Celestial events in the skies for the week of May 23-29, 2017 as compiled for The Loafer by Mark D. Marquette.
Memorial Day weekend always gets people outside to the lakes and campgrounds of our beautiful Mountain Empire. And you’ll look up at some point after the twilight ends around 9 pm. Summer is officially four weeks away, and we are already experiencing the benefits of extended daylight to enjoy our outdoor activities.
Tuesday, May 23
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.
Wednesday, May 24
On this 1962 date in space history, Scott Carpenter, deceased, became the second American to orbit the Earth, duplicating the three orbits of John Glenn the previous February. Carpenter landed 250 miles off course in the Atlantic Ocean, taking 45 minutes to find in his life raft next to his Mercury capsule. NASA felt he became distracted by the busy mission, and he never flew in space again. But in 1965, aboard Sealab II, he spent 28 days living on the ocean floor off the coast of California.
Thursday, May 25
Today is New Moon, invisible in the daytime sky. But in just three more New Moons—Aug. 21st –The Great American Eclipse will be upon us!
Friday, May 26
After midnight, the Milky Way begins to rise in the east, bringing with it the constellations of Summer. Leading the way is the bright star Vega, which will be the Pole Star in about 6,000 years, due to the wobble of the Earth’s axis, completing one complete circle every 26,000 years. That’s why the faint star Thuben in Draco was the Pole Star when the Egyptian pyramids were built.
Saturday, May 27
The crescent Moon is a beautiful sight above the western horizon in the twilight, setting the mood for a beautiful Saturday night. High in the east is the bright planet Saturn, and between are the constellations Cancer and Leo.
Sunday, May 28
Many early morning risers will no doubt look to the eastern twilight and wonder what the brilliant ‘star’ is? Why it’s second planet Venus, drawing attention in the Spring mornings after dazzling our Winter evenings like a UFO.
Monday, May 29
That bright star Arcturus can be found by following the Big Dipper’s handle, “arcing to Arcturus.” This distinctive orange star is 30 Light Years away, and it anchors the bottom point of the star pattern Bootes that looks like a kite, or an ice cream cone—or a diamond!