Astro Anniversaries


Day Year Event
1 1977 Charles Kowal discovered Chiron, the first object designated as a centaur (half asteroid, half comet), using images he took at the Palomar Observatory. It orbits between the asteroid belt and the Kuiper Belt.
2 1885 Harlow Shapley  born. Shapley made the first modern map of the Milky Way galaxy and measured our Sun’s position in it.
5 1906 Fred Whipple born.  Whipple proposed the modern model of comets.
8 1895 Wilhelm Roentgen discovered  a new kind of ray, which he called X-rays . X-ray astronomy eventually showed a much more violent side of the universe.
11 1875 Vesto Slipher born 1875. A pioneer in spectroscopy, \he discovered the large redshifts of ‘spiral nebulae’ (now called galaxies) and investigated the rotation of planets and galaxies.
12 1891 Seth Nicholson born in 1891  With Edison Pettit, he made the first infrared survey of the sky, opening up the infrared universe for our exploration. He also discovered several moons of Jupiter and observed sunspot activity.
14 1971 The Mariner 9 probe became the first spacecraft to orbit another planet – Mars.
15 1738 William Herschel born in 1738. Herschel discovered the first new planet ever found (Uranus) and the infrared part of the spectrum, among other pioneering work.
16 1974 Frank Drake (with help from a number of people) sent the first intentional radio message aimed at extra-terrestrials into space from the Arecibo radio dish in Puerto Rico. It was aimed at the  globular cluster M13 which is 25,000 light-years away.
17 1970 The Russian Lunokhod rover landed and explored the Moon.  It was the first remotely controlled rover to move across the surface of another world.
18 1989 NASA launched the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) satellite to measure the properties of the microwave background radiation left over from the big bang. George Smoot and John Mather shared the 2006 Nobel prize in Physics for the experiments on board that explored the properties of this radiation.
20 1889 Edwin Hubble born. He would grow up to become the ‘father’ of extra-galactic astronomy.
26 1895 Bertil Lindblad born. He made crucial measurements about the rotation, centre, and mass of our galaxy.
28 1659 Christiaan Huygens observed and drew the first distinctive markings on the surface of Mars, making the first drawing/map of another world and estimating the rotation rate of Mars for the first time.
28 1967 Jocelyn Bell and Antony Hewish discovered the first pulsar using instruments at the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory in Cambridge. Pulsars turned out to be rotating neutron stars – the remnants of supernova explosions.
29 1803 Christian Doppler born. His discovery of the Doppler effect has enabled astronomers to measure motions toward us or away from us in the universe.
28 2010 Andrew Elliott died. A  friend of SIGMA, he was acknowledged as the leading UK amateur observer of occultations and other short-lived astronomical phenomena over the past 50 years.

LAST UPDATED: 2023-11-01