Wednesday 30 November 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook Lunar Eclipse 1099

Lunar Eclipse 1099

An eclipse of the Moon was recorded on November 30th 1099.

 It is recorded that this is the year that Pope Urban II died. 

Tuesday 29 November 2016

The Astronomy Show Wednesday 30th November

Astronomy Show Wednesday 30th November

This week I will be looking at initial reports into the Schiaparelli failure on Mars,  it looks like it is another ESA soft ware error. This plus the bright star list continues  with Aldebaran in Taurus, the A-Z of  constellations is Canis Major and the Messier marathon continues with M12 in Ophiuchus.

This plus what's in the night sky this week, the latest astronomy news and the astronomy society meetings in the north.

The Astronomy Show with Martin Lunn on Drystone Radio 103.5 FM, on line at or listen on the podcast.


Monday 28 November 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook Mariner 4

Mariner 4

On November 28th 1964 Mariner 4 was launched. It would become the first spacecraft to visit Mars and send back photographs.

Although scientists knew that there were no canals or intelligent life on the red planet, many assumed that there would be tundra like plants and lichens there.

Mariner 4 flew past Mars on July 15th 1965 and the photographs that Mariner 4 sent back although very grainy and of poor quality compared to those that are sent back from modern space craft showed that Mars was not covered in simple plant life, but looked more like the surface of the Moon.

In one moment in time Mariner 4 changed all the old fashioned romantic views of Mars. Today with rovers on the surface and space craft orbiting Mars, scientists are still trying to answer questions set by the first probe to visit Mars, Mariner 4.

Monday 21 November 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook Explorers 24 and 25

Explorers 24 and 25

On November 21st 1964 NASA successfully places in orbit two satellites by means of the same launch rocket for the first time.  In this case a Scout launcher. Designated Explorers 24 and 25 the craft are a 12 feet balloon and a 2 feet diameter magnetic/radiation investigation satellite respectively.

The prime purpose of Explorer 24 was basically the same as the Beacon satellites of 1959 and 1960 and to provide data on atmospheric drag. 

Friday 18 November 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook Lunokhod 1

Lunokhod 1

On 17 November 1970 an interesting space craft landed on the surface of the Moon.  It carried the first remotely controlled robotic lunar rover, Lunokhod 1. The Lunokhod looked like a ‘giant saucepan on wheels’.

For the next ten months the rover was driven by operators in the Soviet Union, with the total distance travelled being about 10 km. For comparison, in six years of operation the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has travelled about 12 km.

After landing, the rover drove down a ramp onto the lunar surface and tested its eight wheels. The rover was driven by solar power during the day; at night it parked and relied on thermal energy from a polonium-210 radioisotope heater to survive the cold (-150°C).

Lunokhod 1 sent back valuable data concerning the composition of the soil, close up views of the local topography, and important measurements of the soil.

Contact was lost with the rover on September 14, 1971, a second rover Lunokhod 2 would land on the Moon on 16th January 1973. 

Tuesday 15 November 2016

The Astronomy Show November 16th

The Astronomy Show

On this week's show I will be looking at what is going on in the Kuiper Belt beyond Neptune, it appears that most of the large objects there have moons.

What's in the night sky this week, plus the A-Z of constellations this week is Canes Venatici the bright star is Acrux and the Messier marathon continues with M11 the Wild Duck.

This plus the latest astronomy news, the astronomy scrapbook and  what is happening in the astronomical societies, oh and a little music.

The Astronomy Show on Drystone Radio  103.5FM, on line at or catch on podcast.

Astrognome Scrapbook Buran


The only flight of the Russian space shuttle called Buran which means ‘snowstorm or blizzard’ took place on November 15th 1988.

The project began in 1980 with the first full scale model being produced in 1984. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union the project was cancelled.

Sadly on May 12th 2002, the hangar which was in a poor state of repair at the Baikonur Cosmodrome housing the Buran shuttle collapsed during a massive storm. The shuttle was destroyed, and 8 workers were also killed. 

Monday 14 November 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook Mariner 9

Mariner 9

On November 14th 1971 Mariner 9 became the first space craft to enter orbit around another planet in this case Mars. Mariner 9 would send back over 7,000 photographs or about 85% of the surface of Mars before the mission ended in October 1972. Previous missions which have been fly byes had sent back only small numbers of photographs.

Mariner 9 photographed river beds, craters, extinct volcanoes including Olympus Mons the largest volcano on Mars and in the solar system.

 Also photographed were canyons including the Valles Marineris, a canyon so big that it is bigger the USA. Valles Marineris is named after the Mariner 9 space craft.

