Astronomy & Spaceflight

By: LowerCal , 4:48 PM GMT on November 16, 2010

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CURRENT MOON

moon phases


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


***** Links *****

Today - SpaceWeather.com
also EarthSky,
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 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.

Launches:
Spaceflight Now - Worldwide Launch Schedule
also 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
also Sodankyla, Finland
& Yellowknife, Canada (click on CONNECT AURORAMAX LIVE)


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 *****

See the comment section.


Events earlier than those listed below will be found in previous blog entries.

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

Lunar Apogee (Greek apo, away from + Greek Gaia, Earth)

Image credit: Pearson Scott Foresman

Exact at
November 15
1148 GMT
6:48am EST
3:48am PST.

The Moon is at its farthest distance in its non circular orbit around Earth. The Moon is about 12% farther than at its closest distance (perigee - Greek peri, near + Greek Gaia, Earth) and the Moon's gravitational influence on Earth and its oceans is about 20% less (due to the inverse square law).


Leonid Meteor Shower Peak(s)

WunderPhoto: Searching for Shooting Stars by johnlanoue Monday October 8, 2007

November 17
1500 & 2115 GMT
and
November 17 or 18, Moonset until Dawn (about 2AM-5AM local time)

The Leonids are visible from the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Tropics. This year the peak times favor the Pacific from Alaska and Hawaii west to the International Date Line (IDL) in the early morning of November 17. West of the IDL through most of Asia is favored in the early morning of November 18.

The maximum rate is forecast to be about 20 per hour this year but has been variable recently.

Source and more information at
Leonids, IMO Meteor Shower Calendar 2010 | International Meteor Organization.

For Better Viewing
Find a Dark Location
A dark country location without "security" lights is best. If that's not convenient try to find a location where you can't see any lights or lighted surfaces. A nearby park or maybe even your backyard would qualify. On a beach facing the water would be another good alternative.

Where to Look
Meteors can appear in any part of the sky. To see the most meteors face the darkest part of your sky and look at least 45° above the horizon.

Be Comfortable
A reclining chair will keep you from getting a stiff neck and tired feet. A sleeping bag will keep you warm. (Even in the summertime you can get chilly at night if you are just lying still.) Insect repellent will keep you from being distracted by those little pests.

General Meteor Shower Information
An easy to read introduction to meteors with an interesting summary of annual showers is
Astronomy - Meteors and meteor showers - Francis Reddy.

Two primary sources of information on meteor showers are
The American Meteor Society and
The International Meteor Organinzation.


Kodiak Minotaur IV Launch

Photo credit: Joe Davila

Mission: STP-S26 (Space Test Program Small launch vehicle mission 26)
Launch Vehicle: Minotaur IV
Launch from Kodiak Launch Complex, Alaska (Google map)
November 20
0124-0254 GMT
November 19
8:24-9:54pm EST
5:24-6:54pm PST
4:24-5:54pm AKST (local time).

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

More details appear on a launch blog at
Spaceflight Now | Minotaur Launch Report | Mission Status Center.


Cape Canaveral Delta IV Launch

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force

Mission: NROL-32 (National Reconnaissance Office Launch 32)
Launch Vehicle: Delta IV Heavy
Launch from Cape Canaveral AFS, Florida
November 18
2310 GMT
6:10pm EST (local time)
3:10pm PST.
November 19
2306 GMT
6:06pm EST (local time)
3:06pm PST.
no earlier than

November 21
2258 GMT
5:58pm EST (local time)
2:58pm PST.

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

More details appear on a launch blog at
Spaceflight Now | Delta Launch Report | Mission Status Center.

You can find more info on the mission at
United Launch Alliance.

A live webcast will begin 25 minutes before launch.


○ Full Moon

WunderPhoto: Polar Moon by carlskou Friday October 22, 2010

Exact at
November 21
1727 GMT
12:27pm EST
9:27am PST.

Rises near sunset and sets near sunrise. At those times the Moon may seem huge (the Moon illusion) and unusually colored. The yellow/orange/red appearance of the Moon at the horizon is at least partly for the same reason the sky appears blue!




Image from: Australian Cooperative Research Centre for Renewable Energy

The gravitational pull of the Moon accounts for about 2/3 of the influence on Earth's tides with the Sun accounting for the remaining 1/3. On this date the gravitational pull of the Moon and Sun are aligned resulting in stronger tides - higher highs, lower lows and faster flows. (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.)

Also see The Moon And Tides.


◑ Last (or Third) Quarter Moon

Exact at
November 28
2036 GMT
3:36pm EST
12:36pm PST.

