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astronomy femalefocusonline july24Before I move on to some of the strange ideas that are often believed, I’ll give a quick update from last month’s column. I told about the expected Nova in the constellation Corona Borealis, it’s predicted to occur before the end of September this year. It hasn’t happened yet, so if anyone missed that article, you’ll find it on the Focus On website

It's always surprised me what people will believe, especially in the face of evidence, or giving a subject a little thought, so let’s start with a supremely obvious misconception, that people used to think the Earth was flat. NO, they didn't, in fact it’s over 2300 years ago since the size of the Earth’s globe was measured by a Greek (who else) called Eratosthenes. The fact that the Earth is round can be seen by anyone standing on a cliff, and looking at the sea’s horizon, it’s curved, try it for yourself. This myth probably originates with a song from years ago.
The next big one is that our moon has a dark side, no it doesn’t, that’s from a great album by Pink Floyd. The Moon does always show the same side towards us (almost) but that doesn’t mean that the other side is dark. In fact, if you think about how the Moon goes around the Earth and that the Earth is moving around the Sun it’s bound to get sunlight almost everywhere.
It’s often believed that our distance from the Sun causes the seasons. It’s easy to understand why someone would think this, but it’s wrong. The Earth is tilted over with respect to its path around the Sun by about 23 degrees, and it’s this that causes the seasons, and also why we have the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn on maps.
The Moon only appears at night! I’ve no idea why so many people say this, when so many of us have seen it’s almost ghostly image during the daytime. It’s also why we have nights without a Moon. Simply put, it always appears in a different part of the sky as it orbits us, and often it will be daytime when it is overhead.
Now for a few quick ones. A telescopes magnification is all important, wrong again. It’s how much light it can gather that matters. To see a galaxy you might only use 10x magnification, but you won’t see much without a big lens etc.
The Sun is not a star!!! Again, I’ve no idea why anyone should think this, but they do. Out star is a rather ordinary one and a very common type. It fits very nicely into something called the Hertzprung Russell diagram which us astronomy type use to classify different types of stars.
Last one because I'm running out of space (pun) is that amateur astronomers don’t contribute to science. They most definitely do, and always have, but that’s a big subject and will have to wait until next month.
One last thought for you, do flat Earthers believe in global warming?

Charles Oates, Vega Baja Astronomy Group.

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