Photo Op July 15 (see blog entry)

By: LowerCal , 10:40 PM GMT on February 26, 2012

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CURRENT MOON

moon phases

CURRENT PLANETS and brilliant stars in early July. Directions and times are for the northern subtropics and vary somewhat for other latitudes.
• Bright & golden Mercury is close to the western horizon at dusk, sets WNW after dark.
• Bright & orange Mars is SW at dusk, sets west near midnight.
• Bright & yellowish Saturn is SSW at dusk, sets west after midnight and is
accompanied very closely by the bright and blueish star Spica.
• Very brilliant off-white Jupiter rises ENE predawn, is low east late dawn.
• Extremely brilliant white Venus rises ENE predawn, is low east before sunrise and is
accompanied very closely by the bright and orange star Aldebaran.
• Brilliant & blueish star Sirius will rise before the Sun late July.
• Brilliant white star Canopus will peek above the horizon before the Sun around late August.


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,
Astronomy Picture of the Day,
Lunar Photo of the Day,
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:
Sodankyla, Finland,
Kiruna, Sweden,
Jokkmokk, Sweden (cam 4),
Jokkmokk, Sweden (cam 5),
Abisko, Sweden,
Reykiavik, Iceland,
Yellowknife, Canada (click on CONNECT AURORAMAX LIVE),
& Poker Flat, Alaska


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 *****

Photo Op - Crescent & Morning "Stars"

Image created with Stellarium, a free download.

July 15 before Dawn
ENE before dawn the bright & orange star Aldebaran and the ">" shaped Hyades star cluster will be visible close to extremely brilliant white planet Venus. The tiny dipper shaped Pleiades star cluster will be visible well above very brilliant off-white Jupiter.

Even in the very bright dawn shortly before sunrise the thin crescent moon, Venus and Jupiter will still be visible.


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

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

Moon Rides with Jupiter (& Jupiter's Moons)

WunderPhoto: Jupiter, Venus and the crescent moon....Day 2 by rds817 — Sunday February 26, 2012

February 26 after Sunset
A crescent moon will travel beside the brilliant off-white planet Jupiter. Below them is the brilliant white planet Venus. Jupiter and Venus will appear very close March 12 & 13.

As the sky darkens through binoculars as many as four of Jupiter's largest moons can be seen.

Interactive Animation of Jupiter's Moons
- Current, Past and Future


Jupiter & Venus' Cozy Evenings

WunderPhoto: Jupiter & Venus from the Front Yard by phnielsen — Monday March 12, 2012

March 12 & 13 after Sunset
Brilliant off-white planet Jupiter travels close to even more brilliant white planet Venus.

As the sky darkens through binoculars as many as four of Jupiter's largest moons can be seen.

Interactive Animation of Jupiter's Moons
- Current, Past and Future


Virginia Nightlight Cloud Launches

Milky white tracer clouds from a prior mission.
Credit: Miguel Larsen/Clemson Univ

Mission: Anomalous Transport Rocket Experiment (ATREX)
Launch Vehicle: Terrier-Improved Malemute
Launch from Wallops Flight Facility, Virgina
March 23
12:00-3:00am EDT
March 25
morning

March 27
12:00-5:00am EDT
2:00-5:00am EDT


".... where the rockets may be visible while the motors are burning ...."
Credit: NASA/Wallops


".... the projected area in which the chemical tracers released from the rockets may be visible ...."
Credit: NASA/Wallops

The Anomalous Transport Rocket Experiment (ATREX) will study the 200-300mph ultra-high level jet stream at the edge of space 60-65 miles above the Earth's surface. For details on the mission see
NASA - NASA Jet Stream Study Will Light up The Night Sky.


Crescent & Planets PhotoOps
(and beautiful binocular & naked eye views too.)

March 24-27 after Sunset
There will be good photo opportunities with the crescent moon in the western sky. (See the series of images just below.) Total darkness comes about 1½ hours after sunset. Between half an hour to an hour after sunset are some nice twilight skies. You can step outside any evening starting now, see the brilliant planets Jupiter and Venus, get an idea of lighting at various times and take some test shots.