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




Image from: Australian Cooperative Research Centre for Renewable Energy

The gravitational pull of the Moon accounts for about 2/3 of the influence on Earth's tides with the Sun accounting for the remaining 1/3. On this date the gravitational pull of the Moon and Sun are at right angles resulting in weaker tides - lower highs, higher lows and slower flows. (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.)

Also see The Moon And Tides.


Lunar Perigee (Greek peri, near + Greek Gaia, Earth)

Image credit: Pearson Scott Foresman

Exact at
November 30
1910 GMT
2:10pm EDT
11:10am PDT.

The Moon is at its closest distance in its non circular orbit around Earth. The Moon is about 10.5% closer than at its farthest distance (apogee - Greek apo, away from + Greek Gaia, Earth) and the Moon's gravitational influence on Earth and its oceans is about 25% greater (due to the inverse square law).


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

Exact at
December 5
1736 GMT
12:36pm EDT
9:36am PDT.

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




Image from: Australian Cooperative Research Centre for Renewable Energy

The gravitational pull of the Moon accounts for about 2/3 of the influence on Earth's tides with the Sun accounting for the remaining 1/3. On this date the gravitational pull of the Moon and Sun are aligned resulting in stronger tides - higher highs, lower lows and faster flows. (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.)

Also see The Moon And Tides.


◐ First Quarter Moon

Exact at
December 13
1359 GMT
8:59am EST
5:59am PST.

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




Image from: Australian Cooperative Research Centre for Renewable Energy

The gravitational pull of the Moon accounts for about 2/3 of the influence on Earth's tides with the Sun accounting for the remaining 1/3. On this date the gravitational pull of the Moon and Sun are at right angles resulting in weaker tides - lower highs, higher lows and slower flows. (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.)

Also see The Moon And Tides.


◑ Last (or Third) Quarter Moon

Exact at
December 28
0418 GMT
December 27
11:18pm EST
8:18pm PST.

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




Image from: Australian Cooperative Research Centre for Renewable Energy

The gravitational pull of the Moon accounts for about 2/3 of the influence on Earth's tides with the Sun accounting for the remaining 1/3. On this date the gravitational pull of the Moon and Sun are at right angles resulting in weaker tides - lower highs, higher lows and slower flows. (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.)

Also see The Moon And Tides.


Shuttle Discovery Launch, STS-133 Mission & Landing + Double Spacecraft Flyovers

Photo credit: NASA/Troy Cryder

Mission: STS-133
Spacecraft & Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Discovery

Launch from Kennedy Space Center, Florida
NET (No Earlier Than)
November 30
0902 GMT ±5min
4:02am EST ±5min (local time)
1:02am PST ±5min.
December 3
0752 GMT ±5min
2:522am EST ±5min (local time)
December 2
11:52pm PST ±5min.
no earlier than
December 17
no earlier than
February 3

February 24
2150 GMT ±5min
4:50pm EST ±5min (local time)
1:50pm PST ±5min.

Docking with ISS (International Space Station)
-

Undocking from ISS
-

Landing at Kennedy Space Center
-

Find (when published) landing options at NASA - Launch and Landing
and the landing paths (when published) at NASA - STS-133 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-133 Shuttle Report | Mission Status Center
and
NASA - Space Shuttle.

You can dig for more info at
Spaceflight Now - Index of /shuttle/sts133
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.


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. Shuttle Atlantis and the ISS will be making visible passes over North America between launch and docking.

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


web counterVisitor Map
Create your own visitor map!

