Charlotte space and sky watcher highlights for the week

Thank you to NASA ambassador Tony Rice for providing the weekly Astronomical highlights for Charlotte.

You can connect with Tony right here



  • New climate books from the National Academies (free PDF downlaod): Climate Intervention: Reflecting Sunlight to Cool Earth
  • The waxing crescent moon of Feb 23 is a good opportunity to observe Earthshine (illumination of the moon by light reflected from Earth.
  • The first quarter moon will be very close to M45, The Pleiades (open star cluster with 7 very prominet stars).
  • Wed Feb 25 12:14:00: first quarter moon

Planet visibility

body (phase)risetransit (alt)setconstellation
Mercury (57%)05:52:3410:51:05 (32°)15:49:43Capricornus
Venus (87%)08:19:1514:23:56 (50°)20:27:14Pisces
Moon (23%)09:56:1616:52:18 (62°)22:48:46Pisces
Mars08:16:0314:20:39 (50°)20:25:52Pisces
Saturn01:28:2406:22:35 (31°)11:16:47Scorpius
Jupiter16:17:3123:24:40 (67°)06:27:21Cancer

Sample rise/set times for 02/23/15

Satellite passes

International Space Station (ISS)

  • poor pass begins Mon 2015-02-23 19:28:53 from the WNW (283°) reaches 25°, lasts 5 minutes
  • poor pass begins Sun 2015-03-08 07:16:22 from the S (189°) reaches 23°, lasts 5 minutes

Hubble Space Telescope (HST)

no visible HST passes predicted during this period

See Heavens Above for the latest pass predictions. Satellite pass gradings are based on altitude reached and duration of pass. Higher altitude passes are closers to the observer and generally brighter as a result. Satellites other than ISS are much more difficult to spot.

Moon Phases

Wed 2015-02-25 12:14:00first quarter
Thu 2015-03-05 13:05:23full
Fri 2015-03-13 13:47:55last quarter
Fri 2015-03-20 05:36:10new



DateRiseSolar noon (alt)Setsunlight
Mon 2015-02-2307:0512:36 (39.87°)18:0711 hrs 1 min
Tue 2015-02-2407:0412:36 (40.24°)18:0811 hrs 4 min
Wed 2015-02-2507:0212:36 (40.61°)18:0911 hrs 6 min
Thu 2015-02-2607:0112:35 (40.98°)18:1011 hrs 9 min
Fri 2015-02-2707:0012:35 (41.36°)18:1211 hrs 12 min
Sat 2015-02-2806:5812:35 (41.74°)18:1311 hrs 14 min
Sun 2015-03-0106:5712:35 (42.12°)18:1411 hrs 17 min
Mon 2015-03-0206:5512:35 (42.50°)18:1511 hrs 19 min
Tue 2015-03-0306:5312:34 (42.88°)18:1611 hrs 22 min
Wed 2015-03-0406:5212:34 (43.26°)18:1711 hrs 25 min
  • gained 0:23:33 (hh:mm:ss) of daylight over this period
  • daylight (HH:MM): 11:12
  • mean: sunrise 06:59 sunset 18:13
  • max: sun angle 43.26°


Mon 2015-02-2305:3319:39
Tue 2015-02-2405:3119:40
Wed 2015-02-2505:3019:41
Thu 2015-02-2605:2919:42
Fri 2015-02-2705:2719:43
Sat 2015-02-2805:2619:44
Sun 2015-03-0105:2419:45
Mon 2015-03-0205:2319:46
Tue 2015-03-0305:2119:47
Wed 2015-03-0405:2019:49

Astronomical Seasons

  • vernal equinox: Fri 2015-03-20 18:45
  • summer solstice: Sun 2015-06-21 12:38

Meteor Showers

Meteor Showers Underway this period

nameratingstartpeakendzhr*speed (mi/s)qualitymoon at peakparent body
Daytime Capri.-Sagitt.minorJan 13Mon Feb 02Mar 01729↑ Tue 5:46 PM 02/03/15
99% full
↓Tue 6:42 AM
Theta CentauridsminorJan 23Tue Feb 10Mar 12366↑ Wed 12:07 AM 02/11/15
55% full
↓Wed 11:08 AM
Gamma NormidsminorFeb 25Sat Mar 14Mar 22656bright↑ Sun 3:36 AM 03/15/15
28% full
↓Sun 2:17 PM

