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History


OCTOBER 18, 1977: Charles Kowal discovers the first-known centaur, (2060) Chiron, with the 1.2-meter Schmidt telescope at Palomar Observatory in California. Centaurs are the subject of a previous “Special Topics” presentation.  OCTOBER 18, 1989: NASA’s Galileo mission is deployed from the Space Shuttle Atlantis, with its final destination being Jupiter. While en route to Jupiter …

OCTOBER 11, 1983: The InfraRed Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) spacecraft discovers the “asteroid” now known as (3200) Phaethon. Phaethon had the smallest perihelion distance of any asteroid known at the time and was soon found to be traveling in the same orbit as the Geminid meteors, suggesting it may be their parent object and thus may …

OCTOBER 4, 2020: The main-belt asteroid (1679) Nevanlinna will occult the 7th-magnitude star HD 224945 in Pisces. The predicted path of the occultation crosses Newfoundland, part of the Maritime Provinces of Canada, the northeastern through the south-central U.S. (including Houston, Texas), north-central Mexico (including the northern regions of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon), and the southern Pacific …

SEPTEMBER 27, 1858: A British portrait painter and photographer, William Usherwood, takes a photograph of Comet Donati 1858 VI, the first photograph ever taken of a comet. No copies of Usherwood’s photograph are known to exist. Comet Donati is next week’s “Comet of the Week.”  SEPTEMBER 27, 1990: The Hubble Space Telescope observes Comet Levy …

SEPTEMBER 21, 2012: Two amateur astronomers, Vitali Nevski of Belarus and Artyom Novichonok of Russia, discover Comet ISON C/2012 S1 with a telescope of the International Scientific Optical Network located at Kislovodsk, Russia. Comet ISON was expected to become a brilliant object when near the sun and Earth in late 2013 but instead disintegrated as …

SEPTEMBER 13, 1959: The then-Soviet Union’s Luna 2 spacecraft impacts the lunar surface slightly to the east of the Mare Imbrium. This was the first human spacecraft to reach the moon and the first spacecraft to impact another object in the solar system.  SEPTEMBER 13, 1985: The U.S. Defense Department’s P78-1 satellite is deliberately destroyed …