Sunrise and Venus (chikadee)
Sunrise and Venus
moon for Scorpios (grichardanderson)
moon for Scorpios
Before The Sunrise (Ralfo)
.That is our Famous Venus Planet at the center top. Very Bright this morning at ESE location
Before The Sunrise
Moon Rise (31337)
Moon Rise
Full Moon Flyby (virgo1048)
Launch of the Delta IV rocket. Taken from my backyard some 80 miles from Cape Canaveral.
Full Moon Flyby
Contrary to popular belief, they mostly just stand under it. (JonBeard)
Shooting the moonset with a long lens across a field which gives the perspective that the moon is huge compared to objects around it.
Contrary to popular belief, they mostly just stand under it.
morning moonset (got2dogs)
over Soldier Mt
morning moonset
Starry,StarryNight (trigirl)
What a gorgeous sky full of stars tonight!
Starry,StarryNight
Orion, the Hunter (Hurricane765)
I did not even know I could capture bright stars with my camera! This is my favorite constellation and am definitely going to shoot it again soon
Orion, the Hunter
4 LowerCal (Feather3)
Venus at sunrise on Nov 27th
4 LowerCal
Venus & Moon At Dawn (Ralfo)
today, 6:19 A.M., 12/2/10. Great Sight to see!
Venus & Moon At Dawn
The Last Moon (Ralfo)
for a while until the New Moon starts. Today it is at 2% Waning Moon. Taken at Dawn!
The Last Moon
2% Of Waning Crescent Full Moon. (Ralfo)
It was very faint at Dawn this morning as it came up.
2% Of Waning Crescent Full Moon.
Stars and Clouds (Doug484)
Night time near Greenland, CO. The glow to the left is Colorado Springs on the other side of Monument Hill.
Stars and Clouds
Setting Moon, Mars (Brillig)
The moon, having just passed in front of Mars, is setting just after the sun, as viewed from The Oasis Restaurant in Austin, TX. Video at http://vimeo.com/17552128
Setting Moon, Mars
Lunar Eclipse/ Man in the Moon (Denalidaze)
Took this photo of the moon and the eclipse. On the right curse you can see the profile of the "Man in the Moon". Winter will be here soon!
Lunar Eclipse/ Man in the Moon
()
Eclipse over Pohick Bay (JCFindley)
Eclipse over Pohick Bay
Moon near maximum of eclipse (GeorgeRX)
Lunar Eclipse 12/21/10 approximately 1 am. Taken with 200mm lens and AstroTrac mount.
Moon near maximum of eclipse
Lunar Eclipse at totality (Endosidney)
This image was taken through a 4
Lunar Eclipse at totality
Venus At Dawn (Ralfo)
A very bright planet in the early morning. Looks small in this wide angle shot!
Venus At Dawn

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115. Skyepony (Mod)
I didn't know.. I was driving south away from the launch, turned east & saw the trail & rocket pretty high up. It was beautiful. Was like what did they launch? Got to the feed store & it was on the TV & how SpaceX will be the new cargo carrier for ISS. This was a joint launch with NASA too (yay). I knew this would come around. Interesting they launched it from a different rocket this time.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 224 Comments: 39372
LIFT OFF! Beautiful launch and a bit of a rumble.
Member Since: July 13, 2005 Posts: 117 Comments: 5218
Quoting LowerCal:
Pat We're gonna have an astronaut jones until February at least.

PSL Great sunrise! Click the thumnail in your profile then you can see the full size image then right click on that to "Copy Image Location".


Thank you, Cal. Smacks forehead. Doh! LOL
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
Pat We're gonna have an astronaut jones until February at least.

PSL Great sunrise! Click the thumnail in your profile then you can see the full size image then right click on that to "Copy Image Location".
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9303

Dang it! How do I make the image larger?

It's on my profile.
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
Quoting LowerCal:
I've added some new WunderPhotos at the end of the blog entry.

The Falcon9 launch is definitely on for tomorrow.

Pat Great news! About time we started both exploiting solar sail technology and mitigating the space junk problem.

Fsh Great article! The time is right for the transition from cost-plus to fixed-bid.

PSL Looking forward to more success tomorrow.



Agreed on all! A pic from FL. Off topic, but I think it's cool.






Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129833
I've added some new WunderPhotos at the end of the blog entry.

The Falcon9 launch is definitely on for tomorrow.

Pat Great news! About time we started both exploiting solar sail technology and mitigating the space junk problem.

Fsh Great article! The time is right for the transition from cost-plus to fixed-bid.

PSL Looking forward to more success tomorrow.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9303



Some more really nice pics, Cal. Thanks!
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
Quoting Fshhead:
SpaceX gets set for next giant leap

"Musk told me that he's been getting a "quite good" response, even from budget-conscious members of Congress. He's even starting to think ahead to the next giant leap -- the development of a super-heavy-lift rocket, more powerful than the Apollo era's Saturn 5, which could put 150 metric tons of payload into Earth orbit. Musk said facilities in Utah, Alabama, Ohio, Florida and other places around the country could be involved in the project, and he's willing to build the rocket for $2.5 billion. "Anything above that, SpaceX will pay for," he promised."

Very Nice!! ;)



Flippin' awesome! Go, SpaceX
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
SpaceX gets set for next giant leap

"Musk told me that he's been getting a "quite good" response, even from budget-conscious members of Congress. He's even starting to think ahead to the next giant leap -- the development of a super-heavy-lift rocket, more powerful than the Apollo era's Saturn 5, which could put 150 metric tons of payload into Earth orbit. Musk said facilities in Utah, Alabama, Ohio, Florida and other places around the country could be involved in the project, and he's willing to build the rocket for $2.5 billion. "Anything above that, SpaceX will pay for," he promised."

