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October 12, 2009 - A Very Select Club

A Very Select Club The only person to have discovered all the moons of one planet was Asaph Hall, an American astronomer born 180 years ago this week. During the Mars opposition of 1877, when Mars came unusually close to Earth, Hall undertook a search for a Martian moon. Frustrated and on the verge of giving up, Hall was urged on by his wife, Angeline. The following evening he discovered Deimos, and six nights later, Phobos. Deimos and Phobos (Greek for “terror” and “fear”) are still the only known moons of Mars. When Phobos was finally imaged up close in 1971, its largest feature, a six-mile-wide crater, was named Stickney, Angeline’s maiden name. In this Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter 2008 image of Phobos, Stickney is the huge crater on the right, covering nearly half the surface of the Phobos.

Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / University of Arizona

Weekly Calendar

October 12-18, 2009

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Moon phase Monday 12

Thanksgiving Day (Canada)
Columbus Day

1964: Voskhod 1 launched, first three-person space flight
1977: Shuttle Enterprise’s first glide test without aerodynamic tailcone
2008: ISS Expedition 18 crew launched

Moon phase Tuesday 13

Moon at perigee
Jupiter appears stationary
Venus 0.6° south of Saturn


1773: Charles Messier observes M-51
1933: British Interplanetary Society founded
1968: Apollo 7 first live TV broadcast from space
2004: ISS Expedition 10 crew launched

Moon phase Wednesday 14

1947: World’s first supersonic flight
1957: USAF announces X-20 Dyna-Soar project
1983: Venera 16 arrives in orbit around Venus

Moon phase Thursday 15

1829: Asaph Hall born
1997: Cassini-Huygens launched
2003: Shenzhou 5 launched, Yang Liwei becomes first Chinese astronaut

Moon phase Friday 16

Saturn 7° north of Moon
Venus 7° north of Moon

Moon phase Saturday 17

Moon phase Sunday 18

New Moon 1:33 am

1967: Venera 4 makes first direct studies of Venus’s atmosphere
1989: STS-34 Atlantis launched
1993: STS-58 Columbia launched
2003: ISS Expedition 8 crew launched

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.