18 May 2005

A second photo from the Hubble Space Telescope confirms that Pluto has two additional moons, Nix and Hydra.

Pluto has five known moons. These moons were discovered by various astronomical observations and imaging techniques. Here is some information about each of Pluto’s moons:

Charon: Charon is the largest moon of Pluto and was discovered in 1978 by James Christy. It is the only moon of Pluto that was known before the launch of the New Horizons spacecraft. Charon is about half the size of Pluto, making it the largest moon relative to its parent planet in the solar system. It has a diameter of approximately 1,212 kilometers (753 miles) and is locked in synchronous rotation with Pluto, always showing the same face to its parent planet.

Nix and Hydra: Nix and Hydra were discovered in 2005 by the Hubble Space Telescope. Nix is about 42 kilometers (26 miles) in diameter, while Hydra is slightly larger, with a diameter of about 55 kilometers (34 miles). Both moons are irregularly shaped and have highly reflective surfaces. They are located between the orbits of Charon and Pluto.

Kerberos: Kerberos is the fourth moon of Pluto and was discovered in 2011 by the Hubble Space Telescope. It is relatively small, with an estimated diameter of about 12 kilometers (7.5 miles). Kerberos has a highly elongated shape, resembling a dog bone, and it orbits Pluto in the same plane as the other moons.

Styx: Styx is the smallest and innermost moon of Pluto. It was also discovered in 2011 by the Hubble Space Telescope. Styx is irregularly shaped and has a diameter of approximately 16 kilometers (10 miles). It orbits Pluto in a circular path outside the orbit of Charon.

These moons are believed to have formed as a result of a collision between Pluto and another large celestial body in the early stages of the solar system’s formation. They play an important role in our understanding of the Pluto system and provide insights into the complex dynamics of small celestial bodies in the outer regions of the solar system.

18 May 1863

The Siege of Vicksburg begins.

From the spring of 1862 until July 1863, during the American Civil War, Union forces waged a campaign to take the Confederate stronghold of Vicksburg, Mississippi, which lay on the east bank of the Mississippi River, halfway between Memphis to the north and New Orleans to the south. The Siege of Vicksburg divided the Confederacy and proved the military genius of Union General Ulysses S. Grant.

Vicksburg was one of the Union’s most successful campaigns of the war. Although General Ulysses S. Grant’s first attempt to take the city failed in the winter of 1862-63, he renewed his efforts in the spring. Admiral David Porter had run his flotilla past the Vicksburg defenses in early May as Grant marched his army down the west bank of the river opposite Vicksburg, crossed back to Mississippi and drove toward Jackson. After defeating a Confederate force near Jackson, Grant turned back to Vicksburg. On May 16, he defeated a force under General John C. Pemberton at Champion Hill. Pemberton retreated back to Vicksburg, and Grant sealed the city by the end of May. In three weeks, Grant’s men marched 180 miles, won five battles and captured some 6,000 prisoners.

Grant made some attacks after bottling Vicksburg but found the Confederates well entrenched. Preparing for a long siege, his army constructed 15 miles of trenches and enclosed Pemberton’s force of 29,000 men inside the perimeter. It was only a matter of time before Grant, with 70,000 troops, captured Vicksburg. Attempts to rescue Pemberton and his force failed from both the east and west, and conditions for both military personnel and civilians deteriorated rapidly. Many residents moved to tunnels dug from the hillsides to escape the constant bombardments. Pemberton surrendered on July 4, and President Abraham Lincoln wrote that the Mississippi River “again goes unvexed to the sea.”

18 May 1756

The Seven Years’ War begins after Great Britain declares war on France.

SEVEN YEARS’ WAR. 1756–1763. All four of the major European wars between 1689 and 1763 also involved conflict among the imperial powers in North America and the West Indies. The first three began in Europe and spread across the Atlantic. The final conflict in this sequence was unique in that it began in the Ohio Valley and then spread to the European Continent. Known, confusingly, in America as “the” French and Indian War, this conflict is known in Europe by its duration, the roughly seven years between 18 May 1756 and 10 February 1763.

Although Britain had hoped to confine to North America its fight to remove what it considered to be French encroachments on lands it claimed in the Ohio Valley, events beyond its control ensured that this would not happen. Since 1689, Britain had followed a national security policy of joining with other European powers to curb the efforts of France to dominate the Continent. Pursuing this policy required Britain’s leaders to strike a balance between committing troops to campaigns against French armies and crippling the French economy by using its naval superiority to cut off France’s overseas trade while simultaneously subsidizing its allies to do the actual fighting on the Continent. By the middle of the eighteenth century, this “blue-water strategy” of relying on allies and the Royal Navy had become more feasible. French overseas commerce had grown into a substantial part of the overall French economy, while despite the tug of the Hanoverian connection on George II, there was a growing reluctance on the part of British politicians to be drawn into struggles on the European Continent. Britain had supported Austria with money and troops during the War of the Austrian Succession) and was trying to re-knit an alliance structure that would keep the balance of power stable through money and diplomacy.

France, too, wanted to concentrate on events overseas, but both powers were drawn into a European war when Frederick II of Prussia attacked Saxony in an effort to preempt a new grand alliance of Austria, Russia, and a reluctant France from squeezing him back to being a secondary power. Britain had no choice but to ally with Frederick and send troops and subsidies to the Continent. Although the British army initially performed badly in Germany, Frederick managed to hold off encirclement by hard marching and heavy casualties. British performance improved, culminating in a tactical triumph over the French at Minden on 1 August 1759, but by that time the bulk of Britain’s money, troops, and attention had been shifted to North America. The death of the anti-Prussian czarina of Russia on 6 January 1762 ultimately broke the alliance and saved Frederick. After several years of frustration in North America, the combination of British naval superiority and a series of slow but steady land campaigns that culminated in James Wolfe’s lucky victory at the Plains of Abraham in Quebec on 13 September 1759 capped an annus mirabilus that left Britain dominant at sea and in North America.

Even before the Peace of Paris ratified Britain’s tremendous success, its leaders were grappling with the problems of how to pay the expenses incurred during the war and how to reorder the newly expanded empire. Their choices precipitated the War for American Independence.

Seven Years’ War – Dictionary definition of Seven Years’ War | Encyclopedia.com: FREE online dictionary

18 May 1096

Over 800 Jews are massacred in Worms, Germany.

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For millennia, the Jewish people have often been scapegoats. From their time as slaves in Egypt to the Holocaust to the present day, oppression has been part and parcel of the faith, and the Middle Ages offered little relief.

On this day in 1096, Crusaders on their way to the Holy Land slaughtered over 800 Jews in Worms, Germany.After Pope Urban II called for the first Crusade in 1095 – I direct you to the Papal Pedant’s take on that speech – an overwhelming number of Christians volunteered, marching across the European continent.

Many of these amateur soldiers held Jews in contempt for their “murder” of Christ, and sought revenge along the route. Church leaders were able to keep their flocks in check early on in the journey, but as the throngs swelled, things turned ugly in the Rhineland.

At Speyer on May 3, Crusaders killed 11 Jews outside the town synagogue, where many more were hiding; one woman preferred to be martyred rather than convert, a sacrifice known as Kiddush ha-Shem.

Things were much worse in Worms, where on May 18, these so-called Christians attacked Jews in their homes. They would besiege the bishop’s castle, where more had sought asylum, breaking through after nine days. Overall, 800 Jews died; 5,000 total would perish in the Rhineland region by July.