Pioneer 11 performed the first Saturn flyby on September 1, 1979

On September 1, 1979, NASA’s Pioneer 11 spacecraft performed the first Saturn flyby in the history of space exploration, at a distance of 21,000 km (13,000 miles) from Saturn’s cloud tops.

Voyager 1 became the first spacecraft in interstellar space on August 25, 2012

On August 25, 2012, NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft crossed the heliopause, the theoretical boundary of our solar system where the Sun’s solar wind is stopped by the interstellar medium, and became the first spacecraft in interstellar space.

Voyager 2 performed the first Neptune flyby on August 25, 1989

On August 25, 1989, Voyager 2 performed a close Neptune flyby, giving humanity its first close-up of the eighth (and the outermost) planet of our solar system. Neptune was the spacecraft’s final planetary target. That first Neptune flyby was also the last: No other spacecraft has visited Neptune since.

ESA’s Giotto became the first spacecraft to use Earth for a gravity assist on July 2, 1990

On July 2, 1990, European Space Agency’s (ESA) Giotto spacecraft performed the first-ever earth gravity-assisted maneuver to be retargeted for its destination, Comet P/Grigg-Skjellerup.

Tunguska meteorite impacted on June 30, 1908

On June 30, 1908, at about 7:14 A.M., around the Tunguska River, a gigantic fireball devastated hundreds of square kilometers of uninhabited Siberian forest. It was about a ~12 megaton explosion, which means the blast was around 800 times more powerful than the Hiroshima atomic bomb.

Guide for an ultimate stargazing experience: eclipses, meteor showers, and the Milky Way

Busy days don’t leave much time to stare at the sky in awe. But once in a while, in the midst of looking forward, it may be time to look around – or up – at your surroundings and appreciate the view. Beyond a seemingly inky nightscape with only the occasional cloud, aircraft, or spattering …