Local News

Lunar Eclipse Coming Early Tuesday

By Graham Shelby

A total lunar eclipse will occur early Tuesday morning.  That’s where the earth passes between the sun and the moon. The earth’s shadow falls across the face of the moon. 

University of Louisville physics and astronomy professor Tim Dowling says if you stay up a little after midnight, you’ll see what looks like the moon disappearing before your eyes.

“It disappears for over an hour. You’ll be able to see it, actually, because there’s reflections from the earth. While it’s in the shadow, it’ll either be very difficult to see or it’ll be a dark, dark red color, which is really remarkable to see the full moon that’s red, you don’t see that very often,” he said.

You can safely watch a total lunar eclipse with the naked eye – provided the skies are clear.

Arts and Humanities Local News

Museum Exhibits Rare Books on Astronomy

First editions of two revolutionary books that developed the field of astronomy are on view at a local museum.
WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

The books on display at the Frazier International History Museum are from the University of Louisville Libraries archives.

On the Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres by Copernicus proposed that the Earth orbits around the Sun, as opposed to the Catholic Church’s position where the Earth was the center of the universe. The book is one of only 276 that survive. Galileo’s Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems is that scientist’s most famous work which championed the ideas presented by Copernicus.

It caused the Church to condemn Galileo, but it also marked a turning point for science, says Frazier Museum executive director Madeline Burnside.

“When you see it and realize that this a book that somebody really risked their life to produce and how important these ideas were and how world changing they were,” Burnside says. “I mean it really is the sort of watershed period because people become very, very interested in the science of motion.”

Burnside says Galileo and Copernicus knew that their ideas defied conventional thinking of their time and put them in danger.

“Copernicus’ book, in which he proved that the Earth that went round the sun — at the time he wrote the book, he was totally afraid to even think of publishing it because it would have been heresy and he could have been burned at the stake,” she says.

The exhibit, called Fathers of Astronomy, also features the Nuremberg Chronicle, which presented a biblical view of the world. This predecessor to the works of Copernicus and Galileo is an illustrated world history from Creation up to the time of the book’s 1493 publication. Less than 400 of these books have survived.

Burnside says she and the museum staff were thrilled the University of Louisville Libraries lent the books to the museum for the exhibit.

“The opportunity to actually see books like this, to really see the real thing is incredibly rare,” she says. “You can get your nose, like, 8 inches away from the actually book. That’s pretty amazing.”

The exhibit runs through January. It’s part of the International Year of Astronomy which marks the 400th anniversary of the first use of an astronomical telescope by Galileo.

State of Affairs

What Do We Know about Stars?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008
What Do We Know about Stars?
“I wish I may, I wish I might, I wish upon a star so bright.” It certainly sounds better than “I wish upon a collapsing cloud of gas and dust”. But let’s face it; those pretty twinkling stars in the night sky aren’t diamonds. Join us on Wednesday when we talk with astronomer Caty Pilachowski about stars, what they are made of, what they do and how long they stay in the night sky.

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