Little Bits of History


Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 21, 2012

Aberfan disaster landslide

October 21, 1966: The Aberfan disaster takes place in the Welsh village of Aberfan. The coal industry was the heart of the village and for about fifty years prior to this disaster, Merthyr Vale Colliery (a subsidiary of the National Coal Board) had deposited mining debris on the side of Mynydd Merthyr. This is a broad ridge of high ground between the Taff Vale and the Cwm Cynon. The deposit site was directly above the village of Aberfan. There were huge piles of loose rock and mining spoil called “tips” built up over a porous layer of sandstone which contained underground springs. Many of the tips had been built up directly over the springs. Locals had voiced concerns about the location, citing the safety of the village primary school, as early as 1963. The NCB ignored their concerns.

The previous several days had seen heavy rain fall. On this day, early in the morning, a subsidence of about nine to eighteen feet occurred on the upper flank of colliery waste tip No. 7. A subsidence is a lowering of the Earth’s crust or a cave in. At around 9:15 AM nearly 200,000 cubic yards of rain-soaked debris broke away and slid downhill at high speed. It was sunny on the top of the mountain but still foggy at ground level with visibility highly reduced. Tipping gang members on the mountain saw the mass break away, but were unable to call down to the valley, reportedly because their telephone cable had been stolen. Later investigation proved that even had they been able to call, the mass was moving too rapidly for it to have done any good.

A mass of about 50,000 cubic yards of debris smashed into the village in a slurry about 39 feet deep. The slide destroyed a farm and twenty terraced houses along Moy Road and then hit at force the northern side of Pantglas Junior School and part of a separate senior school and demolished both structures. Mud and rubble up to 33 feet deep were deposited in the classrooms. The children at Pantglas had been in an assembly and had just left for their classrooms. They were celebrating the last day before half-term holiday. Had they left a few minutes later, or the slide occurred a few minutes earlier, there were have been a much lower loss of life. As it was, 116 children and 28 adults were killed.

Rescue efforts were frantic and began immediately. Rescue attempts continued for days and by Monday, October 24 parents were being permitted to view the dead children in order to locate their own sons or daughters. Investigations into the disaster lasted for 76 days. Although immediately after, NCB tried to avow the disaster was unavoidable and due to the “natural unknown springs” beneath the mountain, the locals knew the statement to be false. The Tribunal also listed the blame as belonging solely to NCB and their “total absence of tipping policy”. Over 90,000 people contributed more than £1.5 million to the Aberfan Disaster Memorial Fund.

A tragedy is a representation of an action that is whole and complete and of a certain magnitude. A whole is what has a beginning and middle and end. – Aristotle

If I told you the tragedy parts, we’d all sit here and cry. – John Phillips

The deepest definition of youth is life as yet untouched by tragedy. – Alfred North Whitehead

What then is tragedy? In the Elizabethan period it was assumed that a play ending in death was a tragedy, but in recent years we have come to understand that to live on is sometimes far more tragic than death. – George P. Baker

Also on this day:

Suicide Pilots – In 1944, the first kamikaze attack took place.
Apple Day – In 1990, the first Apple Day was held in Covent Garden, London.
USS Constitution – In 1797, the ship was launched.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 20, 2012

Kragujevac massacre

October 20, 1941:  The Kragujevac massacre begins. On September 16, 1941, Nazi Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel issued an order to all of occupied Europe. He ordered that 50 Communists be killed for every wounded German soldier and 100 Communists killed for every killed German soldier. In early October, a group of Communist Partisans and Chetniks under Draza Mihajlovic attacked Germans near Gornji Milanovac, Serbia. Not only were German soldiers killed, but reports of mutilation of the corpses reached the high command. The massacre was a direct consequence of the attack. It was not possible to find the required number of victims at Gornji Milanovac and so the city of Kragujevac, Serbia was used.

On October 18, all the Jewish males of Kragujevac were arrested. They and some alleged Communists numbered 70 men. More men were needed to fill the quota and so more males were brought in. Any males between the ages of 16 and 60 were arrested. German troops, members of the 5th Detachment of the Serbian Volunteer Command under the command of Marisav Petrovic, and the Serbian State Guard went into high schools and arrested all the teen males in order to amass the correct body count. Eventually 10,000 males would be arrested.

