Seeing Stars modern version of the Greek goddess HERA is used for stargazing

Hera, who was the queen of the Greek gods and goddesses, has a modern manifestation. She is HERA, an interface to software at the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center at NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. Using the HERA Internet interface you and your family can view and analyze data from satellites which detect x-rays and gamma rays from objects such as black holes, neutron stars, galaxies, and supernovae.

In addition to being the queen of Greek gods and goddesses, the Hera worshipped by the Greeks was the goddess of marriage. She always held a scepter, was accompanied by a peacock and was bedecked by a crown.

It seems fitting that the modern HERA provides students, educators, and the general public, with the same Internet interface software that astronomers use to analyze the universe. editors, for this purpose serving as your software reviewers, tried out the HERA interface recently. We found it easy to download and install. It put three icons on our Windows desktop.

The first icon is "fv", which seems as though it will be useful for file transfers, once we figure out how to find the files. The second and third icons are labeled "Student HERA" and simply "HERA," presumably for professional and advanced armchair astronomers.

We immediately leapt to the HERA icon and linked to the login screen. We couldn't tab from the spot we were dropped, the field to sign in if you already have a user name and password. Not to be thwarted, we filled our anticipated user name and password and clicked "Log in." Thankfully the browser went dutifully to a window that prompted us through setting up a new login and within moments we were stumbling around inside HERA.

Now for our advice column. Before beginning this exploration, know what you or your family would like to look at, as well as it's location in the sky. The few stars and constellations we looked for came up with blank headers. Perhaps it would have been good for us to look at some editions of "Astronomy" magazine first, or to have had a budding astronomer at our side when we launched our exploration.

Another note about the ancient Hera, she was inherited by the Romans. Perhaps you know her by her other name...Juno.



These Twins Go Way, Way Back
We're talking 9000 years back. These ladies were found at what has been one of the most exciting archaeological sites on the planet. Yes, its the famous Catal Huyuck site in the middle of Turkey often explored by Beyond this site near Konya, Turkey, twins have obviously fascinated folks for many thousands of years.

In early Rome, for example, the Roman creation story revered a she- wolf who nursed the city's legendary founder Romulus and his twin brother Remus.  

And in Egypt, a tomb found in 1964 revealed depictions of two men embracing. They have been imagined to be two gay men, or conjoined twins, but the most likely scenario is that the two men depicted are simply twins. The mystery may continue, as the bodies of the two men have disappeared.               Continued


Demeter Does Earthquakes
Long gone are the days when Sputnik, the first satellite to orbit Mother Earth, got worldwide attention. These days important satellites are launched and go about their business getting very little press. For instance, many people haven't heard of Demeter. She's depicted here passing over the Peloponnesian Islands of Greece after her launch in 2004.

To the Greeks, Demeter was the Mother Earth goddess. So its appropriate that now Demeter does perpetual polar passes, orbiting the Earth and observing her plates. As you know, the crust of Earth is a shattered collection of large plates. These plates are banging into each other, being pushed under one another, and generally moving around.            Continued


by artist
Alison Saar


by Saar

    Spring of the Gazelles
Imagine a place that was continuously lived-in for over two thousand years! At this 8000 year old Jordanian site, "The female form is cast in an elaborate geometric framework," notes archaeologist Denise Schmandt-Besserat from the University of Texas. "The image is built around a vertical axis beginning between the breasts and continuing along the thighs. Shoulders, arms, breasts, fatty rolls, thighs and knees are symmetrically arranged around this central line, but the womb bursts out in the center, at the focal point of the figurine.


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