Very Nice!! ;)
Member Since: November 19, 2005 Posts: 9 Comments: 9960
NASA Ejects Nanosatellite From Microsatellite in Space


On Dec. 6 at 1:31 a.m. EST, NASA for the first time successfully ejected a nanosatellite from a free-flying microsatellite. NanoSail-D ejected from the Fast, Affordable, Science and Technology Satellite, FASTSAT, demonstrating the capability to deploy a small cubesat payload from an autonomous microsatellite in space.



Artist concept of a solar sail in space. (NASA)

Nanosatellites or cubesats are typically launched and deployed from a mechanism called a Poly-PicoSatellite Orbital Deployer (P-POD) mounted directly on a launch vehicle. This is the first time NASA has mounted a P-POD on a microsatellite to eject a cubesat.

FASTSAT, equipped with six science and technology demonstration payloads, including NanoSail-D, launched Friday, Nov. 19 at 8:25 p.m. EST from Kodiak Island, Alaska. During launch, the NanoSail-D flight unit, about the size of a loaf of bread, was stowed inside FASTSAT in a P-POD.

"The successful ejection of NanoSail-D demonstrates the operational capability of FASTSAT as a cost-effective independent means of placing cubesat payloads into orbit safely," said Mark Boudreaux, FASTSAT project manager at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. "With this first step behind us, we have demonstrated we can launch a number of different types of payloads using this common deployment system from an autonomous microsatellite like FASTSAT."

"NanoSail D has multiple enabling technology demonstration objectives for this flight," said Joe Casas, FASTSAT project scientist at Marshall. Casas said when the NanoSail-D sail is deployed it will use its large sail made of thin polymer material, a material much thinner than a single human hair, to significantly decrease the time to de-orbit the small satellite without the use of propellants as most traditional satellites use.

The NanoSail-D flight results will help to mature this technology so it could be used on future large spacecraft missions to aid in de-orbiting space debris created by decommissioned satellites without using valuable mission propellants.

"This is a great step for our solar sail team with the successful ejection of the NanoSail-D satellite from FASTSAT," said Dean Alhorn, NanoSail-D principal investigator and aerospace engineer at the Marshall Center. "We had to carefully plan and calculate the ejection time, so we'd be lined up over the United States and our ground controllers to execute the next phase of the mission."

After ejection, a timer within NanoSail-D will begin a three day countdown as the satellite orbits the Earth. Once the timer reaches zero, four booms will quickly deploy and the NanoSail-D sail will start to unfold to a 100 square foot polymer sail. Within five seconds the sail fully unfurls.

If the deployment is successful, NanoSail-D will stay in low-Earth orbit between 70 and 120 days, depending on atmospheric conditions. NanoSail-D is designed to demonstrate deployment of a compact solar sail boom system that could lead to further development of this alternative solar sail propulsion technology and FASTSAT%u2019s ability to eject a nanosatellite from a microsatellite -- while avoiding re-contact with the FASTSAT satellite bus.

NanoSail-D was designed and built by engineers in Huntsville and managed at the Marshall Center with technical and hardware support from NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. This experiment is a combined effort between the Space and Missile Defense Command, Von Braun Center for Science and Innovation, both located in Huntsville, Ala. and NASA.

FASTSAT launched on the STP-S26 mission -- a joint activity between NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense Space Test Program. The satellite was designed, developed and tested at the Marshall Center in partnership with the Von Braun Center for Science & Innovation and Dynetics Inc. of Huntsville. Dynetics provided key engineering, manufacturing and ground operations support for the new microsatellite. Thirteen Huntsville-area firms, as well as the University of Alabama in Huntsville, also were part of the project team.

For more information on the timeline of the NanoSail-D deployment visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/501204main_NSD2_timeline_sequence.pdf


To learn more about FASTSAT and the NanoSail-D missions visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/smallsats
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129833
Statement from SpaceX regarding issue to be addressed before the next Falcon9 launch attempt, possibly as early as December 8 9:00am-12:22 EST.
SpaceX engineers are analyzing two small cracks in the aft end of the 2nd stage engine nozzle extension. These cracks are in a region near the end of the nozzle extension where there is very little stress and so they would not cause a flight failure by themselves. However, further investigation is warranted to ensure that these cracks are not symptomatic of a more serious problem.

