My husband and I found the WorldWide Telescope a few months ago, and we’ve been staring into the heavens ever since. “Which planet would you like to see first?” he asked me once he'd loaded the program onto his computer. No question: Saturn. I’ve always been fascinated by those rings. A few clicks of the mouse and there they were, circling and circling, a sash of light, a halo, a crown. We looked at Jupiter next, with its great red spot. We looked at Mercury, Venus, Mars and Pluto. Each planet was unique, different from every other. But what they had in common was this: they shone out of utter darkness.
At 6:18 p.m. EDT on May 19, 1998, the primary control processor of the Galaxy 4 satellite failed. Twenty-two thousand miles below, millions of Americans discovered that their pagers and credit cards no longer worked. The failure disrupted video feeds, meaning that CBS, Reuters news service and National Public Radio had to scramble to find an alternate means of transmitting their programs.