November 20, 1889. Happy birthday, Edwin Hubble! The Hubble Space Telescope is named for this astronomer. How did this honor come to be? Hubble’s work was pivotal in changing our entire cosmology: our idea of the universe as a whole.
This Date in Science
November 16, 1974. This is the anniversary of the most powerful broadcast ever deliberately beamed into space with the intention of contacting alien life. Some applauded this event as a mind-expanding attempt to remind people in 1974 that Earth is likely not the only planet where an intelligent civilization has evolved. At the time, others felt we shouldn’t be attempting to reveal Earth’s location in space to unknown alien civilizations.
October 12, 1915. One hundred years ago today, the Scottish-born astronomer Robert Innes, at the Union Observatory in Johannesburg, South Africa announced the discovery of what we now know as the next-nearest star to our sun.
October 12, 1999. On this date, the world’s human population was estimated to hit 6 billion, according to the United Nations. In 2011, global population reached 7 billion mark. Today – October 12, 2015 – it stands at more than 7.3 billion, according to United Nations estimates.
On October 6, 1995, astronomers announced the discovery of the first planet in orbit around a distant sunlike star. This planet is designated as 51 Pegasi b, and it’s what’s known today as a hot Jupiter.
September 1, 1979. On this date, NASA’s Pioneer 11 came within 13,000 miles (21,000 km) of Saturn, making it the first spacecraft ever to sweep closely past that world. Among other things, the mission investigated Saturn’s rings and determine if a trajectory through the rings was safe for the upcoming Voyager visits. They paved the way for the even-more-sophisticated Voyager spacecraft, which were launched in 1977 … and ultimately for the Cassini mission, which has been orbiting Saturn since 2004.
July 20, 1969. On this date, Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong landed their moon module on a broad dark lunar lava flow, called the Sea of Tranquility. Six hours later, Neil Armstrong became the first human being to walk on the moon. The story in pictures … inside.
July 17, 1975. On this date, Soviets and Americans accomplished the first joint space docking between two nations in the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. It marked the cooling of a long era of tense relations between the two world superpowers. Russian Soyuz and American Apollo flights launched within seven-and-a-half hours of each other on July 15, and docked on July 17. Three hours later, the world watched on television as the two mission commanders, Tom Stafford and Alexey Leonov, exchanged the first international handshake in space through the open hatch of the Soyuz.
July 10, 1962. This date marks the launch of Telstar 1, the first communications satellite capable of relaying television signals from Europe to North America, by a Delta rocket. Telstar – a 171-pound, 34.5-inch sphere loaded with transistors and covered with solar panels – relayed its first signal just hours after its launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The first transmitted images showed an American flag outside of a receiving station in Andover, Maine.
May 31, 1819. Walt Whitman might not have approved of having his birthday listed among great dates in science. After all, he was a poet.