Celestial events in the skies for the week of Feb. 20-26, 2018 as compiled for The Loafer by Mark D. Marquette.
The Moon is First Quarter on Friday, so moonlight fills the evening skies for the next two weeks. Weather might keep you inside, but you can still peek out the windows and let your imagine run wild about the six landing sites that immobilized 500,000 people to conquer the Moon before the end of the 1960s.
Tuesday, February 20
On this 1962 date in space history, John Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth in space, his three orbits in the Mercury spaceship making him a national hero. The former US Senator from Ohio also spent nine days aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1998 at age 77, still the oldest human to travel in space. He died in 2016 at age 95.
Wednesday, February 21
Punching through the moonlight are the bright stars of Orion, Taurus and Gemini, as well as the two dogs, Canis Major and Minor. And as Pegasus and Andromeda set in the west, Leo the Lion is rising in the east—a sure shine of Spring.
Thursday, February 22
On this 1978 date in space history, the first Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) was launched, Navstar. Today there are no less than 33 GPS satellites keep precise track of our every footsteps! In 1996, Space Shuttle Columbia was launched for the 19th time on the STS-75 mission with seven astronauts spending two weeks on a science mission.
Friday, February 23
Did you know? February was the last month of the year in early Roman times when around 680 BC Emperor Numa Pompilius added January and February to the previous 10-month calendar to create the winter season.
Saturday, February 24
On this 2011 date in space history, Shuttle Discovery was launched on its 39th and last mission, STS-133. The Orbiter visited the International Space Station, leaving the Leonardo module for extra room. Discovery is now at the Smithsonian Institute Museum in Washington, DC.
Sunday, February 25
The Winter Circle of eight bright stars begin overhead with red Aldebaran in the V-shaped pattern of Taurus the Bull and continue with Capella in Auriga, Castor and Pollux in Gemini, Procyon in Canis Major, Sirius in Canis Major, Rigel and Betelgeuse in Orion.
Monday, February 26
Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, is directly south at 9 pm. It is also called the “Dog Star,” as it is in the Big Dog, Canis Major and is in the daytime sky during July. Ancient Egyptians thought daytime Sirius added to the heat of Summer, thus the “Dog Days of Summer.”