Celestial events in the skies for the week of August 1-7, 2017 as compiled for The Loafer by Mark D. Marquette.
The rising, gibbous Moon in twilight this week will make for some spectacular photography against our Appalachian Mountains. With todays extreme zoom digital cameras it’s easy to find the right exposure combination of ISO, f-stop and shutter speed to give you a great photo: the key is to capture the dark Maria on the Moon and the landscape on the Earth. Find Saturn to the left of the Moon on Wednesday and to the right of the Moon on Thursday.
Tuesday, August 1
Rip a page off the calendar and it’s suddenly August. This month was the sixth in the Roman Year (that began with March) and called “Sextilis.” But in 8 BC, new Emperor Augustus Caesar renamed the month after himself, since his great Uncle Julius had his own month, too.
Wednesday, August 2
On this 1971 date in space history, Apollo 15 moon ship Falcon rocketed off the Moon in the first televised launch from the lunar surface. The astronauts discovered what was dubbed the “Genesis Rock” as it’s the oldest brought back from the Moon or ever found on Earth at 4.2 billion years old.
Thursday, August 3
That’s planet Saturn playing tag with the Moon last night and tonight. Put a telescope, any telescope, on both objects for a real thrill: craters and mountains on the Moon and, yes, those rings around Saturn are real.
Friday, August 4
Don’t forget Jupiter, looming high in the west after sunset and still the brightest “star” in the sky until it sets around 11 pm. Any telescope will show the giant planet’s globe and the four moons discovered by Galileo more than 400 years ago.
Saturday, August 5
After midnight, there is a good chance to see some meteors, aka “shooting stars.” There is an Aquarid Meteor shower going on, and in a week is the Perseid Meteor Shower. But moonshine will interfere with both meteor showers, allowing only the brightest “shooting stars” to shine through.
Sunday, August 6
On this 1961 date in space history, Russian Gherman Titov was the second person rocketed into space, and the first to sleep during his full day journey. Titov, deceased, is still the youngest of more than 500 human space travelers—his flight was one month before his 26th birthday. The youngest American is still Sally Ride, deceased, who was 32 on her flight aboard Space Shuttle Challenger in 1983.
Monday, August 7
Full Moon today, the Green Corn or Grain Moon to Native Americans. On this 1997 date in space history, Space Shuttle Discovery was launched on 85th Space Transportation Mission (STS), thus STS-85. Six astronauts spent 12 days in space releasing and recapturing an atmospheric satellite and testing materials for the International Space Station.