After dark the two star clusters closest to Earth are easily seen above Jupiter and Venus. To the naked eye the Pleiades cluster appears as a tiny white dipper shaped pattern of stars standing above brilliant white Venus. The Hyades cluster appears farther above as a larger V-shaped pattern of stars with the bright and orangeish star Aldebaran at one corner. Binocular views of these star clusters are spectacular.

Crescent Moon, Venus & Jupiter - March 24, 2012 45 min. after Sunset


Crescent Moon, Venus & Jupiter - March 25, 2012 45 min. after Sunset


Crescent Moon, Venus & Jupiter - March 26, 2012 45 min. after Sunset


Crescent Moon, Venus & Jupiter - March 27, 2012 45 min. after Sunset

Images created with Stellarium, a free download.


Vandenberg Delta IV Launch

Photo credit: USAF/Airman 1st Class Lael Huss

Mission: National Reconnaissance Office Launch 25 (NROL-25)
Launch Vehicle: Delta IV Medium+ (5,2)
Launch from Vandenberg AFB, California
March 29
2230-(March 30)0015 GMT
6:30-8:15pm EDT
3:30-5:15pm PDT (local time).
March 30
2238-(March 31)0023 GMT
6:38-8:23pm EDT
3:38-5:23pm PDT (local time).
April 2
2304-? GMT
7:04pm-? EDT
4:04pm-? PDT (local time).

April 3
2312-? GMT
7:12pm-? EDT
4:12pm-? PDT (local time).

The smoke column produced by two solid rocket boosters will be easily visible for this afternoon launch.

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

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

You can find a live launch webcast at
United Launch Alliance.


Annular Solar Eclipse

Photo Credit: sancho_panza
May 20
Partial begins: 2056 GMT
Annular begins: 2206 GMT
May 21
Annular ending: 0139 GMT
Partial ending: 0249 GMT

A VERY IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT VIEWING THE ECLIPSE:
"....no matter what, do not use "filters" such as smoked glass, stacked sunglasses, polarized filters, camera filters, candy wrappers, or compact discs. They might reduce the Sun's glare, but enough harmful radiation can sneak through to damage your eyes. Only use materials specifically manufactured for safe solar viewing, or #14 arcwelders glass."

That quote is from Safely View the Upcoming Eclipse and Transit - Observing Highlights - SkyandTelescope.com which gives directions for additional methods for viewing the Sun such as projecting an image, etc.


Map credit: Eclipse Predictions by Fred Espenak, NASA's GSFC
For a explanation of all the lines and terms on the map see
NASA - Key to Solar Eclipse Maps.

See a zoomable and clickable NASA - Annular Solar Eclipse Map that will show specific times and amount of Sun eclipsed for any locations you select.

Some phase of the eclipse will be visible for most of North America before or during sunset. The path of annularity (where the Sun will appear as a "ring of fire" arround the Moon) is at least 150 miles wide. The path of annularity makes landfall at the California-Oregon border and continues into NW Texas. See the general visibility map for North America.


Cape Canaveral Falcon 9 Launch

Photo credit: NASA/Tony Gray and Kevin O'Connell

Mission: Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) Demo Flight 2
Spacecraft: Dragon C2+
Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Launch from Cape Canaveral AFS, Florida
May 19
0855 GMT
4:55am EDT (local time)
1:55am PDT.
no earlier than (NET)

May 22
0744 GMT
3:44am EDT (local time)
12:44am PDT.

Berthing at the International Space Station (ISS)
May 22
1505 GMT
11:05am EDT
8:05am PDT.

Departure from ISS
May 31
1000 GMT
6:00am EDT
3:00am PDT

Deorbit burn
May 31
1451 GMT
10:51am EDT
7:51am PDT

Splashdown west of central Baja California
May 31
1542 GMT
11:42am EDT
8:42am PDT (local time)

If all the ambitious mission goals are met the SpaceX Dragon capsule will be the first private commercial spacecraft to deliver cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) and it will also return cargo to Earth.

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

More details and updates appear on a launch blog at
Spaceflight Now | Dragon Mission Report | Mission Status Center.

