Tonight you will find the planets Jupiter and Saturn in the southwest 20 minutes after sunset. December starts the countdown to the great Conjunction which occurs on December 21.
On this date in 2013, China launched the robotic lunar exploration lander Chang’e 3, with China’s first lunar rover, Yutu-hao (‘jade rabbit’). Rover Yutu explored its landing area in Mare Imbrium and sent back pictures of the surface of the Moon for several weeks. Learn more at NASA’s mission page here.
Full moon for November occurs today. The full moon for November is often called the Full Beaver Moon. Cultural names like this served as a calendar of sorts as many cultures used a lunar calendar based on the moon phases. The names chosen indicated an event or activity that occurs that time of the year.
Tomorrow morning the Moon will reach its full phase. The Moon will also pass through the Earth’s penumbral shadow leading to a penumbral lunar eclipse. The eclipse begins at 1:33 am CST and ends at 5:54 am CST. Learn more at the EclipseWise website here.
Tonight, a lizard, a lynx and a Giraffe can be seen in the northern skies. These are the constellations Lacerta, Lynx and Camelopardalis. Learn how to find them here.
In 2005 on this date, the Japanese unmanned probe Hayabusa grazed the surface of 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. Learn more at NASA’s page here.
Tonight at 10 pm, two great asterisms are reminding us what time of year it is. In the west, the Summer Triangle is setting. In the east the Winter Circle is now fully visible. Observing the star patterns through the year is one way ancient people tracked the changing seasons.
On this date in 1991, the crew of Shuttle Atlantis’ flight STS-44 was awakened with the theme from Star Trek: The Next Generation, and a voiceover by veteran actor Sir Patrick Stewart. “This is the voyage of the Space Shuttle Atlantis…”. He continued with, “Hello – Fred, Tom, Story, Jim, Tom, and especially Mario –… Continue reading
At 8pm tonight, you will find the Moon and Mars in the southern sky. The Moon will be exhibiting a waxing gibbous phase with about 77% disk illumination. Using binoculars, you can find the crater named Copernicus near the center of the terminator.
In 1989 on this date, Space Shuttle Discovery flight STS-33 was launched, carrying John Blaha, Sonny Carter, Fred Gregory, Story Musgrave, and Kathryn Thornton on a 5-day orbital mission to deploy a classified satellite. It was the 32nd shuttle mission overall, and the last shuttle launch of the 1980s. Flight events, and some candid crew… Continue reading