While we like to focus on the current excitement in X-ray astronomy, sometimes it's good to look back. Last week marked the 30th anniversary of the launch of the Einstein Observatory. Back on November 13, 1978, the High Energy Astrophysics Observatory 2 was launched on Atlas-Centaur booster rocket. Shortly afterward, the satellite was renamed in honor of that little known scientist, Albert Einstein. While HEAO-2 is catchy, we think Einstein is a little easier off the tongue.

So what was the big deal about the Einstein Observatory? Well, many things, but the main one was that Einstein was the first high-resolution imaging X-ray telescope. It opened up the sky for serious X-ray research on all sorts of astronomical objects, including stars, supernovas, and quasars. In other words, all of the great stuff that Chandra now is doing got its start 30 years ago with Einstein.

For more information on Einstein, take a look at:
http://heasarc.nasa.gov/docs/einstein/heao2.html

And a timeline of X-ray astronomy’s highlights can be found at:
http://chandra.harvard.edu/xray_astro/history.html (click the +more button at the bottom)

-Megan Watzke, CXC


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