You can find a live pre-launch and launch broadcasts at
NASA TV via cable, satellite or internet and
SpaceX.


Partial Lunar Eclipse

WunderPhoto: Lunar Eclipse by jajayy

June 4
Partial eclipse begins 1000 GMT
Partial eclipse ending 1206 GMT


Map credit: F. Espenak, NASA’s GSFC

The partial lunar eclipse will be in progress at moonset/sunrise for all but the most eastern and northern area of the Americas. The entire eclipse sequence will be visible from nearly all the Pacific Ocean including eastern Australia and eastern Indonesia. The partial lunar eclipse will be significantly in progress at moonsrise/sunset for the most eastern areas of the Asia.


Transit of Venus (across the Sun)

Photo credit: Jan Herold

June 5/6
First contact
2209 GMT
6:09 EDT
3:09 PDT

Final contact
0449 GMT


Map credit: Fred Espenak, NASAs GSFC

The transit of Venus will be visible on June 5 until sunset for the 48 states. Alaska and Hawaii will be able to observe the entire transit. Starting west of the International Date Line (IDL) the transit will be visible on June 6. Farther west the transit will be in progress at sunrise.

You can find timetables for major cities at 2012 Transit of Venus - Cities.

A VERY IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT VIEWING THE TRANSIT:
"....no matter what, do not use "filters" such as smoked glass, stacked sunglasses, polarized filters, camera filters, candy wrappers, or compact discs. They might reduce the Sun's glare, but enough harmful radiation can sneak through to damage your eyes. Only use materials specifically manufactured for safe solar viewing, or #14 arcwelders glass."

That quote is from Safely View the Upcoming Eclipse and Transit - Observing Highlights - SkyandTelescope.com which gives directions for additional methods for viewing the Sun such as projecting an image, etc.

I was able to buy a pair of eclipse shades like this...

... for $1 at a local camera & telescope store.


JPL Open House


June 9 & 10
9AM - 4PM

The annual Open House at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., welcomes over 38,000 visitors. This year's theme is "Great Journeys," inviting visitors to share in the wonders of space through high-definition and 3-D videos, live demonstrations, interactions with scientists and engineers, and a first look at JPL's new Earth Science Center.

Find directions and other vital info at Open House - NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.


Cape Canaveral Atlas V Launch

Image credit: NASA/JPL/KSC/Lockheed Martin Space Systems

Mission: National Reconnaissance Office Launch 38 (NROL-38)
Launch Vehicle: Atlas V 401
Launch from Cape Canaveral AFS, Florida
June 20
1228-1327 GMT
8:28-9:27am EDT (local time)
5:28-6:27am PDT.

With no smoke producing solid rocket boosters the launch vehicle will rise on a bright flame with a long barely visible tail. A condensation trail may form at higher altitude.

You can find status updates and launch coverage at
Spaceflight Now | Atlas Launch Report | Mission Status Center.

You can find more information and a live webcast starting a 8:08am EDT on launch day at
United Launch Alliance.


Skinny Moon & Mercury - 20 June 20 min. after Sunset looking WNW

Image created with Stellarium, a free download.

Binoculars can help you find both or just offer another interesting view if you can find them with your eyes alone.


Skinny Moon & Planet Mercury - 21 June 20 min. after Sunset looking WNW

Image created with Stellarium, a free download.

The crescent moon should be more obvious this evening but binoculars still might be needed find Mercury 20 minutes after sunset. Binoculars will also give an improved view of the craters and mountains in the Moon's thin crescent.

By about 45 minutes after sunset Mercury should be obvious to the right of the thin crescent. The pair will make a nice photo op against a twilight sky with silhouettes on the horizon below.


Cape Canaveral Delta IV Launch

Image credit: US Air Force

Mission: National Reconnaissance Office Launch 15 (NROL-15)
Launch Vehicle: Delta IV Heavy
Launch from Cape Canaveral AFS, Florida
June 28
Target
1016 GMT
6:16am EDT (local time)
3:16am PDT,

June 29
Target
1013 GMT
6:13am EDT (local time)
3:13am PDT,

Window?
0930-1430 GMT
5:30-10:30am EDT (local time)
2:30-7:30am PDT.

