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  • Current events for February 2, 2018
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    Events in space history for 02/02:
    • First telecast of a solar eclipse (BBC, 1961).

        (The following narrative is paraphrased from "Discovering the Universe," by William J. Kaufmann, III, W. H. Freeman and Company, New York, 1987, p. 22.)


        Eclipses are considered among the most phenomenal of heavenly happenings. Since the ancients watched in awe as the Moon's disk covered the sunlight in a few minutes, man has been fascinated by both lunar and solar eclipses. By definition, an eclipse is the blocking of all or part of the light from one object onto another. As an example, a "lunar eclipse" happens when the Earth shadows the Moon preventing the Sun's light from striking the Moon, and a "solar eclipse" occurs when the Moon's shadow falls on the Earth blocking most or part of the Sun's light from falling on the Earth. This phenomena (solar eclipse) can only happen when there is an alignment of the Moon, Sun, and Earth at new moon. A "lunar eclipse" can only occur when the Moon is on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun (at full Moon).

        We know that new moon and full moon phases occur every 29 1/2 days on average, but eclipses of the Moon and Sun happen much less frequently. The reason for this is that a slight tilt of 5 degress exists between the plane of the Earth's orbit and the plane of the Moon's orbit. Due to this tilt, a new moon and full moon happens when the Moon is not directly aligned with the Earth's orbit, being above or below the plane of the Earth's orbit so that the Sun's light is not affected or shadowed.

    • Groundhog Day. Annual search for Punxsutawney Phil, King of the Weather Prophets.
    • The NACA recommended to the President, for transmittal to Congress for approval, that the Government acquire basic aeronautical patents (1917).
    • President Coolidge signed the Kelly bill authorizing contract air transport of mail (1925).
    • NASA-AEC Space Nuclear Propulsion Office invited industry to submit proposals for participation in development of Nerva (nuclear engine for rocket vehicle application), a part of Project Rover initiated in 1955 by USAF-AEC (1961).
    • Nomination of James E. Webb to be Administrator of NASA reported favorably by the Senate Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences (1961).
    • Dr. T. Keith Glennan was named consultant to the Senate Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences (1961).
    • NASA announced that it would negotiate with Boeing Co., Chance Vought Corp., and Martin Co., for tanks for five first-stage Saturn launch vehicles. It later announced additional selection of Chrysler Corporation (1961).
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