“What’s Up?” articles are short stories about the cosmos appropriate in length for school and community newsletters. Browse the list of articles below and see if one can find a home in your local newsletter! In the articles presented here, you will find stories about eclipses on Earth, eclipses on other worlds, and interesting facts about the sun, the moon, and other star systems.
Does the moon rotate on its axis? Many people would say no, because it keeps only one face (or hemisphere) pointed at Earth at all times. But, in fact, in order to do this, it must rotate once for every orbit around the Earth it makes. You can demonstrate this with a friend. Try walking around your friend and not changing the direction of your face.
The earliest records we have that anyone paid attention to solar eclipses are from Irish Neolithic astronomers who recorded in stone, the eclipse of November 30, 3340 BCE at what is now the Loughcrew Cairn L Megalithic Monument in Ireland. Solar eclipses must have been frightening events and we know from numerous writings that they were often viewed as bad omens.
Magnetic fields are all around us. They are generated quite simply by the movement of charge….electricity! Every piece of electronics you work with generates a magnetic field. The Earth and Sun also generate their own magnetic fields as do the outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune). Recent spacecraft observations of Jupiter’s largest moons suggest that most of them also have magnetic fields, some that they generate on their own and some that need a little help.