A decision on whether or not to attempt launch on Wednesday will be provided tomorrow evening.

The bell shaped Merlin Vacuum nozzle extension is made of niobium sheet alloy, measures 9 feet tall and 8 feet at the base diameter, and thins out to about twice the thickness of a soda can at the end. Although made of an exotic refractory alloy metal with a melting temperature high enough to boil steel, this component is geometrically the simplest part of the engine.

It is important to note that the niobium nozzle extension increases the efficiency of the Merlin engine in vacuum and is installed by default on all upper stage Merlin engines, but that efficiency increase is not required for this mission. The nozzle extension is most helpful when launching very heavy satellites or to maximize throw mass to distant destinations like Mars. The most likely path forward is that we will trim off the thinnest portion of the nozzle extension, which is where the cracks are located, perform a thorough systems check and resume launch preparation.

Status and launch blog -
Spaceflight Now | Falcon Launch Report | Mission Status Center.

Live launch webcast -
SpaceX.com-
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9303
I added another WunderPhoto at the end of the blog entry.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9303
I corrected the December 7 Falcon9 launch window time from 9:00am-2:21pm EST to 9:00am-12:22pm EST.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9303
Miscellaneous Astronomy News

1) From NASA scientists discover all-new form of life | Geek Gestalt - CNET News:
....
In a press conference held at NASA's Washington D.C. headquarters, scientists announced that they had discovered a new form of bacteria, known as GFAJ-1, in California's Mono Lake that has DNA completely foreign to anything ever before found on Earth. It substitutes arsenic at the DNA level for phosphorus.

That would distinguish it from every other form of life known to man, all of which, no matter how diverse, is comprised of the same six elements, phosphorus, sulfur, carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. But the bacteria found in Mono Lake--which is known for its unusual chemistry, including very high levels of salinity, alkalinity, and arsenic--is made partly of arsenic, and has no phosphorus in its DNA.

.... by discovering a microbe that has a new form of DNA, it forces scientists to question what they've long held as true--that all life was based on the same six components.
....

2) From Universe's star count tripled:
....
A new study reveals that dim red dwarf stars residing in elliptical galaxies are so much more bountiful than previously thought that there may be three times as many stars in the Universe than realised.
....
One implication of the results is that galaxies might contain less dark matter – the invisible substance that exerts its gravitational force on galaxies – than previously thought. "The masses of these elliptical galaxies as measured from the motions of stars are very high, and some of this mass was attributed to the stars but most had been attributed to dark matter," van Dokkum tells Astronomy Now. "Our results imply that a lot of this mass was due to stars after all, and that the dark matter fraction is lower than was previously thought and actually more in line with expectations from numerical simulations."
....

3) From Venus Express carries warning for environmental engineers:
ESA's Venus Express satellite has reported an unexpected, high altitude layer of sulphur dioxide in the planet's upper atmosphere that could act as a warning against plans to mitigate climate change on our own planet by injecting the Earth's atmosphere with sulphur droplets.

....A plan lauded by Nobel Prize winner Paul Crutzen involves injecting large quantities of sulphur dioxide high into the Earth’s atmosphere, in an attempt to offset the effects of global warming. ....

.... Venus hints that this plan may not be as effective as predicted, because we don’t know how quickly the droplets will evaporate, forming transparent gases that give us no protection against the Sun's heat. ....
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9303
PSL I think that lesson has been learned the hardest way... twice.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9303
Quoting LowerCal:
Fsh Thanks for the advance notice (and testimonial) ;^) on the upcoming Geminid meteor shower. The shower could be strongest on the nights of December 12/13 or 13/14 for the Western Hemisphere and the nights of December 13/14 or 14/15 for the Eastern Hemisphere.

The shower will be best positioned for viewing about 2AM. Near that best viewing time meteors can be seen from the Southern tropics while farther north (e.g. Alaska) some meteors may be seen all night long. More meteors will be seen in the early morning after the moon sets.

The broad peak rate of about 120 per hour for the Geminid meteor shower makes viewing worthwhile for either or both early mornings.

More info at International Meteor Organization - Geminids.


aqua Thanks for sharing your crescent earthshine experience.



Glad I, "made ya look!" :^)


PSL As you indicated might happen the launch of shuttle Discovery has been moved back to no earlier than February 3, 2011 -
Spaceflight Now | STS-133 Shuttle Report | Discovery's final launch postponed until February.


