Fun astronomy facts to impress your friends with!
Astronomy Tidbits for January 2017
1st – Look to the southwest around 6 o’clock tonight to see Venus near the crescent moon. The atmosphere of Venus contains mostly carbon dioxide!
2nd – Looking to the southwest around 6 o’clock tonight you will see the crescent moon. Look below the Moon to see Venus and above the Moon to see Mars!
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 – Today the Earth is at perihelion. This means the Earth is at its closest point to the Sun in the Earth’s orbit. We are actually farther from the Sun in our orbit in July.
5th – Looking to the south around 6 o’clock tomorrow morning you will see Jupiter. Most of this planet’s atmosphere contains hydrogen and helium.
6th – 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
7th – Looking to the southeast around 6:30 tomorrow morning you will Saturn. Look below and to the left of Saturn to see Mercury.
8th – On this date in 1942 Stephen Hawking was born in Oxford, England. Hawking discovered that black holes can emit X-rays and gamma-rays.
9th – Looking to the east around 6 o’clock tonight you will see the waxing gibbous moon. Look above the Moon to see the red star Aldebaran and look below the Moon to see the red star Betelgeuse.
10th – Looking to the southeast around 6:30 tomorrow morning you will see Saturn. Saturn’s atmosphere contains mostly hydrogen and helium.
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 – 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.
13th – Looking to the southeast sky around 9 o’clock tonight and you will see six bright stars that form the Winter Circle. The stars include: Capella, Pollux, Procyon, Sirius, Rigel, and Aldebaran.
14th – Today 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.
15th – 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!
16th – Looking high in the south around 8 o’clock tonight you will see a little group of stars together. This is a star cluster known as the Pleiades or the Seven Sisters.
17th – Looking to the southwest around 7 o’clock tonight you will see Mars. The atmosphere of Mars consists of over 90% carbon dioxide!
18th – On this date in 1882, A. A. Milne was born. His stories were about a bear named Winnie the Pooh. Looking to the northeast around 10 o’clock tonight you will see the Big Dipper which is part of the Great Bear!
19th – The constellation Pisces is in the west around 9 o’clock tonight. Uranus is in this constellation but you will need binoculars to see it. The atmosphere of Uranus consists mostly of hydrogen and helium!
20th – On this date in 1930, astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr. was born. Neil Armstrong and “Buzz” Aldrin were the first humans to walk on the Moon. See the Moon in the southeast around 6 o’clock a.m.
21st –The constellation Aquarius is in the southwest around 7 o’clock tonight. Neptune is in this constellation but you will need binoculars to see it. The atmosphere of Neptune consists mostly of hydrogen and helium!
22nd – Looking to the southeast around 6:30 tomorrow morning you will see the crescent Moon above Saturn. Look below this planet to see Mercury!
23rd – The Sun consists of about 91% hydrogen and about 8.9% helium. Our star fuses hydrogen atoms to form helium and release energy!
24th – Today is the 13th 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 east around 7 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.
26th – Looking to the center of the sky around 9 o’clock tonight and you will see the bright yellow star Capella. It is the sixth brightest star in the sky as viewed from Earth!
27th – This year we remember 50 years ago the tragedy of Apollo 1. We also honor the crews of Columbia and Challenger who also lost their lives in the pursuit of science.
28th – Pluto is hidden by the Sun right now but will be visible in a 14 inch aperture telescope in the summer. Pluto’s atmosphere is thin and expands when it is closer to the Sun and collapses when it is farther away.
29th – Looking to the south around 10 o’clock tonight and you will see a bright white star called Sirius. It is the brightest star that you will see in the night sky from Earth!
30th – Looking to the southwest around 6 o’clock tonight you will see the crescent Moon. Look above the Moon to see Venus and look just above this planet to see Mars!
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.