Today Mariner 9 remains as a derelict satellite in orbit around Mars. It is expected to remain in orbit until approximately 2022, when the spacecraft will probably enter the Martian atmosphere and either burn up or crash into the planet's surface.

Friday 11 November 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook SN 1572

SN 1572

Sometimes called Tycho’s Star this was a Super Nova, this is a star that destroys itself in a massive explosion. It was not discovered by Tycho but he gave the most accurate series of observations on the star, which is why the star bears his name.  This supernova would become the most brilliant object in the sky during the last 500 years.

He first saw the star on November 11th 1572. For several weeks it outshone every star in the night sky. It could even be seen in daylight, when the Sun was low in the sky. It was about -4.5 making slightly brighter than Venus.

At this time of course people believed that the heavens never changed so to see a new star suddenly appear certainly caused a massive amount of interest.

 The star was visible to the naked eye (there were no telescopes at this point) for about 16 months fading from view in March 1574.

Tycho Brahe 1546-1601 was the last of the great pre telescopic astronomers.

Thursday 10 November 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook Transit of Earth

Transit of Earth

The next transit of Earth as seen from Mars will occur on November 10th 2084.

 From Mars the Earth will appear as a small dark spot moving across the face of the Sun.

Tuesday 8 November 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook Comet Arend Roland

Comet Arend–Roland

Comet Arend–Roland was discovered on November 8, 1956, by Belgian astronomers Sylvain Arend and Georges Roland on photographic plates. 

At that time the comet was at visual magnitude 10, in April 1957 it reached magnitude -1, making it one of the brightest comets of the mid-20th century. At its closest it was within 29 million miles of the Sun.

By May 1957 it was below naked eye visibility. 

The Astronomy Show November 9th

The Astronomy Show 9th November

Discover what a super moon is, you can see the biggest super moon of the 21st century on November 14th, there won't be a better one until November 2034!!

With the longer darker nights discover what can be seen in the night sky this week.

The regular features include, The A-Z of constellations which this week is Cancer the Crab, the bright star is Altair in the constellation of Aquila the Eagle and we have reached Messier 10 in the Messier Marathon.

This plus the latest astronomy news, the astronomy scrapbook and what is happening in the regional astronomy societies. And even a little music!

Drystone Radio 103.5 on line and via podcast

Monday 7 November 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook Transit of Mercury 1631

Transit of Mercury 1631

The first person to observe a transit of Mercury was the French astronomer Pierre Gassendi, on November 7th 1631.

 Gassendi was able to use the newly published Rudolphine tables of Johannes Kepler, the first man to understand the elliptical nature of planetary orbits around the Sun.

 In the 1627 tables, which were dedicated to Kepler’s patron, Emperor Rudolph II of the Holy Roman Empire, Kepler made a number of predictions of upcoming events – in particular, a transit of Mercury in November 1631 and a transit of Venus in December of the same year.

Kepler died in 1630 without knowing if his predictions were accurate

Friday 4 November 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook Edward Brerewood

Edward Brerewood

The first professor of astronomy at Gresham College died on November 4th 1613. It is believed that he was born in 1565. He was an antiquary and mathematician. He was professor of Gresham College between 1596/7.

He was born at Chester, England

Thursday 3 November 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook Mariner 10

Mariner 10

Mariner 10 was launched on November 3rd 1973 and would go onto become the first space craft to visit the planet Mercury. It was the last of the Mariner series; Mariner 9 had successfully imaged Mars while Mariners 11 and 12 would be converted to become Voyager 1 and 2.

Although Mariner 10 flew past Venus and made scientific studies there it is usually associated with Mercury. It was not the first space craft to visit Venus there had already been several; in fact the first was the earlier Mariner 2 in 1962.

Mariner 10

Mariner 10 performed its first fly past of Mercury on March 29th 1974. Mariner 10 would make scientific studies and photographed around 45% of the surface of Mercury.

Its mission ended in 1975 when its fuel ran out. It is assumed to still be orbiting the Sun today.

Wednesday 2 November 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook Hilda

Minor Planet Hilda

153 Hilda is a large asteroid in the outer main belt, with a diameter of 170 km. It was discovered by Johann Palisa on November 2, 1875, from the Austrian Naval Observatory at Pula. 

The name was chosen by the astronomer Theodor von Oppolzer, who named it after one of his daughters. Due to the materials that make up Hilda it has a very dark surface.

Tuesday 1 November 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook John Radcliffe

John Radcliffe

 Dr John Radcliffe c. 1652 – 1 November 1714 was an English physician, academic and politician, the Radcliffe Observatory was named after him. 

The observatory was at the University of Oxford from 1773 until 1934 when the trustees sold it and built a new observatory in South Africa.

Today, the observatory building forms a part of the Green Templeton College of the University of Oxford.