Blood Moon

Clever astronomer Dale Flippo took this photo of the "blood moon" during the lunar eclipse in March.

Mankind has always thought about visiting the moon. 

Jules Verne was one of the early writers who imagined traveling to the moon. In 1895 he wrote the novel “From the Earth to the Moon.” The story revolved around a gun club in the United States that constructed a large cannon, which propelled three occupants to the moon. The follow up book, ‘“Around the Moon,” described the journeys of the trio to the moon. 

It wasn’t long afterwards that Robert Goddard started thinking about reaching the moon. He was a theorist and engineer that first build liquid filled rockets. Many people in the press ridiculed his theories and work. 

Goddard was able to build multi-stage rockets. He and his team launched 34 rockets between 1926 and 1941. The flight of the rockets reached up to about 1.5 miles high. Goddard also applied gyroscopes and steerable thrust to the rockets to control their flights. Goddard is now considered as one of the founding fathers of modern rocketry.  

Another leader on the work of modern rocketry was Wernher von Braun, a German engineer. He studied Goddard’s work and came up with the design with the V-2 rocket for the Germans. With the military’s backing, von Braun was able to design and test the new rocket for the Germans. The V-2 was first launched in March 1942.

At the end of World War II, von Braun surrendered to the United States Army. He then worked for the United States in developing its plans for sending rockets into space. The first payload to orbit the Earth was the Soviet’s Sputnik 1, which orbited Earth from October 1957 to January 1958. It wasn’t until February 1958 that the United States put its first payload into Earth’s orbit with Explorer 1.

Further development of rockets led to the design of the Saturn V rocket.  It was a multi-staged rocket that used liquid propellant. It was the Saturn V that allowed a United States spacecraft to break free of the Earth’s gravity entirely. In 1968, Apollo 8 was the first mission to send men to the moon. The rocket used was a multi-staged Saturn V rocket.

It took nearly 70 years for man to finally fulfill Verne’s dream of sending a manned mission to the moon. It was also the fulfillment of both Goddard’s and von Braun’s work to send man to the moon with a modern rocket.

The first day of summer is June 21.

Jupiter rises at midnight and is visible all month. The moon will be north of Jupiter on June 16.

Mercury and Mars will be very close together on the evening of June 18. They will be only visible during twilight. 

At midnight on June 18, the moon will be extremely close to Saturn.  

The next meeting of the Springfield Astronomical Society will be June 25. It will be at the Library Center at 4653 S. Campbell Ave., Springfield. Starting time is 7 p.m. Our website is

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