IN REMEMBRANCE: CHUCK BERRY (OCTOBER 18, 1926 -MARCH 18, 2017)

CHUCK BERRY, ROCK ‘N’ ROLL PIONEER

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Chuck Berry’s Rock ’n’ Roll Legacy

Jon Pareles, a music critic for The New York Times, reflects on the pioneering music and attitude of the rock legend Chuck Berry.

By Carrie Halperin on Publish Date March 18, 2017. Photo by Donal F. Holway/The New York Times. Watch in Times Video » 

Chuck Berry, who with his indelible guitar licks, brash self-confidence and memorable songs about cars, girls and wild dance parties did as much as anyone to define rock ’n’ roll’s potential and attitude in its early years, died on Saturday at his home near Wentzville, Mo. He was 90.

The St. Charles County Police Department confirmed his death on its Facebook page. The department said that it responded to a medical emergency at the home, about 45 miles west of St. Louis, and that lifesaving measures were unsuccessful.

While Elvis Presley was rock’s first pop star and teenage heartthrob, Mr. Berry was its master theorist and conceptual genius, the songwriter who understood what the kids wanted before they knew themselves. With songs like “Johnny B. Goode” and “Roll Over Beethoven,” he gave his listeners more than they knew they were getting from jukebox entertainment.

His guitar lines wired the lean twang of country and the bite of the blues into phrases with both a streamlined trajectory and a long memory. And tucked into the lighthearted, telegraphic narratives that he sang with such clear enunciation was a sly defiance, upending convention to claim the pleasures of the moment.

In “Sweet Little Sixteen,” “You Can’t Catch Me” and other songs, Mr. Berry invented rock as a music of teenage wishes fulfilled and good times (even with cops in pursuit). In “Promised Land,” “Too Much Monkey Business” and “Brown Eyed Handsome Man,” he celebrated and satirized America’s opportunities and class tensions. His rock ’n’ roll was a music of joyful lusts, laughed-off tensions and gleefully shattered icons.

He spent three years in reform school after a spree of car thefts and armed robbery. He received a degree in hairdressing and cosmetology and worked for a time as a beautician; he married Themetta Suggs in 1948 and started a family. She survives him, as do four children: Ingrid Berry, Melody Eskridge, Aloha Isa Leigh Berry and Charles Berry Jr.

By the early 1950s, he was playing guitar and singing blues, pop standards and an occasional country tune with local combos. Shortly after joining Sir John’s Trio, led by the pianist Johnnie Johnson, he reshaped the group’s music and took it over.

In 1955, Mr. Berry ventured to Chicago and asked one of his idols, the bluesman Muddy Waters, about making records. Waters directed him to the label he recorded for, Chess Records, where one of the owners, Leonard Chess, heard potential in Mr. Berry’s song “Ida Red.”

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Chuck Berry Dies at 90

CreditFred R. Conrad/The New York Times

“The big beat, cars and young love,” Mr. Chess outlined. “It was a trend, and we jumped on it.”

In Mr. Berry’s groundbreaking early songs, his guitar twangs his famous two-stringed lick. It also punches like a horn section and sasses back at his own voice. The drummer eagerly socks the backbeat, and the pianist — usually either Mr. Johnson or Lafayette Leake — hurls fistfuls of tinkling anarchy all around him.

No matter how calculated songs like “School Day” or “Rock and Roll Music” may have been, they reached the Top 10, caught the early rock ’n’ roll spirit and detailed its mythology. “Johnny B. Goode,” a Top 10 hit in 1958, told the archetypal story of a rocker who could “play the guitar just like ringin’ a bell.”

Mr. Berry toured with rock revues and performed in three movies with Mr. Freed: “Rock, Rock, Rock,” “Mr. Rock and Roll” and “Go, Johnny, Go.” On film and in concert, he dazzled audiences with his duck walk, a guitar-thrusting strut that involved kicking one leg forward and hopping on the other.

Through the 1950s, Mr. Berry had pop hits with his songs about rock ’n’ roll and R&B hits with less teenage-oriented material. He spun surreal tall tales that Bob Dylan and John Lennon would learn from, like “Thirty Days” and “Jo Jo Gunne.” In “Brown Eyed Handsome Man,” from 1956, he offered a barely veiled racial pride. His pithiness and humor rarely failed him.

