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August in History

August 3, 431 B.C. - The Greek fleet was embarking from the port of Athens under the command of the Grecian hero Pericles. A total eclipse occurred, frightening the crew. Pericles restored morale by a clever demonstration. He used is cloak to cover the eye's of the ship's pilot and asked him if he found anything terrible in the darkness and whether he interpreted it as a bad omen. The pilot answered "No," and Pericles then ridiculed the crew's hysteria by saying, "Where is the difference, then, between this and the other, except something bigger than my cloak causes the difference?"

August 1810 - A meteorite weighing 7-3/4 pounds fell in Mooresfort, Tipperary, Ireland.

August 4, 1835 - A meteorite weighing 1-1/2 pounds fell in Aldsworth, Glos., England.

August 12, 1865 - A meteorite weighing 5 pounds fell in Dundrum, Tipperary, Ireland.

August 12, 1877, 2:00 a.m. local time - Astronomer Asaph Hall at the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. made the first telescopic observations of the outer satellite of Mars, which he later named Deimos. This was the first Martian satellite discovered. The second, named Phobos, was discovered by Hall on the evening of August 17-18.

August 17-18, 1877 - Astronomer Asaph Hall at the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. made the first telescopic observations of the inner satellite of Mars, which he later named Phobos. This was the second Martian satellite discovered. The first, named Deimos, was discovered by Hall in the early morning of August 12.

August 20, 1960 - The Soviet spacecraft Korabl Sputnik 2 was launched carrying the dogs Strelka and Belka and 40 mice. This was the first mission ending with the successful recovery of a satellite. The spacecraft completed one orbit and returned safely to Earth.

August 6, 1961 - Soviet cosmonaut Gherman S. Titov was launched in Vostok 2. Titov's flight was the first of more than 24 hours, with a total of 17 orbits and a total time of 25 hours 18 minutes. Vostok 2 returned to Earth the following day, August 7. Titov ejected from the spacecraft after reentry and parachuted separately as was standard in all Vostok flights.

August 11, 1962 - Soviet cosmonaut Andrian G. Nikolayev was launched in Vostok 3. He was joined in orbit on August 12 by the launch of cosmonaut Pavel R. Popovich in Vostok 4. The two spacecraft took part in the first group flight, coming within 3 miles of each other. Vostok 3 had a total flight time of 94 hours 22 minutes and returned safely to Earth on August 15.

August 12, 1962 - Soviet cosmonaut Pavel R. Popovich was launched in Vostok 4. He joined in orbit cosmonaut Andrian G. Nikolayev in Vostok 3, which was launched August 11. The two spacecraft took part in the first group flight, coming within 3 miles of each other. Vostok 4 had a total flight time of 70 hours 57 minutes and returned safely to Earth on August 15.

August 27, 1962 - The U. S. spacecraft Mariner 2 launched on a fly-by mission to the planet Venus. It passed within 22,000 miles of the planet on Dec. 14. Contact with Mariner 2 was lost on Jan. 1, 1963.

August 21, 1965 - A Titan rocket launched astronauts L. Gordon Cooper and Charles "Pete" Conrad Jr. into orbit aboard the Gemini 5 spacecraft. This was the longest-duration human space flight to date, lasting 190 hours 55 minutes. The crew returned safely to earth on August 29.

August 21, 1972 - The U.S. satellite Copernicus was launched into Earth orbit. Copernicus, an OAO (Orbiting Astronomical Observatory), provided important information on the old questions about the origin and evolution of the universe.

August 20, 1975 - A Titan-Centaur rocket launched the U. S. spacecraft Viking 1 on the first U. S. lander mission to the planet Mars. The Lander portion reached the surface on July 20, 1976. The Lander performed various scientific experiments and sent back images of the Martian surface while the Orbiter sent back images from orbit. The Lander functioned for 6-1/2 years.

August 20, 1977 - A Titan-Centaur rocket launched the U. S. spacecraft Voyager 2 on what became a grand tour of the outer solar system. Voyager 2 encountered the planet Jupiter on May 5, 1979, Saturn on Nov. 12, 1980, Uranus on Jan. 24, 1986, and Neptune on August 24, 1989.

August 8, 1978 - The U. S. spacecraft Pioneer Venus 2 (Pioneer Venus Multiprobe) was launched toward the planet Venus. The spacecraft entered orbit around Venus on December 9, and five days later, dropped four probes into the Venusian atmosphere to study the atmosphere and impact on the surface. They returned much useful data.

August 8, 1978 - The U.S. satellite ISEE 3 was launched into solar orbit. ISEE 3 was the first satellite placed in a "halo" orbit, poised between the Sun and Earth. It studied the solar wind and gamma ray bursts.

August 30, 1983 - Richard Truly, Daniel Brandenstein, William Thornton, Guion Bluford, and Dale Gardner were launched in the Space Shuttle Challenger (STS-8). Bluford became the first African American in space. The crew returned safely to Earth on September 5.

August 2, 1993 - A Titan 4 rocket believed to be carrying an expensive U.S. military spy satellite exploded after lift-off from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

August 21-22, 1998 (GMT) - There was an annular eclipse of the Sun. The path of the annular eclipse began in the southern hemisphere, starting in the Indian Ocean, crossed Sumatra, then Malaysia, between Celebes and Mindanao, north of New Guinea, and ended in the southern Pacific Ocean.

August 11, 1999 - There was a total eclipse of the Sun. The path of totality began off North America, crossed the northern Atlantic Ocean, crossed Europe from southwest England, France, southern Belgium, Luxembourg, southern Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania, the Black Sea, and Turkey, then over northern Iraq, southern Pakistan, and India.

August 12, 1998 - The U.S. Titan rocket programme was put on hold when a Titan 4A exploded soon after lift off in one of history's most expensive space disasters. The cost of the rocket and its spy satellite cargo was put at more than $1 billion.

August 27, 1998 - A Delta 3 rocket carrying a U.S. communications satellite exploded in a fireball shortly after launch from Cape Canaveral. The mission, which was the maiden flight for the Delta 3, cost $225 million.


J. M. Thomas, last updated November 15, 1999.

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