October and the Space Race

    Geopolitics played a big role in the push to space.  Attempts to be the first to get to space and even the moon were not done for altruistic reasons.  They were done to prove one political philosophy was better than another.  Was democracy better or was communism?  Who would be the best?

     The first lead in the space race occurred on Oct. 4, 1957, 60 years ago.  On that date, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1 (Russian for traveler) into space on top of an R-7 intercontinental ballistic missile.

     Sputnik 1 was a little larger than a basketball and had a transmitter that would ping every few seconds.  This ping could be picked up on Earth by any individual with a ham radio.  The scary thing wasn’t the pinging basketball, but the fact that the Soviets had a rocket powerful enough to launch something into space.  If they could do that, they could hit anywhere in the U.S.

     On Nov. 3, 1957, the soviets launched Sputnik 2.  Sputnik 2 went one step further: it sent the first animal into space–a dog names Laika.  The U.S. had to respond.  We did, but it wasn’t until Jan. 31, 1958, nearly four months later.

     The story of the space race is interesting.  The U. S. was behind in the space race until the Apollo 8 Moon Mission in Dec. of 1968.

     Today, the Russians, the United States and most of the rest of the world work collaboratively in space with the International Space Station.  Times have truly changed.

     For more information on the space race, go to http://www.history.com/topics/space-race

     We encourage everyone to join our Facebook page “Aroostook County Astronomy Club.”  By joining our Facebook page, you will be able to receive interesting articles about astronomy, be notified of upcoming club events, receive information about celestial events and receive notifications about possible northern lights.  You should also take a look at our website at http://aroostookastronomy.strikingly.com/.


The International Space Station is visible as follows:

Evenings–Sept. 24 through Oct. 17.

Mornings–Oct. 29 through Nov. 19.

     For the times of other events go to www.calsky.com.  You will need to register at this site and load your location to be able to get exact times.  The University of Maine at Presque Isle is located at 68d00m7.8s West longitude and 46d40m45.6s North latitude.

     To get a free sky chart, go to www.skymaps.com.

Sun and Planet Visibility


06:42 Sunrise.

17:53 Sunset.

Not visible Mercury.

04:42–06:12 Venus.

04:30– 06:12 Mars.

18:06–18:24 Jupiter.

18:24–21:00 Saturn.


07:03 Sunrise.

17:27 Sunset.

Not visible Mercury.

05:24–07:06 Venus.

04:24–06:30 Mars.

Not visible Jupiter.

17:54–20:06 Saturn.

10/06 19:00 Draconids Meteor Shower 7.4 meteors/hr.

10/07 19:00 Draconids Meteor Shower 10.1 meteors/hr.

10/08 14:00 Draconids Meteor Shower Maximum 11.3 meteors/hr.

10/08 19:00 Draconids Meteor Shower 11.1 meteors/hr.

10/09 02:03 Moon at Perigee–closest to the Earth 226,232 miles.

10/09 19:00 Draconids Meteor Shower 9.2 meteors/hr.

10/10 19:00 Draconids Meteor Shower 6.4 meteors/hr.

10/12 08:25 Last Quarter Moon.

10/13 18:48 ISS passes 0.2 degrees from Alpha Aquila (Altair).

10/14 70th Anniversary of Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier.

10/18 03:38 Mercury 0.9 degrees from Jupiter.

10/19 05:00 Orionid Meteor Shower 5.3 meteors per hr.

10/19 Uranus at opposition directly behind the Earth.

10/19 15:12 New Moon.

10/20 05:00 Orionid Meteor Shower 7.6 meteors per hr.

10/21 05:00 Orionid Meteor Shower 9.9 meteors per hr.

10/21 21:00 Orionid Meteor Shower 12.0 meteors per hr.

10/22 05:00 Orionid Meteor Shower 10.5 meteors per hr.

10/22 21:48 Comet Machholz (96P) closest to the Earth (81.7 million miles).

10/23 05:00 Orionid Meteor Shower 8.6 meteors per hr.

10/24 05:00 Orionid Meteor Shower 6.2 meteors per hr.

10/24 22:30 Moon at Apogee–farthest from the Earth, 249,905 miles.

10/26 14:09 Jupiter in conjunction with the sun.  Opposite side of the sun.

10/27 18:22 First Quarter Moon.

10/29 06:27 ISS passes 0.04 degrees from Mars.

10/29 08:06 Mercury at Aphelion–farthest from the sun, 43.4 million miles.

10/31 06:17 ISS passes 0.9 degrees from Alpha Leo (Regulus).

11/02 14:48 Venus 3.5 degrees from Alpha Virgo (Spica).

11/03 60th anniversary of the Sputnik 2 launch.  First animal in space–a dog named Laika.

11/04 01:22 Full Moon.

11/05 04:06 ISS passes 1.3 degrees from the moon.

11/05 19:17 Moon at Perigee–closest to the Earth, 222,912 miles.

11/10 15:36 Last Quarter Moon.