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July 5, 2010 - Crowded House

Crowded House Is the universe a cosmic ghost town, devoid of life except for what’s on Earth, or is it more like a grandmother’s house during the holidays, overflowing with friends, family, and pets? Life on Earth is diverse, tenacious, and adaptive — clinging to rocks, prospering in underwater volcanic vents, procreating in the frozen tundra — so it appears ready to thrive given half a chance. The real question it seems, is how many chances has it been given? Astronomers estimate that this gigantic spiral galaxy, M101, contains at least one trillion stars, about 100 billion of which resemble our Sun. Given the billions of galaxies that exist and the growing number of exoplanets already detected, it looks like there are plenty of crowded houses out there: over the river, through the woods, and across the universe.

Image credit: R. Jay GaBany / www.cosmotography.com

Weekly Calendar

July 5-11, 2010

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Moon phase Monday 5

Uranus appears stationary

1966: Apollo-Saturn 203 launched
1982: Space Shuttle Challenger arrives at Kennedy Space Center for first time

Moon phase Tuesday 6

Earth at aphelion

1687: Isaac Newton publishes his Principia

Moon phase Wednesday 7

1995: Final test flight of DC-X rocket
1998: First satellite launch from a submarine
2003: Mars rover Opportunity launched

Moon phase Thursday 8

1994: STS-65 Columbia launched
2009: First flight test of Max Launch Abort System
2011: STS-135 Atlantis launched, final shuttle mission

Moon phase Friday 9

Juno in conjunction with Sun
Venus 1.1° north of Regulus

1945: White Sands Missile Range opens
1979: Voyager 2 flies past Jupiter

Moon phase Saturday 10

1962: Telstar 1 launched, allowing transatlantic transmission of TV signals
1992: Giotto spacecraft flies past comet Grigg-Skjellerup

Moon phase Sunday 11

New Moon 3:40 PM ET

1962: NASA selects lunar orbit rendezvous method for lunar landings
1969: X-24A lifting body rolled out for first time
1979: Skylab reenters atmosphere

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.