AstroFacts for August 2011
August 31: The estimated rate of star production in the Milky Way Galaxy is about 7 (plus or minus 3) stars per year.
August 30: There’s some debate when the last Milky Way supernova was seen: 1604 by Kepler (SN 1604) or 1680 by Flamsteed (Cas A).
August 29: Although the last known Milky Way supernova occurred hundreds of years ago, the predicted rate is about once every 50 years.
August 28: A chunk of lead wouldn’t survive on Venus because lead’s melting point is about 230 °F less than the surface temp of Venus.
August 27: It takes the death of massive stars to produce the necessary elements for life on Earth.
August 26: Wind speeds as high as 1300 mph have been measured on Neptune. Wind speeds for a category 5 hurricane only need to exceed 155 mph.
August 25: Due to Earth’s very slowly wobbling rotation axis, the bright star Vega will be considered the North Star in 14,000 AD.
August 24: The altitude of the Hubble Space Telescope (309 nautical miles) is slightly more than the distance between San Fran and LA.
August 23: The Moon experiences quakes just like Earth does, but moonquakes are typically a million times less powerful.
August 22: The first globular cluster (M22) was discovered in 1665 by the German astronomer Abraham Ihle.
August 21: It took the Apollo astronauts just over 3 days to get to the Moon. Driving at 70 mph it would take 135 days to make the trip.
August 20: Earth is not an isolated system. Energy is continually arriving in the form of radiation from the Sun.
August 19: For every three trips around the Sun Neptune completes, Pluto completes exactly two trips.
August 18: Totality for a lunar eclipse can last up to 1 hour and 42 minutes.
August 17: A planet must (1) orbit the Sun, (2) be round, and (3) clear out its neighborhood. Dwarf planets only need (1) and (2).
August 16: The Sun’s core has a density that is about 150 times that of water.
August 15: Stars make up galaxies; galaxies make up clusters; and galactic clusters make up superclusters, the largest known structures.
August 14: Due to the Moon’s gravitational pull on Earth, an Earth day is getting longer by 2 milliseconds per year.
August 13: The Perseid Meteor Shower is named after the constellation Perseus, which is where the meteors appear to come from.
August 10: At the Sun’s core is a constantly exploding fusion bomb, but the Sun’s own self gravity is enough to contain the explosion.
August 8: When a president gives their inauguration speech the broadcast doesn’t reach the nearest star until their first term is over.
August 7: Uranus’ blue color is the result of methane in the planet’s upper atmosphere absorbing red light.
August 6: Juno will be the first mission to explore Jupiter using solar power. The previous 8 used radioisotope thermoelectric generators.
August 5: NASA’s Juno mission (http://1.usa.gov/90o8Mq) will take five years to reach its destination of Jupiter.
August 4: The largest galaxies in the Universe (known as giant ellipticals) can have in excess of a trillion stars.
August 3: The mineral armalcolite was first discovered by Apollo 11 astronauts and is thus named after ARMstrong, ALdrin and COLlins.
August 2: A recent discovery by the Hubble Space Telescope has increased the number of known moons around Pluto to four.
August 1: Although observed before then, Uranus was not officially recognized as a planet until William Herschel’s observations in 1781.