The beginning of the previously announced launch window is early dawn. The Delta IV Heavy configuration uses two additional first stage engines as strap on boosters. The three RS-68 liquid hydrogen-oxygen engines create long orange flames and water vapor exhaust that shows up as a heavy condensation trail.

The announced target time of launch is about 10 minutes before sunrise. This could result in a condensation trail that rises from low light into bright and reddish sunrise colors - a nice photo op.

You can find status updates and launch coverage at
Spaceflight Now | Delta Launch Report | Mission Status Center.

You can find more information and a live webcast on launch day at
United Launch Alliance.


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Jupiter, Venus and the crescent moon (rds817)
Jupiter, Venus and the crescent moon
Important Sunspot Up Date 3/11/12 (Ralfo)
Up Date Photo 3/11/12 . VERY IMPORTANT NEWS. Photo taken at 10:05A.M. What is going on now is the #1 event of importance regarding the Sun and Earths Weather and conditions for now and future. I am and have been entering Photos to advise. Below is a copy of updates and interest info! Sunspots - News Results Solar Storms Continue, Northern Lights Increase WebProNews - Mar 09 08:55am Earth Braces for Geomagnetic Storming After More Solar FlaresPC Magazine - Mar 10 02:48pm Biggest solar storms.
Important Sunspot Up Date 3/11/12
()
Ice and light (Altred)
Ice and light
MidnightDance! (katy99780)
Dynamic, bright, and moving 'at the speed of light.' Constant motion, fast as a shiver in the cold, shimmering in the night sky. 18 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, wee hours this morning.
MidnightDance!
Planets at Night (SBKaren)
I believe these are Jupiter (below) and Venus (above). Just shot this photo without taking any kind of care. I wasn't even sure if they would turn out.
Planets at Night
Red and green (Altred)
Red and green
()
()
Early Evening Conjunction (CameraGuy)
This evening's beautiful conjunction of the Moon, Venus, Jupiter, and the Pleiades.
Early Evening Conjunction
Moon & planets form Tringle while Corn Takes Over. (Skyepony)
All hail the corn, it's 8' high & the planets & moon have aligned to form a triangle, with Jupiter sitting with the moon & Venus above. Got 0.21" of rain, followed by perfect weather.
Moon & planets form Tringle while Corn Takes Over.
()
ATREX Misson (Maciejewski)
WALLOPS ISLAND, VA – NASA successfully launched five suborbital sounding rockets this morning from its Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia as part of a study of the upper level jet stream. The first rocket was launched at 4:58 a.m. EDT and each subsequent rocket was launched 80 seconds apart. Each of the rockets released a chemical tracer that created milky, white clouds at the edge of space.
ATREX Misson
Jupiter, Moon and Venus (CecileWNC)
Jupiter, Moon and Venus
Coastal Flooding (SunsetSailor)
This is the road to my house. We only get this kind of flooding when hurricanes are off shore. Tides were 4-6 ft above normal this evening due to the gravitational pull of the moon.
Coastal Flooding
Fireflies (PruzenskiPhotos)
A sure sign that summer is on it's way. A view from Canadice Lake early this morning revealed fireflies dancing infront of the Milky Way.
Fireflies
Oregon Annular (silverbeaver59)
Oregon Annular
2 hours of the annular eclipse of the sun (redtim)
from Pyramid Lake, NV
2 hours of the annular eclipse of the sun
Solar Sunset Eclipse (LianesLightroom)
View of the partial solar eclipse from the Manhattan Beach Pier. Edited using special filters from NIK Software.
Solar Sunset Eclipse
Annular Eclipse Sunset over Mt. Taylor (witokazu)
Absolutely awesome event. Shot from Albuquerque, NM, USA on I-40 Frontage Rd on MM-245. Nikon D300 and 50mm (non-DX) @ f/5.6 at 3-min intervals centered at mid-annularity.
Annular Eclipse Sunset over Mt. Taylor
Sunset Eclipse (Mousecrafter)
2012 Solar eclipse sunset overlooking Lake Ray Hubbard with clouds.
Sunset Eclipse
Moon Eclipse 3 (gilg72)
Partial Eclipse. Was cloudy all the way thru. Had to wait for clouds to move enough for photos. Different settings etc.
Moon Eclipse 3
walkabout (cyril8)
partial eclipse still visible as the full moon sets
walkabout
VENUS TRANSIT & MANY SUNSPOTS (Ralfo)
Cloudy most of the day but got a break in between clouds. Took this picture at 6:37P.M. with many Sunspots. One of the rarest solar system events (only seven have happened since Galileo's time). Venus' transit of the Sun
VENUS TRANSIT & MANY SUNSPOTS
Delta IV Heavy (Skyepony)
Excellent rumble.
Delta IV Heavy