Executions began on this date at 6 PM. Groups of 400 would be brought together and shot. The killings continued on into the next day, although the pace slowed over time. Those not killed were held as prisoners, should they need to execute more Serbians. The number of boys and men killed has been hotly debated. The reports of the Germans give the number as 2,300. After the war, the Yugoslavian government alleged that between 5,000 and 7,000 were killed. Some number as high as 12,000 have been given. Local authorities give the number as 2,794 killed with 415 of them from neighboring villages and the other 2,379 from Kragujevac. Later, Serbian and German scholars set the number at 2,778.

A memorial park has been created to give voice the multitude of victims. Sumarice Memorial Park, the site of the killings, has become sacred ground. There are several monuments erected there. One is for the killed schoolchildren and their teachers and is called “Broken Wing”.  Another monument entitled “One hundred for one” is dedicated to the resistance movement and freedom. Franz Böhme, the Commanding General of Serbia was captured for trial after the war for the Kragujevac massacre along with other war crimes. When it became obvious that he would be extradited to Yugoslavia, he committed suicide rather than face his victims’ families.

Shooting: 405 hostages in Belgrade (total up to now in Belgrade, 4,750). 90 Communists in Camp Sebac. 2,300 hostages in Kragujevac. 1,700 hostages in Kraljevo. – Franz Böhme

The more unequivocal and the harder reprisal measures are applied from the beginning the less it will become necessary to apply them at a later date. No false sentimentalities! It is preferable that 50 suspects are liquidated than one German soldier lose his life… If it is not possible to produce the people who have participated in any way in the insurrection or to seize them, reprisal measures of a general kind may be deemed advisable, for instance, the shooting to death of all male inhabitants from the nearest villages, according to a definite ratio (for instance, one German dead 100 Serbs, one German wounded 50 Serbs). – Walter Kuntze, directive issued March 19, 1942

Man, when he does not grieve, hardly exists. – Antonio Porchia

If you’re going through hell, keep going. – Winston Churchill

Also on this day:

Subway Vigilante – In 1987, Bernard (Bernie) Goetz was sentenced.
What Big Feet You Have – In 1967, a film of Bigfoot was taken – maybe.
Football Fiasco – In 1851, Johnny Bright was injured on the field.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 19, 2012

The Scotch-Club

October 19, 1959: The Scotch-Club opens in Aachen, Germany. Prior to this date, the business had been in operation as a restaurant. However, the owner decided to do something different. He opened it as a dancehall. Dancehalls had been in existence and were common throughout the world. The difference for this one was that rather than hire a live band to play cover songs that were popular the owner just used a record player to play the original artists’ recordings. Klaus Quirini was a volunteer newspaper journalist reporting on the opening. He was bored with the records only method of presentation and took over the mike. He announced songs and had audience games and participation. The first song he played was a popular one, Ein Schiff wird kommen by Lale Andersen. He became the first disc-jockey and this became the first discothèque.

A dancehall is today called a nightclub, discothèque, or club or disco. The entertainment venues are distinguished from bars, pubs, or taverns by the inclusion of a dance floor and a DJ booth where the DJ plays recorded music. The latter can be exchanged for the playing of live music, but it is not the norm. Most nightclubs cater to a specific type of clientele based on what music genre they usually provide. The range of options is staggering: techno, house music, trance, heavy metal, garage, hip hop, salsa, dancehall, Drum and Bass, or Dubstep music. Some even play Top 40 hits which are the top hits of the previous week.

Nightclubs can have criteria for entering. Most have a minimum age requirement since they serve alcoholic beverages inside. But some also work with a specific dress code and you would not be permitted entry unless dressed in the proscribed manner. Others may operate with a guest list and if your name isn’t on the list, you can’t get in. There is also a possibility of paying a cover charge or a fee to enter the venue. All this is moderated by someone who works the door and allows only those meeting the club’s criteria to enter. Unless, of course, you are a friend of the doorman, and he may then let you in just because.

