Celestial events in the skies for the week of July 10 – July 16, as compiled for The Loafer by Mark D. Marquette.
The Milk Way draws attention this week as it rises at sunset and begins to dazzle our Summer nights this week of moonless evenings. Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars are all easy targets as the night wears on. Any telescope will show the globe of these planets, but the bigger the better. Check out websites like Space.com and SpaceWeather.com for the latest amateur photos of the planets and more.
Tuesday, July 10
On this 1962 date in space history, NASA launched Telstar 1, the first satellite to broadcast live television from America to Europe. The satellite inspired a #1 hit instrumental song in December ’62 called “Telstar” by the Tornados. The song was the first #1 hit in America by a British group.
Wednesday, July 11
On this 1979 date in space history, America’s first space station, Skylab, reentered Earth, with parts falling in the Western Australia Outback. Made out of a Saturn V rocket cylinder, the spacious orbiting outpost was suppose to be serviced by the Space Shuttle, but delays in its development spelled doom for Skylab, which was being pulled back to Earth by gravity. You can buy pieces of Skylab from legitimate space dealers.
Thursday, July 12
New Moon is today, our celestial neighbor invisible above the Sun in the daytime sky. The first chance to glimpse the thin crescent will be Saturday after sunset. On this 2001 date in space history, Atlantis was launched on STS-104 with five astronauts installing the Quest airlock for spacewalks aboard the International Space Station.
Friday, July 13
Directly south when it gets dark after 10 pm is the constellation Scorpius with the bright red star Antares. The dot-to-dot stars of Scorpius look like a giant fish hook. To the left of is Sagittarius the Archer, in the form of a teapot, and above the top is beautiful planet Saturn. On this 1995 date in space history, Discovery was launched on STS-70, which deployed a Tracking Data and Relay Station (TDRS) satellite, the seventh to complete NASA’s communication system for orbiting spacecraft.
Saturday, July 14
On this date in space history, space scientists got their first close views of Mars and Mercury. In 1965, Mariner IV flew by the Red Planet, taking 21 historic photos that showed a cratered world and no sign of life. In 2008, NASA’s Messenger spacecraft flew by Mercury, showing the first planet to be predictably peppered with craters.
Sunday, July 15
On this 2004 date in space history, American launched the last Apollo Command Module with three astronauts and the Soviet Union launched two cosmonauts in the Soyuz 11 spaceship. Two days later the two superpowers symbolically eased Cold War tension with a docking and handshake of the astronauts and cosmonauts. On this 2009 date, Shuttle Endeavour and seven astronauts were launched for the 23rd time for a two-week construction mission on the International Space Station.
Monday, July 16
On this 1969 date in space history, Apollo 11 was launched on the first human voyage to the Moon by the three-stage, 365-foot high Saturn V, still the largest rocket ever successfully flown. One million people crowded around the roads of Cape Kennedy to watch the Thursday morning blastoff into history.