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Good Morning Skye!
Sorry you couldn't see it, but at least I don't feel left out!
:o)
Member Since: September 2, 2008 Posts: 101 Comments: 33351
390. Skyepony (Mod)
I had a low cloud stream in from the east just in time for launch that cleared soon after. Couldn't see it.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 209 Comments: 39084
So...there it is. Nice launch.
Have a great day.

1233 GMT (8:33 a.m. EDT)
The United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket has flown into a pre-arranged news blackout following jettison of the rocket's payload shroud. The veil of secrecy surrounding the launch of this clandestine satellite means no further information about the progress of the ascent, upper stage engine firings or release of the payload will be announced in real-time.
Member Since: September 2, 2008 Posts: 101 Comments: 33351
Here's a look at some stats about today's mission.
This will be:

The 613th launch for Atlas program since 1957
The 325th Atlas to occur from Cape Canaveral
The 202nd mission for the Centaur upper stage
The 179th use of Centaur by an Atlas rocket
The 31st launch of an Atlas 5 since 2002
The 50th Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle flight
The 27th Atlas 5 to occur from the Cape
The 23rd Atlas 5 under United Launch Alliance
The 10th Atlas 5 launch overseen by the Air Force
The 20th 400-series flight of the Atlas 5
The 12th Atlas 5 to fly in the 401 configuration
The 13th Atlas launch for the National Reconnaissance Office
The 6th Atlas 5 launch for the NRO
The 3rd Atlas launch of 2012
Member Since: September 2, 2008 Posts: 101 Comments: 33351
1232 GMT (8:32 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 4 minutes, 45 seconds. The two halves of the four-meter-diameter Atlas 5 rocket nose cone encapsulating the spacecraft have separated.
1232 GMT (8:32 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 4 minutes, 25 seconds. Centaur has ignited! The RL10 engine is up and running at full thrust to power the vehicle into orbit.
1232 GMT (8:32 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 4 minutes, 14 seconds. The Atlas 5's Common Core Booster has been jettisoned, completing the first stage of flight, and the Centaur upper stage's liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen systems are being readied for engine start.
1232 GMT (8:32 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 4 minutes, 7 seconds. BECO. Booster Engine Cutoff is confirmed as the RD-180 powerplant on the first stage completes its burn. Standing by to fire the retro thrusters and separate the spent stage.
1231 GMT (8:31 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 3 minutes, 45 seconds. Atlas now weighs just a quarter of what it did at liftoff.
1231 GMT (8:31 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 3 minutes. RD-180 has running at 92 percent throttle setting.
1230 GMT (8:30 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 2 minutes, 50 seconds. Reaction control system has been activated.
1230 GMT (8:30 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 2 minutes, 20 seconds. Atlas now weighs half of what it did at liftoff.
1229 GMT (8:29 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 1 minutes, 45 seconds. The RD-180 main engine continues to fire normally, burning a mixture of highly refined kerosene and liquid oxygen.
1229 GMT (8:29 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 95 seconds. Now passing through the region of maximum aerodynamic pressure on the vehicle as its accelerates through the dense lower atmosphere.
1229 GMT (8:29 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 85 seconds. Mach 1. All looks good aboard Atlas.
1229 GMT (8:29 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 60 seconds. One minute into the ascent as the 19-story-tall rocket flies eastward from Cape Canaveral, arcing over the Atlantic en route to orbit.
1228 GMT (8:28 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 40 seconds. The thunderous morning departure from planet Earth for the clandestine satellite launching on the Atlas 5 to serve the National Reconnaissance Office.
1228 GMT (8:28 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 15 seconds. The Atlas 5 is on its way, riding atop 860,000 pounds of thrust from the RD-180 main engine as pitch, yaw and roll maneuvers are performed to put the rocket on the proper heading.
1228 GMT (8:28 a.m. EDT)
LIFTOFF of America's 50th Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle as the Atlas 5 rocket clears the tower!
1227 GMT (8:27 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 20 seconds. "Go Atlas" and "Go Centaur" was just called by launch team during a final status check.
1227 GMT (8:27 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 40 seconds. Centaur's liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen tanks are stable at flight pressures.
1227 GMT (8:27 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 1 minute. Now 60 seconds away from launching the 50th rocket in the Air Force's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle fleet of Atlas 5s and Delta 4s dating back to the past decade.
1226 GMT (8:26 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 90 seconds. The rocket's safety system has been armed.
1226 GMT (8:26 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 1 minute, 45 seconds. Liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen propellant topping to the Centaur upper stage is being secured.
1226 GMT (8:26 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 1 minute, 55 seconds. The launch sequencer has been commanded to start.
1226 GMT (8:26 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 2 minutes. The Atlas first stage and Centaur upper stage are now switching from ground power to internal batteries.
1225 GMT (8:25 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 2 minutes, 30 seconds. The first stage RP-1 kerosene fuel tank and the liquid oxygen have stepped up to proper flight pressure levels.
1225 GMT (8:25 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 3 minutes. The Atlas first stage liquid oxygen replenishment is being secured so the tank can be pressurized for launch.
1224 GMT (8:24 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 3 minutes, 50 seconds. The ground pyrotechnics are enabled.
1224 GMT (8:24 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 4 minutes and counting. Clocks have resumed for the final minutes of today's countdown to launch the Atlas 5 rocket with NROL-38 mission, delivering a secret satellite into orbit for the National Reconnaissance Office.
1222 GMT (8:22 a.m. EDT)
The ULA launch director and the government's mission director have given their "go" to resume the countdown as scheduled.
1221 GMT (8:21 a.m. EDT)
Polling of the team by Atlas launch conductor just occurred. All systems are "go" for an on-time liftoff today at 8:28 a.m. EDT.


