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10 Things for the Week of May 25-31
Columnist: The Authors

10 Things for the Week of May 25-31
23 May 2014

Summer is almost here, and school is letting out. This week remember a few space missions, attend a lecture or star party or even watch Star Wars: Episode IV. It's all here and more in this week's edition of 10 Things.


Memorial Day weekend (and to be exact: May 25, 1977) is the anniversary of the opening for the movie Star Wars: Episode IV -- A New Hope. This movie has been a major force in inspiring interest in space exploration for 37 years.

In the Star Wars trilogy and additional episodes we view other habitable worlds -- think the Moon of Endor where the Ewoks live. Did you hear about Kepler's latest finding (it was announced last month): an Earth-sized planet orbiting within the habitable zone of another star? (The star lies within the constellation of Cygnus.)


May 25th is the day that President Kennedy gave his Decision to Go to the Moon Speech in 1961. This speech announced the national goal of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth within the decade.

And go we did.


There will be a star party all week in Ft. Davis, Texas. Fulltime college students who are 26 and younger get in free to this event.


Alexander MacDonald will present an open lecture for interested students, staff, faculty and researchers on the long-run economic history of American space exploration. The lecture will take place on Tuesday, May 27th at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California.


If you happen to be in London there will be a lecture titled: An Evening on Titan. Check out the link below for more information.


55 years ago Wednesday (May 28, 1959), two monkeys named Able and Baker flew to space, experienced weightlessness and safely returned home. Able and Baker were two of the animal trailblazers that helped pave the way for human spaceflight.


The Galileo mission flew by asteroid 951 Gaspra in 1991 (October 29th), and took 150 images (including other data). Did you know that Galileo was the first spacecraft to fly past an asteroid?

It is true: Galileo came within about 1,604 km (997 miles) of the rocky world, which is much closer than this asteroid will come to Earth on Thursday when it will make its closest approach. Gaspra will come within 1.458 AUs of the Earth on May 29th. (One AU is equal to about 150 million km or 93 million miles.)


Friday, May 30th is the anniversary of the launch of Mariner 9 (1971). Mariner 9 was the first spacecraft to orbit the planet Mars. Mariner 9 was also the first spacecraft to orbit a planet other than the Earth.

So as not to cause confusion, Mariner 2 which flew by Venus in 1962 was the first spacecraft to flyby another planet -- however it did not enter orbit at Venus.


In Waupaca, Wisconsin from May 29th - June 1st there will be an observing weekend with camping. Registration ends Sunday, May 25th.


Come to Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York on Saturday, May 31st for a free stargazing event (7-11 p.m.) and check out the scale model of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. (The Rosetta mission is currently on its way to this comet. Rosetta will orbit the comet and deploy a lander on its surface later this year.)

This scale model is 9 feet high by 12 feet long, and gives off a fine mist to mimic the comet's tail.


On May 29th, in 1953, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first people to climb and reach the top of Mt. Everest (1953.) Mt. Everest is 8.5 km (29,035 feet) tall -- that is about 5.5 miles tall.

Mt. Everest is the tallest mountain on Earth, but there are mountains on other planets that are taller than Mt. Everest. For example, Maxwell Montes on Venus is 11 km (6.8 miles) high. However, Olympus Mons on Mars is the tallest mountain in the solar system at 25 km (16 mi) high

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Last Updated: 28 May 2014