Dear Year In Space readers,

Image of the Week
This we're traveling about 650 light-years away to the Helix Nebula, the elegant remains of a dying star. The data for this image was captured jointly by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX). Read more about this image below or in the original press release, and then watch this short video about how the Helix came to be.

The Sky this Week
On April 3rd, look for the waxing crescent Moon to pass in front of the Hyades star cluster. Jupiter still dominates the early evening sky, nearly overhead for mid-northern latitude observers. The Moon passes below Jupiter on the 5th and 6th. Mars is just a week away from its April 8th opposition, so it is rising very nearly at sunset. Don't confuse it with Spica, about 5° to its lower right. Saturn rises about 2 hours after Mars and is prominent in the southern sky before sunrise. Venus is brilliant in the southeastern sky before dawn. Here's a great short SkyWeek video from Sky & Telescope for this week.

I hope you enjoy this week's space calendar!

Steve

This Nebula Needs a Time Out A dying star is throwing a cosmic tantrum in this combined image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, Galaxy Evolution Explorer, and Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer. This object, called the Helix nebula, lies 650 light-years away in the constellation of Aquarius. The Helix is a planetary nebula, a class of objects erroneously named in the 18th century because of their resemblance to giant gas planets. After exhausting its hydrogen and helium fuel, the original star puffed off its outer gaseous layers and left behind the tiny, hot, dense core, called a white dwarf (the point-like object just visible at center). The intense ultraviolet radiation from the white dwarf is heating up the expelled layers of gas, which shine brightly in the infrared region of the spectrum.

Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Weekly Calendar

March 31- April 6, 2014

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Moon phase Monday 31

Mars 5° north of Spica

1962: NASA approves final design of Gemini spacecraft
1982: Kvant module launched to Mir space station
1997: Pioneer 10 mission officially ends

Moon phase Tuesday 1

1960: TIROS 1 launched
1997: Comet Hale-Bopp’s closest approach to Sun
1998: TRACE launched

Moon phase Wednesday 2

Uranus in conjunction with Sun

1845: First photograph of Sun taken
2010: Soyuz TMA-18 launched carrying ISS Expedition 23 crew

Moon phase Thursday 3

1966: Luna 10 becomes first spacecraft to orbit the Moon
1973: Salyut 2 space station launched

Moon phase Friday 4

1930: American Rocket Society founded
1968: Apollo 6 launched
1983: STS-6 Challenger launched
1997: STS-83 Columbia launched
2000: First commercial mission to Mir

Moon phase Saturday 5

1973: Pioneer 11 launched
1975: Soyuz 18-1, first in-flight abort
1990: Pegsat launched
1991: STS-37 Atlantis launched
2010: STS-131 Discovery launched

Moon phase Sunday 6

Jupiter 5° north of Moon

1965: Early Bird (Intelsat 1) launched
1984: STS-41C Challenger launched

 


See this week in space online by clicking here.

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