10 Things for the Week of February 13 - March 1
21 February 2014
Remember a couple of missions celebrating 45th and 65th anniversaries, or perhaps listen in on a lecture, or watch Venus disappear -- it's all happening this week.
1. BUMPER CROP
Monday, February 24th is the 65th Anniversary (1949) of the successful launch of the Bumper WAC rocket from White Sands Proving Ground. This was the first completely successful launch of a two stage rocket. This rocket reached an altitude of 244 miles (390 km). (Pictured above is a similar rocket from 1950.)
2. ANCIENT MARINER
Tuesday, February 25th is the 45th anniversary (not ancient at all) of Mariner 6's launch for Mars. Mariner 6, a flyby mission, was sent to study the surface and atmosphere of Mars.
3. THE LADY VANISHES
This week. on Wednesday, February 26th, the moon will occult the planet Venus. Sounds scary, huh, but this is an average happening in space. And without occultations we may never have discovered the rings of Uranus (for more about this, go here -- see "Big Find").
An occultation is a celestial event in which a larger body covers up a distant object. On Wednesday the moon will completely block out Venus.
Thursday, February 27th is the 117th anniversary of the birth of Bernard Lyot (1897-1952). Lyot invented the coronagraph.
A coronagraph is an instrument which studies the sun's outer atmosphere, the corona. It is this instrument that allows us to catch glimpses of sungrazing comets and view the sun's coronal mass ejections -- without it, the sun would just be too bright.
Want to take part in a virtual seminar concerning asteroids? Here's your chance: This Friday, February 28th there will be an "Asteroid Grand Challenge: Virtual Seminar Series" seminar focused on NASA's near Earth asteroid (NEA) programs. Lindley Johnson from NASA Headquarters will be presenting.
6. DARK SKY FESTIVAL
Friday and Saturday (February 28th and March 1st) will be the 11th Annual Dark Sky Festival in Harmony, Fla. This event is free and takes place from 5 - 10 p.m. on both nights
The festival's motto is: "We've got more stars than Hollywood. (And no paparazzi.)" (P.S. Hollywood will be full of stars and paparazzi the day after the festival concludes -- it's the Academy Awards on March 2nd.)
Part of the Lunar and Planetary Institute's (LPI) Seminar Series, this hour-long lecture, titled: "The Early Magmatic and Tectonic History of the Moon as Revealed by GRAIL," will take place on Friday, February 28th at 3:30 p.m. in Houston, Texas.
8. ASTEROID FLYBY
Bruce Murray (1931- 2013), the former director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., has an asteroid named for him. And this asteroid will be making its closest approach this Friday, February 28th. Asteroid 4957 Brucemurray's closest approach will be at 2.110 AU from the Earth.
9. CHANGE IN DIRECTION
On February 26th, MAVEN will make its second trajectory correction maneuver while on its way to Mars. MAVEN launched on November 18, 2013 and will begin orbiting Mars in September 2014.
10. 90 YEARS
Saturday, March 1st is the 90th anniversary of the birthday of astronaut, Deke Slayton. See below for more about his life and career.
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