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March 9, 2015 - Percival's Perception

Percival’s Perception Born 160 years ago this week, astronomer Percival Lowell was intrigued by the “canali” that Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli (born 180 years ago this week) observed on the surface of Mars. Lowell spent fifteen years studying what he believed to be hundreds of intelligently constructed canals (and not simply “channels,” as the Italian word translates). The perceived works of a civilization in dire need of water were really just the vagaries of human vision at its limit, and the canals of Mars are now part of astronomical lore. Flowing water, we now know, did exist on Mars, but in its distant past. A flotilla of orbiting spacecraft and rovers, like the Curiosity rover, whose tracks are seen here, has amassed a growing body of chemical and geological evidence for an ancient, wet Mars.

Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS

Weekly Calendar

March 9-15, 2015

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History


Moon phase Monday 9

Juno appears stationary

1564: David Fabricius born
1961: Sputnik 9 launched
1986: Vega 2 flies by Halley’s Comet

Moon phase Tuesday 10

1977: Rings discovered around Uranus
2006: Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter arrives at Mars

Moon phase Wednesday 11

Mars 0.3° north of Uranus

1811: Urbain Le Verrier born
1965: Pioneer 5 launched
2008: STS-123 Endeavour launched

Moon phase Thursday 12

Saturn 2° south of Moon

1835: Simon Newcomb born
1981: Victor Savinykh becomes 100th person to travel in space, Soyuz T-4 mission

Moon phase Friday 13

Last Qtr Moon 1:48 PM ET

1781: William Herschel discovers Uranus
1855: Percival Lowell born
1989: STS-29 Discovery launched

Moon phase Saturday 14

Saturn appears stationary

1835: Giovanni Schiaparelli born
1879: Albert Einstein born
1934: Gene Cernan born
1986: Giotto flies by Halley’s Comet
1995: Soyuz TM-21 launched, first Russian mission with American on board

Moon phase Sunday 15

1713: Nicolas de Lacaille born
1932: Alan Bean born
1975: Helios 1 launched
2009: STS-119 Discovery launched

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