He had been arrested in 1959 and charged with transporting a teenage girl — who briefly worked as a hatcheck girl at Club Bandstand — across state lines for immoral purposes. He was tried twice and found guilty both times; the first verdict was overturned because of racist remarks by the judge. When he emerged from 20 months in prison in 1964, his wife had left him (they later reconciled) and his songwriting spark had diminished.

He had not totally lost his touch, though, as demonstrated by the handful of hits he had in 1964 and 1965, notably “Nadine,” “No Particular Place to Go,” “You Never Can Tell” and “Promised Land.” He appeared in the celebrated all-star 1964 concert film “The TAMI Show,” along with James Brown, the Rolling Stones, Marvin Gaye, the Beach Boys and the Supremes.

In 1972, Mr. Berry had the biggest hit of his career with “My Ding-a-Ling,” a double-entendre novelty song that was included on the album “The London Chuck Berry Sessions” (even though he recorded the song not in London but at a concert in Coventry, England). The New Orleans songwriter Dave Bartholomew wrote and recorded it in 1952; Mr. Berry recorded a similar song, “My Tambourine,” in 1968, and is credited on recordings as the sole songwriter of the 1972 “My Ding-a-Ling.”

It was a million-seller and Mr. Berry’s first and only No. 1 pop single. It was also his last hit. His 1973 follow-up album, “Bio,” was poorly received; “Rockit,” released by Atlantic in 1979, did not sell. But he stayed active: He appeared as himself in a 1979 movie about 1950s rock, “American Hot Wax,” and he continued to tour constantly.

In July 1979, he performed for President Jimmy Carter at the White House. Three days later, he was sentenced to 120 days in federal prison and four years’ probation for income tax evasion.

Around his 60th birthday that year, he allowed the director Taylor Hackford to film him at his home in Wentzville for the documentary “Hail! Hail! Rock ’n’ Roll,” which also included performances by Mr. Berry with a band led by Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones and special guests. “Chuck Berry: The Autobiography” was published in 1988.

Mr. Berry continued performing well into his 80s. He usually played with local pickup bands, as he had done for most of his career, but sometimes he played with fellow rock stars. When the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum opened in Cleveland in 1995, Mr. Berry performed at an inaugural concert, backed by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

From 1996 to 2014, Mr. Berry performed once a month at Blueberry Hill, a restaurant in St. Louis where he appeared regularly until Oct. 24.

He made a surprising announcement on his 90th birthday, Oct. 18, 2016: He was planning to release his first studio album in almost 40 years. The album, called simply “Chuck” and scheduled for release in June, was to consist primarily of new compositions.

Roll Over Beethoven:

 

Sweet Little Sixteen, the beginning chords of which the Beach Boys appropriated into their song, Surfin’ U.S.A.:

And one of my favourites You Never Can Tell:

And most of all—that duck walk, created when he stumbled onstage during a performance and covered it up by creating movements that would become  his signature dance.

Mr. Berry, you did not just pioneer rock ‘n’ roll—you created it.

I am glad to have lived in your time and basked in your genius and creativity.

Rest in peace, Mr. Charles Edward Anderson Berry.

Rest in peace.

All hail the King of Rock and Roll!

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WORLD POETRY DAY: MARCH 21, 2017

World Poetry Day

World Poetry Day is a time to appreciate and support poets and poetry around the world. It is held on March 21 each year and is an initiative of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Poetry book with Petals
World Poetry Day, held annually on March 21, is dedicated to poetry worldwide.
©iStockphoto.com/Anyka

What Do People Do?

Many people around the world celebrate World Poetry Day on or around March 21 each year. Government agencies, educators, community groups and individuals get involved in promoting or participating in the day. World Poetry Day is an opportunity for children to be introduced to poetry in classrooms. It is a time when classrooms are busy with lessons related to poetry, in which students examine poets and learn about different types of poetry.

