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Image above by By WP – Planets2008.jpg, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45708230
The weather on Friday 21st December looked unpromising for a visit to Drombeg stone circle–but perseverance was rewarded when about 25 members and their friends briefly witnessed–or almost witnessed–the solstice sunset there. Just about 4 in the afternoon, twenty minutes or so before official sunset, the sun briefly broke through the clouds fractionally to the left of a notch in the hills which really made the day. Club member Michael O’Keeffe gave a tour of the site, telling its history, the excavation of the site which took place in the 1950’s, and the relevance of the winter and summer solstice.
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Zond 6 was launched on November 10th 1968, and flew around the Moon on November 14th. It managed to take photos of both the near side and far side of the moon, but only one negative was recovered from the camera container.
Zond 6 used a reletively uncommon technique called “skip reentry”, to shed velocity upon returning to Earth. A few hours before reentry, on 17 November 1968, a faulty O-ring rubber gasket caused the cabin to depressurise, killing all the animal test subjects aboard. Also Zond 6’s parachutes deployed too early and it crashed in Kazakhstan, not far from the designated landing area.
For propaganda reasons the Soviet Union claimed the flight was a complete success.
Zond 6 was a precursor to a manned circumlunar flight which the Soviets hoped could occur in December 1968, meaning the USSR would be the first nation to have a manned circumlunar flight. However the delays caused by the failure of Zond 6 meant it was the United States with Apollo 8 which was the first nation to achieve this.
Appropriately enough this year’s Dark Matter Day will take place on Halloween. Across Britain, the US and Europe, talks, demonstrations and parties highlighting the search for dark matter will be held on 31st October. “I don’t think you could pick a better date to celebrate a hunt for something that is as ephemeral and mysterious as dark matter,” said physicist Chamkaur Ghag, of University College London. “We can see its effects, but cannot detect it directly. It is the ultimate in ghostly phenomena.”
The existence of dark matter has both been controversial and frustrating to modern physicists. Dark Matter cannot be observed, but is inferred because of galaxies that rotate too quickly to hold themselves together. Approximately 85% of the universe’s total mass is believed to be made up of dark matter.
“Ever since Coperincus, we have known we are not located anywhere special in the universe,” said astronomer royal Martin Rees. “But now it transpires we are not even made of the dominant stuff in the cosmos. Most of it is made up of material from the dark side, the side we cannot yet see.”
Without dark matter there would be nothing to hold galaxies together, and hence no stars, no planets and no life, which is what has led scientists to promote the idea of Dark Matter Day.
Source: The Guardian:
The open night will be hosting workshops, a Gravity Well to show how space is warped by large objects, demonstrations on Stellarium (a free software that helps you to explore the night sky) and observing in the courtyard with telescopes brought by Club members. (weather dependent!)
Schedule of events:
19:00 – 20:00 – Prof Robert Walsh: A talk in the area of solar science and our relationship with the Sun
20:15 – 22:00 – Cork Skeptics host Kevin Mitchell: Destiny and Chance – How the Wiring of Our Brains Shapes Who We Are
19:00 – 22:00 – Stargazing with Cork Astronomy Club*
Workshops and other activities will run throughout the night from 19:00
Images and Sketches of Jupiter
The Planet Saturn