Celestial events in the skies for the week of June 12 – June 18, as compiled for The Loafer by Mark D. Marquette.
The Full Moon of June is the Strawberry Moon or Honey Moon, and it happens Monday June 20th at 7:05 am. And the first day of Summer is ushered in Monday at 6:34 pm. The summertime full moons are low in the south evening sky and often honey colored as the moonlight is filtered through our atmosphere. This is a possible source for those nuptial times enjoyed by newlyweds on the “honeymoon!”
Tuesday, June 12
As darkness grips the late Spring landscape by 10 pm, Leo the Lion is dipping down toward the western horizon, soon to be gone by midnight. Once heralding the end of our long Winter, the familiar outline of backward question mark for its head and right triangle for its hindquarters is bidding goodbye as Summer is on its way.
Wednesday, June 13
Looking south, the scales of Libra, an indistinct small group of stars that garners attention with the famous planet’s presence. To the east are the claws of Scorpius, on the border of the Milky Way. And bright, red Mars is on those claws. The heart of the scorpion, Antares is to the left of Mars and a much fainter red. And above it is yellowish Saturn.
Thursday, June 14
On this 1963 date in space history, Valentine Tereshkova, 77, became the first woman to be launched into space aboard her spaceship Vostok 6. She is still the only female to fly solo in space—probably never to be duplicated. Tereshkova is Russian national hero, having been appointed to political posts and most recently part of the torch ceremony at the 2014 Winter Olympics. Also on this 2012 date in space history, Shenzhou 9 was launched as the fourth Chinese human space flight with three “taikonauts,” including the first female. They spent 10 days on a small Chines space station.
Friday, June 15
Tonight the planet Mars is below the gibbous Moon in the constellation Scorpius. On this 1985 date in space history Shuttle Discovery was launched on a mission paid for with the release of three communications satellites in the cargo bay.
Saturday, June 16
On this 1983 date in space history, Sally Ride became the first American female in space as was rocketed off Earth with four men aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger. It was the seventh Shuttle flight, and Challenger’s second. Ride made a second flight before becoming a NASA ambassador. She died in 2012 of pancreatic cancer at age 61. Her maiden voyage at age 32 still makes her the youngest American to orbit Earth.
Sunday, June 17
Father’s Day. And the last day of spring as the Summer Solstice is tomorrow, June 20th at 6:34 pm. And the nearly full phase Moon will be shining brightly over our Appalachian landscape.
Monday, June 18
Full Moon is today at 7:02 am. On this 1996 date in space history, Space Shuttle Columbia was launched with seven astronauts and the 40-foot Spacelab module in the cargo bay. During the nearly 17-day mission, the astronauts conducted 22 experiments on human physiology, microgravity effects on metallic alloys and protein crystals as well as the behavior of fluids in the weightlessness of outer space.