Celestial events in the skies for the week of July 18-24, 2017 as compiled for The Loafer by Mark D. Marquette.
This is Apollo 11 week when in 1969 the world was mesmerized by the voyage of three brave American astronauts headed to the Moon to fulfill man’s greatest adventure. The Moon will be seen after midnight, waning to a Last Quarter phase, so without the moonshine, the Milky Way will be seen before midnight against dark. Campers can spend some stargazing time away from the campfire and see the Summer Triangle stars of Deneb, Vega and Altair straddling the “river of stars” that is a long arm of our own Milky Way Galaxy.
Tuesday, July 18
Today is the birthday of American space hero and former Ohio US Senator John Glenn, who died at age 95 in December 2016. The first American to orbit the Earth in 1962, he later became the oldest space flier at age 77 aboard Space Shuttle Discovery in 1998. Glenn was 48 years old when Apollo 11 landed on the Moon. Like Neil Armstrong, Glenn is an American icon with many streets, schools and institutions bearing his name, including NASA’s research center in Cleveland.
Wednesday, July 19
The Milky Way is now visible in the evening, rising in the east and high overhead after midnight. Get away from the city lights and take in the millions of stars that are just one arm of our Galaxy, spanning in front of us till the autumn.
Thursday, July 20
On this 1969 date in space history, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed their moon ship called Eagle on the western shores of the ancient lava bed called Mare Tranquility. Mankind’s greatest adventure to the Moon was fulfilled that Sunday a little after 5 pm EST. And Sunday night beginning around 10 pm, the world was mesmerized by live television of the 2-hour moonwalk. While Neil and Buzz walked the Moon, orbiting was Michael Collins. Armstrong died in 2012, and Aldrin is 87, Collins, 86.
Friday, July 21
On this 1976 date in space history, the first photos from the surface of Mars were being sent back to Earth from the Viking 1 lander, which touched down the day before. The flat, Martian plain was littered with rocks of all sizes and definitely looked rusty red.
Saturday, July 22
A weekend opportunity to stay up late and stargaze under moonless skies. And maybe even take your own Milky Way photos. With today’s digital cameras it’s pretty easy: use a tripod, manually put the exposure time on 30 seconds, (the lens f-stop at a very low number like f5.6) and ISO sensitivity at 1600 or higher. Use self-timer to eliminate camera shake. And don’t delete anything in the camera: download on your computer and check if you captured a meteor or satellite!
Sunday, July 23
On this 1972 date in space history, NASA launched Landsat 1, the first satellite devoted to monitoring plant life around the world, from wheat to Pine forests. Today, a dozen satellites keep track of Earth resources on land and in the sea as well as the health of our atmosphere.
Monday, July 24
On this 1969 date in space history, Apollo 11 returned from the Moon with 47 pounds of rocks and lunar soil…and just 92 precious photographic images from the surface of another world. Splashing down in the Pacific Ocean, they were welcomed home on the USS Hornet aircraft carrier by President Richard Nixon. After a quarantine for 18 days to prevent the spread of any unknown “moon germs,” they began a hero’s, 45-day world tour to demonstrate the spirit “for all mankind.”