WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

What's Up July 26-August 1

Posted July 26, 2020 4:12 p.m. EDT
Updated July 27, 2020 12:45 p.m. EDT

Rocket to Mars
In this artist's concept, a two-stage United Launch Alliance Atlas V launch vehicle speeds the Mars 2020 spacecraft toward the Red Planet.
June 17, 2020

In this artist's concept, a two-stage United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V launch vehicle speeds the Mars 2020 spacecraft toward the Red Planet. The rocket stands at 197 feet (60 meters) tall. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

There are a couple of very week meteor showers peaking this week.

If you see meteors coming from the south, they are likely from the Delta-Aquariid shower, which peaks before dawn on Tuesday. If you see streaks of light coming from the general area beneath the bright star Vega in the northwest, that's the gamma Draconids.

Both showers generally produce two or three meteors per hour under the best conditions -- not worth setting your alarm for.

Preparations for the planned Thursday morning launch of the Mars 2020 mission and the Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter dominate NASA TV this week. JPL has shared STEM activities for the kids, a rover driving game, and ways everyone can participate, including a Mars photo booth. Look for more about the mission and the launch in the WRAL Weather Blog this week.

The initial launch weather forecast predicts 80% go conditions for Thursday.

Sunday, July 26

Mercury is at dichotomy will appear half lit through decent binoculars or a small telescope in the predawn sky throughout the week.

Monday, July 27

  • 1 p.m. Mars 2020 Mission pre-launch news conference on NASA TV
  • 3 p.m. Mars 2020 Mission engineering and science briefing on NASA TV
  • Snake Quiz: K-8 student can test their N.C. snake knowledge with experts from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science and learn something new including tips for identifying snakes in our area. Free registration required.

Tuesday, July 28

  • 2 p.m. - Mars 2020 Mars Sample Return Briefing on NASA TV
  • 4 p.m. - Mars 2020 Mission Tech and Humans to Mars Briefing on NASA TV
  • 6 p.m. Trivia Tuesday with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Free registration required.

Wednesday, July 29

  • 12 p.m. - Mars 2020 NASA Administrator and Center Director briefing on NASA TV
  • 10 p.m. - The International Space Station (ISS) rises in the northwest setting 1.5 minutes later in the north-northwest

Thursday, July 30

  • 7:50 a.m. NASA plans the launch of the Mars 2020 mission with the Perseverance rover and helicopter Ingenuity. NASA TV coverage begins at 7 am. A post-launch press conference is scheduled for 10:30 am.
  • 11:00 a.m. The North Carolina Museum of Natural Science shares information about the Eastern Box Turtle is N.C.'s state reptile and is our only turtle with a terrestrial lifestyle. Free registration required.
  • 10:12 p.m. - The International Space Station (ISS) rises in the north-northwest setting 3 minutes later in the northeast

Friday July 31

  • 3:43 a.m. SpaceX plans the launch of another batch of Starlink satellites on Friday at 03:43 a.m. EDT from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
  • Predawn - The Moon will pass by 1.4º to the north of Jupiter in the predawn skies.
  • 7:55 a.m. Should it be needed, a backup launch window for the Mars 2020 mission begins
  • 6 p.m. North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences talk about the science of Harry Potter. Free registration required.

Saturday August 1

  • Predawn - The Moon will pass by 2.2º to the north of Saturn in the predawn skies.
  • 7:55 a.m. Should it be needed, a backup launch window for the Mars 2020 mission begins
  • 5:45 p.m. NASA TV coverages of the SpaceX Crew Dragon DM-2 undocking from the International Space Station begins at 5:00 pm for the scheduled hatch closure scheduled at. 5:45 p.m. EDT; undocking scheduled at 7:34 p.m. EDT. The crew will splash down in the Pacific Ocean at 2:42 p.m. EDT on Sunday.
  • 10:12 p.m. - The International Space Station (ISS) rises in the northwest setting 3 minutes later nearly directly overhead.
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