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Cosmic – book review
Cosmic isn't an astronomy text. It's a delightful novel for young people which includes space travel and an cast of great characters, including Liam who's too tall for his age. It's Willy Wonka meets Apollo 13, as the taikonauts get chosen in an unusual draw and end up stranded in space.
Robert Goddard was born on October 5, 1882. Goddard was one of the founding fathers of modern rocketry, though he was not appreciated – in fact, was often ridiculed – in his own time. He was a theorist, but also a practical man. He was the first to successfully design, build and launch a liquid-fuelled rocket.
Niels Bohr was born on October 7, 1885. He made important contributions to understanding the atom and to the interpretation of quantum mechanics. Bohr also collaborated with many of the great minds of his time, especially at his institute in Copenhagen, to lead the physics of the 20th century. Not only did he get a Nobel Prize for his work, but about fifty years later his son Aage, also a nuclear physicist, also received a Nobel Prize.
The European Southern Observatory was founded on October 5, 1962. It will be fifty years old this week. Their administrative headquarters is in Germany, but the telescope sites are in Chile. You can see their Top 100 images at http://www.eso.org/public/images/archive/top100/, and it's well worth a look. Which is your favorite?
*The Universe gets bigger*
On October 5, 1923 Edwin Hubble found Cepheid variables in M31 (now known as the Andromeda galaxy). Using Henrietta Leavitt's relationship between the period of the variation and the star's luminosity, Hubble showed that M31 was way too far away to be a part of our Galaxy. His work would end the debate about whether the Milky Way was the universe or there were other galaxies beyond it.
*First goal in the space game*
On October 4, 1957 Sputnik 1 was launched by the Soviet Union, the first artificial satellite to be put into orbit around the Earth. It caused quite a sensation as it beep-beep-beeped its way around the world. Here is a recording made of it: http://www.mentallandscape.com/Sputnik1_WashingtonDC.mp3
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