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October 3, 2016 - The Remains of a Red Giant

The Remains of a Red Giant  Located about 1,200 light-years away in the constellation Vulpecula, NGC 6853—aka the “Dumbbell Nebula”—was the first planetary nebula to be discovered. With a relatively bright apparent magnitude of 7.5, it was the twenty-seventh entry made by French astronomer Charles Messier in 1764 as he compiled a list of non-cometary objects in the sky. Despite its name, a planetary nebula has nothing to do with planets; it is the blown-out outer layers of an old star that was once more massive than our Sun. Glowing from ionizing ultraviolet radiation, its expanding shell of lost stellar material rides the star’s remaining stellar wind out into space. NGC 6853 is known for its giant opposing arcs of knotted gas, cosmic parentheses surrounding the white-hot core of the original star.

Image credit: R. Jay Gabany / Cosmotography.com

Weekly Calendar

October 3-9, 2016

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History


Moon phase Monday 3

Venus 5° south of Moon

1935: Charlie Duke born
1942: First V2 rocket launched
1962: Mercury Sigma 7 launched
1967: X-15A-2 flies at mach 6.7
1985: STS-51J Atlantis launched

Moon phase Tuesday 4

World Space Week begins

Moon at apogee

1957: Sputnik 1 launched
: Luna 3 launched
2004: SpaceShipOne wins X Prize

Moon phase Wednesday 5

1882: Robert Goddard born
1923: Edwin Hubble finds Cepheid variable stars in galaxy M-31
1962: European Southern Observatory founded
1984: STS-41G Challenger launched

Moon phase Thursday 6

Saturn 4° south of Moon

1990: STS-41 Discovery launched
1992: NASA and RASA sign Human Spaceflight Agreement to share astronauts and cosmonauts
2008: MESSENGER spacecraft makes its second flyby of Mercury

Moon phase Friday 7

Pallas appears stationary

1885: Niels Bohr born
1959: Luna 3 returns first images of the lunar far side
2002: STS-112 Atlantis launched
2010: Soyuz TMA-01M launched carrying ISS Expedition 25/26 crew

Moon phase Saturday 8

Astronomy Day (Fall)

Mars 7° south of Moon
Draconid meteor shower

1873: Ejnar Hertzsprung born

Moon phase Sunday 9

First Qtr Moon 12:33 AM ET
Draconid meteor shower

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

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