February 14, 2011 - Stellar Sardines

Stellar Sardines Globular clusters are compact groups of stars around the core of our galaxy. Omega Centauri, one of the most famous clusters, is comprised primarily of older stars between 10 and 20 billion years old, but a recent Hubble Space Telescope image has shed new light on these ancient suns. Employing its new Wide Field Camera 3, Hubble imaged just a fraction of the 10 million or so stars that comprise this cluster 16,000 light-years from Earth. The stars are packed about thirteen times closer than the Sun and its nearest neighbor, Alpha Centauri. If Earth were located here, our night sky would appear 100 times brighter. Younger stars appear yellow and white; older stars are orange or red; blue stars are old stars that have collided or merged with other stars, boosting their energy-production rate.

Image credit: NASA / ESA / Hubble SM4 ERO Team

Weekly Calendar

February 14-20, 2011

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Moon phase Monday 14

Valentine’s Day

1972: Luna 20 launched
1980: Solar Max launched
1990: Voyager 1 takes solar system "family portrait"
2000: NEAR-Shoemaker orbits asteroid Eros

Moon phase Tuesday 15

1564: Galileo Galilei born
1973: Pioneer 10 becomes first spacecraft to pass through the asteroid belt

Moon phase Wednesday 16

1948: Gerard Kuiper discovers Miranda, moon of Uranus
1965: Saturn SA-9 launched

Moon phase Thursday 17

Neptune in conjunction with Sun

1959: Vanguard 2 launched
1965: Ranger 8 launched
1996: NEAR-Shoemaker spacecraft launched
2007: THEMIS spacecraft launched
2009Dawn spacecraft flies by Mars

Moon phase Friday 18

Full Moon 3:36 AM ET

1930: Pluto discovered by Clyde Tombaugh
1970: HL-10 sets lifting body speed record
1977: First captive flight of space shuttle Enterprise

Moon phase Saturday 19

Moon at perigee

1473: Nicholas Copernicus born
1986: Mir space station launched

Moon phase Sunday 20

1962: Friendship 7 launched; John Glenn becomes first American to orbit Earth
1965: Ranger 8 impacts the Moon, returns photographs
1994: Clementine enters lunar orbit

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