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March 8, 2010 - Double Martian Birthday

Double Martian Birthday Born 175 years ago this week, Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiapparelli became famous for his telescopic observations of Mars in 1877. He discerned numerous linear surface patterns that he called “canali,” a word that means “channels” in Italian but was widely mistranslated as “canals.” Canals are artificial structures, and that is just what American astronomer Percival Lowell (born 155 years ago this week) believed he saw the more he observed and mapped Mars. He popularized a belief in the “Canals of Mars” and their presumed builders that would last for nearly a century. This Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter image provides strong evidence that these gullies on a crater rim were formed by fluid flow of a natural sort, hinting that Mars indeed once had water flowing on its surface.

Image credit: NASA / JPL / University of Arizona

Weekly Calendar

March 8-14, 2010

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Monday 8

1979: Active volcanoes found on Io
2001: STS-102 Discovery launched
2007: Orbital Express launched
2008: First Automated Transfer Vehicle launched

Moon phase Tuesday 9

1564: David Fabricius born
1961: Sputnik 9 launched
1986: Vega 2 flies by Halley’s Comet

Moon phase Wednesday 10

1977: Rings discovered around Uranus
2006: Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter arrives at Mars

Moon phase Thursday 11

Mars appears stationary

1811: Urbain Le Verrier born
1965: Pioneer 5 launched
2008: STS-123 Endeavour launched

Moon phase Friday 12

Moon at apogee

1835: Simon Newcomb born
1981: Victor Savinykh becomes 100th person to travel in space, Soyuz T-4 mission

Moon phase Saturday 13

Neptune 4° south of Moon

1781: William Herschel discovers Uranus
1855: Percival Lowell born
1989: STS-29 Discovery launched

Moon phase Sunday 14

Daylight Savings Time begins 2:00am

Mercury in superior conjunction

1835: Giovanni Schiaparelli born
1879: Albert Einstein born
1934: Gene Cernan born
1986: Giotto flies by Halley’s Comet
1995: Soyuz TM-21 launched, first Russian mission with American on board

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