Sometime in the early 1900s (1900 to 1920) a new kind of bar opened. This was often called a honky tonk or juke joint and music was played on a piano or jukebox. During Prohibition, these places went underground and were called speakeasies. With the repeal of Prohibition, upscale clubs opened and Americans could drink and dance the night away. The custom spread rapidly. Whisky à Gogo opened in 1947 and was the standard for discothèques post-World War II. At the beginning, two turntables were used to offer music, but the DJ chatter was not included. Time moved on and clubs have changed, but the drinking and dancing are still there, just not at the Scotch-Club which closed in 1992.

If you can handle a nightclub audience successfully, you can handle anything. – Judy Holliday

Kids: they dance before they learn there is anything that isn’t music. – William Stafford

Nobody cares if you can’t dance well.  Just get up and dance. – Dave Barry

Through dancing many maidens have been unmaidened, whereby I may say it is the storehouse and nursery of bastardy. – John Northbrooke

Also on this day:

Streptomycin – In 1943, Streptomycin was first isolated.
Not Soccer – Not Rugby – In 1873, the rules for American football were first codified.
Stella or A Deal You Can’t Refuse – In 1944, Marlon Brando made his Broadway debut.

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Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 18, 2012

Benazir Bhutto

October 18, 2007: A suicide bomber attacks in Karachi, Pakistan. Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was in a motorcade when due to crowded streets, movement stopped about halfway along the chosen route. The motorcade was travelling from the airport to the tomb of Muhammad Ali Jinnah for a scheduled rally. Two explosions occurred in front of the truck carrying Ms Bhutto. Police vehicles took the brunt of the blasts. Even so, there were at least 139 deaths and 450 people injured. At least twenty of the deaths were policemen. Bhutto, herself, was not injured.

Bhutto was taken to her residence, Bilawal House. Victims were rushed to four separate hospitals. The attack occurred shortly before 1 AM Pakistan time and in a press conference the next day, Bhutto said her security team were unable to defend or prevent the attack because the street lights had been turned off. She questioned how that had happened. By October 20, a picture of the suspect responsible for the attack was released. Pakistan denied the Pakistan Peoples Party’s request for a foreign-led investigation and insisted Pakistani law-enforcement agencies would be adequate to the task.

Bhutto was the chairperson of the Pakistan Peoples Party from November 12, 1982 until December 27, 2007. She served as Minister of Defense from December 4, 1988 until August 6, 1990. She was also Minister of Finance during that same time and then again from January 26, 1994 until October 10, 1996. She was Leader of the Opposition from November 6, 1990 to April 18, 1993 and again from November 5, 1996 until October 12, 1999. She served as Prime Minister of Pakistan from December 2, 1988 until August 6, 1990 and again from October 19, 1993 until November 5, 1996.

As the millennium came to a close, Bhutto went into exile. During that time, she lived in Dubai and London. This was to be her return to her homeland. She had her own list of suspects and was careful not to mention General Pervez Musharraf himself, but instead named four of his senior military officials and politicians in his regime. While this attempt on her life was unsuccessful, it did not stop the process. She was assassinated on December 27, 2007. Again she was in a motorcade and this time she was thrown from the vehicle. She died from blunt force trauma to the head, according to Scotland Yard investigators. Al-Qaeda commander Mustafa Abu al-Yazid claimed responsibility for the attack.

Democracy is necessary to peace and to undermining the forces of terrorism.

General Musharraf needs my participation to give credibility to the electoral process, as well as to respect the fundamental right of all those who wish to vote for me.

It’s true that General Musharraf opposes my return, seeing me as a symbol of democracy in the country. He is comfortable with dictatorship. I hope better sense prevails.

The government I led gave ordinary people peace, security, dignity, and opportunity to progress. – all from Benazir Bhutto

Also on this day:

Le Bateau – In 1961, Henri Matisse’s painting was hung at the Museum of Modern Art – upside down.
Not the Essex – In 1851, Moby-Dick was published in England.
Church of the Holy Sepulchre – In 1009, the church was destroyed.

