June 4, 2012 - You'd Be Smiling Too

You’d Be Smiling Too This week we celebrate the 200th birth anniversary of Johan Gottfried Galle, a German astronomer who, in 1846, became the first person to observe Neptune and know it was a planet. Prompted by calculations made by Urbain Leverrier, and aided by Heinrich Louis d’Arrest, Galle identified the planet where Leverrier calculated it would be. Neptune is thus unique because it is the first planet whose existence was predicted before it was observed. Galle also discovered three comets, compiled a catalogue of 414 comets, and proposed a method of accurately calculating the distance to the Sun. Galle, who lived to 98, was honored by having two craters named after him. One is on the Moon, and the other is the famous “smiley face” crater in the Argyre region of Mars, seen here on its side.

Image credit: NASA

Weekly Calendar

June 4-10, 2012

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Moon phase Monday 4

Full Moon 7:12 AM ET

1971: Last X-24A lifting body flight
1974: Construction begins on space shuttle Enterprise
2000: Compton Gamma Ray Observatory reenters atmosphere

Moon phase Tuesday 5

Venus in inferior conjunction (transits Sun)
Pluto 1° north of Moon

1819: John Couch Adams born
1989: Voyager 2 begins regular observations of Neptune
1991: STS-40 Columbia launched
2002: STS-111 Endeavour launched

Moon phase Wednesday 6

1932: Dave Scott born
1971: Soyuz 11 launched, first crew to occupy Salyut 1 space station
1983: Venera 16 launched

Moon phase Thursday 7

1992: Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer launched
2011Soyuz TMA-02M launched carrying ISS Expedition 28/29 crew

Moon phase Friday 8

1625: Giovanni Cassini born
1959: First X-15 unpowered glide test
1975: Venera 9 launched
2007: STS-117 Atlantis launched

Moon phase Saturday 9

1812: Johann Gottfried Galle born

Moon phase Sunday 10

Neptune 6° south of Moon

1985: Vega 1 deploys lander and balloon on Venus
2003: Mars rover Spirit launched

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