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March 23, 2020 - Final Resting Place

Final Resting Place Christiaan Huygens was a Dutch astronomer whose eponymous space probe now rests on the surface of the world he discovered 365 years ago this week. In 1655, using a telescope he built himself, Huygens spied a moon orbiting Saturn. That it was not given a proper name for nearly two more centuries does not diminish Titan’s uniqueness in the solar system: it is the only moon with an appreciable atmosphere, and the only solar system body besides Earth that has surface lakes. Titan’s lakes are filled with liquid hydrocarbons that rain from the atmosphere. These images from 2005 show the view from the European Space Agency’s Huygens probe at altitudes ranging from 160 km (100 mi) to .4 km (.25 mi) as it descended to Titan’s surface.  In each 360° panoramic view, north is in the center.

Image credit: ESA / NASA / JPL / University of Arizona

Weekly Calendar

March 23 - 29, 2020

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History


Moon phase Monday 23

Mercury at greatest elongation (28° W)

1749: Pierre Laplace born
: John William Draper takes first photograph of Moon
1912: Wernher von Braun born
1965: Gemini III launched
2001: Mir space station reenters atmosphere

Moon phase Tuesday 24

New Moon 5:28 AM ET
Moon at apogee
Venus at greatest elongation (46° E)

1893: Walter Baade born
1992: STS-45 Atlantis launched

Moon phase Wednesday 25

1655: Christiaan Huygens discovers Titan, moon of Saturn
1996: Comet Hyakutake closest approach to Earth
2000: IMAGE spacecraft launched

Moon phase Thursday 26

Uranus 4° north of Moon

2009: Soyuz TMA-14 launched carrying ISS Expedition 19/20 crew

Moon phase Friday 27

1969: Mariner 7 launched
1972: Venera 8 launched
1989: Contact lost with Phobos 2
1999: First Sea Launch mission
2015: Soyuz TMA-16M launched carrying ISS Expedition 43/44 crew

Moon phase Saturday 28

Venus 7° north of Moon

1802: Heinrich Olbers discovers asteroid Pallas
1963: Fourth Saturn C-1 rocket (SA-4) launched
2013: Soyuz TMA-08M launched carrying ISS Expedition 35/36 crew

Moon phase Sunday 29

Vesta 0.2° north of Moon

1807: Heinrich Olbers discovers Vesta
1974: Mariner 10 first Mercury flyby
1989: Starfire 1 launched
2006: ISS Expedition 13 crew launched

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