September 23, 2017

Astronomy Video of the Week: To Nuke the Moon

Thor launches from the Cape.

Image credit: British Pathé

There are lots of strange proposals from the early Space Age that —thankfully— never came to pass. We recently came across one of those stranger proposals in an old newsreel courtesy of British Pathé. An amazing resource, British Pathé hosts thousands of old newsreels from the mid-to early 20th century featuring a treasure trove of grand old vids with rocket launches, solar eclipse expeditions, and much more. [Read more...]

Astro-Vid Of the Week: The Launch of Luna 2

The Luna 2 Impactor. (Credit: NASA).

The late 1950s was a heady time of firsts in space for the Soviet Union. 54 years ago today on September 12th 1959, Mother Russia achieved another first with the launch of Luna 2. The 860 lb satellite lifted off at 06:39:42 Universal Time from the Baikonur Cosmodrome to impact the Moon east of the Mare Imbrium near the crater Archimedes just over 36 hours later. [Read more...]

Review: Rocket Girl by George D. Morgan


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The untold tales of the early Space Age are legion. Many of these were shrouded in secrecy, while others simply fell to the bureaucratic wayside. There’s no doubt some amazing stories are still left to tell in the piles of dusty documents and long lost archival footage in vaults that no one remembers… [Read more...]

AstroChallenge: Hunting the Vanguards.

Vanguard 1, the “Flying Grapefruit.” (Credit: NASA).

Looking for something new in the realm of satellite hunting? A few weeks ago, a discussion popped up on Twitter for the possibility of spotting an elusive set of targets still in space. In early 1958, the United States orbited the Vanguard 1 spacecraft, the first of a series of three successful launches of Project Vanguard and only the second successful object placed in orbit by the United States following Explorer 1. [Read more...]

Keep Watching the Skies! by W. Patrick McCray

Quick note: The Phoenix has landed! Full details in next weeks’ post!

The 1950s were heady times for both the public and amateur and scientists alike.

Rarely have the contributions of rank amateurs been acknowledged publicly. In Keep Watching the Skies! The Story of Operation Moonwatch and the Dawn of the Space Age, W. Patrick McCray reveals a forgotten saga. It’s hard to imagine that only a scant fifty years ago, “satellite spotting” (a future movie?) was not as common or mundane as it could be considered today. [Read more...]