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February 20, 2017 - Generation Y Supernova

Generation Y Supernova  Thirty years ago this week, astronomers witnessed the closest and brightest supernova in nearly four centuries. Known as SN1987A, this catastrophic explosion took place 170,000 light-years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a nearby galaxy, but it was visible to the naked eye for nearly a year. Supernovae occur when massive stars collapse and eject most of their mass in a violent explosion. The Hubble Space Telescope has observed SN1987A since 1990. Expanding shock waves from the supernova are hitting previously ejected material in the inner ring, causing it to brighten in visual, radio, and X-ray wavelengths. Astronomers expect to find a neutron star in the remnants of this supernova, but they have not yet been able to peer through the dense dust to confirm it is there.

Image credit: ESA / Hubble & NASA

Weekly Calendar

February 20 - 26, 2017

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History


Moon phase Monday 20

Presidents' Day

Saturn 4° south of Moon

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 Tuesday 21

1931: Germany's first liquid-fuel rocket launched by VfR flies 3m (10 ft)

Moon phase Wednesday 22

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 Thursday 23

Jupiter 4° north of Spica

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

Moon phase Friday 24

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

Moon phase Saturday 25

Moon phase Sunday 26

New Moon 9:58 AM ET
Annular Solar eclipse (S. America, S. Atlantic, S. Africa)

1842: Camille Flammarion born
1966: First Saturn 1B rocket launched

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