Fun astronomy facts to impress your friends with!
Astronomy Fact of the Day for February 2017
1st – Looking to the southeast around 6:30 tomorrow morning you may see Mercury low on the horizon. Mercury’s average distance from the Sun is about 35 million miles.
2nd – Looking to the northeast around 9 o’clock tonight you will see the Big Dipper. This group of stars is part of the constellation Ursa Major the Great Bear.
3rd – 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
4th – On this date in 1906 Clyde Tombaugh was born in Illinois. He discovered Pluto in 1930. Pluto was considered a planet but is now classified as a “dwarf planet”.
5th – Looking high in the south around 7 o’clock tonight you will see the waxing gibbous moon just to the left of the red star Aldebaran. This star is about 65 light years away!
6th –Looking to the southeast around 6 o’clock tomorrow morning you will see Saturn. This planet’s average distance from the Sun is about 886 million miles!
7th – On this date in 1984 the first untethered spacewalk took place. Astronaut Bruce McCandless II tested the Manned Maneuvering Unit during the shuttle Challenger flight STS-41B.
8th – Looking to the southwest around 10 o’clock tonight you will see the blue star Rigel. This star is part of Orion the Hunter and is about 775 light years away from the Earth!
9th – Tomorrow night’s full moon is called the Full Snow Moon. Looking to the east you will see the full Moon rise just after the Sun sets and the Moon will set just before the Sun rises.
10th –Tonight is a penumbral lunar eclipse until about 8 pm. The weak penumbral shadow of Earth is hard to see but on August 21st we will experience a total solar eclipse in parts of Missouri.
11th – Looking to the east around 8 o’clockd tonight you will see the waning gibbous Moon below the star Regulus. This star is part of Leo the Lion and is about 77 light years away!
12th – Looking to the south around 10 o’clock tonight you will see the star Sirius. This bright star lies about 8 light years from the Sun!
13th – Looking to the southeast around midnight you will see the planet Jupiter below the Moon. Below and to the right of Jupiter you will see the star Spica. This star is about 260 light years away!
14th – You can celebrate Valentine’s Day with the goddess of beauty and love. Looking to the southwest around 6 o’clock tonight you will see bright Venus!
15th – On this date in 1564, astronomer Galileo Galilei was born. He studied sunspots and observed the four largest moons of Jupiter, which are now known as the Galilean moons.
16th –Looking to the south around 5 o’clock in the morning you will see the Moon. The Moon’s average distance from the Earth is about 240,000 miles or 1.3 light seconds away!
17th – Looking to the northeast around 7 o’clock tonight you will see the Big Bipper. Use the 2 stars in the bowl to draw a line to the North Star. This star is around 323 light years away!
18th – On this date in 1930 Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto. The spacecraft New Horizons flew by Pluto on July 12, 2015 and will fly by its next target on January 1, 2019!
19th – On this date in 1473, astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus was born in Poland. Copernicus believed that all the planets orbited the Sun or the Heliocentric Theory.
20th – On this date in 1962, John Glen became the first American to orbit the Earth. Glen piloted the Mercury-Atlas rocket named Friendship 7 and completed three orbits of Earth.
21st – Look to the southeast around 6 o’clock tomorrow morning you will see Saturn to the right of the Moon. This planet’s average distance from the Sun is about 886 million miles.
22nd – On this date in 2000 the Stardust spacecraft collected particles of interstellar dust. Some of the particles were studied at Washington University in St. Louis.
23rd – The Andromeda Galaxy is about 2 ½ million light years away. It takes like 2 ½ million years to travel from this galaxy to the Earth!
24th –Light travels at the speed of 186,000 miles per second! A light year is the distance that light can travel in a year which is about 6 trillion miles or 9.5 trillion kilometers.
25th – Looking to the southeast around 11 o’clock you will see Jupiter. This planet’s average distance from the Sun is about 484 million miles or about 5.2 astronomical units.
26th – Astronomers can measure the distances to planets in astronomical units. 1 astronomical unit is the distance of the Earth from the Sun which is about 93 million miles or 150 million kilometers!
27th – Guion Bluford Jr. became the first African American in space aboard the space shuttle Challenger on August 30, 1983. Guion flew on three other space shuttle missions
28th – The sky tells us spring is almost here. Looking to the southeast around 11 o’clock tonight you will see 4 stars that form the spring diamond.