Celestial events in the skies for the week of August 8-14, 2017 as compiled for The Loafer by Mark D. Marquette.
Less than two weeks and counting down to “Eclipse Day” on Monday, Aug. 21. Whatever your plans, get there early. And if you’re in the path of totality and you black out for more than two minutes, forget photos, sit back and enjoy. There will be plenty of images to see from the professionals. Even seasoned veterans joke that “every total eclipse lasts 8 seconds!” The media hype and commercialization is gaining momentum—just wait ‘til next week!
Tuesday, August 8
Jupiter is high in the west at dark, and Saturn is directly south in Ophiuchus between the hook of Scorpius to the right and teapot of Sagittarius to the left. In 2007 Columbia STS-118 Endeavour was launched on a “hard hat” mission to the construction destination 225 miles above—the growing ISS.
Wednesday, August 9
Hot August nights have us realizing that Summer is losing its grip on daylight and night-time is gaining. And that makes stargazers happy! True daytime, from twilight to twilight, is now around 14.5 hours. That’s an hour different from those late June evening memories.
Thursday, August 10
On this 2001 date in space history, STS-105 with orbiter Discovery blasted off the Florida East Coast and four astronauts delivered a cargo hold full of supplies to the ISS and continued installing life support equipment during two space walks.
Friday, August 11
On this 1962 date in space history, the USSR launched Vostok 3 with cosmonaut Andrian Nikolayev. The next day Vostok 4 was launched with Pavel Popovich aboard, and the two space fliers saw each other’s spacecrafts from a distance and communicated with each other in this space spectacular.
Saturday, August 12
The Perseid Meteor Shower peaks tonight, and though the Moon is a bright gibbous phase in the after-midnight sky, the brightest meteors will still poke through. Earth continues until Aug. 23 traveling through the debris field of comet Swift-Tuttle, whose particles we see burning up in our atmosphere.
Sunday, August 13
On this 1960 date in space history, NASA launched the first communications satellite, a gigantic balloon called Echo 1 that orbited Earth after being rocket off Cape Canaveral by the first Delta rocket. Radio waves were bounced off the exotic, 100-foot Mylar balloon surface and captured by dish antennas thousands of miles away.
Monday, August 14
If you want a peek at the Autumn skies, get up at 4 am and see brilliant planet Venus and constellations Pegasus, Taurus and The Pleiades star cluster in the pre-dawn sky. At that early morning hour, the Summer constellations are setting in the west, the Milky Way standing beautifully upright.