Oct. 4 marked the 59th anniversary of the dawn of the Space Age! On that date in 1957, the Russians launched the first satellite, known as Sputnik 1, into orbit from the Baikonur 1/5 launch facility.
The tiny metal sphere, only 23 inches in diameter and weighing in at 184 pounds, circled the Earth every 96.2 minutes, broadcasting a signal at 20 mhz and 40 mhz.
The launch of Sputnik was a great psychological shock to many in the Western world, as there was an object flying over your town and out of reach!
Sputnik 1 continued to broadcast for some 21 days and burned up in the atmosphere on Jan. 4, 1958.
Sputnik 1 had an inclination of 65.1 degrees and passed 133.6 miles over Earth at its lowest point of orbit, to a high orbit of 583.5 miles at apogee.
An interesting fact about Sputnik 1, is the fact that observers on the ground, may not have been viewing the actual satellite, as it was so small, but they were actually seeing the large booster rocket, the R-7.
To celebrate the Space Age, you can see many of the thousands of Earth-orbiting satellites in your own back yard by going to HeavensAbove.com
Just plug in you location and get set for some great satellite observing.
You can also get your very own free download of the October star chart at SkyMaps.com.
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- Chinese space station Tiangong 1 may fall from space next month
- Canopus, second-brightest star in night sky, visible from Arizona
- Venus, goddess of love, to return to evening sky for Valentine’s Day