Astronomy! OK, maybe not entirely, I suppose there are a few other things to do. Astronomy-wise, let’s see what 2020 has in the queue.
Tye Preston Memorial Library in Canyon Lake has another year of astronomy programs. Here is their schedule for the year: Jan. 18, 7:30-9:30 p.m.; Feb. 15, 7:30-9:30 p.m.; March 14, 9-11 p.m.; April 18, 9-11 p.m., May 16 (Daytime Sun Party), 2-4 p.m.; NO PROGRAMS FOR JUNE, JULY, AND AUGUST; Sept. 12, 9-11 p.m.; Sept. 26 (International Observe the Moon night), 7:30-9:30 p.m.; Oct. 10, 9-11 p.m.; Nov. 7, 7:30-9:30 p.m.; Dec. 5, 7-9 p.m.
As always, we depend on the sky’s cooperation so if it’s inclement there will be a presentation inside the library. When the sky is clear and before going to the observatory there will be a short update in the library on what’s going on in astronomy and what’s in the sky that night. The New Braunfels Astronomy Club will have members present to show off our night sky.
New Braunfels Astronomy Club meets the third Thursday of each month (no meeting in December) at 7 p.m. in TJ’s restaurant on Loop 337. Join the party!
NASA has a few notable launches planned for 2020: Feb. 5 with ESA (European Space Agency), Solar Orbiter will explore the Sun’s heliosphere; April, ISS Expedition 62 launch; July, Mars 2020 Rover; Artemis 1, the first mission (no crew) of their Orion spacecraft
Space X continues to test its mettle: Jan. 11 or later, test the flight abort capability of the Crew Dragon. It also plans additional launches of their Starlink satellites, 60 at a time until they have as many as 35,000 in orbit. The objective for Starlink is to make internet access available everywhere on Earth.
China’s CHANG’E 5 will attempt to collect and return material from the Moon. China also plans a Mars orbiter and rover mission combination.
ESA is planning a Mars mission called ExoMars 2020 including a rover
UAE (United Arab Emirates) is planning Hope Mars, a Mars orbital craft, their first spacecraft mission beyond Earth orbit
Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner was tested in December 2019 and successfully landed after a couple of technical hiccups. Boeing is planning other test flights in 2020.
OneWeb is the European competition to Space X and their Starlink program. They plan to deploy 650 satellites initially. They have contracted with Russia to provide launches.
Texas Star Party is planned for May 17-24 at the Prude Ranch, near Fort Davis, Texas. This party draws over 400 participants each year and the location is just about perfect. Contact texasstarparty.org
Each month has a named full Moon, most months have a meteor shower going on, comets might be visible this year and the planets will tantalize. I will make every effort to keep up and keep you informed.
What’s in the Sky?
Jan. 4; around 3 a.m.; northeast: The Quadrantid meteor shower peaks
Jan. 4; 45 minutes before sunrise; southeast: Mars is in Scorpius