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Oh Be A Fine Girl, Kiss Me!
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1"x3"x3/4" Altoids gum tin. Only the smallest trade items will fit - stickers, coins, charms, etc. Bring your own pencil.
This extremely easy microcache will bring you to a place where many early breakthroughs in modern astronomy - including determining the distance from Earth to the distant stars - were made. It is an unimpressive location - just a few ordinary brick buildings with domes for telescopes - until you learn about all the discoveries that were made there.
Henrietta Leavitt and Annie Jump Cannon worked at the Harvard Observatory at the turn of the last century, along with other women astronomers, for thirty cents a day. Oddly enough, their job title was "computer".
Henrietta's discovery of a class of stars known as Cepheid variable stars allowed her to determine stellar distances beyond those measurable by parallax. Annie's study of star spectra led to the system of classification and the mnemonic for which this cache is named.
The lower level of the building with a "D" above the door is where 500,000 photographic plates showing the historical position of the stars are stored. The photographs - taken over a one-hundred year span - are an invaluable tool for astronomers who use the record of the changing heavens in their research. It has been said that the weight of the glass plates is so great that the building is built on giant shock absorbing springs.
Signs say "By Permit Only", but you probably won't be hassled. There is ample parking within ten feet of the cache, and it's a quick find.
The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge sponsors free programs for the general public on the third Thursday of every month throughout the year. The "Observatory Nights" feature a nontechnical lecture and telescopic observing from the observatory roof if weather permits.
The lectures are intended for high school age and older audiences but children are also welcome. Seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.
from the PBS website:
Until then, methods for measuring distances in space only worked within about 100 light years. With Leavitt's findings, distances of cepheids could be determined up to 10 million light years. This became the "yardstick to the universe" used by Edwin Hubble and others to make discoveries that changed our view of our galaxy and the universe.
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Last Updated: on 11/15/2017 3:58:12 PM (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada) (11:58 PM GMT)
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum