Astronomy Picture of the Day
Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2016 June 4
Explanation: Fifty years ago, Surveyor 1 reached the Moon. Launched on May 30, 1966 and landed on June 2, 1966 with the Moon at full phase it became the first US spacecraft to make a soft landing on another world. The first of seven Surveyor missions intended to test the lunar terrain for the planned Apollo landings it sent back over 10,000 images before lunar nightfall on June 14. The total rose to over 11,000 images returned before its second lunar night began on July 13. Surveyor 1 continued to respond from the lunar surface until January 7, 1967. Captured in this 2009 image from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, the first Surveyor still stands at its landing site, a speck in the Oceanus Procellarum (the Ocean of Storms). With the Sun low on the western horizon the lonely, 3.3 meter tall spacecraft casts a shadow almost 15 meters long in the late lunar afternoon.
Big Dipper high in north on June evenings
Tonight, assuming you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, you can easily find the legendary Big Dipper asterism, called The Plough by our friends in the U.K. This familiar star pattern is high in the north during the evening hours in the month of June.
Although the Big Dipper can also be seen from the southern tropics at nightfall, it’ll reside much lower in the northern sky and closer to the horizon. Polaris, the North Star, disappears beneath the horizon once you get south of the Earth’s equator.
You can find the Big Dipper easily because its shape really resembles a dipper.
Less familiar – and tougher to find – is the Little Dipper. Here’s how you can find it from northerly latitudes.
First, locate the Big Dipper in the northern sky during the evening hours. Notice that the Big Dipper has two parts: a bowl and a handle. See the two outer stars in the bowl? They’re known as The Pointers because they point to the North Star, which is also known as Polaris.
Once you’ve found Polaris, you can find the Little Dipper. Polaris marks the end of the handle of the Little Dipper. You need a dark night to see the Little Dipper in full, because it’s so much fainter than its larger and brighter counterpart.
Bottom line: Look for the Big Dipper high in the north at nightfall!
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. “Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers,” she says.
Article published on EarthSky
The Words of Confucius
The firm, the enduring, the simple, and the modest are near to virtue.
Your Daily Influences
June 4, 2016
The Hanged Man Reversed
The card of false prophecy and time wasted. The reversed Hanged Man represents a preoccupation with the worldly and wasted energy.
Ingwaz signifies completion, success and fertility. Your present ambitions are about to be met. You are fecund in both mind and body.
The Tau Cross
A journey that you or someone close to you must make will have a positive influence on this aspect. This trip may be over a great distance.
Your Daily Influences represent events and challenges the current day will present for you. They may represent opportunities you should be ready to seize. Or they may forewarn you of problems you may be able to avoid or lessen. Generally it is best to use them as tips to help you manage your day and nothing more.
Your Charm for Today
This aspect of your life will be strongly influenced by a person who is adaptable, versatile, communicative, witty, intellectual, eloquent, youthful and lively. This could be a sibling, a child or a very close friend.
Third sign of the Zodiac, May 22nd to June 21st. Ruling planet Mercury; correct metal, Silver. Those born under the influence of Gemini were believed to be endowed with strong intellectual powers, high aspirations, to be shrewd, ingenious and vivacious, but restless and fond of change. The Gemini stones are Agates and Emeralds. Agate talismans were worn by the orientals for eloquence, and adverting ill health, also to bring fortune and good luck. The Greeks and Romans had great faith in AGate amulets, wearing them for health, wealth, and long life. Queen Elizabeth possessed a large engraved Agate, which was supposed to be endowed with magical powers.