Casual Astronomy, Spaceflight News and Lower California Weather

Comet Lulin, Late Evening (see comments 66, 70, 71, 86-89 & 131) ••••• Venus WSW after Sunset ••••• Evening Crescent Moons

By: LowerCal, 3:51 AM GMT on February 07, 2009

Today - SpaceWeather.com
***** Earth & Sky | Tonight
***** 365 Days of Astronomy
This Week - SkyandTelescope.com - This Week's Sky at a Glance
***** Jack Horkheimer - Star Gazer, Current Scripts
This Month - SkyandTelescope.com - Sky Tour Podcasts
***** International Year of Astronomy Monthly Discovery Guides

Visible Satellites:
Simplest - Satellite Flybys by SpaceweatherPhone.com
More satellites and more info - Heavens-Above.com

Launches - Spaceflight Now - Worldwide Launch Schedule
Reentries - Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies - Upcoming & Recent Reentries

All events described below can be viewed with your naked eye. Occasionally simple binoculars will improve the view and that will be noted. Scroll down for future dates, farther down for past dates.

◐ First Quarter Moon

Exact at
March 4
0746 GMT
2:46am EST
March 3
11:46pm PST.

Rises near noon and sets near midnight. Evening crescent moons for a week before. Each one thicker and higher above the horizon.

The gravitational pull of the Moon and Sun are at right angles resulting in weaker tides - lower highs, higher lows and slower flows (see NEAP-TIDES). (Due to the huge mass and volume of the ocean's water the tidal effect lags behind the phases of the Moon. The delay can be as long as three days at some times and places.)


Cape Canaveral Delta II Launch

Photo credit: NASA
Mission: Kepler
Launch Vehicle: Delta II 7925
Launch from Cape Canaveral AFS, Florida
March 6
0348:43-0351:43 GMT
0416:34-0419:34 GMT
March 5
10:48:43-10:51:43pm EST (local time)
11:16:34-11:19:34pm EST (local time)
7:48:43-7:51:43pm PST
8:16:34-8:19:34pm PST.

March 7
0349-0352 GMT
0413-0416 GMT
March 6
10:49-10:52pm EST (local time)
11:13-11:16pm EST (local time)
7:49-7:52pm PST
8:13-8:16pm PST.

Launch status updates are at
Spaceflight Now | Tracking Station | Worldwide launch schedule
with more details on the launch blog at
Spaceflight Now | Delta Launch Report | Mission Status Center.

More info on the mission is at
Kepler Mission and Planet Quest: Missions - Kepler.

You can find more information and a link to the live webcast of the launch at
United Launch Alliance. Coverage is scheduled to begin at 9PM EST, 6PM PST.


○ Full Moon

WunderPhoto: Moon Setting over L.I. Sound by sparkz Monday February 9, 2009
Exact at
March 11
0238 GMT
10:38pm EDT
7:38pm PDT.

Rises near sunset and sets near sunrise.

The gravitational pull of the Moon and Sun are aligned resulting in stronger tides - higher highs, lower lows and faster flows (see SPRING-TIDES). (Due to the huge mass and volume of the ocean's water the tidal effect lags behind the phases of the Moon. The delay can be as long as three days at some times and places.)


Launch of Shuttle Discovery

Photo credit: NASA/Troy Cryder
Mission: STS-119
Spacecraft & Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Discovery
Launch from Kennedy Space Center, Florida
February 22
0831 GMT
3:31am EST (local time)
12:31am PST.

Docking with ISS
February 24
0456 GMT
February 23
11:56pm EST
8:56pm PST.

Undocking from ISS
March 5
2229 GMT
5:29pm EST
2:29pm PST.

Landing at Kennedy Space Center, Florida
March 8
0247 GMT
March 7
9:47pm EST (local time)
6:47pm PST.

February 27
0632 GMT
1:32am EST (local time)
February 26
10:32pm PST.


Launch date to be determined.
Launch tentatively scheduled for
March 13
0054 GMT
March 12
8:54pm EDT (local time)
5:54pm PDT.


(Find later landing options at NASA - Launch and Landing
and the landing paths at NASA - STS-119 Landing Ground Tracks.)

Launch status updates at
Spaceflight Now | Tracking Station | Worldwide launch schedule.

You can follow the progress of the Space Shuttle mission online at
Spaceflight Now | STS-119 Shuttle Report | Mission Status Center and
NASA - Space Shuttle.
There are links in the "WATCH NASA TV NOW" section of the NASA page where you can watch video (sometimes live).

You can dig for more info at
Spaceflight Now - Index of /shuttle/sts119 and
CBS News Space Place - STS-119 Status Report.

Live online coverage of the launch on NASA TV starts one hour or more before launch -
NASA TV Schedule.


Cape Canaveral Atlas V Launch

Photo credit: Lockheed Martin
Satellite: Wideband Global SATCOM 2 (WGS-2)
Launch Vehicle: Atlas V 421
Launch from Cape Canaveral AFS, Florida
March 14
0125-0207 GMT
March 6
9:25-10:07pm EDT (local time)
6:25-7:07pm PST.

Launch status updates are at
Spaceflight Now | Tracking Station | Worldwide launch schedule
with more details on the launch blog at
Spaceflight Now | Delta Launch Report | Mission Status Center
as the launch approaches.


