Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Happy Astronomy Day
<--- After launch aboard a Lockheed-Martin Atlas V rocket, the New Horizons spacecraft set out on a journey to the edge of the solar system. Liftoff occurred Jan. 19, 2006 at 2:00:00 p.m. EST from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. New Horizons is headed for a distant rendezvous with the mysterious planet Pluto almost a decade from now.
Many years ago, I built a six inch reflecting telescope with my father. We ground the mirror, collimated the parts, built the mount and so forth. It was quite a satisfying experience to see the rings of Saturn and moons of Jupiter, and especially the craters on the moon. It seems to me there's been a couple of recent news stories about finding new planets. Still, as far as I know, pluto is the last planet.
I think it's interesting that everybody I've ever met knows about the planet Pluto. It's a completely unimportant thing. How come a small rock in extreme elliptical orbit discovered in 1930 is known to 99% of the population? I think it's because people were interested more in science and discovery in the past than they are today. Given the general apathy shown by people towards science today, if someone discovered another rock 3 billion miles away today, would it make it into textbooks or even newspapers?
Along those lines, National Astronomy Day 2006, held this year Saturday, May 6, gives astronomy-lovers a chance to share their passion with the astronomy-curious. Clubs, planetaria, observatories, and museums will host public viewing events, telescope workshops, hands-on activities, and presentations to increase awareness about the profession and hobby.
Here is a link to local events.