Whats up in the sky March '08

            March was a good month for Heinrich Wilhelm Olbers. March 28, 1802 he discovered and named the asteroid Pallas. Five years later,  March 29, 1807 he discovered the asteroid Vesta. Since the word "asteroid" wasn't part of the language, at that time, Olbers called them planets. The source I used is quick to refer to Pallas and Vesta as minor planets. Some things never change, eh Pluto?
         However he is best remembered for Olbers Paradox which he described in 1823 as this. " If there really are suns throughout the whole of infinite space, and if they are placed at equal distances from one another, or grouped into systems like that of the milky way, their number must be infinite and the whole vault of the heaven will appear as bright as the Sun..." Simply put, why is the sky dark at night?
         It was American author Edgar Allen Poe who in 1848 wrote a lengthy non-fiction work, nearly 40,000 words called "Eureka" who solved the paradox. "Eureka" describes Poe's intuitive conception of the nature of the universe with no scientific work done to reach his conclusions.
         Modern science dismisses "Eureka" as having no scientific worth or merit. Poe in his essay, postulated that the universe began from a single originating particle or singularity. He also theorized about black holes, and the Big Crunch Theory. However these were more mystically than scientifically explained by Poe. Today our sources on these subjects are reputable scientist and their explainations still seem mystical.
         Even Poe's close friends shook their heads and thought "Eureka " absurd, as did his publisher who gave him an advance for the book of $14.00.
         Never the less Poe gave the right answer to Olbers paradox: "Were the succession of stars endless, then the background of the sky would present us a uniform luminosity, like that displayed by the Galaxy. Since there could be absolutly no point in all that background at which would not exist a star. The only mode, therefore, in which under such a state of affairs, we could comprehend the voids with our telescopes in innumerable directions, would be by supposing the distance of the invisible background so immense that no ray from it has yet been able to reach us at all."
        Two things: My have we streamlined the English language, and does anyone know if Poe got paid by the word?
 
        Mar  1- 2  Mercury very low in the east half an hour before sunrise.
                 3      Ceres, the largest asteroid, can be found in Leo.
                 4      First quarter Moon.
                 8      Daylight-saving time begins.
                         Saturn at opposition rising at sunset, and is also at it's closest distance to Earth.
               10      Full Moon.
             12-28  Best time to try and observe the Zodical light.
               18      Last quarter Moon.
               20      Soring begins in the northern hemisphere.
               22      The waning crescent Moon is near Jupiter.
               24       At dawn Mars a few degrees below the thin crescent Moon.
               26      New Moon.
               27      Venus is at inferior conjunction passing north of the Sun at sunset.
             29-30   The waxing crescent Moon will pass near the Pleiades.
Comments