Fun astronomy facts to impress your friends with!

December 2014

29th –Looking to the southeast around 6 o’clock tomorrow morning you will see Saturn. Today Saturn is around 996 million miles or 89 light minutes from Earth.

30th – Looking to the southeast around 9 o’clock tonight you will see six bright stars that form the winter circle. The winter circle contains 4 of the 10 brightest stars of the night sky! 

31st - You can ring in the new year with the brightest star in the sky. Look due south at midnight and you will see Sirius the Dog Star. Sirius is about 8 light years away!

 January 2015

1st – Looking to the east around 6 o’clock tonight you will see the waxing gibbous moon. Look above the moon to see a little group of stars called the Pleiades or Seven Sisters!

2nd – Public telescope viewing will be held the James S. McDonnell Planetarium tonight with the St. Louis Astronomical Society. For more information visit www.slsc.org

3rd – Tonight into the morning is the peak of the Quadrantid meteor shower. To best see this shower, get far from the city and look to the northeast, near the Big Dipper between midnight and 5 o’clock a.m.

4th – Tonight’s full moon is called the full Wolf Moon because some Native American tribes would hear packs of wolves howling at this full moon during the winter night. 

5th –Looking to the east around 10 o’clock tonight you will see Jupiter. This planet has at least 67 moons compared to the Earth’s 1 moon! 

6th – On this date in 1998 Lunar Prospector was launched. This spacecraft analyzed the composition of the lunar surface and looked for evidence of polar ice. 

7th – Looking to the southwest around 6 o’clock tomorrow morning you will see Jupiter to the right of the waxing gibbous moon. Look above the moon to see the star Regulus!

8th – On this date in 1942 Stephen Hawking was born in Oxford, England. Hawking discovered that black holes can radiate energy.

9th – Looking near the center of the sky around 9 o’clock tonight you will see the bright yellow star Capella. This star is part of the constellation Auriga the Charioteer!

10th – Looking high in the northeast around 11 o’clock you will see the Big Dipper. If you draw an imaginary line through the 2 stars of the front of the bowl upwards, they will lead you to the North Star!

11th – On this date in 1787 William Herschel discovered Titania, Uranus’s largest moon! Uranus is in the constellation Pisces but you will need a telescope to see it.

12th –Looking toward the south around 6 o’clock tomorrow morning you will see the star Spica below the waning moon. This star is part of the constellation Virgo the Maiden!

13th –Tomorrow is Shannon Lucid’s birthday. This American astronaut was the first woman to complete 5 trips into space. She also served aboard the Russian space station, Mir.

14th – Looking in the southeast around 6 o’ clock tomorrow morning you will see the red star Antares.This star is part of the constellation Scorpius the Scorpion.

15th – Looking to the southeast around 6 o’clock tomorrow morning you will see Saturn to the right of the thin waning crescent moon. Saturn has at least 62 moons compared with our 1 moon!

16th – The winter sky contains 5 of the 10 brightest stars visible in the night sky. You will see more bright stars during the winter than during any other season!

17th – Looking to the southwest around 5:30 tonight you will see bright Venus. Looking to the right of Venus is Mercury and high above the 2 planets you may see Mars!

18th –Looking to the south around 10 o’clock tonight and you will see six bright stars that form the winter circle. The stars include: Capella, Pollux, Procyon, Sirius, Rigel, Aldebaran. 

19th – Mercury has the shortest orbit around the sun. The first planet from the sun takes only 88 earth days to complete trip around the sun. 

20th – On this date in 1930, astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr. was born. “Buzz” Aldrin and Neil Armstrong were the first humans to walk on the moon. See the moon in the southeast around 11 o’clock p.m.

21st – Looking to the southwest around 5:30 tonight you will see the waxing crescent moon to the right of bright Venus! Look just below the moon to see Mercury.

22nd – Pluto’s average distance from the sun is 3.675 billion miles. This dwarf planet is not visible to the unaided eye but requires at least a 10 inch aperture telescope to see.

23rd – Looking to the south around 10:30 tonight and you will see a bright white star called Sirius. This star is part of the constellation Canis Major the Great Dog!

24th – Today is the 11th anniversary of the landing of the Opportunity rover on Mars! You can learn more about Mars and the rovers at marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov

25th – Looking to the south around 9 o’clock tonight you will see Orion the Hunter. The red star Betelgeuse in Orion’s shoulder is the 10th brightest star in the night sky as viewed from Earth! 

26th – Looking near the center of the sky around 9 o’clock tonight you will see a group of stars that look like the letter “v”. This is the constellation Taurus the Bull.

27th –We remember Apollo 1 astronauts Virgil I. Grissom, Ed White, and Roger B. Chaffee, who lost their lives in a fire during a launch pad test on this date in 1967.

28th – Looking high in the east around 8 o’clock tonight you will see 2 stars near each other that appear similar in brightness.The brighter star is Castor and below it is its twin star Pollux.

29th – Looking to the southeast around 6 o’clock tonight you will see the waxing gibbous moon to the left of the red star Aldebaran. This star is part of the constellation Taurus the Bull!

30th – Looking to the southeast around 6 o’clock in the morning you will see yellow planet Saturn above the red star Antares. You can tell planets from stars because stars twinkle and planets do not!

31st –On this date in 1958, Explorer 1 was launched. This was the first satellite launched by the United States and was designed to measure the radiation environment in Earth orbit.