Celestial events in the skies for the week of Feb. 27-Mar. 5, 2018 as compiled for The Loafer by Mark D. Marquette.
Full Moon week, and it will be just about as big and bright as those super duper full moons the media likes to go crazy about. And that’s a good thing—keeping everyone looking up! This is the last week of Eastern Standard Time, we add an hour to Sunday March 11th and enjoy more evening daylight—which doesn’t make dark-seeking stargazers too happy.
Tuesday, February 27
Looking north, the Big Dipper is standing on its handle and its bowl is pointing to the North Star, Polaris, which is always visible. Opposite the Big Dipper is the “M” shape of stars making up Cassiopeia the Queen.
Wednesday, February 28
On this 1966 date in space history, two Gemini rookie astronauts were killed when their plane crashed into the very factory their spacecraft was being built. Gemini IX prime crew Charlie Bassett and Elliot See crashed their T-38 jet after clipping the McDonnell Aircraft Corp. building while landing during a rainstorm in St. Louis, Mo. They were replaced by Tom Stafford and Gene Cernan, who also took Apollo 10 to within 8 miles of the Moon on the dress rehearsal for the Apollo 11 landing. Cernan was the last man on the Moon in December 2017.
Thursday, March 1
Full Moon today at 7:51 pm ET. The bright star near the Moon is Regulus of Leo the Lion. On this 2002 date in space history, Space Shuttle Columbia was launched for the fourth of five repair missions to the Hubble Space Telescope. Five space walks over five days by four astronauts installed new equipment and solar panels.
Friday, March 2
On this 1995 date in space history, Space Shuttle Endeavour was launched with Astro 2 in its cargo bay. This purely astronomy mission had an array of three telescope that probed the high-energy ultraviolet spectrum of 600 objects during the 16-day mission—one of the longest in the Shuttle’s 30-year history.
Saturday, March 3
On this 1969 date in space history, Apollo 9 was launched aboard the mighty Saturn V rocket with the mission goal of testing the moon landing spaceship in Earth orbit. James McDivitt and Rusty Schweickart give their Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) nicknamed “Spider” a positive workout while David Scott was in the mothership, “Gumdrop.” In just five more months, man’s greatest adventure to the Moon would be fulfilled by a LEM called “Eagle.” Scott walked on the Moon on Apollo 15 in 1971..
Sunday, March 4
On this 1994 date in space history, Columbia was launched on STS-62, the five astronauts performing a long, 13-day mission of experiments in microgravity, engineering and technology. One of the five astronauts took a C.F. Martin backpacker guitar to space for the first time.
Monday, March 5
This 1979 date in space history was a special one for interplanetary travel when Voyager 1 flew by the huge planet Jupiter after a two-year journey. Voyager 2 followed a month later, and they both went on to take the first close-up of the planet Saturn in August 1980.