May 19, 1910: Halley’s Comet Returns
The 1910 approach was notable for several reasons: it was the first approach of which photographs exist, and the first for which spectroscopic data were obtained. Furthermore, the comet made a relatively close approach of 0.15AU, making it a spectacular sight. Indeed, on 19 May, the Earth actually passed through the tail of the comet. One of the substances discovered in the tail by spectroscopic analysis was the toxic gas cyanogen, which led astronomer Camille Flammarion to claim that, when Earth passed through the tail, the gas “would impregnate the atmosphere and possibly snuff out all life on the planet.” His pronouncement led to panicked buying of gas masks and quack “anti-comet pills” and “anti-comet umbrellas” by the public. In reality, as other astronomers were quick to point out, the gas is so diffuse that the world suffered no ill effects from the passage through the tail. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halley’s_Comet
(1910) Photo: Lambert/Getty
Douglas Bly’s Improved Artificial Leg, Patented 05/19/1863
Happy Birthday today to Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, who was born on May 19th, 1744. Born Sophie Charlotte, she was married to George III at the age of 17 and the couple had a total of 15 children together. The couple had a loving relationship, and she remained supportive of him during his illness and bouts of madness.
She is the longest serving Queen Consort in British history, having been queen for 57 years and 70 days, from the date of her marriage until the day she died.
Queen Charlotte was a great patroness of music and the arts as well as being an amateur botanist. She and also founded orphanages and a hospital for pregnant women.
Despite never having met, and being several years older than her, the Queen was close friends with Marie Antoinette. During the French Revolution, she had even organized apartments for the French Royal Family to stay in if they were able to escape from France.
May 17, 1954: The Supreme Court Rules on Brown v. Board of Education
On this day in 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that racial segregation in public schools violated the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which says that no state may deny equal protection of the laws to any person within its jurisdiction.
Although the decision did not succeed in fully desegregating public education in the United States, it put the Constitution on the side of racial equality and galvanized the nascent civil rights movement into a full revolution.
Can you name all the key players behind Brown v. Board of Education? Revisit the landmark case with PBS’ The Supreme Court site.
School integration, Barnard School, Washington, D.C., 1955 (Library of Congress).
ON THIS DAY: 1905 – Las Vegas was established as a railroad town, after 110 acres owned by the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad was auctioned off. Pictured are SPLA&SL railroad workers, during the early 1900s.
On May 15th, 1536, Anne and George Boleyn were tried on multiple counts of incest, adultery, and high treason. The accusations were false and the evidence against them was shaky at best, but they were both found guilty and condemned to death.