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10 Things for the Week of April 13 - April 19
Columnist: The Authors

10 Things for the Week of April 13 - April 19
11 April 2014

The moon has inspired many over the years, and this week we will have the opportunity to view a total lunar eclipse.

Speaking of inspiration ... have you ever wanted to be an inventor? If you haven't, this week's post may start you thinking about it. Without some ingenuity, the Apollo 13 crew might not have survived. Also, learn about inventors: Leonardo da Vinci, Christiaan Huygens, Wilbur Wright and their contributions and discoveries. It's all here, and more in this week's edition of 10 Things.


Monday, April 14th is the 385th anniversary of the birth of Christiaan Huygens.

Huygens, discoverer of Titan, and inventor of the pendulum clock, was born on April 14, 1629. (To place this date and time-period in your mind's eye: the Pilgrims who sailed aboard the Mayflower arrived on the shores of America in 1620.)


To be inspired, sometimes all you need do is look up -- and this week the moon is going to be pretty phenomenal.

Look to the skies the night of April 14/15 for a total lunar eclipse (in North or South America). The eclipse will start at approximately 9:53 p.m. (PDT) on April 14th and will continue to about 3:38 a.m. (PDT) on April 15th. Start watching at midnight (PDT) to view totality.

3. APOLLO 13

The return of three men -- three astronauts -- after the oxygen tank explosion onboard Apollo 13 took place 44 years ago this week. These men, and those supporting them on Earth, had to think on their feet in order to survive. What could have been a tragic disaster turned into a heroic success.


147 years ago Tuesday, is the day on which first-flight builder and flyer, Wilbur Wright (1867-1912) was born.

Just this last December was the 110th anniversary (1903) of the Wright brothers' first airplane flight. The Wright 1903 Flyer was the first powered, heavier-than-air machine to achieve a controlled and sustained flight. The plane flew for a total of 12 seconds and for a distance of 37 m (121.39 feet).


They share a birthday and each dreamed of flight. Guess who?

Give up? All right, I will tell you. April 15th is also the anniversary of the birth of Renaissance Man, Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519). Know the Mona Lisa? Then you know one talent of Da Vinci: painting.

Da Vinci was also a great imaginer of inventions way ahead of his time -- inventions such as flying machines and robots. Da Vinci also figured out what makes the moon glow even when it is in its crescent phase. It's Earthshine. Check out The Da Vinci Glow link below to learn more about Earthshine.


Ceres, dwarf planet and largest member of the asteroid belt, will make its closest approach to Earth on April 14 at a distance of 1.643 AU. (One AU is equal to about 150 million km or 93 million miles.)

This close approach has nothing on the close approach we will do, come spring 2015 (that is just a year away), when Dawn arrives at the small world. Dawn will visit Ceres about 13,500 km (8,400 miles) above its icy surface. Dawn will then come in even closer at an altitude of about 4,430 km (2,750 miles) during its survey science orbit.


The LADEE spacecraft moon impact could take place sometime this week. It is expected to do so before April 21st.


Want to name the next mission phase for Cassini at Saturn? Here's your chance: Pick from an existing list or suggest one of your own.

This next phase will take the spacecraft between the innermost rings and the planet.


Did you know that Christiaan Huygens was the first to propose that Saturn had a ring? Galileo Galilei had seen the rings before Huygens, but he thought they might be handle-like features, or that Saturn was a triple bodied planet.

Huygens with his more powerful telescope was able to see that the appendages was a ring. We now know that the ring that Huygen's saw is in fact several rings -- seven, to be exact.


Are you in fifth grade, junior high, or high school? Want to be a Cassini Scientist for a day? Ask your teacher to submit your essay about one of three Cassini science targets for you. Check out the flyer for details. Deadline is Thursday, April 17th for US entries. Some countries may have alternative deadlines.

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This weekly look at upcoming events and stories is brought to you by the NASA solar system exploration communications team. Join the conversation: @NASASolarSystem
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Last Updated: 18 Apr 2014