Sunday, July 20, 2008

ASTRONOMY AND SPACE NEWS AND EVENTS


“One Small Step,” Thirty-Nine Years Ago

Thirty-nine years ago, on July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 Commander Neil Alden Armstrong and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin Eugene “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr., piloting the lunar module Eagle, were the first humans to land and walk on the surface of the moon. They set down in lunar maria known as the Sea of Tranquility. Orbiting above in the command module Columbia was the third member of the crew, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins, keeping busy with scientific projects and awaiting their return the following day.

This mission fulfilled President John F. Kennedy’s goal of reaching the moon by the end of the 1960s, which he expressed during his May 25, 1961 speech before a Joint Session of Congress:

“First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important in the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.”

President Kennedy underlined the importance of this program in his address on September 12, 1962 at Rice University on the Nation’s Space Effort:

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”

For more on the Apollo Program and the Apollo 11 mission, check out these links:

The Apollo Program – National Air and Space Museum:
http://www.nasm.si.edu/collections/imagery/Apollo/AS11/a11.htm

Human Space Flight – The Apollo 11 Mission:
http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/history/apollo/apollo11/

Apollo 11 Imagery Gallery:
http://history.nasa.gov/ap11ann/kippsphotos/apollo.html


Fourth Dwarf Planet Named

You probably remember all of the controversy last year when the International Astronomical Union (IAU) voted on a new definition for solar system planets, and that as a result, Pluto was re-classified from a planet to a dwarf planet, one of three so designated at that time (Pluto, Eris and Ceres).

Also, you may know that just last month the IAU announced the creation of a new class of sub-planets called plutoids—small, round and icy bodies like Pluto which orbit in the outer solar system. At the time of the announcement there were two known plutoids—Pluto, of course, and Eris.

Well, the plutoid family just got bigger with the July 19th IAU announcement regarding the outer solar system body formerly known as 2005 FY9. The body is now officially designated a plutoid and is officially named Makemake (pronounced MAH-keh MAH-keh), after the Polynesian god of fertility and creator of humanity.

Discovered March 31, 2005 at Palomar Observatory by astronomers Michael E. Brown, Chad Trujillo and David Rabinowitz, Makemake is a reddish methane ice-covered body thought to be about two-thirds the size of Pluto. Before it received the designation 2005 FY9, the discoverers nicknamed the object “Easterbunny” since it was discovered shortly after Easter 2005. When considering official names to propose to the IAU for their discovery, Brown considered various mythological gods and thought of the South Pacific’s Easter Island. Makemake was the chief god among the Rapa Nui, the people who settled the island. Incidentally, Rapa Nui is also the local name for the island itself.

For more on Makemake, check out these links:

Astronomy Picture of the Day, July 16, 2008:
http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap080716.html

IAU News Release – IAU0806: Fourth dwarf planet named Makemake, July 19, 2008, Paris:
http://www.iau.org/public_press/news/release/iau0806/


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MUSICAL DIVERSION

As a Methodist minister in the early 19th Century, George Atkins (?-1827) began his pastoring in the churches of the Ohio Conference. In 1818, he transferred to Knoxville, Tennessee. Later, in 1826, he received an appointment to preach at Abingdon Town, Virginia. In addition to his ministerial duties, Atkins was also involved with newspapers.

In 1819, a year after his arrival in Knoxville, Aktins was inspired to write a powerful hymn text that seemed to distill the essence of the church's purpose as Atkins saw it. This included preaching the Word of God, comforting those in need and saving the souls of sinners be they family, friends or total strangers. In every task, however, Atkins reminded the listener that their various effort were worthless without prayer, which was the key to enabling the grace of God. Atkins compared God's grace to the food that helped sustained the children of Israel during their years in the wilderness--holy manna; bread from heaven. While it is not certain, the hymn may have been used in revival, for it certainly depicts a revived and empowered church as it would have appeared in the culture of the time.

Atkins' hymn was first published in 1825 as part of the collection entitled 'The Columbian Harmony' (Cincinnati, Ohio: Morgan, Lodge, and Fisher). The hymn collection was edited by musician William Moore (19th Century) of Wilson County in Central Tennessee. Atkins' text was paired with a melody thought to be written by Moore himself. Appropriately, the melody was called Holy Manna.


Brethren, We Have Met to Worship

Brethren, we have met to worship and adore the Lord our God;
Will you pray with all your power, while we try to preach the Word?
All is vain unless the Spirit of the Holy One comes down;
Brethren, pray, and holy manna will be showered all around.

Brethren, see poor sinners round you slumbering on the brink of woe;
Death is coming, hell is moving, can you bear to let them go?
See our fathers and our mothers, and our children sinking down;
Brethren, pray and holy manna will be showered all around.

Sisters, will you join and help us? Moses’ sister aided him;
Will you help the trembling mourners who are struggling hard with sin?
Tell them all about the Savior, tell them that He will be found;
Sisters, pray, and holy manna will be showered all around.

Is there here a trembling jailer, seeking grace, and filled with tears?
Is there here a weeping Mary, pouring forth a flood of tears?
Brethren, join your cries to help them; sisters, let your prayers abound;
Pray, Oh pray that holy manna may be scattered all around.

Let us love our God supremely, let us love each other, too;
Let us love and pray for sinners, till our God makes all things new.
Then He’ll call us home to Heaven, at His table we’ll sit down;
Christ will gird Himself and serve us with sweet manna all around.

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Bibliography

William Moore (19th Century). (17:21:34, February 23, 2008). The Cyber Hymnal. Retrieved March 18, 2008 from http://www.cyberhymnal.org/bio/m/o/o/moore_w.htm

Brethren, We Have Met to Worship. (17:46:55, February 23, 2008). The Cyber Hymnal. Retrieved March 18, 2008 from http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/b/r/brethren.htm

George Atkins (?-1827). (16:53:36, February 23, 2008). The Cyber Hymnal. Retrieved March 18, 2008 from http://www.cyberhymnal.org/bio/a/t/k/atkins_g.htm