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Astronomy Beat is a monthly, on-line column written by “insiders” from the worlds of astronomy research and outreach.
Current issue: January 29, 2016
The Calendar in the Sky
Bryan Mendez (UC Berkeley)
As we begin another year, we thought it would be interesting to examine what that means. How long is a year? What does the number 2016 refer to? Why do we have leap years? How do other people mark time? Cultures throughout the world and across history have developed calendars that reflect their own values and perspectives. Indeed, the length of a year varies from culture to culture. That isn’t because different cultures don’t know how to measure a year correctly, but rather each culture chooses to define the length of the year based on their needs and aesthetics. The thing that nearly all calendars have in common is that they are intimately tied to some predictable and cyclical motions of celestial objects in the sky.
In 2014, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific celebrates its 125th anniversary year of communicating and educating about the universe around us. But back in 1889, the universe seemed a very different place–simpler, but perhaps no less mysterious. Jim Manning, departing executive director, takes a long moment to look the state of astronomy and the cosmos at the time of the Society’s founding, and how things have changed since then in the February 2014 issue of Astronomy Beat. Join him for a peek at the universe “125 years ago today.”
With our compliments, please enjoy the June 2013 issue of Astronomy Beat featuring Nancy Roman, an early pioneer in paving the way for female scientists at NASA. Among other accomplishments, and because of her tireless efforts in support of a space-based observatory, Nancy Roman is often considered the mother of the Hubble Space Telescope.
Download the following sample Astronomy Beat columns FREE to see what the series is like.
The Discovery of Pluto
by Clyde Tombaugh
The Discovery of the First Gravitational Lenses
by Ray Weymann
Origins of the Drake Equation
by Frank Drake and Dava Sobel
Stargazing Centaurs: The Astronomy of Harry Potter
by Kristine Larsen
And the Sun Stood Still: Dramatizing Copernicus
by Dava Sobel
How to Catch a Moon or Two of Pluto
by Mark R. Showalter