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  • Elizabeth Cocking

In this month: June

13th June 1983

Pioneer 10 becomes the first human-made object to pass outside Pluto's orbit and leave the solar system. It was the farthest human-made object in existence until Voyager 1 exceeded its range in February 1998. It continues its journey through interstellar space heading in the general direction of Aldebaran in the constellation of Taurus. It will arrive there in about 2 million years.

Sally Ride, NASA 1984

18th June 1983

Dr. Sally Ride (pictured above courtesy NASA) becomes the first American woman in space launching on the space shuttle Challenger. She was the third woman in space overall, after USSR cosmonauts Valentina Tereshkova (1963) and Svetlana Savitskaya (1982). She completed two space flights, both on board the space shuttle Challenger, and spent more than 343 hours in space. Dr Sally Ride visited Sydney Observatory in 2004 where she spoke with school children about how she became an astronaut, and indeed the first female NASA astronaut.

30th June 1908

An explosion occurs over the sparsely populated Tunguska region in Russia, flattening 2,000 square kilometres of forest. The explosion is generally attributed to the air burst of a meteor and is classified as an impact event, even though no impact crater has been found. The object is thought to have disintegrated at an altitude of 5 to 10 kilometres rather than to have hit the surface of the Earth.


5th June 1819

John Couch Adams. British astronomer. His most famous achievement was predicting the existence and position of Neptune, using only mathematics. Unknown to him, at the same time, French astronomer Urbain Le Verrier also predicted Neptune’s existence. A controversy arose but as the facts became known there was wide recognition that the two astronomers had independently solved the problem of Neptune and each was ascribed equal importance.

24th June 1915

Sir Fred Hoyle. British astronomer. Known for his rejection of the Big Bang theory – a term he was the first to use on BBC radio - in favour of a steady state universe. He also wrote science fiction novels, short stories and radio plays, and co-authored twelve books with his son.

5th June 1922

John Bolton (CSIRO Archives photo above with Robert Taylor (NASA) and Taffy Bowen). British-Australian astronomer. He was a pioneer in the field of radio astronomy and director of the Australian National Radio Astronomy Observatory, and instrumental in building the 64 metre Parkes telescope - “The Dish” – which played a crucial role in the Apollo space program transmitting images of the first Moon landing. Read this fascinating account by John Sarkissian, operations scientist Parkes Observatory.

To find out more about the role Australia played in the Apollo 11 Moon Landing come to Kerrie Dougherty's talk at Sydney Observatory on 3 June.

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