Poets may be invited to read and share their work to audiences at book stores, cafes, universities and schools. Awards and other forms or recognition are made to honor poets and their work. Exhibitions and poetry evenings are also be held to showcase the work of various poets on or around March 21 to coincide with World Poetry Day.

Public Life

World Poetry Day is an observance and not a public holiday.

Background

In November 1999, UNESCO designated World Poetry Day to be held on March 21 each year.  The organization recognized the important role of poetry in the arts and in cultures throughout the world and over time. It also wanted the day to promote the efforts of small publishers with regard to publishing poetry. The day also focused on promoting a return to the oral tradition of poetry recitals, as well as strengthening the association between poetry and other forms of expression, such as dance, music, and painting. The first World Poetry Day was held on March 21, 2000.

Symbols

Various works of poetry and images of poets are featured in various materials and forms of media to promote World Poetry Day each year. Exhibitions and other events are also held to showcase various forms of poetry on this day.

World Poetry Day Observances

 

Weekday Date Year Name Holiday Type
Sun Mar 21 2010 World Poetry Day United Nations observance
Mon Mar 21 2011 World Poetry Day United Nations observance
Wed Mar 21 2012 World Poetry Day United Nations observance
Thu Mar 21 2013 World Poetry Day United Nations observance
Fri Mar 21 2014 World Poetry Day United Nations observance
Sat Mar 21 2015 World Poetry Day United Nations observance
Mon Mar 21 2016 World Poetry Day United Nations observance
Tue Mar 21 2017 World Poetry Day United Nations observance
Wed Mar 21 2018 World Poetry Day United Nations observance
Thu Mar 21 2019 World Poetry Day United Nations observance
Sat Mar 21 2020 World Poetry Day United Nations observance

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INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ELIMINATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION: MARCH 21, 2017

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed with a series of events and activities worldwide on March 21 each year. The day aims to remind people of racial discrimination’s negative consequences. It also encourages people to remember their obligation and determination to combat racial discrimination.

People of diverse backgrounds gathered in a group
The International Day to Eliminate Racial Discrimination is a chance for people voice opinions promote equality across backgrounds and cultures.
©iStockphoto.com/skynesher

What Do People Do?

Various activities and events are arranged in many countries worldwide on this day. Previous activities included a webcast from the UN headquarters on March 21 featuring special appearances of UN leaders. Such events aim to help young people voice their opinions, find ways to fight racism, and promote tolerance in their communities and in their lives.

Young people also have the option of posting their opinions regarding discussions on human rights and racial discrimination at Voices of Youth, which is UNICEF’s online bulletin board for young people. Contributors to Voices of Youth come from different parts of the world including Jamaica, Kazakhstan, and the Philippines.  Other activities include essays, photo projects, and published articles that promote the fight against racial discrimination.

Public Life

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is not a public holiday in countries such as Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Background

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination was established six years after an event, known as the Sharpeville tragedy or Sharpeville massacre, which captured worldwide attention. This event involved police opening fire and killing 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against the apartheid “pass laws” in Sharpeville, South Africa, March 21, 1960.

The UN General Assembly called on the international community to increase its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination when it proclaimed the day as a UN Day of observance in 1966. It also called on all world states and organizations to participate in a program of action to combat racism and racial discrimination in 1983. It held the World Conference against Racism and Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in 2001. The UN continues its work to fight against all forms of racial intolerance.

Symbols

The UN logo is often associated with marketing and promotional material for this event. It features a projection of a world map (less Antarctica) centered on the North Pole, inscribed in a wreath consisting of crossed conventionalized branches of the olive tree. The olive branches symbolize peace and the world map depicts the area of concern to the UN in achieving its main purpose, peace and security. The projection of the map extends to 60 degrees south latitude, and includes five concentric circles.

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Observances

 

Weekday Date Year Name Holiday Type
Sun Mar 21 2010 International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination United Nations observance
Mon Mar 21 2011 International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination United Nations observance
Wed Mar 21 2012 International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination United Nations observance
Thu Mar 21 2013 International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination United Nations observance
Fri Mar 21 2014 International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination United Nations observance
Sat Mar 21 2015 International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination United Nations observance
Mon Mar 21 2016 International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination United Nations observance
Tue Mar 21 2017 International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination United Nations observance
Wed Mar 21 2018 International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination United Nations observance
Thu Mar 21 2019 International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination United Nations observance
Sat Mar 21 2020 International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination United Nations observance

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SKYWATCH: COMET 41P “GREENS UP”, DID EARLY GALAXIES HAVE LESS DARK MATTER?, AND MORE

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Less Dark Matter in Young Galaxies?