I thought that might be the case. The cracks in the external tank are too complex a problem to fly without understanding it completely. If I were aboard that orbiter I'd want them to proceed w/o undue haste. Folks' lives are at risk.
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
Today's engine test of the SpaceX Falcon9 rocket was incomplete and my be retried as early as tomorrow -
Spaceflight Now | Falcon Launch Report | Mission Status Center.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9303
The X-37B space plane lands in California to end it's secret mission.

From Spaceflight Now | Breaking News | Home again: U.S. military space plane returns to Earth:
Flying back to Earth after nearly 225 days in space, the U.S. Air Force's X-37B space plane blazed through the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean Friday and swooped into a California air base under the cloak of darkness.

Capping a secret mission in orbit, the unmanned spaceship touched down at 0916 GMT (4:16 a.m. EST; 1:16 a.m. PST) on the landing strip at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
....
LARGE infrared video file of the landing
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9303
Fsh Thanks for the advance notice (and testimonial) ;^) on the upcoming Geminid meteor shower. The shower could be strongest on the nights of December 12/13 or 13/14 for the Western Hemisphere and the nights of December 13/14 or 14/15 for the Eastern Hemisphere.

The shower will be best positioned for viewing about 2AM. Near that best viewing time meteors can be seen from the Southern tropics while farther north (e.g. Alaska) some meteors may be seen all night long. More meteors will be seen in the early morning after the moon sets.

The broad peak rate of about 120 per hour for the Geminid meteor shower makes viewing worthwhile for either or both early mornings.

More info at International Meteor Organization - Geminids.


aqua Thanks for sharing your crescent earthshine experience.



Glad I, "made ya look!" :^)


PSL As you indicated might happen the launch of shuttle Discovery has been moved back to no earlier than February 3, 2011 -
Spaceflight Now | STS-133 Shuttle Report | Discovery's final launch postponed until February.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9303
Nice!

I just read through their website. Very cool. It seem like they have an impressive reliability record, and the programs look outstanding.
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
There was a brief test firing of the Falcon9 rocket engines at the launch pad.

The Cape Canaveral launch for the orbit and reentry test of the SpaceX Dragon reusable spacecraft is scheduled for a December 7 9:00am-2:21pm 9:00am-12:22pm EST window.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9303
Live launch blog at Spaceflight Now | Falcon Launch Report | Mission Status Center.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9303
SpaceX Falcon9 Webcast is showing live video. Test firing of engines now schedule for 1PM EDT.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9303


Good morning from Port St. Lucie. Great pictures!




Discovery may be delayed further:




Link
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
good morning mr cal- hi fishhead, and everyone else!

Mr.Cal? I wen outside and to the east, the moon was just a'fire, even tho it was the tiniest thinnest of crescents, I could see the whole moon. We are very dry here right now, the air is super-clear, and this was one of those moment I was like WOW, I wish you could be here to see this, from my vantage.

don't know if fishhead's air is as clear down where he is, but OH what a beautiful sight to behold this morning.

I know Inee to reply to posts in my own blog (where you are a most welcome poster) but this morning took my breath away, and I wanted to share.

"you make me look up"

:)
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 177 Comments: 26633
Hey Cal, Hope everything is well with you all!
Bunch of people here getting really excited about the Geminid meteor shower! Coming real soon with the height of it on the 13th/14th. I am hoping the weather cooperates cause the shower last year was amazing. I got treated to that big bright blue one dripping out of the sky.

Viewing Activity from the 2010 Geminid Meteor Shower
Member Since: November 19, 2005 Posts: 9 Comments: 9960
I added another WunderPhoto at the end of the blog entry.

Hi, PSFL!

Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9303




Hi Cal!

Nice posts, Pat. Thank you!
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
I've added some new WunderPhotos at the end of the blog entry.

Pat Thank you for the continuing updates. I've had a lot on my plate for more than just Thanksgiving. December will be a big month for several other important and unique events. I'll try to get those posted within a few days.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9303
Analysis Continues on Discovery

Mon, 29 Nov 2010 08:59:22 AM CST

At NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, space shuttle Discovery was powered down for the weekend while analysis continued. Today, technicians will install reference dots on the ground umbilical carrier plate, or GUCP, to monitor for movement during tanking.

Discovery's launch is currently targeted for no earlier than Dec. 17 after shuttle managers determined more tests and analysis are needed.

The Program Requirements Control Board, or PRCB, reviewed on Nov. 23 repairs and engineering evaluations associated with cracks on two 21-foot-long, U-shaped aluminum brackets, called stringers, on the shuttle's external tank. Managers decided the analysis and tests required to launch Discovery safely are not complete. The work will continue through this week.

