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December 10, 2012 - The House That Comets Built

The House That Comets Built For many amateur astronomers, money flows in one direction—out—usually to fund acquisitions of new equipment. But at least one former amateur, Edward Emerson Barnard, famously reversed that flow. Born 155 years ago this week in Nashville, Tennessee, Barnard developed a love for astronomy and, despite receiving little formal schooling, he discovered five comets in the 1880s—each of which netted him a $200 prize offered by a New York philanthropist. Barnard used the money to buy a home in Nashville that became known as The Comet House. Soon thereafter, Barnard became a professional astronomer and compiled a groundbreaking photographic atlas of the Milky Way, which conferred upon the Horsehead Nebula, above, a new designation—Barnard 33.

Image credit: ESO

Weekly Calendar

December 10-16, 2012

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Moon phase Monday 10

Saturn 4° north of Moon

1963: Dyna-Soar project canceled
1999: Newton X-Ray Multi-Mirror Telescope launched

Moon phase Tuesday 11

Venus 1.6° north of Moon
Mercury 1.1° north of Moon

1863: Annie Jump Cannon born
1972: Apollo 17 lands on Moon
1993: Sotheby’s holds first auction of Soviet space hardware & artifacts

Moon phase Wednesday 12

Moon at perigee

1961: OSCAR 1 launched, first amateur radio satellite
1970: Italian ground crew becomes first to launch satellite for America, Explorer 42

Moon phase Thursday 13

New Moon 3:42 AM ET
Geminid meteor shower

2001: Final drop test of the X-38 Crew Return Vehicle prototype

Moon phase Friday 14

Pluto 0.2° south of Moon
Geminid meteor shower

1546: Tycho Brahe born
1962: Mariner 2 first planet flyby (Venus)
1972: Apollo 17 astronaut Gene Cernan becomes last human to walk on Moon

Moon phase Saturday 15

Mars 6° south of Moon

1965: Gemini VI launched
1970: Venera 7 makes first landing on Venus
1984: Vega 1 launched to study Venus and Halley’s Comet
2003: National Air & Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center opens
2010: Soyuz TMA-20 launched carrying ISS Expedition 26/27 crew

Moon phase Sunday 16

1857: E. E. Barnard born
1965: Pioneer 6 launched
1976: Last two Saturn V moon rockets donated to museums

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