Lower California Weather & Climate, Spaceflight News and Casual Astronomy

NOVA ... the Edge of Space (see comment 1037) ••••• Double Spacecraft Flyovers (see blog entry) ••••• Venus&Mercury Sittin' in a Tree... Brilliant Venus + Very Bright Mercury Low in West after Sunset, Set after Dark (see blog entry and comments 956, 964, 966, 967-969 & 974) ••••• Very Bright Sirius SSW at Dark, Sets WSW near Midnight ••••• Bright & Reddish Mars Near Overhead at Dark, Sets WNW Early Morning ••••• Bright Saturn ESE at Dark, Sets West at Dawn ••••• Brilliant Jupiter Rising East at Dawn

By: LowerCal, 6:43 PM GMT on November 24, 2009


moon phases

Scroll past the links below to find special events for current and future dates. Scroll farther to find past events.

Today - SpaceWeather.com
also 365 Days of Astronomy
& Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine
This Week - SkyandTelescope.com - This Week's Sky at a Glance
also Jack Horkheimer - Star Gazer, Current Scripts
& This Week In Space on YouTube
This Month - SkyandTelescope.com - Sky Tour Podcasts
also HubbleSite - Tonight's Sky: Your guide to constellations, deep sky objects, planets, and events
Anytime - Stellarium (free planetarium for your computer)
also Sky & Telescope Interactive Sky Chart (online planetarium)

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

Spaceflight Now - Worldwide Launch Schedule,
Vandenberg AFB Launch Schedule &
Wallops Flight Facility Launch Webcast & Blog
Reentries - Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies - Upcoming & Recent Reentries

Live Aurora Cams:
Kiruna, Sweden &
Sodankyla, Finland

Most events described below can be viewed with your eyes alone. Occasionally simple binoculars will improve the view and that will be noted.

***** Current & Future Events *****

Shuttle Discovery Dawn Launch, STS-131 Mission & Landing + Double Spacecraft Flyovers

WunderPhoto: SPACECRAFT by Westerberg Wednesday June 20, 2007

Between launch and docking with the ISS & undocking and landing it may be possible to sight both craft in the sky at the same time.

Check satellite pass predictions at
or try the simpler tool at
Satellite Flybys by SpaceweatherPhone.com.

Image credit: NASA, Patrick McCracken (Atlantis, February 7th, 2001, STS-98)

Mission: STS-131
Spacecraft & Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Discovery

Launch from Kennedy Space Center, Florida
April 5
1021 GMT ±5min +3min
6:21am EDT ±5min +3min (local time)
3:21am PDT ±5min +3min.

Docking with ISS (International Space Station)
April 7
0744 GMT
3:44am EDT
12:44am PDT.

Undocking from ISS
April 16
0755 GMT
3:55am EDT
12:55am PDT.

Landing at Kennedy Space Center
April 18
1229 GMT
8:29am EDT (local time)
5:29am PDT.

Find (when published) landing options at NASA - Launch and Landing
and the landing paths (when published) at NASA - STS-131 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-131 Shuttle Report | Mission Status Center
and NASA - Space Shuttle.

You can dig for more info at
Spaceflight Now - Index of /shuttle/sts131 and
CBS News Space Place - Space Shuttle Status Report.

Live online coverage of the mission will be on NASA TV - see the NASA TV Schedule.

Venus & Mercury Sittin' in a Tree... (See comment 981 for the rest of the rhyme.)

WunderPhoto: Venus and Mercury by leddyed Thursday April 1, 2010

April 4, 30 minutes after Sunset

April 15, 30 minutes after Sunset
Images created with Stellarium (a free download).

The brilliant white planet Venus shares the western evening twilight with the fading pinkish-gold planet Mercury for the next week or two. The evening of April 15 a super thin New Moon crescent will stand near Mercury. On that evening binoculars will help you pick out Mercury and the New Moon in the bright sky above the western horizon shortly after sunset.

***** Past Events *****

Day of Equal Sun

Image credit: Tom Ruen, Full Sky Observatory

The March equinox occurs
March 20 at exactly
1732 GMT,
1:32pm EDT,
10:32am PDT.