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Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 17, 2012

Depiction of the London Tornado of 1091

October 17, 1091: The London Tornado of 1091 strikes. It was Britain’s earliest reported tornado, possibly because it was so fierce. Only two people were reported killed, however damage to London was immense. There were reports of four rafters being driven into the ground. The beams were 26 feet long and yet only four feet were protruding from the ground after the storm passed. This has helped modern meteorologists to set the force of the tornado at T8 or F4. Much of London was wooden construction and therefore susceptible to damage. The wooden London Bridge was destroyed.  St. Mary-le-Bow was badly damaged, losing the rafters mentioned above. Many other area churches were also demolished and over 600 houses were destroyed.

London became what we would consider a city with the Roman occupation. In the year 140 there were about 45-60,000 inhabitants of Londinium. City size dropped with the fall of the Empire and by 300 there were only 10-20,000 residents. By the beginning of the first millennium, the population had dwindled to only 5-10,000 but it was picking back up. With the destruction of the Cnut dynasty in 1042, English rule came under Edward the Confessor and the foundation of Westminster Abbey is credited to him. By the end of the century there were probably about 18,000 people living there watching this gigantic twister strike the city.

St. Mary-le-Bow had been part of London since the Saxon period of England. The medieval version of the church was the one destroyed by this tornado. During the Norman period, a church known as St. Mary de Arcubus was built. It was famous for its two arches or bows. Today, the church remains a historic London building. According to tradition, in order to be considered a true Cockney (East End working class Londoner), one must be born within earshot of the sound of the church’s bells. The present day church was designed by Christopher Wren in the Baroque style and there are twelve bells ringing out.

Tornadoes are violent storms with a rotating column of air and they can also be called twisters or cyclones. There are a variety of ways to measure them. The TORRO scale is one method and rates intensity from T0 to T11. It evolved from the Beaufort Scale which measured intensity from 8 to 30. The other type of scale often used is the Fujita Scale which rates storms from F0 to F5. These scales are based on a number of factors including wind speed and resulting damage. On the TORRO scale, T8 through T11 are considered violent storms. An F4 storm leaves behind “devastating” damage.

A broken heart is a very pleasant complaint for a man in London if he has a comfortable income. – George Bernard Shaw

I think London’s sexy because it’s so full of eccentrics. – Rachel Weisz

People in London think of London as the center of the world, whereas New Yorkers think the world ends three miles outside of Manhattan. – Toby Young

You find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford. – Samuel Johnson

Also on this day:

National Geographic – In 1888, the National Geographic Society began publishing a new magazine.
Fore – In 1860, the Open Championship was first played.
War on Poverty – In 1993, the UN sponsored its first International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 16, 2012

Walt and Roy Disney

October 16, 1923: Walt and Roy sign a contract with M.J. Winkler to produce a series of Alice Comedies. Walt was 21 and his older brother, Roy, was 30 when they founded the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio as equal partners. The name changed in 1926 to The Walt Disney Studio and today we know it as The Walt Disney Company. Roy had served in the Navy during World War I and was discharged because of an injury. Although the brothers were from Chicago, after discharge Roy moved to Los Angeles and became a banker. His younger brother followed him out to Hollywood and together they opened up their business. They each ordered a kit house and although both slightly modified them, they built them next door to each other. They were a close knit family.

The Alice Comedies were a series of animated cartoons in which a live action girl named Alice played. Originally, Alice was played by Virginia Davis. There was an animated cat named Julius and the two frolicked across an animated landscape. The first film, a single-reel, ten-minute short called Alice’s Wonderland, was produced with the help of Ub Iwerks. The story began with Alice entering a cartoon studio to see how cartoons are made, and liking it so much, she joined in the fun. There were 57 of these made with four different actresses playing the part of Alice. Margie Gay took over in 1925 with Dawn O’Day making one cartoon that same year and then Gay back on screen. In 1927, Lois Hardwick took over the role of Alice for the last ten shorts.

The Walt Disney Studio changed named and was Walt Disney Productions before assuming its current name. They are famous for creating some of the most famous characters in motion pictures which include Mickey Mouse. Walt Disney was the original voice for his famous creation. Disney only lived to age 65 and died in 1966. During his life, he received four honorary Academy Awards and won 22 Academy Awards after being nominated 59 times. One year, Disney won a record four Oscars. He has won more awards and been nominated more times than anyone else. He also won seven Emmy Awards. His company carries on and in 2010 had an annual revenue of about $36 billion.

