May 26, 2013

What's Up In June: Summer's coming, and that means the solstice


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June 18. On this day in 1983 Sally Ride became the first American woman in space.

June 21. The summer solstice is at 1:04 a.m., marking the shortest night of the year. On this day in 2004, SpaceShipOne was launched, the first privately funded human space flight.

June 22. The Royal Greenwich Observatory was founded on this day in 1675. On this day in 2000, NASA announced evidence of present-day liquid water on Mars.

June 23. The full moon is at 7:32 a.m. This is also called the Strawberry or Rose Moon. This will also be the largest full moon of the year, so try to watch it rise out of the ocean.

June 26. Charles Messier was born on this day in 1730. He developed a catalogue of 110 objects that turned out not to be comets because they did not move from night to night. He also discovered about a dozen comets.

June 29. George Ellery Hale was born on this day in 1868. He designed the four successively largest telescopes in the world, starting with the 40-inch Yerkes refractor in 1893 and ending with the 200-inch Mt. Palomar telescope.

June 30. On this day in 1908 a comet or asteroid exploded with the force of 20 megatons of TNT about five miles above Tunguska in Siberia, leveling 80 million trees over nearly 1,000 square miles. In comparison, the recent Chelyabinsk meteor was about five times smaller, but still potentially very dangerous if it had entered at a steeper angle. That occurred only a few hundred miles west of Tunguska and just over 100 years later.

Bernie Reim of Wells is co-director of the Astronomical Society of Northern New England.


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