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Strange indeed

When weirdness stalks astronomers.
RELATED TOPICS: OBSERVING
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Beware the Ides of March. Strangeness can envelop not just celestial objects, but astronomers, astronauts, and even amateurs. Odd events seem to befall those who choose to explore the universe, and I’ve collected many stories over the years. Consider: Not one but three different observatory directors have complained to me about having to clear away snakes that had built homes in the dome.

The weirdest thing that happened on the Moon was caused by Neil Armstrong disobeying his training. He failed to cut the lunar lander engine when the blue contact light came on 5 feet above the surface. He was just too good a pilot, and he flew so gently to the ground that the honeycombed aluminum legs, designed to crush and absorb some of the impact, remained intact. Result: The exterior ladder did not extend to the surface. Thus those first astronauts had to leap from the bottom rung.

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