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Starwatch for May 2018

9 May 2018 Astronomy

Hello! I’m Karl Hricko of the United Astronomy Clubs of NJ, and the National Space Society bringing you the May Astronomy Update for the WNTI listening area.

When was the first attempt to figure out the sizes and distances of the Moon and the sun? The findings were written by a famous astronomer and mathematician in the third century B.C. This was quite an amazing feat without the use of modern day instruments. His name doesn’t fit into ordinary household conversation. It was Aristarchus of Samos –a citizen of ancient Greece.

Even though Aristarchus underestimated his measurements, he was able to come up with some good ideas. They included that the stars were like our Sun, the Earth rotates and revolves, the universe is big, and the planets all go around the Sun. All in all, Aristarchus made some major contributions to the development of modern astronomy.

To find the visible planets that revolve around the Sun, we can look WNW at dusk to  Venus going from Taurus to Gemini. At dawn in the south, Saturn is to the right of Mars in Sagittarius. Mars moves to Capricornus later in the month. In the SE, Jupiter dominates the sky all month in Libra. Mercury is hidden in the light of the Sun.

So now even though Aristarchus isn’t a household word, we should know about his insightful contributions to astronomy, as we observe the spinning and revolving planets.

Until our next Astronomy Update …

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