From December 5, 2009.
The inspiration for the title of this astronomy blog is a chapter from Craig Nelson’s Rocket Men. In the final chapter of this book tracing the background of Apollo 11, Nelson recalls a conversation with Gerry Griffin, a NASA Flight Director. A group of NASA employees went to Caltech, where the first moonwalker, Neil Armstrong, “got up at the blackboard and he drew four curves. They look kind of like mountain peaks.” The titles of the peaks were “Leadership,” “Threat,” “Good Economy”, and “World Peace.” As Griffin recalls, Armstrong said, “My theory is that when all of those curves are in conjunction, when they all line up together, you can do something like Apollo. Apollo, or something like it, will happen. And we happened to be ready for that when all those curves lined up” (p. 348).
morning sky before sunrise. Observe that the moon is in a different spot each morning, farther east toward the impending sunrise.
June 15, 2021: The moon is with the Sickle of Leo this evening. Step outside about an hour after sunset to find the crescent moon that is about 30% illuminated over one-third of the way up in the west.
July 12, 2021: Venus – Mars conjunction evening. Evening Star Venus passes 0.5° to the upper right of the Red Planet. The crescent moon is nearby. This is the first of three conjunctions of Venus and Mars – a triple conjunction.
July 1, 2021: Saturn and Mars are in opposite directions in the sky. Mars sets as Saturn rises. In about a week, the two planets are visible in the sky at the same time. This event signals that the planet parade is starting to reorganize. During July, three other planet – planet oppositions occur, leading up to a challenging view of the five bright planets during mid-August.
June 13, 2021: After sunset, look for the thin crescent moon near Mars. The lunar sliver is also to the upper left of the star Pollux.