While famous as a producer, that’s not all The Walt Disney Company has done. Disneyland was opened in 1955 and is a theme park in Anaheim, California. There have been around 600 million visitors to the park since it opened and in 2010 alone there were almost 16 million visitors, making it the second most visited park in the world that year. The year after Walt died, construction began on the Florida resort and in 1971 Roy opened the Magic Kingdom there. In 2010, there were about 17 million visitors in Florida, making it the most visited part that year. Tokyo Disney Resort (1983), Disneyland Paris (1992), and Hong Kong Disneyland (2005) round out the theme parks.

All cartoon characters and fables must be exaggeration, caricatures. It is the very nature of fantasy and fable.

I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter.

Of all of our inventions for mass communication, pictures still speak the most universally understood language.

The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing. – all from Walt Disney

Also on this day:

Cardiff Giant– In 1869, a petrified giant is found near Cardiff.
Complex Numbers – In 1843, quaternions were first defined.
Planned Parenthood – In 1916, Margaret Sanger opened a clinic.

Chance Chants

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 15, 2012

Edward Gibbon

October 15, 1764: A group of barefoot Friars are heard singing Vespers in the temple of Jupiter in Rome. Edward Gibbon was born in 1737 and was an English historian and Member of Parliament. He was one of seven children and the only one to survive to adulthood, although he was not a healthy child. At age nine, he was sent away to school and shortly afterwards, his mother died. His aunt took him under her wing and began to teach the young boy, but soon she, too, died. At age 15, he was sent to Magdalen College, Oxford but was unsuited to the task. It was during this time that his religious beliefs were greatly influenced and he converted to Roman Catholicism in 1753. He fell in love with Suzanne Curchod but the affair was thwarted and she eventually married Jacques Necker from King Louis XVI’s court.

He left for a grand tour of the Continent and was abroad from 1758 – 1765. It was during this time that he heard the Friars singing in Rome. According to his autobiography, it was this that made him think to write a history of the decline and fall of the Eternal City. He wrote his first book, Essai sur l’Étude de la Littérature, published in 1761 while abroad. This gave him some fame and he enjoyed the celebrity. Although when he returned to England, he didn’t start on his greatest work immediately. His father died in 1770 and Edward had to attend to a poorly maintained family estate. After getting his affairs in order, there was enough for him to live comfortably in London without financial concerns. So he moved to 7 Bentinck Street and took to London society.

For seven years Gibbon worked on his manuscript. He did several rewrites and was “often tempted to throw away the labours of seven years,” but finally published the work on February 17, 1776. His famous work, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, was met by an eager public. The work was published in six volumes and only the first was out in 1776. That went through six printings and volumes II and III were published in 1781 with the remained seeing print in 1788-89. The original volumes were published in quarto sections, or small pamphlet sized offerings, which was common at the time. The work covers the Roman Empire as well as Europe and the Catholic Church from 98 to 1590.

The work is noted for being ironically detached and carries a dispassionate, critical tone. Gibbon often took on a moralizing voice and used aphorism for effect. The text includes notes as well as the major story, giving the reader a glimpse into the thought processes of the author. There are also copious citations, many from original sources. His asides or notes show the importance of each document used. The author, unlike many of his time, was given proper remuneration and received two-thirds of the profit. This amounted to £1,000 (about £ 101,000 today) for the first printings of the first volume alone.

Beauty is an outward gift which is seldom despised, except by those to whom it has been refused.

Conversation enriches the understanding, but solitude is the school of genius.

History is indeed little more than the register of the crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind.

The pathetic almost always consists in the detail of little events. – all from Edward Gibbon

Also on this day:

Rostov Ripper – In 1992, Andrei Chikatilo, of Russia, was found guilty of 52 murders.
Going Postal – In 1888, a letter was received, purportedly from Jack the Ripper.
You Got Some ‘Splainin To Do – In 1851, I Love Lucy premiered.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 14, 2012

Claude Grahame-White flight

October 14, 1910: Claude Grahame-White goes for a short flight. He was born in Bursledon, Hampshire, England in 1879. He learned to drive in 1895 and was apprenticed to an engineer. He later started his own motor engineering company. In 1909, while in France, he learned to fly and became the first Englishman to qualify as a pilot. Early in 1910, the British newspaper Daily Mail held a contest offering £10,000 (about £796,000 today) to the first person to fly from London to Manchester. Claude was the first to try. He left London on April 23, 1910 and made it to his first stop, Rugby. His biplane needed to be repaired and he returned to London. Late on April 27, Louis Paulhan took off with Claude close behind. Finally Louis won, but Claude was widely praised anyway.

