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#934786 07/03/21 06:35 AM
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What links the USA's Independence Day holiday, the Crab Nebula and NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft? What links the American War of Independence with the planet Uranus? And what is the Fireworks Galaxy?

Click on the link to read the story.

Cosmic 4th of July

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Mona Evans
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Henrietta Leavitt isn't a well known name, but a century ago she made one of the most important discoveries of 20th century astronomy. Previously, astronomers could only measure distances up to 100 light years, but her work extended that to 10 million light years. She isn't mentioned in the 4th of July article, but she was born on July 4, 1868.

Henrietta Swan Leavitt


Mona Evans
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What links the American War of Independence with the planet Uranus?

King George III was the British monarch against whom the American colonists rebelled.

The king was very interested in astronomy - he even had an observatory built so he could observe the 1769 Transit of Venus.

William Herschel was the first person ever to discover a new planet. This occurred in Bath, England in 1781. Herschel called the planet Georgium Sidus (George's star) and King George made him the King's Astronomer and supported his work.

There were people in England that called it Georgium Sidus - or often the Georgian planet - but you won't be surprised to know that the name didn't catch on elsewhere! It eventually became Uranus, the sky god who was the father of Cronus (Saturn).

William Herschel
A professional musician named William Herschel was the first person in history to discover a planet. Later, as a professional astronomer, Herschel studied the stars and deep space objects to try to understand “the construction of the heavens.” He was one of the fathers of modern astronomy.


Mona Evans
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Messier's catalog of nebulous objects begins with M1 the Crab Nebula. In 18th-century telescopes it was just a fuzzy patch, yet imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope, it's fascinating and intricate. But what is it? Why is it called the Crab Nebula? And what amazing secret does it hide?

M1 Crab Nebula


Mona Evans
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