Jon U. Bell

Sky Watch Host

Ways to Connect

This is the Astronomers Alphabet. Today we start with the letter “A.” “A” stands for “Astronomy,” of course, the study of the stars, moon and planets, of the sky, of the entire universe for that matter, including the earth, which is very much a part of this great cosmos. “A” stands for “Astronomer,” someone who studies everything and yet is limited unlike other scientists who can touch the things they study: we can see the stars, we can reach for the stars, but we can never touch them.

Heber Curtis was born on this date, June 27th, in the year 1872. He was an American astronomer who found strong evidence that the Milky Way was but one of many countless galaxies, what he called “island universes” in outer space. In 1920 he presented his work at a meeting of the National Academy of Sciences, citing the discovery of novas, stars that periodically brighten and dim, that could be found among many spiral nebulas. Based on their apparent faintness, he calculated that these novas were millions of light years away – too distant to be within the borders of our own galaxy.