The Maunder Minimum was the 70-year period from about 1645 to 1715 when sunspots were exceedingly rare, as noted by the solar observers of the time. The years of the Maunder Minimum coincided with the coldest part of the Little Ice Age, during which Europe and North America were subjected to bitterly cold winters—leading to speculation that the phenomena were related. Astronomer John A. Eddy popularized the concept in his landmark 1976 paper "The Maunder Minimum." Who was the eponymous Maunder?
Back in the day
In 1936, convicted rapist Rainey Bethea was sentenced to be hanged in Owensboro, Kentucky, at a time when such hangings were conducted publicly. Because the county sheriff supervising the execution was a woman, the case sparked national press coverage, and up to 20,000 spectators gathered to watch the event, the last of its kind in the US. Two years later, the Kentucky legislature officially put an end to public executions. How did newspaper reports depict the hanging?
Born on a day like today
Pius VII became pope in 1800, at a time of turmoil for the Catholic Church. A decade earlier, during the early stages of the French Revolution, the National Assembly tried to subordinate the Church to the state. In 1801, Pius and Napoleon negotiated an end to the breach, but relations remained strained. In one notable incident, Napoleon took his crown from the pope's hands during a ceremony and crowned himself. What unusual headgear did Pius VII allegedly wear during his own coronation and why?