Solar System Events Calendar 2019
Bringing you 90 days worth of solar system events. These include things of up-coming interest like equinoxes and solstices, major spacecraft events, and things you can see with your naked eye like eclipses and comets.
Southern Delta Aquariids Meteor Shower
|This yearly meteor shower occurs when the Earth moves through the debris of the breakup of the Marsden and Kracht Sungrazing comets. It usually peaks around July 28th/29th and can peak at 15-20 meteors per hour. Link||Ends:|
Exactly 50 years since man landed on the Moon.
|50 years ago, at 12:52:00 UTC on July 20, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong entered the Lunar Lander spacecraft (call sign Eagle), and began the final preparations for lunar descent. At 17:44:00 UTC Eagle separated from it's mother ship (call sign Columbia) leaving Michael Collins to man the spacecraft alone until their return. Once Collins, who inspected Eagle from a window as it pirouetted before him, relayed that the Eagle was not damaged and it's landing gear was correctly deployed, Armstrong reported: "The Eagle has wings!" and started the journey to the surface.
Two and a half hours later Eagle was scooting above the Lunar surface looking for a suitable landing spot. Armstrong had taken over manual control of Eagle to avoid the computer attempting to land on a surface strewn with large boulders. With fuel running low and the onboard computer repeatedly reporting alarms that the crew had not trained for and that ground control were not expecting, Eagle eventually touched down at 20:17:40 UTC on Sunday July 20. After a brief flurry of working through the landing checklist, Armstrong reported "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.". It's likely that Charles Duke summed up (in an understated way) what the millions of people watching and listening had just experienced when he said "Roger, Twan– Tranquility, we copy you on the ground. You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We're breathing again. Thanks a lot." Link|
View from Columbia taken by Michael Collins as he inspected Eagle before its decent to the surface. Credit:NASA
Exactly 50 years since Neil Armstrong took the first step on the Moon.
|50 years ago, after describing the surface dust as "very fine-grained" and "almost like a powder", at 02:56:15, Neil Armstrong stepped off Eagle's footpad and declared: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." [He thought he had said "for a man" but the 'a' is not audible.] This one simple moment in which a man stepped onto the surface of another world is so important that it's hard to describe it in words. An amazing achievement of science, technology, engineering, management and political will. An amazing achievement of the United States of America to go, in the timespan of less than 10 years, from having a few minutes of experience in spaceflight to acheiving a seemingly impossible task of ending men to the moon. It was also a moment for celebrating the best in the human spirit; the inspirational words of J.F.Kennedy; the brave deeds of the astronauts who sometimes rated their chances of not surviving in the 10 to 30 % range, but did it anyway. So, at The Planets Today, we salute the all those involved in the Apollo project, some of whom made huge personal sacrifices to help the project achieve success, and the few (like the crew of Apollo 1) who made the ultimate sacrifice. Link|
Buzz Aldrin standing on the footpad, just as Neil did for that first step. Credit:NASA
Perseid Meteor Shower
|This yearly meteor is caused by the comet Swift-Tuttle. It usually peaks around 12th/13th August and can peak at 80 meteors per hour. Visible in the northern hemisphere only. Link||Ends:|
Taurids Meteor Shower
|The Taurids are an annual meteor shower associated with the comet Encke. They are named after their radiant point in the constellation Taurus, where they are seen to come from in the sky. Because of their occurrence in late October and early November, they are also called Halloween fireballs. Due to the gravitational perturbations of planets, especially Jupiter, the Taurids have spread out over time, allowing separate segments labeled the Northern Taurids (NTA) and Southern Taurids (STA) to become observable. The Southern Taurids are active from about September 10 to November 20, while the Northern Taurids are active from about October 20 to December 10. Link||Ends:|
|Equinox day! For non-equatorial folk, get out your Summer or Winter clothes!|
Orionids Meteor Shower
|The Orionids are generated by dust from Halley's Comet. It produces about 20 meteors per hour at its peak - usually on the 21st, but it is highly irregular. A good show could be experienced on any morning from October 20 - 25. Best viewing is east after midnight. Visible in northern and southern hemispheres. Link||Ends:|
Draconids Meteor Shower
|The Draconids are generated by dust from comet 21 P/ Giacobini-Zinner. It usually produces a low number of meteors per hour but has on occasion been spectacular. Visible to people in the northern hemisphere and people near the equator in the southern hemisphere. Link||Ends:|