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February 18, 2013 - Cosmic Flasher Bares All

Cosmic Flasher Bares All A bizarre space object burst onto the scene forty-five years ago this week with the announcement of the discovery of the first pulsar. The Crab Pulsar, discovered by Jocelyn Bell, a graduate student at Cambridge University, is a rapidly-rotating neutron star, the collapsed core of an exploded star. The Crab Pulsar is the size of Manhattan Island, but it contains more mass than our Sun. As it rotates at a rate of thirty times per second, the pulsar’s powerful magnetic field sweeps around like a lighthouse beacon, accelerating particles and whipping them out into the surrounding nebula at close to the speed of light. This composite image of the nebula surrounding the pulsar combines X-ray data from the Chandra X-Ray Observatory (blue) and optical data from the Hubble Space Telescope (red).

Image credit: NASA / CXC / HST / ASU / J. Hester et al.

Weekly Calendar

February 18-24, 2013

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Moon phase Monday 18

Presidents' Day

Jupiter 0.9° north of Moon
Vesta 0.3° north of Moon

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

Moon phase Tuesday 19

Moon at apogee
Saturn appears stationary

1473: Nicholas Copernicus born
1986: Mir space station launched

Moon phase Wednesday 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

Moon phase Thursday 21

Neptune in conjunction with Sun

1931: Germany's first liquid-fuel rocket launched by VfR flies 10 feet

Moon phase Friday 22

Mercury appears stationary

1966: Cosmos 110 launched, sets record for dogs in space (22 days)
1978: First Navstar GPS satellite launched
1996: STS-75 Columbia launched

Moon phase Saturday 23

1987: Supernova 1987a explodes
1990: Pioneer 11 leaves solar system
1997: Flash fire in Mir Kvant module

Moon phase Sunday 24

1968: Discovery of first pulsar announced
1969: Mariner 6 launched
2007Rosetta spacecraft flies by Mars
2011: STS-133 Discovery launched

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