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SkyNews July/August 2019

SkyNews, the magazine of astronomy and stargazing, features complete observing information, expert equipment reviews, star chart — everything beginners and intermediate amateur astronomers and astrophotographers need. Edited by astronomy author Terence Dickinson, published in Canada, writers include equipment guru Alan Dyer, comet hunter David Levy, wilderness astronomer Peter McMahon, Ken Hewitt-White, Gary Seronik, Ray Villard

Royal Astronomical Society of Canada
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6 Issues


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children of apollo

MAY 5, 1961. That date has always had great significance for me. Not only was it the day Alan Shepard blasted off in his Freedom 7 Mercury spacecraft to become the first American in space, it was also the day I was born. I’ve often wondered whether that coincidence played a role in shaping my life. Perhaps, perhaps not. But like so many other kids growing up in the 1960s, I was caught up in the excitement of the space race as the Mercury program segued into Gemini and then Apollo, finally culminating with the Apollo 11 Moon landing. It was Shepard’s mission that arguably gave birth to the Moon program. Less than three weeks after Freedom 7 splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean, President John F. Kennedy stood before Congress…

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Editor Gary Seronik editor@skynews.ca Associate Editor Ken Hewitt-White Contributing Editor Alan Dyer Art Director Janice McLean Production Manager Susan Dickinson Contributors Paul Deans, Glenn LeDrew, Tony Puerzer, Ivan Semeniuk Contributing Astrophotographers Klaus Brasch, Ron Brecher, Lynn Hilborn, Malcolm Park Publisher J. Randy Attwood Advertising Manager David Webster Business Manager Renata Koziol Customer Service 1-866-759-0005 service@skynews.ca Editor Emeritus Terence Dickinson Founding Publisher Canada Science and Technology Museum…

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sky news briefs

APOLLO: THE MISSIONS THAT KEEP ON GIVING BETWEEN 1969 AND 1972, six Apollo Moon missions brought back 382 kilograms of rocks, core samples, pebbles, sand and dust from six different sites on the lunar surface. Nearly 400 samples are distributed annually for research and teaching projects, but some of this exotic bounty has remained untouched since arriving on Earth. Now, on the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, nine teams have been selected to study sealed samples from Apollos 15 and 17, using techniques unavailable to researchers half a century ago. “These samples were saved so that we can take advantage of today’s more advanced and sophisticated technology to answer questions we didn’t know we needed to ask,” says Lori Glaze, acting director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division. One study by NASA’s Ames…

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the canadians behind apollo’s triumph

AS APOLLO 11 and its colossal Saturn V rocket stood on Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center a few days before launch, a 44-year-old engineer from Sarnia, Ontario, clambered into the section containing the lunar module named Eagle to inspect the spindly craft that would carry the first humans to the surface of the Moon. Owen E. Maynard had begun work on Apollo even before President John F. Kennedy had committed the United States in 1961 to “achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.” Kennedy’s bold statement had inspired Maynard, plus hundreds of thousands of other NASA engineers, scientists and contractors, to make the Moon landing a reality. By the time Apollo 11 lifted off…

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searching for tranquility base

IT’S IRONIC that of the six Apollo landing sites, the hardest one to pinpoint in a telescope is the most famous: Tranquility Base. That’s where Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin gingerly landed their lunar module, Eagle, in July 1969, becoming the first humans to set foot on another world. The location was mainly chosen for safety, so this stretch of Mare Tranquillitatis is bereft of notable impact craters or other potential hazards. And that very blandness makes it difficult to zero in on the exact spot where Armstrong and Aldrin left their bootprints. Before we get into the nitty-gritty of finding the Apollo 11 landing site, let’s make sure our expectations are in check. First, you won’t see any evidence of astronauts having been there. Even the Hubble Space Telescope…

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one giant leap

MAKING SELECTIONS FOR AN APOLLO 11 GALLERY presents some unique challenges. First, there’s no way to convey the historical magnitude of the first Moon landing in only a few frames. Second, it’s nearly impossible to find images that aren’t iconic—something compounded by the fact that only 233 colour pictures were captured by Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin while on the surface of the Moon. That’s fewer shots than most digital photographers typically take on a weekend vacation! So while we’ve done our best to avoid the most overused photos, it’s certainly the case that all the best images are immediately familiar even to casual space buffs. Yet 50 years later, the photographs captured by the Apollo 11 astronauts have lost none of their ability to inspire awe and wonder.…