Another contest in July found Claude winning a £1,000 prize while he was flying at the Midlands Aviation Meeting. He managed to win the Aggregate Duration with a time of 1 hour, 23 minutes, and 20 seconds in the air. He next went on to win the Gordon Bennett Aviation Cup in Belmont Park, Long Island, New York. He was flying a Farman biplane and on this day he flew that plane over Washington, D.C. He landed on Executive Avenue near the White House. He was not arrested but instead praised in the local papers. He went on to establish a flying school and eventually began the Grahame-White Aviation Company. There he was able to not only fly, but to design, develop, and build the planes. He continued to design planes for a few years, but lost interest in the pursuit. He died in 1959, at the age of 79 after making a fortune in property development in both the UK and the US.

Farman Aviation Works was an aircraft company founded by the Farman brothers, Richard, Henry, and Maurice. They began building planes in 1909 with the Farman III, leading one to believe they had a few trial planes that were less than successful. The French brothers built their biplane after Henry bought one from the Voisin brothers in 1907 and improved on the design. Their next type of plane didn’t hit the market until 1913, so we can assume Claude was flying a Farman III. They designed over two hundred planes before going out of business in 1941 with at least two dozen major designs. Their last plane was no longer a solo plane, but a six-seat trainer and coastal reconnaissance floatplane. In 1941, the Farman brothers changed the name of the company and a few years later it was absorbed into Sud-Oust.

Aerial flight is one of that class of problems with which men will never have to cope. – Simon Newcomb

There are only two emotions in a plane:  boredom and terror. – Orson Welles

The modern airplane creates a new geographical dimension.  A navigable ocean of air blankets the whole surface of the globe.  There are no distant places any longer:  the world is small and the world is one. – Wendell Willkie

If God had really intended men to fly, he’d make it easier to get to the airport. – George Winters

Also on this day:

Pooh Corner – In 1926, A.A. Milne published his first Pooh story.
Bull Moose – In 1912, presidential candidate Theodore Roosevelt was shot.
Ready! Camera! Action! – In 1888, the oldest surviving movie was filmed.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 13, 2012

Charles Messier

October 13, 1773: Charles Messier looks into the night sky. The French astronomer was born in 1730, the tenth of twelve children. Six of the children died while young and when Charles was 11, his father died. The child’s interest in astronomy was piqued by a great six-tailed comet (C/1743 X1, Comet de Chéseaus, or the Great Comet of 1744) and a solar eclipse as seen from his hometown on July 25, 1748. In 1751 he was employed by Joseph Nicolas Delistle, an astronomer with the French Navy. It was there he learned to make careful observations and keep detailed records. Charles’s first documented observation was the transit of Mercury on May 6, 1753.

Messier was made a fellow of the Royal Society in 1764 and five years later was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. In 1779 he was elected to the French Academy of Sciences. He discovered 13 comets between the years 1760 and 1785. His first catalog, published in 1774 contained 45 objects but since then the list of discoveries has grown to 103. However, at least 20 of the objects listed were, in fact, discovered by his assistant, Pierre Méchain. There is a crater on the moon called Messier and an asteroid called 7359 Messier – both named in his honor.

On this day, while looking at the night sky, Messier found something a bit larger than a comet. Designated as M51, the object is what is today sometimes called the Whirlpool galaxy. In 1781, Méchain discovered its companion galaxy NGC5195. Although the mass was seen in the sky, it wasn’t until 1845 that it was discovered the galaxy was spiral in nature. It took Lord Rosse using a 72-inch telescope to discover the shape. In 2005, a supernova was observed in the Whirlpool Galaxy which had an apparent magnitude of 14. And in 2011 a type II supernova with a magnitude of 13.5 was seen there.

