Thursday, September 17, 2009

Top Five Greatest Events in Astronomy and Space Exploration

Image credit: NASA

Title: Telecast of Astronaut Neil Armstrong descending ladder to surface of the moon (7/20/69)

Description: Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, Apollo 11 commander, descends the ladder of the Apollo 11 Lunar Module prior to making the first step by man on the moon. This view is a black and white reproduction taken from a telecast by the Apollo 11 lunar surface camera during extravehicular activity. The black bar running through the center of the picture is an anomaly in the television ground data system at the Goldstone Tracking Station.

What are the greatest events in the history of Astronomy and Space Exploration? These moments lay frozen in time, their significance magnifying as they pass through the generations. More than a dozen nominations for the greatest event in astronomy and space exploration compiled in the spring of 2009 by ranged from the Star of Bethlehem (7-4BC) through the Battle of Hastings (1044AD) to the dramatic rescue of Apollo 13 (1970AD).

What marks a “great” event? We can recognize the significance of any singular moment when, after a period of time, it seems all other actions flow back to it. When this occurs, that solitary instant that becomes a new benchmark, a new standard... at least until the next one. Each of these nominations represents a unique event that shall endure the ravages of time, but only a select few merit inclusion in the top five.

In the summer of 2009, using such Web 2.0 tools as Twitter and LinkedIn, polled professionals and interested amateurs from all across the world to vote for their favorite greatest event in astronomy and space exploration. is an official IYA2009 project designed to increase interest in the best of astronomy and space exploration among all age groups. Over the course of the next several months, we will discover the top 100 greatest images and imaginations in astronomy and space exploration. Image a cross between Carl Sagan’s Cosmos and Fox’s American Idol. That’s!

We now proudly unveil the top five (in reverse order based on weighted votes):

#5) World’s First Liquid-Propellant Rocket (3/16/1926)

#4) The Space Race (1957 – 1969)

#3) Sputnik Launch (10/1/1957)

#2) Yuri Gagarin’s First Manned Space Flight (4/12/1961)

#1) Man on the Moon (Apollo 11 – July 20, 1969)

Centuries from now, cultural historians and social archeologists will look back and judge the merits of our civilization based on events like these. What do you think they will conclude?

But the greatest events in astronomy and space exploration represent only one of eight categories in our quest to identify the top 100 greatest images and imaginations in astronomy and space exploration. How do these five events compare to the top five in the other seven categories? Would you like to see the complete list of the Top 40 greatest images and imaginations in astronomy and space exploration? Just go to this site: to discover them all.

Which of these top 40 will become the top 10? You can help us by voting your opinion at our surveymonkey poll located here:

Have fun!

Each week from now until December 4, 2009, followers of on will get the first opportunity to answer a new survey. Next, members of the LinkedIn AstronomyTop100 Group will be invited to answer. Finally, members of some relevant LinkedIn groups will also be invited to complete the survey. All surveys will be conducted through

If you’re interested in viewing all the nominations and voting in the Round One surveys, visit to see all the best of the Top 100 Greatest Images and Imaginations in Astronomy and Space Exploration. If you’d like to take a survey, go to the relevant category page on

Just interested in keeping tabs on everything about and astronomy in general? Then follow it on Twitter (@AstronomyTop100).

Explore the unexplored. Discover the undiscovered. Know the unknown.

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