Apollo 11 celebrations in the Valley

In this July 20, 1969 photo made available by NASA, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, lunar module pilot, walks on the surface of the moon during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity. (Neil Armstrong/NASA via AP)

Almost time for the festivities at the Resaca de la Palma State Park for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 flight.

Countdown has begun at the park and good things are planned for families and singles to enjoy. During the event, scheduled for 8:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m., will have several guest speakers who will be sharing insight into their own involvement in space missions and local space buffs will be sharing activities for kids and families related to getting to where you need to go as well as another space mission that relied heavily on the math connections to space missions.

The observatory will be sharing Jupiter and the four Galilean moons, Saturn’s rings, and other sky treasures. Bring the family and plan to have a great time learning more about space and astronomy. Seeing the two reigning planets through a telescope for the first time or the fortieth time will be reason enough to visit the Christina Torres Memorial Observatory that evening.

NASA’s current mission to Jupiter is named Juno. It was launched in August of 2011, arriving at Jupiter on July 4, 2016. Since then Juno has been conducting exploration from orbit and sending back incredibly beautiful images of the Jovian surface and information about the planet’s origins and composition that complement the wildly successful Galileo mission to Jupiter back in 1989-2003.

Either mission can be searched at the following links:

https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/juno/in-depth/;

https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/galileo/overview/

Saturn has had its share of exploration by orbiting spacecraft as well. Solar system scientists acclaimed the fifteen-years-long mission worldwide for the information the mission accumulated and shared.

https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/cassini/overview/.

Possible International Space Station sightings for this week include a two-minute window Monday morning at exactly 6:25 a.m. appearing 11 degrees above the northern horizon, passing only 21 degrees high and disappearing in the NNE. Monday night at 9:24 p.m. we will have six minutes to watch that gleaming point of reflected sunlight appear 10 degrees above SSW, pass as high as 34 degrees, and disappear 10 degrees above the ENE. You can get updates and alerts on your cellphone with NASA email and phone alerts.

Sign up at https://spotthestation.nasa.gov/

Now, what’s up tonight? How about ruddy Antares, the rival of Aries/Mars? This gigantic red star is so huge that if it were where our sun is, we would be engulfed in it. So would all the inner planets along with their orbits, the asteroid belt…almost to Jupiter. And it is not the biggest star. Sort of puts us humans in our place, doesn’t it? Antares is the red star almost due south now, in the constellation Scorpius.

To the left of Scorpius, the little teapot asterism in the constellation Sagittarius is letting off a cloud of starry steam, one of the Messier objects catalogued by the 18th century astronomer Charles Messier. Sagittarius also contains many other Messier objects as well as is the window to the center of the Milky Way galaxy. There is a plethora of beauties to enjoy. Plan to join us and capture some of that beauty first-hand on July 20th.

Until next week, do let some stars get in your eyes.