Celestial events in the skies for the week of May 8-14, 2018, as compiled for The Loafer by Mark D. Marquette.
This week of May celebrates two spaceflights of the Space Shuttle Atlantis, now on display in Florida at the Kennedy Space Visitor’s Complex. One Atlantis mission was the final tune-up of the Hubble Space Telescope. And this week marks the launch of the U.S. space station Skylab. The Moon is a crescent in the pre-dawn sky, so evenings are filled with stars awaiting your pair of eyes.
Wednesday, May 9
Jupiter begins its domination of the night, high above the eastern horizon by 10 pm, drawing all eyes upward. Even the cheapest telescope will show the planet globe and four moons like tiny stars.
Thursday, May 10
Giant Jupiter is in the borders of Libra the Scales, a small constellation with two stars having big names. The faint stars making up the claws of the crab are named Zeubeneshamali, above, and Zeubenelgenubi, below. (the names are ancient Arabic for north and south claws, and are pronounced ZOO-been-a-sham-ali, and ZOO-been-el-jen-oobi! Now that’s a mouthful!) They are the claws of Scorpius, next door, split off to create Libra by celestial cartographers.
Friday, May 11
On this 2009 date in space history Space Shuttle Atlantis was launched on the final service mission of the Hubble Space Telescope. Nine years later Hubble is still working and should continue for another 3-5 years when fuel for pointing runs out.
Saturday, May 12
Have you ever been to Chicago’s Adler Planetarium? It was opened on this date in 1930, the first “star chamber” in North and South America. Today there are hundreds of planetariums in America. Visit one soon, you won’t regret it.
Sunday, May 13
Mother’s Day. The Sun entered the constellation Taurus the Bull yesterday, though astrology has that event happening more than a week later on May 22—wrong! Changes in the calendar and the unequal sizes of the 12 Zodiac constellations (plus the13th, Ophiuchus), makes astrology horoscopes absurd.
Monday, May 14
On this 1973 date in space history, America launched their first space station, Skylab. In 2010, Atlantis was launched for a resupply mission to the International Space Station, its next to last flight.