December 12, 2011 - Blast from the Past

Blast from the Past Born 465 years ago this week, Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe revolutionized astronomy. His observations of the positions of planets and stars were unprecedented in their accuracy and sheer volume. In 1572, Tycho observed a bright object in the sky and correctly deduced it was a new star or “stella nova,” thus giving birth to the term “nova” to describe an exploding star. Tycho’s growing reputation and fame convinced the King of Denmark to subsidize the construction of Uraniborg, the first truly modern astronomical research center. This image of the supernova Tycho observed more than four centuries ago combines infrared and X-ray observations obtained with NASA’s Spitzer and Chandra space telescopes. It shows a blazing hot cloud of expanding debris some 7,500 light-years away.

Image credit: MPIA / NASA

Weekly Calendar

December 12-18, 2011

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Moon phase Monday 12

1961: OSCAR 1 launched, first amateur radio satellite
1970: Italian ground crew becomes first to launch satellite for America, Explorer 42

Moon phase Tuesday 13

Mercury appears stationary
Geminid meteor shower

2001: Final drop test of the X-38 Crew Return Vehicle prototype

Moon phase Wednesday 14

Geminid meteor shower

1546: Tycho Brahe born
1962: Mariner 2 first planet flyby (Venus)
1972: Apollo 17 astronaut Gene Cernan becomes last human to walk on Moon

Moon phase Thursday 15

1965: Gemini VI launched
1970: Venera 7 makes first landing on Venus
1984: Vega 1 launched to study Venus and Halley’s Comet
2003: National Air & Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center opens
2010: Soyuz TMA-20 launched carrying ISS Expedition 26/27 crew

Moon phase Friday 16

1857: E. E. Barnard born
1965: Pioneer 6 launched
1976: Last two Saturn V moon rockets donated to museums

Moon phase Saturday 17

Last Quarter Moon 7:48 PM ET
Mars 8° north of Moon

1903: First powered flight, by Orville Wright
1979: First successful test of all three Space Shuttle main engines

Moon phase Sunday 18

1999: Terra spacecraft launched


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