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10 Things for the Week of May 4-10
Columnist: Autumn Burdick

10 Things for the Week of May 4-10
2 May 2014

Each day -- and every week -- there are learning opportunities all around you. Some are presented by teachers (official or not), and others are sought out by you.

This week, appreciate all those who have made a difference in your space awareness. Plus, remember the Magellan mission, go out to view a ringed wonder or perhaps some shooting stars. It's all here, and more, in this week's edition of 10 Things.

1. MAGELLAN

Sunday, May 4th is the 25th Anniversary of the launch of Magellan. This Venus probe was designed to map 70% of the Venusian surface. This spacecraft was in fact able to map 98 percent of Venus' surface (see image above).

Now this launch was not your average launch from Cape Canaveral. No, Magellan was actually the first interplanetary launch from a space shuttle (Atlantis).

Another cool fact about this mission. The spacecraft returned 1,200 gigabits of data, far exceeding the 900 gigabits of data from all NASA planetary missions combined at the time -- that included the Voyager mission.

2. ETA AQUARIDS

If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, look to the skies between 2-5 a.m. on May 4/5/6 for the peak of the Eta Aquarids meteor shower. The Eta Aquarids are viewable in the Northern Hemisphere as well, but more will be seen in the Southeren Hemisphere due to the location of this shower's radiant: the constellation of Aquarius.

These meteors are fast -- traveling at about 66 km/s (148,000 mph) into Earth's atmosphere. Fast meteors can leave glowing "trains" (incandescent bits of debris in the wake of the meteor) which last for several seconds to minutes.

3. TEACHER'S DAY

Teacher Appreciation Day is Tuesday, May 6th. Don't forget to thank your teachers and tell them how much they have changed your life.

We have plenty of materials available for educators and students on our site. Check them all out in the links below.

4. ASTRONOMY WEEK

This week is a great week to learn about space -- it's Astronomy Week and Saturday, May 10th is Astronomy Day.

Several astronomical societies, planetariums, museums, and observatories will be sponsoring special events and activities. Check out the link for more information.

5. VIRTUAL

More learning opportunities--

On Friday, May 9th at 8 a.m. PDT, Tim Spahr will speak about the Minor Planet Center (MPC) in the first of this month's Asteroid Grand Challenge: Virtual Seminar Series from the SServi Virtual Institute.

6. KEPLER LECTURE

The Kepler mission announced the discovery of an earth-sized world orbiting another star within the habitable zone on April 17th. Want to learn more about the Kepler mission?

Erik Petigura of UC Berkely will speak on the Kepler mission on May 9th as part of Peninsula Astronomical Society's Lecture series. The Lecture is titled: The Kepler Mission -- Counting Earth-like Planets around Sun-like Stars. Location is Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, Calif.

7. SATURN VIEWING OPPORTUNITY

Get out your telescopes -- Saturday, May 10 will be a perfect day to view Saturn. On Saturday, Saturn will be at opposition, which means that Saturn, the Earth and the sun will be positioned in a straight line with the Earth in the middle. This positioning places Saturn at its closest to the Earth and is a yearly event.

Look for Saturn to rise in the east as the sun is setting in the west.

8. SPACEMAN

May 5th marks the day that Alan Shepard -- the first U.S. man is space -- made his suborbital flight in 1961.

9. FUTURE HUMAN EXPLORATION

May 9th marks the 11th anniversary of Japan's launch of the Hayabusa spacecraft. Hayabusa was the first mission to collect and return asteroid samples to the Earth. Soon humans will be collecting asteroid samples in person.

Asteroid sample return has been on our minds lately what with the Humans to Mars forum last week in Washington. Sending humans to an asteroid is in the plans by 2025 and is a part of the step process to getting humans to Mars in the 2030s.

10. MOTHERS

Many times your first teacher is your mother, so don't forget to remember your mothers too. After all, Mother's Day is next Sunday, May 11th. Also, did you know that Friday, May 9th is the 100th anniversary of Mother's Day as a nationally recognized holiday. President Woodrow Wilson instituted Mother's Day as the second Sunday in May in 1914.


Read More by Autumn Burdick

About: Autumn Burdick
Photo of Autumn Burdick
Autumn is the science writer who enjoys bringing this weekly look at upcoming events and stories from around our solar system to you. Follow SSE on Twitter: @NASASolarSystem
Read More by Autumn Burdick
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Last Updated: 2 May 2014