March 15 – Alan Bean

Captain Alan LaVern Bean, USN, was born on this day in 1932 in Wheeler, Texas (100 miles east of Amarillo).

Alan Bean on his way down. (Image credit: NASA)
Alan Bean about to do the almost impossible. (Image credit: NASA)

Bean clocked up 69 days in space aboard Apollo 12 (he was the 4th person to undertake the highly improbable act of walking on the Moon) and Skylab mission SL-3. Following his retirement from NASA, Bean turned his attention to painting. As far as I know, he is the only artist to incorporate genuine Moon dust into his work.


1853  –  Asteroid 78 Diana was discovered on March 15th, 1853 by Robert Luther, the German astronomer who discovered 24 asteroids. According to IRAS observations Diana is about 120 km across, a figure that matches quite well with the 116 km diameter obtained from observations of the occultation of star SAO 75392 in 1980. Diana is named after the Roman goddess of the hunt, and her Greek equivalent, Artemis, will be turning up in these pages later in the year (discovered September 16th, 1868).


1873  –  Asteroid 118 Peitho discovered by Robert Luther. This main belt asteroid is about 47 km in diameter, and categorised as S-type. There are a couple of Peitho‘s in Greek mythology, with the most likely candidate for this naming ceremony being the goddess of seduction, an attendant of Aphrodite. Her Roman name, Suada, presumably shares a root with the Latin persuadere , the place from where we get the middle English word persuasion.


1895Asteroid 400 Ducrosa discovered by Auguste Charlois. It was named after Joseph Ducros, a technician at the Nice Observatory.