Fun astronomy facts to impress your friends with!

March 2015

24th –Every star you see in the sky is part of the Milky Way Galaxy! 

25th – On this date in 1928 James Arthur Lovell Jr. was born in Cleveland, Ohio. He flew aboard Gemini 7 and Apollo 8. He is most noted for his role as commander of Apollo 13. 

26th – Looking to the west around midnight you will see the red star Betelgeuse. This star will explode as a supernova and is predicted to be bright enough to be seen in daylight for a short time. 

27th – On this date in 1972 the Russian robotic spacecraft Venera 8 was launched. This spacecraft was equipped to study the temperature and air pressure of Venus. 

28th –Looking near the center of the sky around 9 o’clock tonight you will see the moon. Looking to the left of the moon is Jupiter. This planet is so large you could fit 44 of our moons across Jupiter’s diameter! 

29th – On this date in 1807 the asteroid, 4 Vesta was discovered by Heinrich Olbers. Vesta lies within the asteroid belt and was visited by the Dawn spacecraft from 2011 to 2012! 

30th – Looking to the west around 11 o’clock tonight you will see the bright star Pollox. To the right of this star is Castor. Both stars are part of the constellation Gemini the Twins. 

31st – Looking to the east around 5 o’clock tomorrow morning you will see 3 bright stars that form the summer triangle. You will see this pattern in the evening sky all summer!

April 2015

1st –Don’t be fooled! Looking to the west around 8 o’clock you will see a bright object which looks like a star but it is really planet Venus!

2nd – The next few weeks of April will be your last chance to see Orion the Hunter at night until next fall. Looking to the southwest around 9 o’clock you will see this winter constellation.

3rd – Public telescope viewing will be held the James S. McDonnell Planetarium tonight with the St. Louis Astronomical Society. Tomorrow morning is a total lunar eclipse. The moon will be in totality around 6 o’clock a.m.

4th – The moon is officially full around 7:06 this morning. April’s full moon is known as the pink moon because of the flowers that bloom at this time of year.

5th – Looking to the west around 9 o’clock tonight you will see a group of stars that look like the letter “V”. This is the Hyades star cluster which is part of Taurus the Bull.

6th – Looking to the east around 9 o’clock tonight you will see 4 stars that form the spring diamond. You can follow the handle of the Big Dipper in a curved path to find Arcturus which is one of the stars of the diamond.

7th – Looking to the southwest around 5:30 tomorrow morning you will see the waning gibbous moon. Look to the left of the moon to see Saturn. 36 Earth moons would fit across Saturn! 

8th – Looking to the southeast around 10 o’clock tonight you will see the bright blue-white star Spica. This star is part of the constellation Virgo the Maiden.

9th – Looking to the southwest around 9 o’clock you will see the bright star Sirius. This star is part of the constellation Canis Major, the Great Dog.

10th – Looking to the southwest around 9 o’clock you will see the red star Betelgeuse. This star is the shoulder of Orion the Hunter.

11th – Looking toward the center of the sky around 10 o’clock tonight you will see a group of stars that look like a backwards question mark. This pattern is called the Sickle and is the head of Leo the Lion.

12th –The space shuttle was first launched on this date in 1981. Space Shuttle Columbia carried astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen for a two day and six hour flight.

13th – Looking to the east around 9 o’clock tonight you will see a group of stars that form a kite. This is the constellation Boötes the Herdsman.

14th – Looking to the northeast around 9 o’clock tonight you will see the Big Dipper. If you look at the middle of the dipper’s handle you will see 2 stars. The dimmer of the two is called Alcor.

15th – Looking to the west around 11 o’clock tonight you will see the bright stars Pollux and Castor. These stars are part of the constellation Gemini the Twins.

16th – Looking near the center of the sky around 5 o’clock tomorrow morning you will see 3 bright stars that form the Summer Triangle. You will see this pattern at night during the summer!

17th – Looking to the northwest around 11 o’clock tonight you will see a yellow star called Capella. This star is part of the constellation Auriga the Goat Herder.

18th – In 1929 the International Astronomical Union officially recognized 88 constellations. Some of these constellations we never see from the northern hemisphere.

19th – On this date in 1971 the first space station, Salyut 1, was put into orbit. To learn where you can see the International Space Station in the sky visit http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/sightings/.

20th –The Big Dipper isn’t a constellation. It is actually an asterism which is a familiar grouping of stars that forms a picture or pattern.

21st – The constellations appearance is relative to our place in space. If we travelled a hundred light years toward the star Betelgeuse, the constellation Orion would look very different!

22nd – Today is Earth Day. Earth is the only planet in the solar system with large amounts of liquid water at the surface. Celebrate the day by conserving this natural resource.

23rd – The planets travel through a path of 13 constellations known as the Zodiac. This path is known as the ecliptic.

24th – On this date in 1990 the Hubble Space Telescope was carried into orbit aboard the shuttle Discovery. You can celebrate the 25th anniversary of Hubble by seeing some of its amazing images at www.hubblesite.org.

25th – You can celebrate astronomy day with 2 planets. Looking near the center of the sky around 9 o’clock tonight you will see Jupiter to the left of the moon. Looking to the northwest you will see Venus!

26th – Looking to the northeast around 10 o’clock you will see the constellation Hercules. This constellation will be easier to see by summer.

27th – Looking to the northwest around 9 o’clock tonight you will see a group of stars that look like the letter “w”. This is the constellation Cassiopeia the Queen.

28th – Looking to the east around 5 o’clock in the morning you will see the constellation Cygnus the Swan. The Kepler spacecraft found many planets around stars near this constellation.

29th – Looking toward the south around 3 o’clock in the morning you will see a group of stars that look like the letter “J”. This is the summer constellation Scorpius the Scorpion.

30th– Looking to the northwest around 8:30 tonight you will see bright Venus. Put 2 outstretched fists below Venus and you may see Mercury low on the horizon.