Fun astronomy facts to impress your friends with!

February 2016

1st – On this date in 2003 tragedy struck as the Space Shuttle Columbia broke up during re-entry. We remember the crew of STS- 107 who died in the pursuit of science.  

2nd – Looking to the southeast around 6 o’clock tomorrow morning you will see the crescent moon just above Saturn. Look below and to the right and you will see the red star Antares. 

3rd –Looking to the south around 6 o’clock in the morning and you will see the red planet Mars. Look to the right of Mars to see the star Zubenelgenubi which is part of the constellation Libra the Scales. 

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 to the southeast around 6:30 tomorrow morning you will see the crescent Moon. Look below the Moon to see Mercury and to the right of the Moon to see Venus! 

6th – Looking to the southeast around 6:30 tomorrow morning you will see Mercury below and to the left of Venus and Saturn above and to the right of Venus. Look for Mars and Jupiter in the southwest. 

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 west around 7 o’clock tonight you will see 4 stars that form a square.  These are the stars of the great square of Pegasus a fall asterism. 

9th – The North Star Polaris is visible every night of the year from Missouri and Illinois. Looking high in the north you will see it tonight! 

10th – Jupiter has a hurricane like storm known as the great red spot which is large enough you could fit about 5 of our moons across it! 

11th – Looking to the west around 10 o’clock tonight you will see a group of stars together known as the Pleiades star cluster or the seven sisters. These stars are younger than the Sun! 

12th – On this date in 2001 NEAR-Shoemaker became the first spacecraft to land on an asteroid. NEAR transmitted 69 close-up images of Eros and then soft-landed on the asteroid. 

13th – Looking to the south around 9 o’clock tonight you will see Sirius the Dog Star. This is the brightest star in the night sky as viewed from Earth. 

14th – Celebrate Valentine’s Day with 2 red stars!  Looking high in the south around 8 o’clock tonight you will see the red star Betelgeuse. Look to the right of this star to see the red star Aldebaran. 

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 northwest around 8 o’clock tonight you will see a group of stars that look like the letter “M”. This is the constellation Cassiopeia the Queen. 

17th – Looking to the southeast around 5 o’clock tomorrow morning you will see planet Mars. This world has dust storms so large it can obscure the surface of the entire planet! 

18th – On this date in 1930 Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto. The spacecraft New Horizons left for Pluto in 2006 and just visited the dwarf planet back in July of 2015. 

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 –Looking to the east around 7 o’clock tonight you will see the waxing gibbous moon next to the star Regulus. This star is part of the constellation Leo the Lion. 

22nd – Tonight’s full Moon is called the full snow moon. The Moon is officially full at 2:20 p.m. CDT.  Looking to the east you will see the full Moon rise just after the Sun sets. 

23rd –Looking to the east around 9 o’clock you will see Jupiter and the Moon very close together.  Look above and to the left of the Moon to see largest planet in the solar system!  

24th – Looking to the southeast around 5 o’clock in the morning you will see a group of stars that look like the letter J. This is the constellation Scorpius the Scorpion. 

25th – Looking to the southeast around 5 o’clock in the morning and you will see Saturn. At Saturn’s North Pole there is a storm in the shape of a hexagon that is about 20,000 miles in diameter! 

26th – Looking to the southeast around 11 o’clock tonight you will see the waning gibbous Moon to the left of the star Spica. This star is part of the constellation Virgo the Maiden. 

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. 

29th – Looking to the northeast around 8 o’clock you will see the Big Dipper. This group of stars is part of the constellation Ursa Major the Great Bear.