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.
This November 13, a spectacular conjunction of Venus and Jupiter will be visible in the evening sky. The two bright planets will be extremely close, appearing only 0.3 degrees apart. Look for this impressive pairing in the Eastern sky just before sunrise.
This February 11, a penumbral lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes through the Earth’s partial shadow, or penumbra. During this type of eclipse the Moon will darken slightly but not completely. The eclipse will be visible throughout most of eastern South America, eastern Canada, the Atlantic Ocean, Europe, Africa, and western Asia.
This January 19th, the planet Mercury reaches its greatest western elongation of 24.1 degrees from the Sun. This is the best time to view Mercury since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the morning sky. Look for the planet low in the eastern sky just before sunrise.
This January 12th, Tthe planet Venus reaches its greatest eastern elongation of 47.1 degrees from the Sun. This is the best time to view Venus since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the evening sky.
Look for the bright planet in the western sky after sunset.
Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is a swirling anticyclonic storm that was previously large enough to fit three Earths inside. However, observations taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has revealed that this is changing, both in shape and size.
So why is Jupiter’s trademark feature beginning to downsize?
It is always shining, constantly alight and blazing with energy. The Earth is awash in an endless tide of its particles. The Sun’s energy and light drives our weather, biology and more. But in space, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) keeps an eye on our nearest star 24/7. SDO captures images of the Sun in 10 different wavelengths, each of which helps highlight a different temperature of solar material. In this recently released video we experience images of the Sun in unprecedented detail captured by SDO. Presented in ultra-high definition video (4K) the video presents the nuclear fire of our life-giving star in intimate detail, offering new perspective into our own relationships with grand forces of the solar system.
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has unveiled the stunning details of the Veil Nebula, the expanding remains of a massive star that exploded about 8,000 years ago.