Member Since: September 2, 2008 Posts: 101 Comments: 33351
clouds pretty heavy between here and the cape so will probably just have to watch on video.

http://www.spaceflightnow.com/atlas/av023/status. html
Member Since: September 2, 2008 Posts: 101 Comments: 33351
1212 GMT (8:12 a.m. EDT)
Upper level winds are favorable today as well.
1208 GMT (8:08 a.m. EDT)
Twenty minutes from liftoff. No reports of anything amiss technically and the weather is GO for launch at 8:28 a.m. EDT.
Member Since: September 2, 2008 Posts: 101 Comments: 33351
Rob Binoculars will be a big help finding both if you need them and will give another interesting view even if you don't.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9228
Quoting LowerCal:
I added a couple of computer graphics images in the blog entry to help with spotting the rarely seen skinny Moon and rarely seen planet Mercury appearing briefly after sunset June 20 & 21.

Saw those.
Will give it a try.
My eyes ain't what they used to be.
Member Since: September 2, 2008 Posts: 101 Comments: 33351
I added a couple of computer graphics images in the blog entry to help with spotting the rarely seen skinny Moon and rarely seen planet Mercury appearing briefly after sunset June 20 & 21.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9228
Rob Good luck.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9228
We'll see. Seems to be some concerns over solar activity and possible weather issues. Hopefully it will go. Angie goes in late tomorrow so one of the rare opportunities for her to glimpse a day launch.

If I don't mess up and sleep too late, I'll report here.
Member Since: September 2, 2008 Posts: 101 Comments: 33351
Rob You're welcome!

