Monday, June 16, 2014

Weekend Workout (week starting June 16, 2014)

Heavenly Bodies
(remember: larger versions of all visuals can be seen by clicking on them)

1. "Thyn Astrolabie hath a ring to putten on the thombe of thi right hond in taking the height of thinges." Thus begins a description of the instrument in 'A Treatise on the Astrolabe', a medieval user's guide penned by an amateur astronomer better known for his writing. The author dedicated the treatise to his 10-year-old son Lewis, who, according to his father, had displayed a special "abilite to lerne sciences touching nombres and proporciouns." In order that little Lewis could understand the book, the writer set his instructions not in the usual Latin, but in "naked wordes in Englissh". Who was the writer of the treatise?

2. What 'first' was created by Lt. Uhura (played by Nichelle Nichols) and Capt. James T. Kirk (William Shatner) on the November 22, 1968, episode of 'Star Trek', titled "Plato's Stepchildren"?

3. What takes its name from the collective term comprising Tithi, Vasara, Nakshatra, Yoga and Karana, which are considered its five 'limbs' or properties?

4. Sometime in the mid-19th century, this man, a British accountant named Edward Maunder (the guy shown here), observed something which changed his life completely. Delving into astronomy along with his mathematician wife Annie Scott Dill Russell Maunder, he dedicated his life to the study of the phenomenon that he had observed. They established that the number of such occurrences vary over an 11-year cycle, and that their rising and falling numbers create a repeating 'butterfly' pattern when mapped over the years. Sometimes the numbers fall, and don't recover for years.  Maunder discovered one such long period between 1645 and 1715, which was subsequently named the Maunder Minimum in his honour. Events such as that depicted in this 1683 illustration were possible because of this Maunder Minimum. Two questions (1 point for each): (a) What phenomena did Maunder and his wife record and analyse? (b) What happened during the Maunder Minimum?

5. This is the painting 'Immaculate Conception' by the famed Spanish artist Diego Velazquez. A certain element of depictions of the Virgin Mary in art such as this inspired Arsène Heitz, a French draughtsman, to come up with the design for what in the 1950s?

6. Where on earth was this video shot? Make sure you give me the name of the city.

7. This is a depiction of the largest-known TNOs. What does that expand to?

8. Between 1973 and 1978, the British Interplanetary Society ran a project to design a plausible interstellar unmanned spacecraft. Intended mainly as a scientific probe, the design criteria specified that the spacecraft had to use current or near-future technology and had to be able to reach its destination within a human lifetime. A related recent project is a theoretical design study aimed at designing a credible nuclear fusion-based interstellar spacecraft that will stand as a blueprint for a possible unmanned mission. Which high-flying father-son pair are these two projects named after?

9. This statue stands is in the grounds of the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics in Pune. Since no description or representations of this person survive, this is perforce the sculptor's idea of what he might have looked like. Who is it supposed to be?

10. The International Dark-Sky Association, established in 1988, has been instrumental in setting up what are known as 'dark-sky preserves'. There are currently more than 35 of these, mainly in USA, Canada and Europe. What are these preserves?

1. Geoffrey Chaucer
I thought more people would get it from the nature of the spellings. This seems a good opportunity to add a word about how he also once in a while threw his son around so he could claim to have seen a flying Chaucer.
2. The first interracial kiss to be shown on a scripted TV show in the US. Enjoy:
3. The Hindu calendar (or Panchanga, literally meaning 'five limbs').
4. (a) Sunspots (b) The Maunder Minimum was a period of solar inactivity that corresponds to a climatic period called the Little Ice Age between 1645 and 1715. The illustration shows a frost fair held on the river Thames, which froze over.
5. The EU flag
Mary was often depicted in medieval and Renaissance art with a halo of 12 stars. 
6. Ujjain, one of the five places where Raja Jai Singh II built Jantar Mantars.
As the guide mentions in his commentary, Ujjain stands on the Tropic of Cancer.
7. Trans-Neptunian Objects
8. Daedalus and Icarus
9. Aryabhata
10. Areas, usually surrounding a park or observatory, that are kept free of artificial light pollution. 
The movement was the result of astronomers finding that interference from artificial lighting was making it difficult for them to observe heavenly bodies at nighttime.


  1. I missed this :)
    2. First interracial kiss on TV
    4. A - Sunspots, B - no/very few sunspots
    6. Jantar Mantar
    7. Trans Neptunian Object
    8. Daedalus and Icarus
    9. Aryabhatta
    10. Areas where the sky is extremely clear and stars are visible

  2. 3. Panchang
    4. A. Comets?
    5. Circle of stars in logo?
    6. Jantar mantar
    9. Aryabhata

    Aam aadmi

  3. 3-Panchang
    5-European Union Flag

  4. 1. Chaucer
    7. Trans Neptunian objects
    8. Aryabhatta

  5. 1. Geoffrey Chaucer
    3. Panchaang
    4. (a) Sunspots
    (b) Cold climates
    5. EU Flag
    8. Daedalus and Icarus
    9. Aryabhata
    10. Free of "light-pollution" for better star-gazing

  6. 3. Panchangam
    4a. Solar flares, Sun Spot cycles
    5. Columbia Productions
    6. Ujjain
    9. Aryabhatta
    10. Spaces where is there no artificial light so that night sky viewing is good


  7. 1. Goethe? Albeit it sounds like William Shakespeare I don't recall him having a son called Lewis?
    2. First black/white kiss aired on U.S. Tv.
    6. I claim two guesses as I was handicapped with no sub-titles, so Jaipur or Udaipur??
    10. No artificial light of any kind allowed?

  8. Add to my answers – Q8 (partial): Icarus. Can't remember the name of the dad – Paul

  9. 1.
    2. First inter-racial kiss on US television
    3. The Panchatantra
    4. a) Solar Flares b) The Thames froze over
    5. The European Union logo?
    6. Jantar Mantar, Jaipur
    7. Trans-Neptune Objects
    8. Icarus & Daedalus
    9. Aryabhatta
    10. Places in which no artificial lighting is allowed at night.

  10. 1
    4 a) Solar flares
    b) decreased solar activity, leading to the Little Ice Age
    5 European Union flag
    7 Trans-Neptunian objects
    8 Daedalus and Icarus
    9 Aryabhatta
    10 places with no light pollution ie no artificial lights

    Julian D'Costa