Celestial events in the skies for the week of April 25 – May 1, 2017 as compiled for The Loafer by Mark D. Marquette
Tuesday, April 25
Happy 27th birthday Hubble Space Telescope! It was on this date in 1990 when Space Shuttle Discovery deployed the telescope with a 96-inch mirror into an orbit 450 miles above the Earth. Five service missions by Shuttles have lengthened the life of the amazing Hubble. It will probably last five more years before being plunged in the atmosphere to destruction in a fiery reentry.
Wednesday, April 26
New Moon is today. That means our nearest neighbor is between Earth and Sun, so looking up in the daytime sky, the Moon is below our star, unseen, yet there. On Aug. 21st, the Moon will pass directly in front of the Sun for the Great American Eclipse.
Thursday, April 27
Say goodbye to the great hunter, Orion as he’ll be below the horizon by 10 pm. Right behind will be the brightest star in the sky, Sirius, skirting the southwest horizon.
Friday, April 28
That bright star Arcturus that the Big Dipper’s handle arcs to anchors the bottom point of the star pattern Bootes that looks like a kite, or an ice cream cone—or a diamond! An ancient constellation named after a man who built and drove chariots a few thousand years ago, not much else is known about him. But he must have been a pioneer of wheeled vehicles to have such a prominent constellation named after him!
Saturday, April 29
Astronomy Day around the world. Planetariums and science centers around the world will be offering special programs to share the mystery and imagination of the Universe. Bays Mt. Park in Kingsport and Steele Creek Park in Bristol will have amateur astronomers on site to share their passion and night-time viewing of the Moon, planet Jupiter and more.
Sunday, April 30
The Big Dipper is just a part of the much larger constellation Ursa Major, the Big Bear. But these seven stars, that are called The Plough in Europe, are among the most recognized asterism in the night sky. Of course, “the pointer stars” of the outside bowl, Merak and Dubhe, guide us to the North Star, Polaris, in the Little Dipper, again, just a part of the Little Bear.
Monday, May 1
The night above is open to the rest of the Universe like a window from our spaceship Earth. There are thousands of other galaxies to see beyond our own in Virgo, Leo, Ursa Major and other Spring constellations. On May evenings, the Milky Way is circling around the horizon, but next month (or after midnight) it will begin showing its glory above the eastern horizon.