Stardate: Clockwork Skies


I caught the wonderful Stardate program on AM radio this morning. Today’s program “Clockwork Skies” describes constellations that are named for tools or machinery.

The constellations are Sextans, Antlia, and Pyxis — the sextant, the air pump, and the magnetic compass. At around 9 o’clock, Sextans is low in the east, with Antlia and Pyxis climbing into view in the south and southeast.

Sextans was introduced by Johannes Hevelius, a 17th-century German astronomer who used the sextant to measure the positions of stars with unprecedented accuracy. And navigators were using it to help plot their position on the globe as they sailed into new waters.

French astronomer Nicolas Louis de la Caille created Antlia and Pyxis a few decades later.

La Caille didn’t stop there, though. He named other constellations for the telescope, the microscope, and the pendulum clock.

What do they look like in the sky? Not much like what the objects they are named for. You can make out anything in the night sky if you want to. Here are the star maps from Wikipedia:

Sextans, the Sextant


Antlia, the Pump

Antlia, the pump

Pyxis, the Compass

Pyxis, the compass

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DALE DOUGHERTY is the leading advocate of the Maker Movement. He founded Make: Magazine 2005, which first used the term “makers” to describe people who enjoyed “hands-on” work and play. He started Maker Faire in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2006, and this event has spread to nearly 200 locations in 40 countries, with over 1.5M attendees annually. He is President of Make:Community, which produces Make: and Maker Faire.

In 2011 Dougherty was honored at the White House as a “Champion of Change” through an initiative that honors Americans who are “doing extraordinary things in their communities to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world.” At the 2014 White House Maker Faire he was introduced by President Obama as an American innovator making significant contributions to the fields of education and business. He believes that the Maker Movement has the potential to transform the educational experience of students and introduce them to the practice of innovation through play and tinkering.

Dougherty is the author of “Free to Make: How the Maker Movement Is Changing our Jobs, Schools and Minds” with Adriane Conrad. He is co-author of "Maker City: A Practical Guide for Reinventing American Cities" with Peter Hirshberg and Marcia Kadanoff.

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