From time to time, I like to use this page to recommend some outside reading on interesting aspects of astronomy that you might enjoy. I have two recommendations this time, both from a column (called "Astronomy Beat") that I had the pleasure of editing for a number of years for the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.
This week was the anniversary of the discovery of Pluto, in February 1930, by Clyde Tombaugh, a young observer fresh off the farm and doing his first project for the Lowell Observatory. Before Tombaugh passed away, I was fortunate to be able to persuade him to write up the circumstances of his discovery. (This week's picture shows me -- with a lot more hair -- in 1985 with Tombaugh.) If you want to read his story, you can see it at:http://www.astrosociety.org/pluto/ab2009-23.pdf
Another fun column covered the astronomy of Harry Potter and how teachers have used the popularity of those books and movies to encourage more interest in astronomy. Sirius Black (named after the brightest star visible in our sky) is only one of many astronomical references in the world of Hogwarts. Check out that column at:
Links to all the columns in the series that have been made available to the public can be found at: http://astrosociety.org/publications/astronomy-beat/
I recommended the column by Frank Drake in an earlier post, but for readers new to the AstroProf pages, it has the story of how Frank Drake came up with the way of estimating the number of intelligent civilizations we might contact in our galaxy. See:
(His way of estimating became known as the Drake Equation and is now part of popular culture. You can see it discussed on the TV comedy, the Big Bang Theory for example, here: