The International Geophysical Year (actually a year and a half, from July 1957 to December 1958) saw the beginning of the “space race,” and the collection of a huge amount of valuable data. The science books I grew up with as a child were constantly referring to the results of the event.
The IGY, as it was abbreviated, included several solar eclipses (23 Oct 57, 19 Apr 58, 12 Oct 58) as well as the record-breaking solar maximum of 1957/58. In fact, February 11, 1958 turned out to be a very good night for Aurora chasers.
The IGY incorporated, among other activities:
- The Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1955–58
- The 6th Norwegian Antarctic Expedition of 1956–60
- The 3rd Soviet Antarctic Expedition of 1957–59
- Operation Deep Freeze
- Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station in Canada
- Sputnik 1, the first-ever satellite
- Sputnik 2, with a canine passenger
- Explorer 1, the first US satellite
- Explorer 2, a launch failure
- Explorer 3, which helped discover the Van Allen radiation belt
Perhaps the world can use more collaborative efforts like the IGY.