Astronomy Fact of the Day: September 25, 2020

On this date in 1931, French experimenters Robert Esnault-Pelterie and Jean-Claude Barre begin their experiments with liquid propellant rocket engines. Despite Esnault-Pelterie losing the fingers of his left hand in a laboratory explosion three weeks later, he and Barre continue their efforts. A short essay about Pelterie and his work is available here.

Astronomy Fact of the Day: September 24, 2020

Tonight around 8:00pm you will find the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn in the south. Tonight, the Moon will be near Jupiter; at the same time tomorrow, it will be near Saturn. This is a great reminder that the Moon appears to move by all the planets every month.

Astronomy Fact of the Day: September 23, 2020

In 1963 on this date, the first child of someone who had been in space was born. Gherman Titov, the second person to orbit the earth, had a daughter, Tatyana. Gherman’s obituary published by the New York Times – which includes some information about his Vostok flight – may be found here.

Astronomy Fact of the Day: September 22, 2020

Today is the first day of Fall. This day is known as the Autumnal Equinox which is one of two days each year the Sun’s apparent path in the sky intersects the celestial equator. After today, nights will grow longer until we reach the first day of winter on December 21.

Astronomy Fact of the Day: September 21, 2020

On this date in 1974, the unmanned US probe Mariner 10 made its second flyby of the planet Mercury, providing another opportunity to photograph the sunlit side of the planet and the south polar region. More information about Mariner 10 and its findings about Mercury may be found here.

Astronomy Fact of the Day: September 20, 2020

At 9:00pm tonight you will find two bright red objects, one in the east and one in the west. If you look west, you will see the bright star Arcturus preparing to set. Rising In the east you will find the bright red planet Mars.

Astronomy Fact of the Day: September 19, 2020

In 1935 on this date, Konstantin E. Tsiolkovskiy died. Tskiolkovskiy was the chief Soviet theorist of spaceflight, developed mathematics of rocketry and space travel, and identified basic rocket and spacecraft designs. A concise biography of Tsiolkovskiy may be found at Encyclopedia Britannica’s website here.

Astronomy Fact of the Day: September 18, 2020

For those willing to wake up around 4:00am, you will be treated to a familiar sight: the constellation Orion. This is a reminder that winter is coming. The bright object north of Orion, by the way, is the planet Venus.

Astronomy Fact of the Day: September 17, 2020

On this date in 1930, two future astronauts were born: Edgar Mitchell and Tom Stafford. You can read their official NASA biographies at these two links: Biography of Edgar Mitchell. Biography of Thomas Stafford.

Astronomy Fact of the Day: September 16, 2020

Tonight around 9pm, you can find a smile-shape of stars in the southeast that is called Capricornus, the Sea Goat. The first record of this constellation first appears about 4,000 years ago, when it was called Suhurmašu, or “The Goat Fish.” This is one of the oldest constellations we still use.