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March 5, 2012 - A New Star in Town

A New Star in Town M51, also called the Whirlpool Galaxy, is actually a pair of colliding galaxies located about 23 million light-years away in the constellation Canes Venatici, not far from the tip of the handle of the Big Dipper. On May 30, 2011, French observer Amédée Riou detected a supernova explosion in the Whirlpool galaxy—the second such event in just six years in M51, which is quickly earning a reputation for being a popular spawning ground for supernovae. Known as SN 2011 dh, the supernova resulted from the collapse of a dying star some twelve to eighteen times as massive as the Sun. In this image of M51, taken by R. Jay GaBany on June 7, 2011, SN 2011 dh appears as a bright white star, located at about the two o’clock position, nestled inside the right-most spiral arm.

Image credit: R. Jay GaBany / www.Cosmotography.com

Weekly Calendar

March 5-11, 2012

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Monday 5

Mercury at greatest elongation (18° E)
Mars closest approach to Earth

1512: Gerardus Mercator born
1978: Landsat 3 launched
1979: Voyager 1 flies by Jupiter
1982: Venera 14 lands on Venus, returns color photos of Venus’s surface

Tuesday 6

1787: Joseph Fraunhofer born
1986: Vega 1 flies by Halley’s Comet
2009: Kepler Observatory launched

Wednesday 7

1792: John Herschel born
1837: Henry Draper born
1962: OSO-1 launched
1969: Apollo 9 astronauts complete first solo flight of lunar module

Thursday 8

Mars 10° north of Moon
Full Moon 4:39 AM ET

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

Moon phase Friday 9

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

Moon phase Saturday 10

Moon at perigee

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

Moon phase Sunday 11

Daylight Savings Time begins 2:00am

Saturn 6° north of Moon
Mercury appears stationary

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

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