Fifty years ago, Neil Armstrong became the first man to ever walk on the moon. Since that date, July 20, 1969, the moon has become the subject of much debate and scientific analysis. From what Neil Armstrong first said as he took those initial steps to conspiracy theories about hoaxes, few historical events have captured the interest in mankind quite like the Apollo 11 moon landing. However, a few facts about this event have remained obscure through time.
More than half a billion people watched the televised first moonwalk that took place on July 20, 1969. It was a day so historic that space enthusiasts still celebrate it annually. It was the day that marked the culmination of human endeavor, spirit, and perseverance. And it can always be summed up in that now-famous sentence uttered by Neil Armstrong, “That is one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”
It was called the Space Race, a competition between two world powers, the Soviet Union and the United States, on who would achieve significant advances in spaceflight capability. By the early 1960s, the Soviets were winning by achieving the first successful launch of Sputnik 1 in 1957, and the first man in space with Yuri Gagarin in 1961. Of course, it would only be a matter of time until the U.S. peaked and won this rivalry by putting humans on the surface of the moon in 1969. But it wasn’t as simple as building some rockets, strapping people aboard, and shooting them up into the sky. There was a lot of testing involved to see if man could even withstand the challenges that spaceflight had in store. And this testing often involved animals.
Alan Shepard was the first American in space and it was with the help of a four-year-old chimp known then as No. 65 that this achievement was possible.
The idea of a black hole–a body so massive that not even light could escape it–was first theorized back in 1784 by English clergyman John Michell. However, it wasn’t until 1915 when Albert Einstein developed his theory of general relativity that the momentum of black hole research would take shape. Black holes have fascinated not just scientists but also the general public. They have been the source of inspiration for numerous books, songs, movies, etc. But we’ve only been able to see them conceptualized via some form of animation. In fact, the idea of ever seeing one was deemed impossible. That is, until now.
This October, look for Pegasus, the great winged horse of Greek mythology, prancing across the autumn night sky. Binoculars and small telescopes will reveal the glowing nucleus and spiral arms of our neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy. Don’t miss the Orionid meteor shower, which peaks on the night of October 21 to 22.
Find out more about what you can see from your backyard, front stoop, or local park by viewing this monthly program. “Tonight’s Sky” is produced by HubbleSite.org, online home of the Hubble Space Telescope.
Today, June 14, is Flag Day and here at the Louisiana Art & Science Museum we are home to a very special flag, donated to us by Congressman Richard H. Baker on April 22, 2002, to memorialize the events surrounding the September 11, 2001 bombing of the World Trade Center.
There is a belief that America spent millions of dollars developing a pen that could be used in space, while the Russians simply used pencils. It was a gripe aimed at American excess versus Russian sensibility.
It’s also not true.
Pablo Carlos Budassi recently unveiled a new illustration based on almost incomprehensible logarithmic maps created by Princeton University. It shows the entire known visible universe. Though it is not a true map, it should be considered a “visualization showing fields of view” of the entire observable universe.
A massive black hole releases sound waves in a deep bass pitch, astronomers have found. Researchers used NASA’s orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory to “listen” to wavelengths coming from the heart of the Perseus A Cluster, a giant clump of galaxies 250 million light-years from Earth (A light-year is the distance light travels in a year in a vacuum, about 9.5 trillion kilometers.)