Interesting Astronomy Stories of 2009: July/August/September

International Year of Astronomy

The International Year of Astronomy continues with stories from July through September.

 

July

To promote the International Year of Astronomy, the Cincinnati Observatory Center awarded 40 telescopes to students, teachers and community leaders in the Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana region. But in order to be awarded one of the 8” Dobsonian telescopes, the applicant had to submit a plan detailing their intended uses of the telescope. The COC’s intention was to have 40 more people out there promoting and teaching others about astronomy.

 

NASA
NASA

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) sent back its first images this month. This orbiter will be mapping the moon to find safe landing sites for future manned missions to the moon, locating resources and studying the moon’s radiation.

 

The world’s largest telescope made its debut. The Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC) has a 10.4 meter diameter mirror which will provide more light gathering area any other scope of its kind. It is located on a mountain in the Canary Islands. Astronomers from the University of Florida, Spain and Mexico will be collaborating on the project

 

August

Spaceship designer Burt Rutan speaks at the Oshkosh Experimental Aircraft Association convention to reveal his eventual plans for an orbiting hotel around the moon and a shuttle for flights above the moon’s surface. His company plans to achieve these goals in the next 40 years. In the more immediate future his plans include building a spaceship to allow 6 people at a time to fly 62 miles above the earth to experience weightlessness for more than 3 minutes. The prototype is complete and it flew at the Oshkosh air show the same day of his speech.

The amino acid glycine was discovered for the first time in a comet. Glycine is used by living organisms to produce proteins. This supports the theory that the building blocks of life are abundant in space and that life in the universe may be more common than rare.

 

September

Two Southern Illinois University Edwardsville students, Jarod Luebbert and Mark Sands, wrote a software program that allows users of Galaxy Zoo the ability to navigate from galaxy to galaxy using Microsoft’s Worldwide Telescope. Visitors get to classify galaxies drawn from the robotic Sloan Digital Sky Survey The goal is to find those with spiral arms, thereby helping astronomers explore the universe.

 

NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

A lightning storm on Saturn, as observed by the Cassini spacecraft, broke the record this month for the longest lightning storm in the solar system. It began in mid-January of 2009.

My source for the stories I chose for each month is Astronomy Magazine Newsletters. Pictures came from various sources and are noted below each picture.

 

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