In Britain and Ireland the Summer Solstice is the midpoint of Summer, while the US generally calls it the beginning of Summer. No clear reason for the difference, nor is there any real rule about when seasons start.Wikipedia
has the general information while ReligiousTolerance.org
covers the celebrations associated with this astronomical occurrence.
Timed with the Solstice is the launch of Cosmos 1
from a Russian nuclear submarine. The spacecraft is designed to be propelled on its mission by the pressure of photons against its pinwheel of sails.
In this article, Solar spacecraft set to blast off
, Reuters tells us:
"The project started as a dream held by Planetary Society founders Carl Sagan, the late science fiction writer, and Louis Friedman, who proposed sending a solar sail craft to rendezvous with Halley's Comet in the 1970s when he worked at NASA."
I rather think that Carl Sagan
is better remembered as an astronomer and astrophysicist who popularized science, than his meager output in the science friction genre. His seminal program on PBS, Cosmos
, is the source of the vehicle's name and the licensing of that program was the genesis of the entertainment company still run by his widow, Ann Druyan, which, along with contributions from Planetary Society members and philanthropist Peter Lewis paid for this mission.
Of course the Beeb also noticed the effort: Cosmos 1: Sailing on sunlight
. The BBC has a link to the Planetary Society's page, but I could never get through.
[Update: The Planetary Society's blog
on the mission.]
[Update2: Telemetry was lost during the insertion burn and the craft was not picked up by the Russian site at Petropavlovsk or the American sites at the Pacific atoll of Kwajalein or Shemya at the end of the Aleutians.]
[Update3: 6/22 1700CDT Looks like the Cosmos 1
didn't make it. The Russians believe that there was a problem with the first stage and the craft never achieved the necessary altitude.]