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A new study of six young, star-forming galaxies suggests they’re less influenced by dark matter than expected. But the results may say more about galaxy evolution than about the nature of dark matter.

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The Kavli Foundation Q&A: How Did the First Quasars Form?

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Thanks to a record haul of new, ultra-distant quasars-powerhouses of light from the farthest reaches of the universe-astrophysicists can now piece together the rise of mighty objects in the early cosmos.

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Swift Black Hole Winds May Shape Galaxy

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Winds that charge away from supermassive black holes at a fraction of the speed of light have long been mysterious and even contentious. Now, new evidence sheds light on their origins.

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Welcome to Pan: Saturn’s Ravioli-Shaped Moon

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Cassini gave us a good look a Saturn’s moon Pan last week . . . and what a strange world it is.

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Bright Mound on Ceres Due to Briny Eruptions?

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The strange bright deposits inside Occator crater on Ceres are probably from cryovolcanic eruptions that are much younger than the crater itself.

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OBSERVING HIGHLIGHTS

This Week’s Sky at a Glance, March 17 – 25

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The nearly last-quarter Moon is only a few degrees from Saturn. Look for them together in the south early in the dawn of Monday the 20th.

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Comet 41P/T-G-K Greens Up For St. Paddy’s Day

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Comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak begins its best showing of the year this week as it slingshots across the Big Dipper into circumpolar skies. Meanwhile, comet ace Terry Lovejoy has just discovered a new morning comet.

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Tour March’s Sky: Venus Sinks, Mercury Rises

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In this month’s easy-to-download podcast, find out how you can glimpse Venus in both the evening and predawn skies.

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Orbital Path Podcast: Space Robots to Europa!

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Dr. Michelle Thaller talks to two NASA astrobiologists on when and how we’ll explore Europa’s subsurface ocean, and what we might find there.

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INTERNATIONAL DAY OF HAPPINESS: MARCH 20, 2017

International Day of Happiness

In 2012, the United Nations (UN) declared March 20 to be observed as the International Day of Happiness.

International Day of Happiness is March 20
March 20 will be celebrated as the International Day of Happiness every year.
©iStockphoto.com/kristian sekulic

Aim

The day recognizes that happiness is a fundamental human goal, and calls upon countries to approach public policies in ways that improve the well-being of all peoples.

By designating a special day for happiness, the UN aims to focus world attention on the idea that economic growth must be inclusive, equitable, and balanced, such that it promotes sustainable development, and alleviates poverty. Additionally the UN acknowledges that in order to attain global happiness, economic development must be accompanied by social and environmental well-being.

Background

The initiative to declare a day of happiness came from Bhutan – a country whose citizens are considered to be some of the happiest people in the world. The Himalayan Kingdom has championed an alternative measure of national and societal prosperity, called the Gross National Happiness Index (GNH). The GNH rejects the sole use of economic and material wealth as an indicator of development, and instead adopts a more holistic outlook, where spiritual well-being of citizens and communities is given as much importance as their material well-being.

Did You Know?

The March Equinox, also known as the Spring Equinox, often falls on March 20th as well.

International Day of Happiness Observances

Weekday Date Year Name Holiday Type
Wed Mar 20 2013 International Day of Happiness United Nations observance
Thu Mar 20 2014 International Day of Happiness United Nations observance
Fri Mar 20 2015 International Day of Happiness United Nations observance
Sun Mar 20 2016 International Day of Happiness United Nations observance
Mon Mar 20 2017 International Day of Happiness United Nations observance
Tue Mar 20 2018 International Day of Happiness United Nations observance
Wed Mar 20 2019 International Day of Happiness United Nations observance
Fri Mar 20 2020 International Day of Happiness United Nations observance

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HATEWATCH: WANING STORMS: STORMFRONT USERS CONCENTRATED IN MOST POPULOUS STATES; ANIMATED BY PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN AND JEWS

HATEWATCH

March 17, 2017

This post is part of a continuing Hatewatch series examining the popular Newslinks & Articles section of Stormfront.org. Until last summer, Stormfront was the most trafficked white supremacist site online.

