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November 2, 2015 - Covering the Galaxy Beat

Covering the Galaxy Beat  Until the early twentieth century, the size and shape of our galaxy remained somewhat a mystery, but it was solved, in part, by American astronomer Harlow Shapley, born 130 years ago this week. Shapley, who was a cub reporter and a journalism student before pursuing a career in astronomy, knew that Cepheid variable stars had a distinct pattern and range to their changes in brightness. Shapley identified Cepheids in the globular clusters that encircle our galaxy, and was able to calculate the distance to almost 100 of these clusters (including M53, shown here), thus giving him a three-dimensional map of the outer reaches of the Milky Way. His studies revealed our galaxy was much larger than previously thought, and that our Sun is not located at the center of the Milky Way.

Image credit: ESA / Hubble and NASA

Weekly Calendar

November 2-8, 2015

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History


Moon phase Monday 2

1885: Harlow Shapley born
1917: First light for Mount Wilson Observatory 100-inch Hooker telescope

Moon phase Tuesday 3

Election Day

Last Qtr Moon 7:24 AM ET
Venus 0.7° south of Mars
Taurid meteor shower

1957: Sputnik 2 carries dog Laika, first living creature to orbit Earth
1966: Test flight of Manned Orbital Laboratory components
1973: Mariner 10 launched
1994: STS-66 Atlantis launched

Moon phase Wednesday 4

Taurid meteor shower

Moon phase Thursday 5

2013: Mars Orbiter Mission launched, India's first interplanetary mission

Moon phase Friday 6

Jupiter 2° north of Moon

1572: Tycho Brahe records bright new star (supernova SN 1572) in Cassiopeia
: Lunar Orbiter II launched

Moon phase Saturday 7

Mars 1.8° north of Moon
Venus 1.2° north of Moon
Moon at apogee

1963: First flight test of Apollo Launch Escape System
1967: Surveyor 6 launched
1996: Mars Global Surveyor launched
2013: Soyuz TMA-11M launched carrying ISS Expedition 38/39 crew

Moon phase Sunday 8

1656: Edmund Halley born
1984: STS-51A Discovery launched
1995: STS-74 Atlantis launched
2005: ESA’s Venus Express launched

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