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Is 13 the unluckiest number?

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Friday the 13th: It’s not just a schlocky horror movie. Well, it is that, but depending on who you ask, it’s also a day to stay in bed with the covers pulled up over your head lest all kinds of misfortune and disaster befall you. There are two such days in 2013 -- in September and December – and they fall in what certain superstitious folks known as triskaidekaphobes consider the unluckiest year of the century. The poor humble number 13, feared and vilified for centuries. And for what? OK, so Apollo 13 is the only unsuccessful moon mission. And there were 13 people at the Last Supper, and a few other dinner parties that ended badly. Lots of serial killers have 13 letters in their name, it’s true. Oh yes, and good luck finding the 13th floor in most skyscrapers. Never mind that children officially become teenagers at age 13. Now that’s scary. Here are some other reasons the number 13 has gotten such a bad rap.

U.S. Civilian

NASA launched the 13th Apollo moon mission at 13:13 hours central time. On The Apollo 13 was launched on April the 13th at 13:13 local time on Pad 39 (3 times 13). Coincidence you say? Pictured is the interior of the lunar module, with the "Mailbox" a jerry-rigged oxygen filter system put together using duct tape and a part from one of the abandoned modules. An explosion in another module thwarted the mission’s intended lunar landing and inspired the second-most-famous phrase in the history of space exploration: “Houston, we have a problem.” Image courtesy of NASA

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