10 Things for the Week of March 31 - April 6
29 March 2013
Here's your weekly look at upcoming events and stories from around our solar system.
1. COMET PANSTARRS: THE SEQUEL
The comet that graced sunset skies in March is still visible with binoculars in the twilight sky (shown above on March 9). This week (April 4 and 5) will strike a stunning pose with the Andromeda galaxy as a backdrop.
2. COMET ISON: THE PREQUEL
ISON has the potential to be a daylight naked-eye comet in November, but no one can be sure yet if it will survive its close encounter with the sun. The answer is still a few months away. But you can already join ISON on its cosmic trek with our Eyes on the Solar System simulator.
3. REGULAR VISITOR
Sixteen-hundred and thirty-nine years ago on Monday (374 AD), comet Halley made one of its regular visits to the inner solar system. Unlike PANSTARRS and ISON, which are long period comets that come from much deeper in space, Halley treks through the inner solar system every 75-76 years. It will return in 2061.
4. RETURN TO TITAN
On Thursday, NASA's Cassini orbiter makes another flyby of Titan at an altitude of 1,400 km (870 mi).
5. GO FOR MOON
Thursday marks the 45th anniversary of the final unmanned test of the mighty Saturn V rocket. Apollo 6's success meant the Saturn V was ready to launch men to the moon.
6. TRUE PIONEER
Forty years ago this week, Pioneer 11 launched on an epic journey that took it past Jupiter and Saturn and then on a course that will eventually carry it into interstellar space.
7. GOOD NIGHT, MORNING STAR
Venus swings around the sun in March and switches from morning to the evening sky.
8. GIRL POWER
On Friday, girls will gather in Dallas for a Sally Ride Science Festival. The festivals carry on the legacy of pioneering astronaut and educator Sally Ride, who died last year.
9. FIRST GENERATION SPACE STATION
Forty-years ago this week, the world's second space station was launched by the Soviet Union. Salyut 2/Almaz 1 was part of a secret military program that included plans to arm the small stations with "an antiaircraft cannon to defend against American attack." Salyut 2 broke apart and fell back to Earth before it could be used, and its greatest legacy was a peaceful one - lessons learned led in part to the International Space Station.
10. WHAT'S IN A NAME?
One of the perks of discovering an asteroid or comet is the ability to name it (with fewer restrictions than, say, a planet or moon). This week asteroids named for American artist Norman Rockwell, rocketry pioneer William Pickering and all around beautiful place Bryce Canyon in Utah make their closest approaches to Earth (don't worry they are all safely orbiting hundreds of millions of miles away).
Read More by The Authors