Next Major Meteor Showers

nameratingstartpeakendzhr*speed (mi/s)qualitymoon at peakparent body
PerseidsmajorJul 17Wed Aug 12Aug 2410059bright↑ Thu 5:37 AM 08/13/15
0% full
↓Thu 7:24 PM
GeminidsmajorDec 07Sun Dec 13Dec 1712035medium↑ Mon 9:39 AM 12/14/15
7% full
↓Sun 7:29 PM
C/1964 N1 (Ikeya)

see: International Meteor Organization calendar for details. ZHR is a rough prediction and represents optimal viewing conditions (clear dark sky, radiant directly overhead). Green rows are the best viewing

Aerospace Calendar


  • Fri 2015-02-27 23:01: A Falcon 9 will launch Eutelsat 115 West B & ABS 3A from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, pad SLC-40, the launch window closes 45 minutes later at 23:46.


  • Feb 23 A flash fire aboard Space Station Mir disrupted operations and caused minor damage, but no injuries. 18 years ago
  • Feb 23 Supernova 1987A, in the Large Magellanic Cloud, became visible to the unaided eye, the brightest supernova since 1604. 28 years ago
  • Feb 24 Launch of the Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) satellite, on a mission to monitor CO2 in the Earth environment for the purposes of studying climage change. The spacecraft booster malfunctioned, and OCO failed to make orbit. 6 years ago
  • Feb 24 The first pulsar was discovered by Cambridge graduate student S. Jocelyn Bell. Pulsars, objects that exhibit pulses of energy at extremely-regular intervals, later proved to be neutron stars, the by-products of stellar explosions. 47 years ago
  • Feb 25 Luna 20 successfully returned to Earth a core sample from the Moon’s Sea of Fertility. 43 years ago
  • Feb 28 Launch of STS-36 Space Shuttle Atlantis, on the sixth secret DOD Shuttle mission. 25 years ago
  • Feb 28 The Gemini 9 prime crew, Elliot See and Charles Bassett, died in the crash of a T-38 in St. Louis. 49 years ago
  • Mar 01 Launch of STS-109 Space Shuttle Columbia, on the fourth Shuttle mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope 13 years ago
  • Mar 01 Launch of the Landsat 5 Earth reconnaissance satellite. 31 years ago
  • Mar 01 Launch of the Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) Dragon spacecraft aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida. This was the company’s second Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-2) flight to the International Space Station. 2 years ago
  • Mar 01 Saturn’s small moon Helene was discovered by Pierre Laques and Jean Lecacheux. Helene is considered a Trojan satellite because it orbits Saturn within the Lagrange point of the larger moon Dione. 35 years ago
  • Mar 01 Submission deadline for the Space Settlement Contest, an orbiting space colony design competition open to students worldwide up to grade 12. The annual contest is co-sponsored by NASA’s Ames Research Center and the National Space Society. Last year there were 592 submissions by 1,536 students from 20 countries. 355 days ago
  • Mar 02 Launch of Zond 4, a Soviet probe designed to study the trans-lunar space environment. 47 years ago
  • Mar 02 Peale, Cassen, and Reynolds boldly predict, in the journal Science, that Jupiter’s moon, Io, will have active volcanism, based on their analysis of the internal tides that Jupiter and Europa would raise within it. In the scientific equivalent of Babe Ruth’s “Called Shot,” they would be proved correct in the most dramatic fashion when Voyager 1 flew by Io a mere one week later. 36 years ago
  • Mar 03 Inventor Alexander Graham Bell born 168 years ago

Covers Mon 2015-02-23 01:00 through Thu 2015-03-05 01:00 . Calculations are for Charlotte, NC (40.3690,-80.6330) at an elevation of 215 m and are expressed in local (US/Eastern) time and a 24 hour clock.