telescope under your tree yesterday, and now here it is the next day and you still haven't figured out how to get it to work, here’s some basic advice. You've either got a reflector, which has a big mirror at the bottom of the telescope, or a refractor, usually a long tube with a big glass lens at the top. The refractor’s eyepiece, which does the magnifying, goes into the draw tube at the bottom of the scope. If you have more than one eyepiece, use the eyepiece with the biggest number - this will give you the least magnification, which is what you want to start out. You probably also have something called a Barlow lens which doubles or triples the magnification - this attachment gives you way too much magnification and makes your instrument unwieldy, so put it aside. As a general rule, don’t magnify more than 50 power for each inch of aperture, the width of your main lens or mirror.

Skywatch for the week of Dec 28, 2020

Tue Dec 29, 2020 SIR ARTHUR EDDINGTON
Sir Arthur Eddington was born on December 28, 1882. It was Eddington who proved Einstein’s theory of general relativity. He was a great scientist, and he knew it. When someone praised him as being one of only three people who understood Einstein’s theory, he replied, “Well, there’s me, and there’s Einstein. Who else is there?” Einstein’s theory of general relativity said that the gravity of a massive object, like the sun, could bend any light waves that came near it. So any stars that were along the same line-of-sight as the sun would seem displaced by its gravity. You can’t ordinarily see stars near the sun, because it’s too bright. But during a total solar eclipse, you can. And during a solar eclipse in 1919, observations by Eddington found that stars near the sun in Taurus, a constellation that’s visible in our southern sky this evening, were displaced – he had proved Einstein’s theory.

Skywatch for the week of Dec 28, 2020

Wed Dec 30, 2020 JANUARY AND THE NEW YEAR
Often the outgoing year is portrayed as a very old man known as Father Time. Father Time in turn is based on the Greek mythological god Kronos, whom the Romans associated with Saturn, an agricultural god. The planet Saturn takes 29 years to orbit the sun, so to sky-watchers of long ago, it seemed as if this slow-moving, unhurried planet must somehow be associated with time. In late December great festivals like the Saturnalia were held in honor of Saturn. Gifts were exchanged, homes and streets were decorated, and everybody was in a happy party mood. After this came the solstice and celebrations of the sun, then another holiday for Janus, the Roman god of new beginnings, and for whom the month of January is named.

Skywatch for the week of Dec 28, 2020

Thu Jan 31, 2021 NAME THAT CONSTELLATION
Can you identify the 14th largest constellation in the sky? It is bordered on the north by Pegasus, Andromeda, Triangulum and Aries; on the south by Aquarius the Water Carrier and Cetus the Whale; on the west by Pegasus and Aquarius again; and on the east by Triangulum, Aries and Cetus again. There are no bright stars in it, but within its borders is M74, a beautiful spiral galaxy seen face-on, that’s a little over 20 million light years away. This mythological figure is said to represent the goddess Venus and her son Cupid, who transformed themselves in order to swim away from a dangerous dragon. The waxing crescent moon can be found within its borders this evening, beside one of the two fish in this star pattern. Can you name this star figure, the twelfth constellation of the zodiac? And of course the answer is Pisces, the Fish, well-placed in the southwestern sky after sunset.

Skywatch for the week of Dec 28, 2020

Fri Jan 1, 2021 NEW YEAR’S AVATAR
Often the outgoing year is portrayed as a very old man known as Father Time. Father Time in turn is based on the Greek mythological god Kronos, whom the Romans associated with Saturn, an agricultural god. The planet Saturn takes 29 years to orbit the sun, so to sky-watchers of long ago, it seemed as if this slow-moving, unhurried planet must somehow be associated with time. In late December great festivals like the Saturnalia were held in honor of Saturn. Gifts were exchanged, homes and streets were decorated, and everybody was in a happy party mood. After this came the solstice and celebrations of the sun, then another holiday for Janus, the Roman god of new beginnings, and for whom the month of January is named.