Celestial events in the skies for the week of July 4-10, 2017 as compiled for The Loafer by Mark D. Marquette.
Jupiter is high in the southwest and rising in the east is Saturn as these two giant planets are the big attractions all Summer. But let’s not forget the Milky Way rising in the east with Saturn, though it will be a little washed out by the bright Moon reaching full phase on Sunday, called the Thunder Moon by Native Americans for July storms, or Buck Moon, for the full set of antlers on deer and moose.
Tuesday, July 4
Lots of fireworks in the skies on this date in history, including: 1054 AD an exploded star is seen in the daytime as a supernova in Taurus the Bull, and we see it today as the Crab Nebula; 1997 NASA’s Pathfinder spacecraft lands on Mars with the mini-rover Sojourner; 2005 a ballistic probe released by spacecraft Deep Impact slams into comet Temple 1, and the impact is recorded from the NASA craft as well as telescope on and orbiting the Earth; 2006 Space Shuttle Discovery STS-121 was launched on a construction mission to the International Space Station.
Wednesday, July 5
The Moon waxing to full phase, drawing all eyes skyward on a Summer night, even if just for a quick glance. Any binoculars or small telescope will reveal the mountains, craters and ancient lava seas on the Moon. TIP: allow any telescope to cool down to the outside temperature, and start out using the lowest power (highest numbered eyepiece, like 25 mm).
Thursday, July 6
On this 1687 date in astronomy history, the great Isaac Newton published his breakthrough book of physic, “Principia.” The basic laws of nature—from the level of atoms to clusters of galaxies—were revealed and supported by the mathematics calculus Newton also invented. Most of us know an easy Newton Law: every action has an opposite and equal reaction.
Friday, July 7
On this 1998 date in space history, the first satellite was successfully launched from a submerged American submarine—a capability not often thought about in the advances of the Space Age. Russia also can launch a small satellite from its submarines patrolling the oceans of the world.
Saturday, July 8
On this 2011 date in space history, the last Space Shuttle was launched on a supply mission to the International Space Station. Orbiter Atlantis was the 135th flight of the program begun in 1981 with Columbia. Columbia was destroyed upon reentry in 2003 and Challenger blew up during launch in 1986. Orbiters Atlantis, Endeavour and Discovery have been mothballed to museums.
Sunday, July 9
On this 1979 date in space history, Voyager 2 flew by the largest planet Jupiter, on its way years later to Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Still alive and sending data, Voyager 2 is in interstellar space, 12 billion miles from the Sun.
Monday, July 10
On this 1962 date in space history, NASA launched Telstar 1, the first satellite to broadcast live television from America to Europe. The satellite inspired a #1 hit instrumental song in December ’62 called “Telstar” by the Tornados. The song was the first #1 hit in America by a British group.