Take a look back at this month in history.
- Using a telescope he had made himself, Galileo discovered on January 7, 1610 what he thought were four stars. However, later he realized they were actually four moons orbiting the planet Jupiter. Today, they are known as Galilean moons: Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.
- Astronauts Command Pilot Gus Grissom, Senior Pilot Ed White, and Pilot Roger B. Chaffee were all killed in a cabin fire during a launch rehearsal test at Cape Kennedy Air Force Station on January 27, 1967. Their space module, which was to have landed the first man on the moon, was subsequently named Apollo 1 in their honour. In 1970 the Roger B. Chaffee High School, named after the astronaut, was opened on the American Base in Bermuda. It remained open until 1995. Two years later the building became the Clearwater Middle School.
- In January 1847, Bermuda experienced “hoar frost” on arrowroot and other plant leaves. The Bermuda Gazette reported: “In the neighbourhood of the Pond near Warwick Church that morning [January 14] the mercury fell to 36°; in a valley in Smiths the mercury indicated 2 degrees only above the freezing point!”
- Every year, cahows return to Bermuda in November to breed. They were so plentiful in 1609, the survivors of the Sea Venture shipwreck were able to catch them for food. In his True Reportory of the Wreck and Redemption of Sir Thomas Gates, Knight, William Strachey wrote: “In January we had great store of their eggs, which are as great as a hen’s egg, and so fashioned and white shelled, and have no difference in yolk nor in white from a hen’s egg. There are thousands of these birds and two or three islands full of their burrows, whither at any time (in two hours warning) we could send our cockboat and bring home as many as would serve the whole company.” By the 1620s the Bermuda cahows were thought to be extinct until a few surviving pairs were rediscovered in 1951.
- In January 1834, the Marco Bozzaris was the first steamship ever to visit Bermuda. The Bermuda Gazette reported “Her owner condescendingly plied her up and down the harbour of Hamilton for the gratification and amusement of its inhabitants.”
- In 1843 Patrick Brunen, employed by T.S.J. Trott, made a bet he could dig up with a spade 600 lbs of arrowroot within a day. The Bermuda Gazette reports, “It was a hard piece of ground and the root was planted 20 inches apart.” With Trott watching, Brunen won his bet by digging 624lbs by the end of January 27th.
- New Year’s Day 1959 began Bermuda’s year-long year 350th anniversary celebrations when the Governor reopened the Perot Post Office on Queen Street. The occasion was historically significant since William Bennet Perot, appointed postmaster for the City of Hamilton in 1818, erected this building as an annex to his house. He was the creator of Bermuda’s first unofficial postage stamp. After cutting the ribbon across the entrance to the restored building, the Governor entered the premises to buy the first commemorative Perot postage stamp. According to the Royal Gazette, 52,000 of those commemorative stamps were sold that day.