10 Things for the Week of April 20 - April 26
18 April 2014
Did you see SpaceX launch for the International Space Station (ISS) on April 18th? Did you hear about Kepler's latest finding: an Earth-sized planet orbiting within the habitable zone of another star? (The star lies within the constellation of Cygnus.) Or how about the possible new moon of Saturn forming in its rings as seen by the Cassini spacecraft?
It takes a lot of engineering and scientific know-how to reach far off places such as these and discover new worlds. NASA's got it. Do you?
Learn about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) this week at the USA Science and Engineering Festival. Plus, remember past successes, findings and a special launch of an extraordinary space telescope -- it's all here and more in this week's edition of 10 Things.
1. LUNAR CALENDAR
This year, Easter falls on April 20th. You've probably noticed that the day for Easter changes every year. Ever wondered why? It has to do with the lunar calendar.
The date of Easter is determined by the first Sunday to fall after the first full moon to take place after March 21st. If you remember -- and who could forget it -- the lunar eclipse that took place last week was the first full moon after March 21st.
Surveyor 3 landed on the moon on April 20th in 1967. This mission was the third in a series of engineering test missions that helped pave the way for man to reach the moon.
Nearly two and a half years later, members of the Apollo 12 crew visited Surveyor 3 on the moon's surface and collected parts from the spacecraft to bring back to Earth for evaluation of the effects of long-term exposure on the moon's surface. Read the Apollo 12 mission profile to find out what they found. It is quite intriguing. (Plus then the title of this entry will make more sense too.)
3. METEOR SHOWER
The Lyrids peak this week during the early morning hours of April 21-22. There will be a gibbous moon, but these meteors are known for their brightness, speed and long trails or trains, so you should still be able to catch sight of some. Also, try looking for them on April 23rd after moonset and before dawn -- you will have a better chance of viewing them then.
Fun Fact: The Lyrids are one of the oldest known meteor showers: Lyrid meteors have been observed for over 2,700 years. (The first recorded sighting of a Lyrid meteor shower goes back to 687 BC by the Chinese.)
4. EARTH DAY
Tuesday, April 22nd is Earth Day. This is a great day to consider how you can conserve and preserve the great world you live in's resources.
How will you celebrate? Will you plant a tree? Stop using styrofoam cups? Bring your own bag when you go shopping? There are many ways to participate. NASA has a few ways too. Check out the links below for more information.
5. GLOBAL SELFIE
Take a selfie on Earth Day 2014 and be a part of a global campaign with the NASA Global Selfie sign. Share and tag your photos #globalselfie to participate.
6. HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE
The 24th is the 24th anniversary of the launch of the Hubble space telescope.
Hubble has taken some of the most awe inspiring images in the Universe of the Universe (in my opinion, at least) and besides those, several fantastic images of objects within our own solar system too.
In an effort to support the President's STEM initiative, NASA is the anchor exhibit for the USA Science and Engineering Festival taking place in Washington D.C. this weekend (April 25th-27th). Click on the links below to learn more.
8. SWEET SIXTEEN
16 years ago on April 26th, and on its way to ringed-wonder Saturn, Cassini took a swing by Venus for a gravity assist. This gravity assist gave the spacecraft one of the boosts it needed to reach Saturn at the right time in 2004.
Also of note --
This particular flyby was the lowest-altitude gravity-assist planetary pass made by the Cassini spacecraft, flying just 284 km (176 miles) above Venus' surface.
Even though it was not considered a complete success, Ranger 4 was the first American spacecraft to reach another body in our solar system. This week marks the 52nd anniversary of its launch (April 23rd) and lunar impact (April 26th).
10. STAR PARTY
This Thursday through Sunday (April 24th-27th), the South Jersey Astronomy Club (SJAC) will be hosting a star party (with camping opportunies) on the observing field at Belleplain State Forest in New Jersey. Check out the link below for more information.
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