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February 29, 2016 - A High-tech Eye on the Sky

A High-tech Eye on the Sky The Milky Way stretches across the night sky above the European Southern Observatory’s 3.58-m (141-in) New Technology Telescope (NTT), located at the La Silla site atop a 2,400-meter-high (7,900-foot) mountain in Chile’s Atacama Desert. When it was inaugurated in March 1989, NTT was the world’s first telescope to have a computer-controlled main mirror, featuring active optics, which allow its main mirror to reshape during observations to maintain image quality. Even the NTT’s compact geometric housing is innovative, smoothing the air flow across the mirror via a system of flaps to reduce the effects of turbulence. NTT’s successful design paved the way for newer telescope technologies such as adaptive optics, which continuously correct for atmospheric effects.

Image credit: ESO / B. Tafreshi (twanight.org)

Weekly Calendar

February 29 - March 6, 2016

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History


Moon phase Monday 29

Mars 4° south of Moon

1936: Astronaut Jack Lousma born

Moon phase Tuesday 1

Last Qtr Moon 6:11 PM ET

1927: George Abell born
1966: Venera 3 impacts on Venus
1982: Venera 13 returns first color photos from the surface of Venus
2002: STS-109 Columbia launched
2016: ISS crew completes one-year mission

Moon phase Wednesday 2

Saturn 4° south of Moon

1972: Pioneer 10 launched
1995: STS-67 Endeavour launched (Astro-2 mission)
2004: Rosetta cometary probe launched

Moon phase Thursday 3

Ceres in conjunction with Sun

1959: Pioneer 4 launched
1969: Apollo 9 launched

Friday 4

1979: Jupiter’s rings discovered
1994: STS-62 Columbia launched

Saturday 5

1512: Gerardus Mercator born
1978: Landsat 3 launched
1979: Voyager 1 flies by Jupiter
1982: Venera 14 lands on Venus, returns color photos of Venus’s surface

Sunday 6

Juno appears stationary

1787: Joseph Fraunhofer born
1937: Valentina Tereshkova born, first woman in space
1986: Vega 1 flies by Halley’s Comet
2009: Kepler Observatory launched
2015: Dawn becomes first spacecraft to orbit dwarf planet Ceres

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