Here we are, less than one week until a total solar eclipse crosses the United States. For the past three years, my excitement has been building, and all of my eclipse-chaser friends have been saying, “You HAVE to go see totality!” The path of totality (the narrow region where the Sun will appear totally blocked) is relatively convenient for North Americans, but many people won’t be able to travel and witness the total phase of the eclipse.
July 15-24 marked the 35th anniversary of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP), the famous “Handshake in Space.” ASTP was the first American-Soviet space flight, docking the last American Apollo spacecraft with the then-Soviet Soyuz spacecraft. This joint effort between the two major world players was based on an agreement signed in 1972, and it set a precedent for future joint efforts, such as the Shuttle-Mir Program and the International Space Station.
As spring quickly approaches and being outside is becoming more and more inviting, we Public Observatory staff continue to enjoy spending time outside with our portable telescopes. Every sunny day between 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m., except for Mondays, we invite visitors near the Independence Avenue entrance to take a look at the sun through our specially equipped telescopes.
I first thought of putting together a book on planetary tectonics when I was working on a general subject matter book on the planets in the mid 1990’s. That book had a “comparing the planets” section where I showed examples of tectonic landforms on Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars. Tectonic landforms are created when forces act on solid crustal material and they are found on objects of all sizes in the solar system.
The Public Observatory Project (POP) is nearer to completion. We are in the process of installing a large professional Boller & Chivens telescope in a 22-foot dome that will be available for four hours each day (weather permitting) to view the Sun, Moon and planets from the east terrace of the Museum.