September 7, 2021 Today in 1914, James A. Van Allen was born. An American astrophysicist, his experiment carried aboard the first American satellite established the existence of radiation belts that encircle the Earth. A full biography of James Van Allen may be found here. This early schematic of the Van Allen Belts’ structure was created… Continue reading
September 6, 2021 New Moon occurs today. The new lunar cycle is lunation 1221. This is the last new moon of Summer 2021. Details in the Milky Way Galaxy and other faint objects are best seen on dark moonless nights. Night sky image from the ESO – VLT credit: ESO, Yuri Beletsky
September 5, 2021 Today in 1977, Voyager 1 launched carrying the Golden Record from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida. After visiting Jupiter and Saturn, Voyager 1 would become the first human-made object to venture into interstellar space. Voyager 1 was the first spacecraft to cross the heliosphere, the boundary where the influences… Continue reading
September 4, 2021 Those traveling to dark locations can be on the lookout for Zodiacal Light. As we approach the Autumnal Equinox, about one hour before sunrise you may find a bright wedge of light appearing along the zodiac constellations in the east. This phenomenon is caused by sunlight reflecting off dust in our solar… Continue reading
September 3, 2021 Today in 1976, NASA’s Viking 2 lander successfully landed on the surface of Mars. From its high-inclination orbit, the Viking 2 orbiter was able to closely observe complex Martian polar regions. The Viking 2 mission was launched via a Titan-Centaur rocket in September 1975, and the orbiter was used until July 1978… Continue reading
September 1, 2021 Today in 2006, NASA selected Lockheed Martin as the prime contractor to design, develop, and build Orion, America’s spacecraft for a new generation of explorers. The Orion capsule is planned to launch on its maiden voyage later this year aboard the Artemis I mission. Learn more about Artemis here.
August 31, 2021 Today in 1963, the Gemini Project Office (GPO) reported that it was investigating the use of a parasail and landing rocket system to enable the Gemini spacecraft to land on land. A declassified NASA report from the time, entitled “Gemini Land Landing System Development Program,” may be read and/or downloaded here . Gemini… Continue reading
August 30, 2021 Last quarter moon occurs today. Moonrise occurs a little after midnight. At the time of moonrise, the Moon will have an azimuth of 58.9° so look east northeast to find the Moon.
August 29, 2021 Today in 1965, Gemini V returned to Earth following an 8-day orbital mission. Due to a programming error in their navigational computer, the astronauts had to guide the spacecraft to its splashdown manually. Cape Kennedy and Kennedy Space Center seen during the Gemini V mission. Credit: NASA, Charles Conrad
August 28, 2021 Tonight at 8:00 pm, you can find three planets in the sky. To the west, you will find Venus and to the southeast you will find Jupiter and Saturn. All three planets will be low at this time so you will need a clear view of the horizon.