Celestial events in the skies for the week of Sept. 26 – Oct. 2, 2017 as compiled for The Loafer by Mark D. Marquette.
The first full week of Autumn sees the night canopy of stars in transition. Saturn is taking its parting shots in the west, and with the planet setting are the Milky Way constellations of Scorpius and Sagittarius with it. In the east, the Great Square of Pegasus is rising, a sure sign that leaves and the thermometer will be dropping.
Tuesday, September 26
Early risers will see brilliant Venus and red Mars clear the eastern horizon at 6 am and move ahead of the impending sunrise at around 7:15 am. In the evening, the Moon is above ringed world Saturn.
Wednesday, September 27
First Quarter Moon today, the terminator of the Moon separating the lunar night from advancing daytime. Watch the movement of the terminator across the lunar landscape, on Earth we call that twilight.
Thursday, September 28
Saturn is in the southwest ready to say its goodbye in a month or so, its yellowish glow a contrast from the red star Antares in Scorpius to the right.
Friday, September 29
On this 1988 date in space history, Space Shuttle Discovery roared off the launch pad at Cape Kennedy, Florida, with two redesigned strap-on rockets, returning America to space after the January 1986 launch explosion of Challenger. This important four-day return to space by America went as planned with few problems for the all-veteran, five-man crew that flew Discovery on its seventh trip to space.
Saturday, September 30
On this 1994 date in space history, Space Shuttle Endeavour was launched on this STS-94 mission. During a 10-day mission, six astronauts used the Space Radar Laboratory in the cargo bay to study Earth’s geology, hydrology, oceanography, and agriculture.
Sunday, October 1
On this 1958 date in space history, the U.S. Congress officially formed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration—known round the world as simply NASA. On this 59th anniversary, our unmanned space program is doing wonders making discoveries on Mars, the Moon, Saturn, Jupiter and the Universe. But it has been six years since the last manned launch when the Shuttle was retired. And the Orion spacecraft is still years away from its first flight.
Monday, October 2
The big, bright Moon will illuminate the night, heading for full phase Tuesday night, the Harvest Moon.