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October 8, 2018 - Shedding Light on a Cosmic Whirlpool

Shedding Light on a Cosmic Whirlpool  The collective light from the billions of stars that comprise this ancient galaxy has fallen upon human eyes only recently—astronomically speaking. Scanning the constellation Canes Venatici with his telescope, comet hunter Charles Messier saw this nebulous object for the first time 245 years ago this week. He included it as the 51st entry in the list he was compiling of celestial objects that he didn’t want to confuse with comets, and it is now most commonly referred to as Messier 51, or more simply, M51. Its smaller companion galaxy was not discovered until 1781. In 1845, M51 became the first astronomical object to reveal a spiral structure. Also known as the Whirlpool Galaxy, M51 lies 30 million light-years away.

Image credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; Optical: Detlef Hartmann; Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Weekly Calendar

October 8 - 14, 2018

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

 

Moon phase Monday 8

Thanksgiving Day (Canada)
Columbus Day

New Moon 11:47 PM ET
Draconid meteor shower

1873: Ejnar Hertzsprung born

Moon phase Tuesday 9

Draconid meteor shower

1604: Kepler’s Supernova observed
2009: LCROSS detects water on the Moon

Moon phase Wednesday 10

Venus 13° south of Moon

1846: William Lassell discovers Triton, moon of Neptune
1980: Very Large Array dedicated
1983: Venera 15 orbits Venus
2007: ISS Expedition 16 crew launched

Moon phase Thursday 11

Jupiter 4° south of Moon

1968: Apollo 7 launched
1969: Soyuz 6, 7 & 8 in space at once
1994
: Magellan mission ends
2000: STS-92 Discovery launched
2005: Shenzhou 6 launched

Moon phase Friday 12

1964: Voskhod 1 launched, first three-person space flight
1977: Shuttle Enterprise’s first glide test without aerodynamic tailcone
2008: ISS Expedition 18 crew launched

Moon phase Saturday 13

Astronomy Day (Fall)

1773: Charles Messier observes M-51
1933: British Interplanetary Society founded
1968: Apollo 7 first live TV broadcast from space
2004: ISS Expedition 10 crew launched

Moon phase Sunday 14

Mercury 7° north of Venus
Saturn 1.8° south of Moon

1947: World’s first supersonic flight
1957: USAF announces X-20 Dyna-Soar project
1983: Venera 16 arrives in orbit around Venus

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