Celestial events in the skies for the week of Mar. 27 – Apr. 2, 2018 as compiled for The Loafer by Mark D. Marquette.
Astronomical hi-jinx on April Fool’s Day are no stranger to the nerdy science think-tanks in science history. Some of the pranks over the years include the revelation that the two moons of Mars are actually Martian satellites; life discovered on Jupiter; Google accepting applications for a new research center on the Moon; the Space Shuttle accidentally landing in San Diego; and astronomical papers shuffled amongst the academia, like new discovery of “bigon” particles—just to keep their brethren on their toes. Watch out for Twitters of alien invasions and Facebook posts of messages from Little Green Men. And as always, trust none of what you see or hear without giving it a serious once over!
Tuesday, March 27
To the North is the Big Dipper standing on its end, and in the east, the Leo the Lion is high and proud. When looking in this direction we are looking away from our Milky Way Galaxy and into the depth of the Universe. That’s why amateur astronomers enjoy finding the several dozen easy galaxies to find among the thousands of galaxies seen by professional observatories and telescope photography..
Wednesday, March 28
The sky is changing rapidly, eight 1st magnitude stars before they set in the west. Castor and Pollux in Gemini; below is Procyon in the Little Dog and the brightest star in the sky, Sirius in Canis Major; Rigel and Betelgeuse in Orion; Aldebaran in Taurus; and high above, Capella in Auriga the Charioteer..
Thursday, March 29
On this 1974 date in space history, NASA’s Mariner 10 made the first close flyby of inner planet Mercury. Revealed was one of the most heavily cratered surfaces in the Solar System, the small, 1,365-mile diameter planet looking much like our 1,250-mile-wide Moon. NASA’s Messenger spent three years orbiting the iron heavy first planet, revealing water ice at the poles and an 800-degree hot, sulfur laden surface.
Friday, March 30
You’ll really feel Daylight Saving Time this evening when it takes from 8 pm sunset to almost 8:30 pm for the stars to come out. After your day of maybe church, recreation and friends, recharge your mind under the canopy of Spring stars that are astounding to gaze upon.
Saturday, March 31
Full Moon today, the Pascal Moon and one that determines the date for Easter. Oh, and it also a Blue Moon, the last full phase also occurring in March, on the 1st.
Sunday, April 1
Easter Sunday. And the Marquette Meteor Shower will begin shortly after dark and rain hundreds of meteors a minute–NOT!
Monday, April 2
On this 1845 date in space history, the first photograph of the Sun was taken by two French physicists. Today, several websites provide a live, 24/7 look at our most important star.