March 30, 2009 - Sailing Through a Supernova Remnant

Sailing Through a Supernova Remnant  About 11,000 years ago, a nondescript star in the southern constellation Vela (the Sails) brightened by about 100 million times, becoming almost as bright as the full Moon. This image shows the expanding shell of nebulosity that now surrounds the location of the explosion, where the Vela pulsar can be found. The Vela pulsar, a rapidly-spinning neutron star only a few miles in diameter, is the remnant of the star that exploded long ago, and it was the first pulsar to be definitively linked to a supernova explosion. This exceedingly dense object spins about eleven times a second and is among the faintest stars ever studied at optical wavelengths. The Vela Supernova Remnant spans some 100 light-years and lies approximately 815 light-years from Earth.

Image credit: Davide De Martin / skyfactory.org / Digitized Sky Survey / ESA/ESO/NASA FITS Liberator

Weekly Calendar

March 30 - April 5, 2009

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Moon phase Monday 30

Mercury in superior conjunction

Moon phase Tuesday 31

1962: NASA approves final design of Gemini spacecraft
1982: Kvant module launched to Mir space station
1997: Pioneer 10 mission officially ends

Moon phase Wednesday 1

Moon at perigee

1960: TIROS 1 launched
1997: Comet Hale-Bopp’s closest approach to Sun
1998: TRACE launched

Moon phase Thursday 2

First Quarter Moon 10:34 am

1845: First photograph of Sun taken

Moon phase Friday 3

1966: Luna 10 becomes first spacecraft to orbit the Moon
1973: Salyut 2 space station launched

Moon phase Saturday 4

Pluto appears stationary

1930: American Rocket Society founded
1968: Apollo 6 launched
1983: STS-6 Challenger launched
1997: STS-83 Columbia launched
2000: Soyuz TM-30 launched, first commercial mission to Mir 

Moon phase Sunday 5

Palm Sunday

1973: Pioneer 11 launched
1975: Soyuz 18-1, first in-flight abort
1990: Pegsat launched
1991: STS-37 Atlantis launched
2010: STS-131 Discovery launched

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