Thursday 31 March 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook Sirius B or the Pup

Sirius B or the ‘Pup’

Sirius the ‘Dog Star’ is the brightest star in the sky however on the evening of January 31, 1862 in Cambridgeport Massachusetts. Sirius B or the ‘pup’ as it is sometimes known was accidentally discovered by Alvan Graham Clark and his father Alvan Clark, two members of the famous family of nineteenth century telescope makers. They were testing the lens for an 18 ½-inch telescope, the largest refracting telescope in the world at the time.

The Clarks were not aware of the significance of their discovery at the time but did report it to George Phillips Bond, Director of the Harvard College Observatory in Cambridge Massachusetts.   Using the Harvard’s 15-inch “Great Refractor” Bond succeeded in observing the small companion exactly one week later

The new companion of Sirius turned out to be a remarkably faint yet massive star.  It would be more than fifty years before astronomers appreciated that the small companion represented an entirely new type of star, a white dwarf.

Wednesday 30 March 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook Oceana

Minor Planet Oceana

March 30th 1882 the Austrian astronomer Johann Palissa discovered asteroid which he named Oceana in honour of the Pacific Ocean. Oceana is about 60 km across and is in the main asteroid belt. It takes about 4.3 years to orbit the Sun.  

Tuesday 29 March 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook Mariner 10

Mariner 10

On March 29th 1974, Mariner 10 became the first spacecraft to visit Mercury,  the closest planet to the Sun. 

It flew past Mercury at a distance of just over 400 miles.

Monday 28 March 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook Lunar Eclipse 796 AD

Lunar Eclipse 796 AD

On March 28th 796 according to the Anglo Saxon Chronicle between cockrow and dawn there was an eclipse of the Moon.

 This was about a month before Erdwulf succeeded to the kingdom of the Northumbrians.

Friday 25 March 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook Great Comet of 1811

Great Comet of 1811

H. Flaugergues (Viviers, France) discovered this comet in the evening sky on March 25, 1811, in the now defunct constellation Argo Navis.

 The Great Comet of 1811, was visible to the naked eye for around 260 days, a record it held until the appearance of Comet Hale–Bopp in 1997.

Thursday 24 March 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook Walter Baade

Walter Baade 1893-1960

Walter Baade was born on March 24th 1893 a German astronomer who spent most of his life in America.

He established that there had been a serious error in the Cepheid distance scale and that the universe was twice as large as had been thought.

Wednesday 23 March 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook Edward Pigott and M64

Edward Piggot and M64

On March 23, 1779, from Frampton House in Glamorganshire discovered a "nebula" in Coma Berenices, which later became known as M64 (Pigott 1781). Today M64 is known as the Black Eye Galaxy. This discovery occurred just 12 days before that by Bode and roughly a year before Messier's independent rediscovery of this object.

Pigott when he moved to York in 1781 would work with John Goodricke the deaf astronomer where they would become the ‘Fathers of Variable Star Astronomy’.

Tuesday 22 March 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook William Bourne

William Bourne

William Bourne died on March 22nd 1583, he knew of the magnifying effects of lenses and mirrors. He wrote manuscripts on optics that remained unpublished until 1839.

He wrote ‘The Property or Qualytypes of Glass According unto ye Severall Mackyng Pollychyng and Grindyng of Them’. 

Monday 21 March 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook Tethys


Tethys was discovered by G. D. Cassini in 1684 and is named after the titan Tethys of Greek mythology.

Tethys is a small moon 1,066 km (662 miles) in diameter that orbits 294,660 km (183,100 miles) from Saturn. This cold, airless and heavily scarred body is very similar to the Saturn moons Dione and Rhea except that Tethys is not as heavily cratered as the other two.

Thursday 17 March 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook Phoebe


On March 17th 1899 Phoebe, one of Saturn’s moons was discovered by the American astronomer W.H .Pickering. It is a small irregular satellite only about 200 kilometres across. 

It was the first satellite to be discovered photographically.

Wednesday 16 March 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook Solar Eclipse March 16th 1485

Solar Eclipse March 16th 1485

On March 16th during meal time the Sun was totally eclipsed. According to reports the eclipse produced such horrid darkness on our horizon for the space of an half an hour that the stars appeared in the sky.

Crazed birds fell from the sky and bleating flocks and fearful herds of oxen unexpectedly began to return from their pastures to their stables

Tuesday 15 March 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook Nicolas Louis de Lacaille

Nicolas Louis de Lacaille

On March 15th 1715 the French astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille who mapped the southern skies was born.

He led an expedition (1750–54) to the Cape of Good Hope, where he measured the positions of nearly 10,000 stars. After his death his Coelum Australe Stelliferum (“Star Catalog of the Southern Sky”) was published in 1763.

He created the following constellations in the southern hemisphere:

Antlia the Air Pump
Caelum the Sculptor’s Tool
Circinus the Compasses
Fornax the Furnace
Horologium the Clock
Mensa the Table
Microscopium the Microscope
Norma the Rule
Octans the Octant
Pictor the Painter
Pyxis the Mariner’s Compass
Reticulum theNet
Sculptor the Sculptor
Telescopium the Telescope

Nicolas Louis de Lacaille died on 21st March 1762. 

Monday 14 March 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook Middlesbrough Meteorite

Middlesbrough Meteorite

The Middlesbrough Meteorite fell in Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire, England on March 14, 1881 at 3.35 pm. The meteorite weighed 3.3 pounds and landed at Pennyman’s Sidings on the North East Railway line around 1 mile from Middlesbrough.

