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Astronomy Fact Of The Day

2018
August 31

With less than one month left in summer, you can find the fall sky rising by 8:30pm. As fall approaches the spring sky lingers in the west while the fall sky replaces the summer in the east.

With less than one month left in summer, you can find the fall sky rising by 8:30pm.  As fall approaches the spring sky lingers in the west while the fall sky replaces the summer in the east.
August 30

Neptune like the rest of the solar system is roughly 4.5 billion years old. It is believed that Uranus and Neptune were closer to the Sun when they formed and later migrated to their current orbits due to gravitational influence from Jupiter and Saturn.

August 29

On this date in 1965 Gemini V splashed down to Earth carrying astronauts Charles Conrad and Gordon Cooper. Gemini V was in Earth orbit for nearly eight days.

On this date in 1965 Gemini V splashed down to Earth carrying astronauts Charles Conrad and Gordon Cooper.  Gemini V was in Earth orbit for nearly eight days.
Come to see the Mercury and Gemini capsules in the Lift Off gallery at the McDonnell Planetarium.
August 28

Look east around 11pm tonight and you will find the constellation Pegasus. To identify this famous constellation look due east for a large square shape of stars.

August 27

Looking to the east around 5am in the morning you will see Orion the Hunter. You will see Orion in the evening sky by late fall.

August 26

Full moon occurs today occurring three days after the moon reaches its greatest distance from Earth which is called apogee. August’s full moon is often called the full Sturgeon moon.

August 25

On this date in 1989 Voyager 2 reached Neptune and sent back the first close up views of this planet to Earth. Neptune is in the constellation Aquarius but it is not visible to the naked eye.

August 24

Looking southwest tonight at 9:30pm you will find the planet Jupiter. If you have a telescope you can see Jupiter’s moons Io and Europa cast their shadow on the cloud tops of Jupiter starting at 9:35pm.

August 23

Tonight around 10pm you will find the planet Mars in the south and the planets Saturn and Jupiter the southwest. The order they are listed here is their order in the sky.

August 22

Neptune is the densest of the giant planets in our solar system. Most of its mass is a hot fluid of icy materials such as water, methane and ammonia.

August 21

One year ago today the US was treated to its first total solar eclipse since 1991. Our next total solar eclipse will be on April 8, 2024.

One year ago today the US was treated to its first total solar eclipse since 1991.  Our next total solar eclipse will be on April 8, 2024.
To learn more visit www.eclipsewise.com
August 20

On this date in 1977 the Voyager 2 spacecraft was launched aboard a Titan IIIE-Centaur rocket. This robotic spacecraft studied the planets of the outer solar system.

August 19

Neptune’s largest moon Triton is the only large moon known to have a retrograde orbit. This means Triton orbits opposite the direction of Neptune’s axial rotation.

August 18

Looking south after midnight you will find the planets Mars and Saturn in the southwest. The bright star in the south southeast is Fomalhaut which is known to have at least one planet of its own.

August 17

Tonight Venus will reach maximum eastern elongation. This means Venus will be at its highest in the sky after sunset. After today Venus will begin to head back to the sun’s glare reaching inferior conjunction on October 26.

August 16

The ice giant Neptune has a distinct blue color. Like Uranus this is caused by methane in its atmosphere absorbing red light and reflecting blue light bask to space. Through a large telescope Neptune appears gray with a tint of blue.

The ice giant Neptune has a distinct blue color.  Like Uranus this is caused by methane in its atmosphere absorbing red light and reflecting blue light bask to space.  Through a large telescope Neptune appears gray with a tint of blue.
August 15

Using the Summer Triangle as a reference around 10pm, you will find the constellation Hercules to its west, Cassiopeia to its east and Scorpius to its south.

August 14

Around 10pm tonight you can find the Summer Triangle by looking overhead. The triangle is made up of the stars Vega, Deneb and Altair. This pattern is made up of multiple constellations with Cygnus, Lyra and Aquila being the big three.

August 13

Today is the birthday of A. J. Ångström. Ångström was one of the founders of the science of spectroscopy. Using the spectroscope he was able to prove that the sun’s atmosphere contains hydrogen.

August 12

Tonight into tomorrow morning the Perseid Meteor Shower will peak. This will be a good year for the Perseids since the moon sets before things start. The best time to see meteors will be after 12am but you can start seeing them as early as 10pm.

August 11

Neptune has 13 known moons and one still waiting on confirmation of discovery. These moons are named after sea gods and nymphs in Greek mythology.

August 10

On this date in 1990 the robotic probe Magellan arrived at Venus. This probe mapped out the surface of the planet using radar. Looking to the west around 9pm you will see Venus!

August 9

Today Mercury reaches inferior conjunction. This is when Mercury passes between Earth and the Sun. On November 11, 2019 this will happen again as a syzygy meaning that with safe solar filters you can see Mercury transit Sun.

August 8

NASA has set the launch window for the Parker Solar Probe for August 11-19. The August 11 launch time is 2:48am to 3:48am.

August 7

Around 10pm if you look to the southeast you will find a large smile shape of stars. This is the constellation Capricornus which was first recognized by astronomers from Mesopotamia.

August 6

Every August the Perseid meteor shower returns to our sky. This peak of this meteor shower occurs on the evening of August 12 into the morning of August 13.

August 5

The red giant star Arcturus is the 4th brightest star in the sky. This star is found in the constellation Bootes and can be found in the west around 10 pm.

August 4

This month NASA will launch the Parker Solar Probe. This sun orbiting spacecraft will fly through the Sun’s outer atmosphere getting as close as 3.8 million miles from the surface of the Sun.

August 3

Public Telescope Viewing will be held at the James S. McDonnell Planetarium tonight with the St. Louis Astronomical Society.

Public Telescope Viewing will be held at the James S. McDonnell Planetarium tonight with the St. Louis Astronomical Society.
For more information visit Public Telescope Viewing.
August 2

Since Neptune’s discovery in 1846 it has only completed one orbit of the Sun. This was accomplished in 2011. Neptune’s orbital period is 165 Earth years.

August 1

Neptune is the 8th planet from the sun. On average Neptune is 2.793 billion miles from the Sun. At this distance it takes light from the Sun about 249 minutes to reach Neptune.

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