Fun astronomy facts to impress your friends with! 

August 2015

1st – Looking to the southwest around 9 o’clock tonight you will see Saturn.  Saturn takes 10 Earth hours to rotate 1 time on its axis or 1 day on Saturn is only 10 hours long!

2nd – Looking to the southeast around 10 o’clock tonight you will see 3 stars that form a triangle. The Summer Triangle is 1 of 4 seasonal shapes you can see throughout the year!

3rd – It takes the Sun about 27 Earth days to complete one rotation at its equator while the star Altair completes one rotation in about 10 Earth hours! Looking to the west you at 5 o’clock in the morning you will see Altair.

4th – It takes Earth’s Moon about 27 Earth days to complete one orbit around the Earth and it completes 1 rotation on its axis in about the same time.

5th – On this date in 1930 the first man on the Moon, Neil Armstrong, was born. Sadly, Neil passed away on August 25, 2012. Remember him next time you look at the Moon.

6th – The Mars Curiosity rover landed on this date in 2012 at 12:32 p.m. CDT. You can learn more about the rover and its discoveries at http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/.

7th – 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.

8th – Looking to the southeast around 5:30 tomorrow morning you will see the waning crescent moon. Above and the right of the moon is the star Aldebaran which is found in the constellation Taurus.

9th –We now experience the Dog Days of summer. Sirius, the Dog Star, rises just before the Sun. Ancient Greek observers thought Sirius, the brightest star of the night sky, added heat to the day with the Sun!

10th – Earth takes about 365 days to orbit the Sun. It takes the Sun about 225 to 250 million years to orbit the center of the Milky Way galaxy!

11th – Looking to the northeast around 5:30 in the morning you will see the waning crescent moon. Looking below and the left of the moon is Mars. A day on Mars is about 24 hours and 37 minutes long.

12th – Tonight is the peak of the Perseid meteor shower. Looking to the northeast around midnight you will see the constellation Perseus and the meteors. To see the most meteors get far from city lights.

13th – Looking to the south around 10 o’clock tonight you will see a group of stars that look like a teapot. This group of stars is part of the constellation Sagittarius the Archer.

14th –– Looking to the south around 9 o’clock tonight and you will see a group of stars that looks like the letter “J”. This is the constellation Scorpius the Scorpion.

15th – Looking to the northeast around 10 o’clock you will see a group of stars that look like the letter “W”. This is the constellation Cassiopeia the Queen.

16th – Looking to the northwest around 9 o’clock tonight you will see the Big Dipper. Look at the star in the middle of the handle and you will see 2 stars!

17th – Phobos was discovered on this date in 1887 by Asaph Hall. Phobos is the larger of the 2 Martian moons. Mars is visible in the northeast around 5:30 tomorrow morning.

18th –A day on Pluto is about 6.4 Earth days long. Pluto and its moon Charon orbit each other in that period so a day on Charon is also about 6.4 Earth days long!

19th – Astronomer Milton Humason was born on this date in 1891.  He assisted Missouri native Edwin Hubble at Mt. Wilson by studying the red shift of nebulae

20th – On this date in 1977 the Voyager 2 spacecraft was launched aboard a Titan IIIE-Centaur rocket. This robotic spacecraft studied the planets of the outer solar system.

21st –Looking to the southeast around 5 o’clock in the morning you will see the stars of Orion the Hunter.  Orion will be visible in the night sky during the winter season.

22nd – Looking to the southwest around 9 o’clock you will see the waxing moon. Look below and to the right of the moon and you will see Saturn and to the left of Saturn is the star Antares.

23rd – It takes Mercury 59 Earth days to rotate once on its axis or a day on Mercury is 59 Earth days long.  This means a year on Mercury is a little less than 2 Mercury days long!

24th – On this date in 2006 the International Astronomical Union voted on a new definition for a planet. As a result Pluto was demoted to a dwarf planet.

25th – Today in 1989 Voyager 2 made its closest approach to Neptune and sent back the first close up views of this planet to Earth. A day on Neptune lasts about 16 Earth hours long!

26th – Looking to the northeast around midnight you will see a group of stars that look like a Little Dipper. This star cluster is known as the Pleiades or the Seven Sisters.

27th – Don’t be fooled by the Mars hoax! Every August an email circulates saying Mars will appear as big as the moon in the sky. Mars will only appear as a point of light in the sky from Earth.

28th – The stars tell us that fall will soon be here. Looking to the east around 9 o’clock tonight you will see 4 stars that form the Great Square of Pegasus which is a fall asterism.

29th – Every full moon has a name. Tonight’s full moon is called the Full Sturgeon moon because this type of fish is most easily caught in the great lakes at this time of year.

30th – The days are getting shorter as we head towards fall. Today the Sun will set at 7:33 p.m. This is 56 minutes earlier than when the sun set on June 21st, the first day of summer.

31st – Looking to the northeast around 5:30 tomorrow morning you will see Venus below and to the right of Mars. A day on Venus is about 243 Earth days long!