Astronomy Fact of the Day: November 28, 2021

November 28, 2021 Tonight at 8 pm, you will find the familiar sight of Orion the Hunter rising in the east. Seeing Orion this early is a good reminder that winter is just around the corner. The winter solstice occurs this year on December 21, 2021, at 9:59 am. The constellation Orion rising on November… Continue reading

Astronomy Fact of the Day: November 27, 2021

November 27, 2021 Today in 2005, the Japanese probe Hayabusa grazed the surface of the asteroid Itokawa, retrieving material to return to Earth for study. Tiny grains of asteroidal material were returned to Earth aboard the spacecraft in June of 2010. A concise description of the mission may be found here. Asteroid (25143) Itokawa as… Continue reading

Night Sky Update: November 26 – December 4, 2021

This is the Saint Louis Science Center’s NIGHT SKY UPDATE for the week of Friday, November 26, 2021. Information updated weekly or as needed. Times given as local St. Louis time which is Central Standard Time (CST). For definitions of terminology used in the night sky update, click the highlighted text. If relying on times… Continue reading

Astronomy Fact of the Day: November 26, 2021

November 26, 2021 Tonight the dwarf planet Ceres reaches opposition. This occurs every year as Ceres appears near the antisolar point in the sky. From our view on Earth, Ceres can appear opposite the Sun because it is farther from the Sun. When an object reaches opposition, it will usually appear it brightest for the… Continue reading

Astronomy Fact of the Day: November 25, 2021

November 25, 2021 Today in 1960, the first atomic reactor for research and development began operation at Richland, Washington. The plant was built to determine the suitability of plutonium as a reactor fuel. There was a need to recycle plutonium resulting from weapons production. Plutonium would go on to be used as a power source… Continue reading

Artifact of the Week: Wulfenite

First described in 1845 and named for an Austrian mineralogist, wulfenite is a unique mineral easily distinguished from almost all other minerals thanks to its vivid crystal coloring. Pure wulfenite is colorless, but most specimens display some range of colors from bright orange-red to yellow-orange. This vibrancy makes wulfenite a highly sought-after mineral by collectors;… Continue reading

Astronomy Fact of the Day: November 24, 2021

November 24, 2021 Tonight you can find the constellation Andromeda overhead at 7:30 pm. The cone shaped constellation is home to the galaxy named Messier 31 or the Andromeda galaxy. This spiral galaxy is our neighbor at a distance of roughly 2.5 million light years. The constellation Andromeda and the Messier 31 seen overhead tonight… Continue reading

Astronomy Fact of the Day: November 23, 2021

November 23, 2021 Today in 1948, the first US patent for a lens to provide zoom effects for television cameras was issued to F.G. Back. His Zoomar lens was adjustable for closeups or long-distance shots without requiring the camera be moved toward or away from the object televised. Similar zoom lenses have a wide variety… Continue reading

Astronomy Fact of the Day: November 22, 2021

November 22, 2021 Looking south and west tonight at 5:30 pm will reveal five bright objects. Three of them are the planets Venus, Saturn and Jupiter. The other two are the bright summer stars Altair and Vega. You can distinguish the planets from stars with the twinkle test. Stars twinkle while planets usually do not.… Continue reading