On this date in 1960, an attempt was made to launch the unmanned Mercury-Redstone 1 (MR-1) from Cape Canaveral, marking a highly visible ‘low point’ in the Mercury program. After ignition, the main engine cut off almost immediately, lifting the rocket only about four inches; it settled back on the pad with only slight damage.… Continue reading
This is the Saint Louis Science Center’s NIGHT SKY UPDATE for the week of Friday, November 20, 2020. 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
Tonight at 8pm you can find the constellation Perseus high in the eastern sky. There is a star in Perseus called Algol that is fun to watch over a period of roughly three days. Visible to the unaided eye, Algol will drop from 2.1 to 3.4 magnitude every 2.87 days. This occurs because Algol is… Continue reading
In 1969 on this date, Apollo 12, the second manned mission to the Moon, made a precision landing on the lunar surface only 163 meters from its target, the unmanned Surveyor 3 spacecraft which landed in 1967. Details of the mission can be found at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s page here.
Most people alive today have probably never seen this bird in the wild. When Europeans first arrived in North America, there were between three and five billion passenger pigeons east of the Rocky Mountains. Just 400 years later, what was once one of the largest bird populations in the world became extinct. The destruction of… Continue reading
Looking east at 7 pm you will find a small V-shaped group of stars. This group is the star cluster named the Hyades; they also represent the nose of Taurus the Bull.
On this date in 1962, four Navy officers were injured when an electrical spark ignited a fire in an altitude chamber, near the end of a 14-day experiment at the U.S. Navy Air Crew Equipment Laboratory, Philadelphia, Pa. The men were participating in a NASA experiment to determine the effect on humans of breathing pure… Continue reading
The peak of the Leonid Meteor Shower occurs tonight into tomorrow morning. The Leonids are expected to produce a moderate display with about 15 meteors seen per hour. The comet that causes the Leonids is 55P/Temple-Tuttle. This comet will return in 2031.
In 1630 on this date, Johannes Kepler died. Kepler was a German scientist and astronomer who derived the Three Laws of Planetary Motion. These marked a key step in the scientific revolution which moved the center of the universe from the Earth (geocentric cosmology) to the Sun (heliocentric) and helped lay the foundation for Newtonian… Continue reading
An observing tip for finding planets is to learn the Zodiac constellations. These famous constellations mark the path that the Sun, Moon and planets are found in. Right now, Mars is found in the constellation Pisces.