March Equinox: Wernher von Braun der Raketenmann

Sometime during the last ice age, the ~18-year cycle of the lunar standstill [1] was painted as a deer at Lascaux.

untitled (1K)

New Nation European Pre-History
deer (61K)
Figure 1: The deer has 18 prongs

Hipparchus (146-127 BC) compared older records of the tropical and sidereal years and found that the equinoxes shifted at least a degree per century. Right now, Orion is in the Northern winter sky, but after 12,920 years it will appear in the summer sky. This 25,920-year cycle is called the precession of the equinoxes.

Johannes Philoponus ( 490-570 AD ) explained that actual observation is more effective than any verbal argument. His ideas were similar to Galileo's, but so were his problems. The Byzantine church banned his writings. Similar setbacks for the East Christian Church lead them into darkness and they were overrun by Muslims.

On the bright side, Isaac Newton published "Principia Mathematica". Radial acceleration developed into angular momentum- guns, the machines of death, as well as the pilot's best friend, the gyroscope.

In the 1930's Wernher von Braun made fantastic progress with his Nazi party membership. But his rockets kept blowing up. According to the physics just mentioned, it is very difficult to launch a heavy rocket. The walls of the fuel tank must be paper thin to save weight. If the trajectory is not vertical, the slightest inclination will cause the walls of the vehicle to fold; and then, the whole thing explodes. A sensitive control and feedback system was needed. Gyroscope maker Johannes Boykow [2] was contacted and he explained, "I've been expecting a call like yours for many years and I've prepared for it." von-Braun (8K)

[1] Lunar Standstill

[2] The A-1 rocket

Lunar Standstill Image
Major Lunar Standstill, 2006 Athens Greece
Each time series is based on exposures five minutes apart. The declination of the rising moon was 28.2 degrees.
tf_standstill (6K)