Celestial events in the skies for the week of Nov. 21-27, 2017 as compiled for The Loafer by Mark D. Marquette.
Everybody has been switching out their summer clothes for the warmer sweaters and coats—so why not give them a good work out under the chilly stars? If you have any kind of telescope, a sure hit at any family part is to point it at the Moon this week and let everyone get a peek at some craters and mountains. You’d be surprised how many people have never looked at the Moon through any telescope. Use low power (the highest number eyepiece like 25 mm) and save the higher power eyepieces for those really interested.
Tuesday, November 21
Pegasus is flying high overhead while the mighty hunter Orion leaps over the eastern horizon to become a familiar starry friend through the winter. A star map from Skymaps.com, library book, monthly astronomy magazine or a planisphere from a bookstore will guide you through the changing night skies.
Wednesday, November 22
Baby Boomers will never forget the 1962 assassination of President John F. Kennedy on this day. That Friday evening the Moon was absent, making a dismal night even darker except for bright planets Saturn, in Capricornus and Jupiter in Aquarius, shining down as the Milky Way set in the west. The Sun rose the next day over a completely different United States of America.
Thursday, November 23
Thanksgiving Day in America. On this 2002 date in space history, STS-113 was launched with orbiter Endeavour. The Moon is a beautiful crescent in the holiday night skies.
Friday, November 24
On this 1991 date in space history, Atlantis was rocketed to space on the STS-44 mission. Six astronauts spent seven days on a Department of Defense mission, one of a dozen top secret missions the Shuttles were used for. One astronaut aboard, Story Musgrave, is the only person to ride in all five Orbiters—the others being Columbia, Challenger, Endeavour and Discovery. Musgrave has published a very good autobiography, “Story: The Way of Water.”
Saturday, November 25
The Moon is at First Quarter. It’s an interesting week for astrologers to explain as the Sun entered Scorpius on Sunday, Nov. 23 and remains in the scorpion until only this Sunday, Nov. 30. The Sun then enters the non-Zodiacal constellation Ophiuchus the Snake Handler, where it remains until moving into Sagittarius on Dec. 18.
Sunday, November 26
On this 1965 date in space history, France joined the Soviet Union and the United States as space faring nations, launching an orbiting, 92-pound satellite called Asterix from a launch site in Hammaguir, Algeria. Originally called A-1 for the French Army, once in orbit it was renamed Asterix, a character in a popular French comic strip.
Monday, November 27
On this 1983 date in space history, Space Shuttle Columbia was launched with Europe Space Agency’s Spacelab module in the 40-foot-long cargo bay, beginning a lasting partnership with ESA that continues on the International Space Station.