Launch of GOCE Satellite

Image credit: ESA - AOES Medialab
Spacecraft: Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) Satellite
Launch Vehicle: Eurockot Rockot
Launch from Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Russia
March 16
1421 GMT
5:21pm MSK (Moscow Standard Time, local time)
10:21am EDT
7:21am PDT.

Launch status updates at
Spaceflight Now | Tracking Station | Worldwide launch schedule.

Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

... Its arrow shape and fins help keep the satellite stable as it flies through the wisps of air still present at an altitude of 260km. .... To increase resolution, the satellite will fly in an unusually low orbit; an electric engine will make up drag losses to compensate for the residual drag losses. ....
BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | 'Space arrow' to map Earth's tug
.... Goce data will have many uses, probing hazardous volcanic regions and bringing new insight into ocean behaviour.

The latter, in particular, is a major driver for the mission.

By combining the gravity data with information about sea-surface height gathered by other spacecraft, scientists will be able to track the direction and speed of ocean currents.

"If we want to improve our climate models then we need to improve our knowledge of how the oceans move, and Goce will help us do that," mission scientist Dr Mark Drinkwater, from the European Space Agency (Esa), told BBC News. ....

Summaries of Sky Events for the Year
2009
SkyandTelescope.com - Observing Highlights - Eclipses in 2009
SkyandTelescope.com - Observing Highlights - Meteor Showers in 2009


***** Past Dates *****

Vandenberg Delta II Launch

Mission: NOAA-N Prime
Launch Vehicle: Delta II 7320
Launch from Vandenberg AFB, California
February 4
February 5

February 6
1022-1032 GMT
5:22-5:32am EST
2:22-2:32am PST (local time).

Launch status updates at
Spaceflight Now | Tracking Station | Worldwide launch schedule
with more details on the launch blog at
Spaceflight Now | Delta Launch Report | Mission Status Center.

As the launch date grows closer you can find more information and a live webcast of the launch at
United Launch Alliance. Live web and TV coverage to begin at 12:15am PST, 3:15am EST.


○ Full Moon

WunderPhoto: Moon over ABQ by darnold Saturday January 10, 2009
Exact at
February 9
1449 GMT
9:49am EST
6:49am PST.

Rises near sunset and sets near sunrise.

The gravitational pull of the Moon and Sun are aligned resulting in stronger tides - higher highs, lower lows and faster flows (see SPRING-TIDES). (Due to the huge mass and volume of the ocean's water the tidal effect lags behind the phases of the Moon. The delay can be as long as three days at some times and places.)

The alignment of the Moon and Sun is not exact this month but it is close enough that the Moon will pass through the partial shadow (penumbra) of the Earth. A penumbral eclipse of the Moon is excellently illustrated and explained at the Shadow & Substance Home Page.

Penumbral Lunar Eclipse
Maximum at
1438 GMT
6:38am PST
.
Visible from western North America (before morning moonset) through Asia (after evening moonrise) - NASA Eclipse Chart.


◑ Last Quarter Moon

Exact at
February 16
2137 GMT
4:37pm EST
1:37pm PST.

Rises near midnight and sets near noon. Morning crescent moons for a week after. Each one thinner and closer to the horizon.

The gravitational pull of the Moon and Sun are at right angles resulting in weaker tides - lower highs, higher lows and slower flows (see NEAP-TIDES). (Due to the huge mass and volume of the ocean's water the tidal effect lags behind the phases of the Moon. The delay can be as long as three days at some times and places.)


Vandenberg Taurus XL Launch

Mission: OCO (Orbiting Carbon Observatory)
Launch Vehicle: Taurus XL
Launch from Vandenberg AFB, California
February 23
February 24
0950-0957 GMT
4:50-4:57am EST
1:50-1:57am PST (local time).

0951:30 GMT
4:51:30am EST
1:51:30am PST (local time).

Launch status updates at
Spaceflight Now | Tracking Station | Worldwide launch schedule.

More details are on the launch blog at
Spaceflight Now | Taurus Launch Report | Mission Status Center.

OCO is a NASA mission so there may be live online coverage of the launch on NASA TV. Times of the launch and other coverage will be updated in the NASA TV Schedule.

Update: Live NASA TV coverage is scheduled to begin at 3AM EST, 12AM PST.


Dark Moon (a.k.a. astronomical new moon)

Exact at
February 25
0135 GMT
February 24
8:35pm EST
5:35pm PST.

Lower and thinner morning crescent moons the week before. Higher and thicker evening crescent moons the week after.

The gravitational pull of the Moon and Sun are aligned resulting in stronger tides - higher highs, lower lows and faster flows (see SPRING-TIDES). (Due to the huge mass and volume of the ocean's water the tidal effect lags behind the phases of the Moon. The delay can be as long as three days at some times and places.)


) Thinnest Evening Crescent Moon (the original meaning of "new moon")

WunderPhoto: One day old Moon by LaddObservatory Friday June 15, 2007
February 25 or 26
Low in the western sky soon after sunset.

With a clear western horizon it may be possible to sight a very new moon (less than 24 hours old) from North America on February 25.
Moonsighting.com


Venus & Crescent Moon after Sunset
February 26-28
Image of the WSW Sky after Sunset February 26-28 from SkyandTelescope.com - This Week's Sky at a Glance.




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Updated: 3:15 AM GMT on March 02, 2009

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