On Monday, November 11, 2019, one of my favorite celestial events occurs – a transit! Think of a transit as an “eclipse lite” – a planet will pass between Earth and the Sun, and we’ll be able to observe the planet’s shadow moving across the Sun. Here are six questions to ponder during this month’s transit of Mercury.
The Public Observatory Project is just over a year old now, and in that time we’ve been experimenting with the telescope to discover what is visible in the daytime sky and devise ways that our visitors can have the best experience possible. One of our goals is to use our equipment to take images of the Sun, so that we can share our star’s day-to-day activities with the visiting public as well as those who can’t make it to the Mall to look through our telescopes.
“Remote sensing” is a term used to describe many different types of observations carried out at a distance. Aerial photos, satellite images of the Earth and planets, and telescope views of our solar system are all forms of remote sensing used to understand geology, climate, hazards, and changes over time.
We have been discussing at the National Air and Space Museum the possibility of pursuing an educational workshop on the place of conspiracy theories in modern America, especially as it relates to aerospace history but also in the broader context of our national history.
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.