Celestial events in the skies for the week of Nov. 22-28, 2016, as compiled for The Loafer by Mark D. Marquette.
The Moon has moved into near obscurity in our pre-dawn skies after getting its photo made millions of times last Full phase. New Moon is Nov. 29th, and next Full Moon is Dec. 13th. Venus is the brilliant planet after sunset, with Mars much dimmer but to the left (east) in Capricornus the Sea Goat. Early risers will be drawn to bright gold Jupiter above the eastern horizon.
Tues. Nov. 22
Today’s date in history is a world famous one, and one that impacted America’s Moon Race with the Communist USSR. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy was murdered by gunshots as his motorcade paraded by thousands of admirers in Dallas, Texas. JFK jumped on the Space Age dream to fly to the Moon and in several historic speeches challenged our great nation to put an American on the Moon by the end of the decade. NASA felt committed to honor the dead President and met that incredible goal twice in 1969: Apollo 11 July 20th and Apollo 12 on Nov. 19th.
Wed. Nov. 23.
On this 2002 date in space history, STS-113 was launched with orbiter Endeavour on the 16th “hardhat” mission to build the International Space Station. It was the 19th flight of Endeavour and the 112th of the Shuttle program.
Thurs. Nov. 24
Thanksgiving Day. On this 1991 date in space history, Atlantis was rocketed to space on the STS-44 mission. Six astronauts spent seven days on a Department of Defense mission, one of a dozen top secret missions made possible by the Space Shuttles. One astronaut aboard, Story Musgrave, is the only person to ride in all five Orbiters—the others being Columbia, Challenger, Endeavour and Discovery. Musgrave has published a very good autobiography, “Story: The Way of Water.”
Fri. Nov. 25
An interesting week for astrologers to explain as the Sun entered Scorpius on Sunday, Nov. 23 and remains in the scorpion until only this Sunday, Nov. 30. The Sun then enters the non-Zodiacal constellation Ophiuchus the Snake Handler, where it remains until moving into Sagittarius on Dec. 18. This is the key element of allowing 13 constellations, not the traditional 12, in the Zodiac.
Sat. Nov. 26
On this 1965 date in space history, France joined the Soviet Union and the United States as space faring nations, launching an orbiting, 92 pound satellite called Asterix from a launch site in Hammaguir, Algeria. Originally called A-1 for the French Army, once in orbit it was renamed Asterix, a character in a popular French comic strip. Space Shuttle Atlantis was also launched for the second time on this date in 1985 with seven astronauts deploying three commercial satellites—a pay-to-orbit mission that was the original plan for the Space Transportation System.
Sun. Nov. 27
At 6:30 pm The Pleiades star cluster and the constellation Taurus the Bull are above the eastern horizon, with Auriga the Charioteer also rising to the bull’s left. The constellations are marked by bright star Aldebaran, the reddish eye of the bull, and Auriga’s bright star, yellowish Capella. Ninety minutes later the great hunter Orion has cleared the eastern horizon.
Mon. Nov. 28
On this 1983 date in space history, Space Shuttle Columbia was launched with Europe Space Agency’s Spacelab module in the 40-foot-long cargo bay, beginning a lasting partnership with ESA that continues on the International Space Station.