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Andromeda Galaxy (M31) – Fascinating Facts
Imagine yourself under a dark autumn or winter northern hemisphere sky. You're looking towards the “W” of Cassiopeia, and notice a hazy patch between Cassiopeia and the constellation Andromeda. That is the Andromeda Galaxy (M31). Here are some fascinating facts about this stunning object.
(1) August 1, 1786: Caroline Herschel first sighted the comet that made her the first woman to be credited with the discovery of a comet. She confirmed the sighting the next night.
(2) August 3, 2004: NASA's MESSENGER space craft was launched. It was the first to orbit Mercury, and after a successful primary mission plus two mission extensions, it deorbited on April 30, 2015.
(3) August 5, 2005: NASA's Juno mission to Jupiter was launched. It safely arrived at Jupiter and was safely inserted into orbit on July 4th of this year. Juno is the most distant ever solar-powered spacecraft, a record previously held by ESA's Rosetta.
(4) August 6, 1961: The Soviet Union launched Vostok 2 with Gherman Titov on board. It was the first full-day space mission, as Yuri Gagarin in Vostok 1 had only carried out one orbit of the Earth.
(5) August 6, 2012: NASA's Curiosity rover landed on Mars.
(6) August 8, 1989: ESA's Hipparcos satellite was launched. It was dedicated to carrying out the accurate measurement of the positions of celestial objects.
*Happy Birthday, Neil Armstrong*
In his lifetime Armstrong was an aviator, a test pilot, an aerospace engineer, a university professor, and an astronaut. He was born on August 5, 1930. Of all the things that he accomplished, what he will, of course, be best remembered for is being the first human being to walk on the Moon.
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Mona Evans, Astronomy Editor
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