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Skywatch

Skywatch for the week of November 29, 2021

Skywatch 11-26-2021.mp3

Mon Nov 29, 2021 CHRISTIAN HUYGENS AND HIS DISCOVERIES

On November 29, 1659, the Dutch astronomer Christian Huygens made the first map of Mars. Early telescopes were primitive. A lot of patience and sometimes a lot of imagination were needed to see details through the eyepiece. When, for example, Galileo first saw Saturn through a twenty-power telescope in 1610, he thought it had "handles" on either side of it. Forty-five years later Huygens observed Saturn though a much better telescope, and announced that Saturn possessed "a thin, flat ring..." Most astronomers didn’t believe him, until they too were able to see for themselves. Four years later, Huygens made his sketches of Mars, and by watching its dark features drift across the Martian surface, figured out that Mars rotated about once every 24 hours, same as Earth. Huygens also found Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, discovered that Jupiter bulges in the middle, and built the first pendulum clock. Tonight, both Jupiter and Saturn shine out well up in the southern sky after sunset.

Skywatch 11-30-2021.mp3

Tue Nov 30, 2021 ROYAL SOCIETY, TREASURE COAST ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY MEET

On November 28th, 1660, the Royal Society was founded in London. It was made up of physicians and scientists, including Isaac Newton, who wrote the laws of motion and gravity; Edmond Halley, who successfully predicted the return of the comet that bears his name; Christopher Wren, who rebuilt London after the great fire of 1666, and Robert Hooke, who did pioneering work in microscopy. The Royal Society is active and strong today, with thousands of members from around the world. Now if you’re not part of this society, that’s okay, because there’s a local science club, the Treasure Coast Astronomical Society. It hasn’t been around as long as the Royal Society, but its members are carrying on the great tradition of science and discovery, and they meet tonight at Indian River State College’s Science Center on the Fort Pierce campus. The meeting is open to the public, and it begins this evening at 7:30 pm.