Celestial events in the skies for the week of May 9-15, 2017 as compiled for The Loafer by Mark D. Marquette.
This week of May celebrates two spaceflights of the Space Shuttle Atlantis, the launch of the U.S. space station Skylab and the last Mercury mission flown by a solo American astronaut. And watch out, it’s Full Moon week! But as you all know, I prefer to dance in the moonlight while following my moon shadow.
Tuesday, May 9
Jupiter dominates the night, high above the eastern horizon and the planet is the brightest object in the sky besides the Moon.
Wednesday, May 10
The Full Moon of May is the Flower Moon for obvious reasons. La Luna moves from Virgo into the small constellation Cancer with two stars having big names. The faint stars making up the claws of the crab are named Zeubeneshamali, above, and Zeubenelgenubi, below. (the names are ancient Arabic for north and south claws, and are pronounced ZOO-been-a-sham-ali, and ZOO-been-el-jen-oobi! Now that’s a mouthful!)
Thursday, May 11
The bright Moon drowns out all but the brightest stars, and those include the famous asterism of the Big Dipper, easy to see in the north. It’s outside bowl stars point to the North Pole, Polaris.
Friday, May 12
The monthly meeting of Bristol Astronomy Club will be tonight at 7 pm at the Burke Observatory on the campus of King University. A program on light pollution will be featured, as well as looks at Jupiter through a telescope. Bring your telescope and learn how to use it. Or satisfy your curiosity and learn how to be an amateur astronomer: it’s as easy as looking up!
Saturday, May 13
Yesterday, the Sun entered the constellation Taurus the Bull, though astrology has that event happening more than a week later—wrong!
Sunday, May 14
On this 1973 date in space history, America launched their first space station, Skylab. In 2010, Atlantis was launched for a resupply mission to the International Space Station, its next to last flight. Atlantis is now on display at the entrance to the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Monday, May 15
On this 1963 date in space history, NASA launched the sixth and last Mercury mission, Faith 7 with astronaut Gordon Cooper, deceased. Cooper spent 34 hours in space, and was the first American to sleep and last American to fly solo in space. If you’re watching the TV show “Cooper’s Treasure” on the Discovery Channel about his supposed map from space of sunken treasure, it is all a bunch of fiction. Shuttle Atlantis was blasted into space in 1997 on the sixth docking mission with Russia’s space station Mir, delivering American Mike Foale for a six month stay.