February 21 – Hakucho Takes Flight

Hakucho (Japanese for “swan”) was Japan’s first x-ray telescope, launched on February 21st 1979, despite having the pre-launch name “CORSA-B”, which suggests it might, at best, be the second.  The original CORSA telescope had failed to launch in February 1976, and Hakucho was a replacement.

Hakucho (image credit: NASA)

Hakucho (image credit: NASA)

Hakucho carried eleven x-ray counters, providing readings for the three onboard experiments.  Its main work was the study of transient phenomena, especially x-ray bursts, and high on the list of its successes was the discovery of the transient x-ray binary neutron star, Cen X-4.

1906   ⇒   Discovery of main belt asteroid 586 Thekla by Max Wolf.  Thekla is a T-type asteroid of approximately 82 km in diameter.  It is named after an early Christian saint who was saved (by a storm) from being burned at the stake.

1938   ⇒   Death of George Ellery Hale.



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