The galaxy is located in the constellation Canes Venatici and is found following the easternmost star of the Big Dipper. The galaxy is visible with binoculars under dark sky conditions and can, obviously, be seen with amateur telescopes. However, it takes a larger telescope to be able to see the spiral arms. Stars are usually formed in the center of a galaxy and M51 seems to be undergoing a period of star formation, but this is a relatively short lived period and shouldn’t last more and another 100 million years. This could be the reason for the spiral shape of the galaxy, but not the only one. There is also hydrogen compression in other areas leading to starbirth regions and these show up as bright blue dots in the spiral arms.

Is it not careless to become too local when there are four hundred billion stars in our galaxy alone. – A. R. Ammons

Keep up the good work, if only for a while, if only for the twinkling of a tiny galaxy. – Wislawa Szymborska

When you look at the stars and the galaxy, you feel that you are not just from any particular piece of land, but from the solar system. – Kalpana Chawla

Astronomy compels the soul to look upwards and leads us from this world to another. – Plato

Also on this day:

Service – In 1843, B’nai B’rith was founded.
Miracle of the Sun – In 1917, Our Lady of Fatima appeared to thousands.
Yellow Jackets – In 1885, Georgia Tech was founded.

Chris Landed

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 12, 2012

Christopher Columbus coming ashore in the New World

October 12, 1492: Columbus lands in the New World although he doesn’t know it. Cristoforo Colombo, the Italian sailor who went west to find the Far East for Spain, was born prior to October 31, 1451 in Genoa. The Spanish version of his name is Cristóbal Colón and his English name is Christopher Columbus. He began seeking backing and funding for his westward journey in 1485 with King John II of Portugal. Although there was early hope for the trip, those hopes were dashed. Columbus then went to Ferdinand II and Isabella and received funding and backing for the trip after two years of negotiation.

On August 3, 1492 Columbus set sail from Palos de la Frontera with three ships. A larger carrack, Santa Maria, and two smaller caravels, Pinta and Niña. Three days after setting sail, the rudder on the Pinta broke. Sabotage was suspected since the ship had been pressed into service against the owner’s wishes. However, the rudder was temporarily fixed and the ships were able to land at the Canary Islands on August 9. The rudder was fixed and the Niña‘s sails were switched out from regular triangular sails for square ones. On September 6, they departed San Sebastián de la Gomera and headed west. Columbus kept two sets of records. The real mileage was kept secret from the crew so they wouldn’t worry about sailing so far from Spain.

On September 8, Columbus noticed that his compass’s needle no longer pointed to the North star. He kept this information from the crew as well. Superstitious and fearful, this added information would probably have led them to mutiny. However, after several days travel, the pilots noticed the error and the crew did become frightened. Columbus assured the men that the compass was simply pointing to a mysterious place on Earth. His reputation as an astronomer carried the day. The men did not like being away from land for so long. Most voyages of the time hung to coastal routes and sailing across the Ocean was unnerving.

On October 7 a large flock of birds was seen. Several were captured and Columbus changed his route to follow the birds, hopefully back to land. Land was sighted at 2 AM on this day by a Rodrigo de Triana aboard the Pinta. The reward for first spying land was overtaken by Columbus who claimed to have seen the land first. The first land spotted was named by Columbus as San Salvador and is in the present day Bahamas. The people living there had already named it Guanahani. The Spanish fleet sailed around the Caribbean and explored parts of Cuba and Hispaniola. The return trip began on January 15, 1493 by way of the Azores. Storms on the way home lengthened the journey and Columbus finally returned to Barcelona on March 15.

Following the light of the sun, we left the Old World.

After having dispatched a meal, I went ashore, and found no habitation save a single house, and that without an occupant; we had no doubt that the people had fled in terror at our approach, as the house was completely furnished.

Riches don’t make a man rich, they only make him busier.

These people are very unskilled in arms… with 50 men they could all be subjected and made to do all that one wished. – all from Christopher Columbus

Also on this day:

Not Enough Sense to Get Out of the Rain – In 1923, Mackintosh raincoats went on sale.
Festive October – In 1810, Ludwig I married Therese – and began the tradition of Oktoberfest.
6,000,000,000 – In 1999, there were six billion people on the planet.