 The meteorite was seen to fall by railway men working close to a signal box. They pulled the rock from the crater it made; it was described as being milk warm hot.

The meteorite is described as being a text book example of an oriented meteorite. It is coned shaped meaning that the meteorite spun on its axes as it entered the Earth’s atmosphere with only face being burnt. It is a stone type meteorite.  

The meteorite became the property of the North Eastern Railway Company who declaring it lost property and waited 6 months for someone to claim it. The meteorite was not claimed so they donated to the Yorkshire Museum in York where it can be seen on display.

Friday 11 March 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook Urbain Le Verrier

Urbain Le Verrier

Urbain Le Verrier was born in Saint – Lo, France on March 11th 1811, he became a teacher of astronomy in Paris in 1837. In 1845 he began studying the movements of the planet Uranus and with the English astronomer John Couch Adams, Le Verrier predicted the position of Neptune which was discovered on September 23rd 1846.

He also believed that there was an asteroid belt inside the orbit of Mercury and he named the largest object there Vulcan.

He died on September 23rd 1877 in Paris.

Thursday 10 March 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook Rings around Uranus

The Rings of Uranus

On March 10th 1977 rings were discovered round the planet Uranus. It came as a complete surprise. Astronomers were watching the planet pass in front of a faint star called SAO 158687, however before Uranus passed in front of the star and blocked it out, the star blinked out briefly several times. After Uranus had passed away from the star it blinked again. Astronomers discovered 6 faint rings around the planet.

When the Voyager 2 spacecraft passed by Uranus in 1986 the number of rings identified increased to 13.

Wednesday 9 March 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook Johannes Fabricius and Sunspots

Johannes Fabricius and Sunspots

On March 9th 1611 Johannes Fabricius pointing his telescope to the rising Sun and saw sunspots. The Sun was very low in the sky but when he tried to look from the edge of the Sun towards the centre it became too bright. He then used the projection method of observing the Sun. He then tried to work out the rotation period of the Sun.

Johannes was the son of David Fabricius who in 1596 discovered the first variable star, omicron (Mira) Ceti. 

Tuesday 8 March 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook Thomas Cooke Telescope Maker

Thomas Cooke 1807-1868

Thomas Cooke was born on March 8th 1807 into a poor family of shoemakers in the East Riding of Yorkshire. He would go on to become one of the world’s most important telescope makers.

He moved to York in 1829 and in 1855 he built one the Uk’s first purpose built telescope making factories, the Buckingham Works. He made not only telescopes but many other kinds of optical instruments and turret clocks.  Among the telescopes he made was one for HRH Prince Albert and in 1869 the largest telescope in the world at that time, the 25 inch Newall refractor.

Newall refractor

In 1866 he even built a small number of 3 wheeled steam cars. 

Cooke died on October 19th 1868.

Monday 7 March 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook Solar Eclipse and the Tourist Industry

Solar Eclipse 1970

A total solar eclipse seen over Mexico and the east coast of the USA on March 7th 1970 was seen by millions pf people and is widely considered as being the eclipse largely responsible for beginning today’s eclipse tourist industry.

Sunday 6 March 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook James Francis Tennant

James Francis Tennant

On March 6th 1915 James Francis Tenant astronomer and solider died. He was born in Calcutta to Scottish parents on 10th January 1929.  His military career stared with the Bengal Engineers. It was clear with his schooling that he was very good at maths and was part of the team which undertook the great Trigonometric survey of India. The survey was interrupted due to the Indian mutiny.

After the mutiny he became Director of the Madras observatory, he observed the solar eclipses of 1868 and 1871 that were seen across the Indian subcontinent and into Indonesia. Being an expert in photography he used his knowledge extensively during these eclipses. He also was the first to study the prominence's with spectroscopes and shown them to be composed mostly of Hydrogen.  

He also observed the Transit of Venus in 1874.

Friday 4 March 2016

Atrognome Scrapbook Metis

Jovian moon Metis

On March 4th 1979 the US spacecraft Voyager 1 discovered Metis which is the innermost of the moons of Jupiter. Metis is the third largest of the inner moons of Jupiter.  The moon is small being only around 35 miles across.

Thursday 3 March 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook Pioneer 4

Pioneer 4

The Pioneer 4 mission which was launched on March 3rd 1959 was the second of two early attempts by the United States to send a spacecraft to the moon. The probe was primarily designed to photograph the Moon. Pioneer 4 did in fact fly past the moon, but at a much farther distance than planned, because of the trajectory error, the camera sensor failed to trigger.

Pioneer 4 then went into orbit around the Sun becoming the first spacecraft to do so, contact was lost on March 6, 1959.

Wednesday 2 March 2016

Astrognome Weather, Halifax Town FC and the Ice Rink

Halifax Town FC and the Ice Rink

It might be cold today, but during the great freeze of 1962-63, it was so difficult for football clubs to play their matches that many were postponed for weeks on end. However on March 2nd 1963, Halifax Town Football Club opened there ground not to play football on but to use it as an ice rink!  

Astrognome Scrapbook Rosetta Mission

Rosetta Mission

The European Space Agency Rosetta mission that so successfully reached comet 67P and landed the Philae probe onto the surface of the comet in November 2014 was actually launched on March 2nd 2004.

Tuesday 1 March 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook Venera 13

Venera 13 and the first colour photo from Venus

On March 1st 1982 the Russian spacecraft Venera 13 landed on the surface of Venus and sent back the first colour photograph from the surface of the planet. 

Launched on October 30th 1981 the probe was only expected to last for about one hour but in fact it survived for around two hours. This is due to the very hostile environment on the surface of Venus.