Vangard and the shape of the Earth - was Articles of general

Philip Chien (
Sun, 8 Mar 1998 23:16:01 -0400 (Walter Nissen) said:

>Lots of details at today
>titled "Drink to oldest man-made orbiter", about
>Vanguard 1 = 5 = 58-  2B, also quoted below.

>"It's the oldest man-made object still in orbit, and is destined to
>retain that distinction for hundreds of years to come," says Bob
>Gray of Cocoa Beach.

well, unless somebody somehow goes back in time and puts something in to a
stable orbit _before_ Vanguard 1 ...

>The Vanguard 1 satellite "was the first separable satellite (rather
>than being attached to the final booster stage, like Explorer I)

actually first for the U.S.  Sputnik 1 separated from its launch vehicle's
upper stage.

>and was the first to use solar cells. And it discovered the Earth
>to be pear-shaped," said Bob.

the "pear-shaped" Earth description has always bugged me.  Somehow I have
the impression of all of these folks imagining the Earth shaped like a
Bartlet pear.

I can still remember the "World Book" encyclopedia drawing showing the
"pear" shaped Earth - with the emphasis that the dips and swells were
heavily exagerated.

It would have been *much* more accurate to describe the Earth as grapefruit
or orange shaped.  Both are much closer in shape to an oblate spheriod than
a pear, and more accurate descriptions.

But I guess we're going to be forever saddled with the description 'pear

Philip Chien, KC4YER
Earth News
world (in)famous writer, science fiction fan, ham radio operator,
all-around nice guy, etc.