The next status review by the PRCB will be Thursday, Dec. 2. If managers clear Discovery for launch on Dec. 17, the preferred time is about 8:51 p.m. EST.



Image above: Technicians spray foam insulation on a section of repaired stringers on space shuttle Discovery's external fuel tank. Photo credit: NASA
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129833
Looking downstream for Launch this week.

Cocoa Beach, Florida




Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129833
surfmom Thanks for bringing that thanks giving here. In the current societies of great technological mastery it's possible to lose sight of how interdependent we are with the entire Earth.

Feather We did have a great Thanksgiving at home with friends, thanks! Glad to hear yours got off to a fun start and that you found the CURRENT PLANETS section at the top of the blog entry helpful.

shore So you think those researchers have just now stumbled across something Las Vegas casino managers have been exploiting for many decades? ;^)

Good advice to your Welsh friend. Some geographies are conducive to the green flash like the Central and Northern California coast but it isn't regularly visible because of fog obscuring the horizon.

I had to get out Saturday to run a few errands, was momentarily surprised by the main thoroughfare traffic and grateful my mission didn't include any mall shopping.

Pat Thank you for the update on current human spaceflight events. Glad to see the Expedition 25 crew home safe and snug as bugs in a rug, lol.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9303


Image above: Soyuz TMA-19 crew members are seen after being removed from the Soyuz capsule near the town of Arkalyk, Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls



Expedition 25 Returns Home
Video included



Expedition 25 Commander Doug Wheelock and Flight Engineers Shannon Walker and Fyodor Yurchikhin safely landed their Soyuz spacecraft on the Kazakhstan steppe Thursday, wrapping up a five-month stay aboard the International Space Station.

Russian cosmonaut Yurchikhin, the Soyuz commander, was at the controls of the spacecraft as it undocked at 8:23 p.m. EST from the station's Rassvet module. The trio landed at 11:46 p.m. (10:46 a.m. on Nov. 26 local time) at a site northeast of the town of Arkalyk.

Working in frigid temperatures, Russian recovery teams were on hand within minutes to help the crew exit the Soyuz vehicle and re-adjust to gravity.



The trio launched aboard the Soyuz TMA-19 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on June 15. As members of the Expedition 24 and 25 crews, they spent 163 days in space, 161 of them aboard the station, and celebrated the 10th anniversary of continuous human life, work and research by international crews aboard the station on Nov. 2.

During their mission, the Expedition 24 and 25 crew members worked on more than 120 microgravity experiments in human research; biology and biotechnology; physical and materials sciences; technology development; and Earth and space sciences.

The astronauts also responded to an emergency shutdown of half of the station's external cooling system and supported three unplanned spacewalks by Wheelock and Expedition 24 Flight Engineer Tracy Caldwell Dyson to replace the faulty pump module that caused the shutdown. Their efforts restored the station's critical cooling system to full function.

Yurchikhin has logged 371 total days in space, Wheelock 178 days and Walker 163 days.

The station is occupied by Expedition 26 Commander Scott Kelly and Flight Engineers Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skripochka of the Russian Federal Space Agency. Their increment officially began when the Soyuz TMA-19 undocked.

After a busy week capped with the undocking activities Thursday, Kelly, Kaleri and Skripochka caught up on their sleep Friday. They will enjoy an off-duty weekend of routine station maintenance and daily exercise before kicking off their first workweek as a three-person crew Monday.

A new trio of Expedition 26 flight engineers, NASA astronaut Catherine Coleman, Russian cosmonaut Dmitry Kondratyev and Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency, will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on Dec. 15. They will dock with the station and join its crew on Dec. 17.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129833
Hope your Thanksgiving was great, LC!

Re: those hamsters depressed by the nightlights. Phooey, says me. It wasn't the dim light that messed them up. It's that they discovered they had enough light to carry on by while their researchers throught they were sleeping. You can't imagine the poker-playing, Jacqueline Suzanne novel reading, refrigerator raiding and QVC buying that went on in those cages! They just ended up sleep-deprived.

BUT, that's not why I stopped by. I just got done talking with a friend who lives in Wales. She's been visiting here and is back home now. She lives in Tywyn, on the very coast, and in the course of our conversation she mentioned what a lovely green flash they had the first night she was home.

I about went crazy. When I asked her if she'd seen it before, she said they see it all the time - that one of their favorite things is to watch the sun go down and see the green flash.

I told her she'd better get down to whatever's the Welsh village equivalent of the Chamber of Commerce and tell them to get with it. They've got a money-maker there if it's that regular!