At that moment the Sun will pass directly over the Equator on its way to the Northern Hemisphere. Consequently on this day the Northern and Southern Hemispheres will receive equal amounts of sunshine. After this date day will be longer than night in the Northern Hemisphere and vice versa in the Southern Hemisphere.

Moon Swallows Stars This Evening

Image created with Stellarium (a free download).

March 20, Evening
From the Americas the dark leading edge of the Moon will appear to pass through the Pleiades star cluster. From Central and South America some of the brightest stars in the cluster will wink out as they are covered by the Moon. From all of the Americas fainter stars in the cluster can be seen with binoculars disappearing as they are overtaken by the Moon.

Moon Rides with Regulus (Heart of Leo the Lion)

Image created with Stellarium (a free download).

March 26, Late Twilight
The Moon leads the bright bluish-white star Regulus across the sky tonight. Regulus is the "dot" of a backward "question mark" of stars that form the head and chest of the constellation Leo the Lion. The "question mark" is about as tall as 1 & 1/2 of your fists held at arms length.

Two evenings from now the Moon will be riding with the planet Saturn.

Mercury Rising to Meet Venus

March 25, 20 minutes after Sunset

April 03, 20 minutes after Sunset
Images created with Stellarium (a free download).

The planet Mercury is rising toward a conjunction 3 degrees from the planet Venus the evening of April 3. Binoculars will help you pick out golden Mercury in the bright sky above the western horizon shortly after sunset.

Launch of ISS Expedition 23 Crew + Double Spacecraft Flyovers

Photo credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Mission: Expedition 23 to the International Space Station (ISS)
Spacecraft: Soyuz TMA-18
Launch Vehicle: Soyuz FG
Launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan
April 2
9:04am AQTT (Aqtobe Time, local time)
0404 GMT
12:04am EDT
April 1
9:04pm PDT.

Docking with ISS
April 4
9:26pm MSD (Moscow Summer Time)
0526 GMT
1:26am EDT
April 3
10:26pm PDT.

The remaining three members of the Expedition 23 crew will join the three already aboard the International Space Station.

Updates at
Spaceflight Now | Tracking Station | Worldwide launch schedule.

You can follow the progress of the mission at NASA - Expedition 23.

Live coverage of the launch and docking will appear on NASA TV - see the NASA TV Schedule.

WunderPhoto: Endeavour and the ISS by WeatheringHeights Tuesday March 25, 2008

Between launch and docking with the ISS it may be possible to sight both craft in the sky at the same time.

Check satellite pass predictions at
or try the simpler tool at
Satellite Flybys by SpaceweatherPhone.com.

Asteroid Casts a Shadow on Los Angeles Tonight, Observations Requested

April 6, Early Morning

Eclipse of a Naked-Eye Star by the Asteroid 824 Anastasia in western USA and Alberta

Seeing a star suddenly vanish, then abruptly reappear several
seconds later when a faint asteroid passes in front of it, is a
startling sight that will always be remembered. Millions of people
will have a chance to see such an event before sunrise early Tuesday
morning, April 6th.

Anyone who can see and count, lives in or near the eclipse path, and
is willing to get up in the middle of the night and go outside for
about ten minutes, can help us measure the size and shape of the
asteroid 824 Anastasia, if the sky is clear. ....

The eclipse, or "occultation" as astronomers call it, will occur at
3:34 am PDT Tuesday morning, April 6th, in the Los Angeles area.
The star will abrupty disappear for less than 10 seconds, and since
the time uncertainty is less than half a minute, you don't need to
watch very long. ....

The 25-mile-wide path is expected to pass over Orange County and
extend north from there, over West Covina and Ontario, Calif.
However, the location of the path is quite uncertain; the path could
instead pass over downtown Los Angeles or the San Fernando Valley
(with a small chance that it could pass over even Ventura and
Bakersfield), or it could shift east, possibly passing over San
Bernardino or, rather less likely, over San Diego and Palm Springs. ....
SkyandTelescope.com - AstroAlert - Asteroid To Hide Naked-Eye Star

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Updated: 7:16 PM GMT on April 06, 2010


About LowerCal

Astronomy with a minimum of terminology and technology.

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