Out of all registered users who have posted at least once in the Newslinks & Articles section of the forum, 3,125 provided a state of residence.

This subset of posters reveals a membership that follows the population distribution of the United States. Eight of the top 10 most populous states in the U.S. are also top states for registered Stormfront users posting in the Newslinks & Articles forum. Only Tennessee and Virginia were outliers.

The number of posts by users that provided a recognizable state location in their profile followed the same pattern with a few notable exceptions, including Indiana and Oregon, which both outperformed their user bases.

California, Texas, Florida, and Tennessee each accounted for more than 10,000 posts. The next highest posting state, Illinois, only logged half as many—a drop off likely attributable to a handful of dedicated and prolific posters.

In an effort to account for the uneven sampling of participants in the Newslinks & Articles section, Hatewatch investigated the most frequently referenced states, regardless of the author’s location.

Washington, New York, Arizona, Iowa, and Montana were in the top 10 most discussed states despite having a lower proportion of registered users claiming residency. This is likely driven by the news cycle, which is at the heart of the Newslinks & Articles section that is, as its name implies, overwhelmingly driven by discussion of links to news articles. For instance, Iowa as the site of the first primary during presidential campaigns—events that earlier analysis identified as motivating for Stormfront posters—likely made it a location of national interest.

A similar analysis into the most discussed individuals on Stormfront further demonstrates the site’s fascination with presidential elections. The top five mentioned names are all former presidential candidates.

Despite record levels of participation on Stormfront driven by animus toward former President Barack Obama, he was only the fifth most discussed individual. Ron Paul, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain each surpassed him, with Paul and Trump outpacing all others by well over 5,000 mentions.

While notable extremists such as David Duke, Hitler, Alex Jones, and Craig Cobb were in the top 20 of all mentions on the forum, only Duke was able to generate interest at the same level as well-known presidential candidates. This illustrates that while the site was once the beating heart of online extremism, its participants’ attention is primarily focused externally, rather than on the insular, white supremacist movement.

True to form, when it comes to ethnic, political, and religious entities mentioned on Stormfront, Jews were mentioned nearly 70,000 more times than the next most popular category, Americans.

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SKYWATCH: CAN YOU HEAR METEORS?, SOLAR ECLIPSES AS TEACHING TOOLS, AND MORE

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A New Take on the Audible Meteor Mystery

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A recent study suggests a plausible mechanism to explain why observers sometimes hear superbright meteors at the same time that they see them.

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Seven-Planet Star Hides Age, Might Be Deadly

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The star with seven exoplanets puts out enough high-energy radiation to tear away the inner planets’ atmospheres in a few billion years.

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OBSERVING HIGHLIGHTS

This Week’s Sky at a Glance, March 10 – 18

Sky & Telescope

The bright Moon hangs a few degrees below or lower left of Regulus this evening, and late tonight comes the second-brightest asteroid occultation predicted this year for North America.

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Constellations That Might Have Been

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Obsolete constellations may be gone, but they’re not forgotten. We revisit their brief glories and learn how to find them in the 21st-century sky.

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Tour March’s Sky: Venus Sinks, Mercury Rises

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In this month’s easy-to-download podcast, find out how you can glimpse Venus in both the evening and predawn skies.

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COMMUNITY

A Teachable Moment: When the Moon’s Shadow Came to Angola

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A solar eclipse provided the perfect teachable moment in Angola, as students learned about the real sizes and distances of Earth, the Moon, and the Sun.

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A Remarkable View of Aldebaran’s Occultation
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A lucky group of Canadian observers got to witness remarkable events as the Moon slid past Aldebaran on the night of March 4th.

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The Strolling Astronomer Celebrates 70 Years

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Still active today, the Association of Lunar & Planetary Observers and its journal got their start on March 1, 1947.

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