Lovely day here. Yesterday it was sunny and 75. Right now it's 45 and raining. I think our C of C probably prayed for this. Perfect mall weather, for those inclined toward malls. Me? I've got other things planned ;-)
Member Since: October 4, 2004 Posts: 205 Comments: 15288
Hey, Cal - hope you had a Great Thanksgiving! I sure did....this morning I got up early, as I didn't want to miss: "Brilliant white Venus rises ESE before dawn with bright & bluish star Spica above, low ESE at dawn". Was it ever pretty, even in some low-powered binoculars. Thanks for the head's up; that bluish Spica threw me a bit til I read what was up, right here. Your blog is fun :)
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Indigenous Perspectives on Thanksgiving
"Giving daily thanks for nature's gifts has always been an important way of living for traditional Native peoples. The six nations of the Haudenosaunee, or Iroquois (Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora), who live in New York State and parts of southeastern Canada, express their thanks in a recitation known as The Thanksgiving Address. Sometimes referred to as "the words that come before all else," this address is spoken at community gatherings, ceremonies, and even at some schools to start the day. The words express thanks for fellow human beings, Mother Earth, the moon, stars, sun, water, air, winds, animals, and more.

"Here is an excerpt that offers thanks for the food plants:

With one mind, we turn to honor and thank all the Food Plants we harvest from the garden. Since the beginning of time, the grains, vegetables, beans, and berries have helped the people survive. Many other living things draw strength from them, too. We gather all the Plant Foods together as one and send them a greeting of thanks.

-Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address


"American Indian peoples' connection to the natural world has been maintained through generations of observation, in which people developed environmental knowledge and philosophies. People took actions to ensure the long-term sustainability of their communities and the environment, with which they shared a reciprocal relationship. Today, Native knowledge can be a key to understanding and solving some of our world's most pressing problems."
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I added another WunderPhoto at the end of the blog entry.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9303
Dim lights at night could make you depressed - SmartPlanet
Artificial nighttime lighting – from the dim glow of your iProduct to the alley streetlight – could be detrimental to your mental health.
....
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9303
Spaceflight Now | STS-133 Shuttle Report | Discovery's launch delayed until at least mid-December
NASA managers reviewing the progress of repairs to the shuttle Discovery's external tank and the rationale for making another launch attempt decided Wednesday to pass up an early December launch window, delaying the flight to at least Dec. 17 and possibly all the way to February.
....
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9303
Fsh Thanks and you too!
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9303
Have a safe & Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!
Member Since: November 19, 2005 Posts: 9 Comments: 9960
Spaceflight Now | Breaking News | U.S. military space plane nearing end of design life
Observers tracking movements of the U.S. Air Force's X-37B secretive space plane report the spacecraft is dropping altitude, a possible sign the clandestine mission is near landing as it approaches the limit of the its design life.
....
The robotic spacecraft, also known as the Orbital Test Vehicle, launched April 22 on an Atlas 5 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla. The flight entered a news blackout a few minutes after liftoff, but a network of amateur satellite trackers have logged the spacecraft's journey through space with countless visual sightings.
....
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9303
GG Thank you for your good wishes. May you and your loved ones have a happy Thanksgiving too!
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9303
Happy Thanks Giving to You and Yours!
Member Since: March 25, 2007 Posts: 260 Comments: 9979
Spaceflight Now | Falcon Launch Report | FAA issues first commercial re-entry license to SpaceX
....
"This will be the first attempt by a commercial company to recover a spacecraft re-entering from low Earth orbit," SpaceX said in a statement. "It is a feat performed by only 6 nations or governmental agencies: the United States, Russia, China, Japan, India, and the European Union."
....
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9303
Bogon You're welcome and thanks to Skyepony for first bringing it to my attention in comment 41.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9303
Cal, I saw the Space.com story over at BF's. It's good to set the record straight about the betrayer ("belewe") moon. Thanks for passing that along.
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I've added some WunderPhotos at the end of the blog entry.

Barefoot YW! :^)

We did get some welcome rain. After an above average October November is still a little below average but catching up with a little more due tomorrow. It's cold here now (highs in the low 60s, lol) but might get near 70 the day after Thanksgiving.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9303
Hi LC,
Sounds like you all were watching a launch today.

Thanks for bringing the "old school" Blue Moon link over to my blog. Makes more sense to me to describe the Blue Moon that way-in synch with the seasons not with calendar months.

Hear from my brother L.A. area got some rain. Good on ya. Gonna get cold with N winds here for a couple days around Thanksgiving.
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