Historama, August 19

Unsuccessful coup d’etat in the Soviet Union and unveiling of a brand new astronomical laboratory were the brightest events on August 19.

First step to Soviet collapse

On this day in 1991, Moscow saw an attempted overthrow of the government.

While then-leader Mikhail Gorbachev was on vacation, his rivals planned a coup d’etat, with armed forces including tanks invading Moscow.

The main action took place near the White House. The plan was to overthrow Gorbachev because his reforms were seen as too radical by the Communist Party.

Mass protests eventually led to the arrests of the coup instigators, and Gorbachev came back to power.

The revolt, however, is seen as key to bringing about the collapse of the Soviet Union.

New observatory shoots for the stars

On this day in 1839, the Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory was opened.

The new lab was situated 19 kilometers south of St. Petersburg.

Back then, it had one of the biggest telescopes in the world. The beast also boasted a 38-cantimeter-diameter lens and a 7-meter focal distance.

The observatory’s main goal was mapping stars and researching double stars.

Later, a planet was named after the Pulkovo Observatory: that happened in 1913 when it was discovered by a Russian astronomer.

Read more on this day in Russian history

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