The Hubble Space Telescope and other modern great observatories have treated us to scrapbooks full of mind-blowing, dazzling views of the universe. The mesmerized public never takes them for granted.
Emotionally compelling pictures of our place in space really didn’t emerge until the birth of the space program in the late 1950s. Though the early snapshots are mostly black and white images, they are nevertheless legendary because they are the first look that helped us not only scientifically, but intellectually and philosophically to stake out humanity’s relationship with an unimaginably vast cosmos.
At the birth of the Space Race with the Soviet Union, right after the 1957 launch of the first artificial satellite, Sputnik, humanity was just beginning to open a wide new eye onto the universe. This became an overpowering, humbling perspective, leapfrogging across anything that human minds alone could have imagined in thousands of years of creation mythology.
FIRST VIEW OF LUNAR FARSIDE
The Moon keeps one hemisphere facing Earth because, like nearly all other satellites in the solar system, it is tidally-locked to its parent planet. This means that the gravitational tug between Earth and the Moon causes its orbital period to synchronize with its rotation period. ...