When the Russians launched their Sputniks - astronomers, both professional and amateur - turned their eyes to the skies. An initiative called "Operation Moonwatch" - organized by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory - had its roots in the Cold War's Ground Observer Corps and the Civil Air Patrol.
Amateur astronomers world-wide turned their scopes to the night skies to assist the professionals who were tracking the Soviet satellites.
Members of the Moonwatch team in Milwaukee, Wisconsin observed and kept notes on
You can access a document detailing those events here.
The Moonwatch people prepared the above map showing the trajectory of the "last 100 miles" of the falling satellite.
It is quite appropriate, then, that another team of amateur astronomers - the Astro Babes - set up their equipment at this year's Sputnikfest only a few short steps away from the Sputnik 4 impact site.
Lynn and Amy (Real Women, Real Astronomy) and their Astronomical Entourage gave demonstrations of various equipment capable of daytime viewing.
They are considering bringing additional scopes next year and sticking around for night sky observations! Thanks Lynn and Amy - hope to see you, and anyone else with an interest in astronomy or wacky tacky fun, at Sputnikfest next year! Planet Terry