Celestial events in the skies for the week of May 16-22, 2017 as compiled for The Loafer by Mark D. Marquette.
Learn how unwanted light at night can mess with your sleep patterns, effect the migration of birds and cost city governments 30 per cent of their budget at an important public forum on light pollution conducted by the International Dark Sky association this Thursday at 7 pm at Bristol, Tennessee High School auditorium.
Tuesday, May 16
Space Shuttle Endeavour was launched on this 2011 date in space history, the next to last mission of the 30 year program. Loaded with extra supplies and hardware like replacement motors, computers, fresh clothes and disposable products, Endeavour is now on display at the California Science Museum, south of Downtown Los Angeles.
Wednesday, May 17
High in the east at dark with star Spica below it in the constellation Virgo the Virgin. Leo the Lion is beginning to nose down in the west from its high perch overhead, and the Big Dipper is easy to see directly north. After midnight, the Milky Way begins climbing above the eastern horizon.
Thursday, May 18
International Dark Sky executive Director J. Scott Feierabend will present a program on light pollution today at 7 pm at Tennessee High School auditorium in Bristol. The program will be free and open to the public. The Moon is at Last Quarter tonight, in the domain of the after midnight skies.
Friday, May 19
Two Space Shuttles were launched on this date: Endeavour in 1996 and Atlantis in 2000. The six astronauts on Endeavour spent 10 days in Space Hab in the cargo bay doing experiments on commercial space applications. Atlantis (with a new computerized “glass cockpit”) and seven astronauts docked at the International Space Station with lots of construction supplies like batteries, handrails, docking mechanisms and miles of electrical cables.
Saturday, May 20
The Big Dipper is pouring its celestial contents over the north horizon, pointing to the North Pole star Polaris. It’s at the end of the handle of the Little Dipper—both dippers being star “asterisms” of the much larger constellations of Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, the big and little bears.
Sunday, May 21
Corralling those bears around the night sky is an ancient herdsman named Bootes. Follow the handle of the Big Dipper to the bright star, Arcturus, which anchors the base of Bootes—which looks like a giant ice cream cone or flying kite. Bootes is in ancient constellation, envisioned at least 2,000 years ago. Pronounced “Boo-OH-tez” in some circles, who names their kid this these days?
Monday, May 22
On this 1969 date in space history, astronauts Gene Cernan, deceased, and Tom Stafford, 82, flew their Apollo 10 moonship to within 10 miles of Mare Tranquility in a full dress rehearsal of a Moon landing. A confused computer created wild bucking of their moonship named “Snoopy” for a half-a-minute of anxious moments, but the glitch was figured out and the return to Earth aboard the command ship “Charlie Brown” and John Young, 83, went well. Two months later, Apollo 11 landed at the spot scouted out by the NASA mission 48 years ago this week. Young walked on the Moon with Apollo 16, and Cernan was the last man on the Moon with Apollo 17 in December 1972.