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What's Up In The Sky, October 2010

posted Sep 19, 2010, 11:41 AM by Marvin Stewart
                In the fall of 1957 I was a senior in high school in a small town in southern Illinois. One of the days that stands out in my memory of that year is October fourth. Since it was a small town all the schools shut down for an hour and everyone went to lunch, students and teachers. Since I was in high school I had three options, the school cafeteria or Sammy's, one of the two hang outs near the high school, or go home which was only a couple of blocks away. Since it was a beautiful day, I  chose to walk home.
               The radio was always on awaiting the noon news presented by Rex Davis on KMOX, "The Voice of St Louis." The top story on that day was the Soviet Union had launched a satellite into orbit around the Earth called "Sputnik". At this point my exposure to the space race had come from the media, there was nothing in our text books. And other than being the first to do so, I wasn't sure what putting something into orbit accomplished.
                By coincidence my first class after lunch was Physics 101 taught by Mr. Wyatt. That afternoon he taught a bunch of bewildered teenagers about the science of rockets.
                Sputnik remained in orbit for nintey-six days although its radio tracking signal only worked for three weeks. The news reported that the twenty- three inch polished sphere could be seen at night crossing the sky. I don't know anyone that saw it, I know I tried to find it and didn't. If there were directions on when and where to look I don't remember them. I now know just looking up isn't enough. People who reported seeing it were actually seeing the much larger spent booster rocket that put Sputnik into orbit and was following along behind the satellite.
                So it turned out that on that beautiful October day the world changed, but not dramaticly as on some days that would follow. 
                If you haven't done so yet take the time to look at Jupiter in the night sky. Although it reached its closest point to Earth September twenty first it will remain very bright this month. In February 2011 it will begin a six year visit on the ecliptic in the northern hemisphere.
                                                                                                Quote: Beep beep beep.....
                                                                                                             The first mesage from Earth orbit, Sputnik October 4, 1957
               Oct 01      Saturn passes the Sun into the morning sky.  Last quarter Moon.
                      02      The Moon  SW of Pollux in the early morning sky.
                      07       New Moon.
                      08       Draconid meteor shower. Conditions are very favorable
                      14       First quarter Moon.
                      18       Geminid meteor shower
                      21       Orinid meteor shower, conditions unfavorable this year.
                      22       The creation of the Earth began at nightfall in 4004 B.C., according to the Archbishop Ussher in 1650.
                      23       Full Moon.
                      24       Leo Minorids. Conditions unfavorable, they are not bright to begin with.
                      29       Venus passes into the morning sky.
                      30       Last quarter Moon.