The timing clashes with start of day activities in the Cal household so I doubt I'll be here but you're welcome to post here if you choose to.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9228
Reckon I need to stick a post-it on the coffee pot tonight!
Thanks!
Member Since: September 2, 2008 Posts: 101 Comments: 33351
Rob You're welcome. :^)


sp We had tentative plans but changed them to sleeping in at the last minute, lol.

Looks like this week offers the best chance of seeing those "morning stars". (See CURRENT PLANETS at the top of the blog entry and comment 375.)


Pat Thanks for the updates on the non-Chinese and Chinese space stations. China says, "Hi!".


Image credit: CCTV/Spaceflight Now

Spaceflight Now | Shenzhou Mission Report | Chinese astronauts open door on orbiting research lab
....
China says that a modified version of the docking system could permit Shenzhou capsules to attach to the ISS if the country was ever invited to join the multinational research laboratory.

But U.S. law prevents NASA from partnering with China.

Nine people are now in orbit around Earth, including the three-person Shenzhou crew and six residents on the ISS.
....
Thanks for the video of the U.S. Air Force's X-37B unmanned mini shuttle. They're getting some benefits they didn't get from the bigger manned shuttle.

Spaceflight Now | Atlas Launch Report | Air Force's mini space shuttle returns after 468-day flight


GG I wonder if any one country could back up that claim in the next century.

Sometimes the early risers are neglected but fortunately you have been following some of the principles that are listed in EarthSky's top 10 tips for super stargazers | Astronomy Essentials | EarthSky
....
1. Look up. ....

2. Watch the moon. ....

10. Be faithful to the sky. ....
I'm sorry I missed that and glad you didn't.

If you can be awake and outdoors shortly after sunset June 20 and 21 you could see the skinny moon under then left of brilliant & golden Mercury.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9228
Space Docking: China's Shenzhou 9 Capsule, Tiangong Module Link Up
Posted: 06/18/2012 9:23 am Updated: 06/18/2012 3:07 pm


By: Clara Moskowitz
Published: 06/18/2012 07:49 AM EDT on SPACE.com

Chinese astronauts docked two spaceships in orbit for the first time Monday (June 18), marking a vital milestone in the country's quest to build a manned space station in Earth orbit.

The three-person crew of the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft, which includes the China's first female astronaut, arrived at the country's Tiangong 1 ("Heavenly Palace") test module in orbit and joined the two craft to complete the successful docking. The maneuver is the first manned docking for China, making it the third nation, after the United States and Russia, to achieve such a feat.

"We are one step closer to our destination of constructing a future space station," an official with China's space program said during a broadcast on the state-run CNTV news network. "This is the first successful crew transportation mission for China."
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129435
Oh the space race is starting in earnest again. I wonder who is going to try to claim the entire moon as a territory?

Speaking of moons, this show was not on the list of cool astronomy events of 2012 I found. Remember back in March when the moon had Venus and Jupiter for companions?
Yesterday morning while driving to work it was the same show. Crescent moon with friends.

Only the moon and it's morning stars were setting to the east on top of a beautiful pink sunrise. Made for a great early morning drive.
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Published on Jun 16, 2012 by 30SWVandenberg

Footage of the X-37B landing at Vandenberg AFB at 5:48am, June 16th.

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AP News
China sending first woman in space to test module


JIUQUAN, China (AP) — China will send its first woman and two other astronauts into space Saturday to work on a temporary space station for about a week, in a key step toward becoming only the third nation to set up a permanent base in orbit.

Liu Yang, a 34-year-old air force pilot, and two male colleagues will be launched Saturday aboard the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft, which will dock with the bus-sized Tiangong 1 space module now orbiting at 343 kilometers (213 miles) above the Earth.

"Arranging for women astronauts to fly is not only a must for the development of human spaceflight, but also the expectation of the public," space program spokeswoman Wu Ping said. "This is a landmark event."

Two of the astronauts will live and work inside the module to test its life-support systems while the third will remain in the capsule to deal with any unexpected emergencies. Wu said the mission will last more than 10 days before the astronauts return to Earth in the capsule, landing on Western Chinese grasslands with the help of parachutes.

The rocket began fueling Friday at the Jiugquan Satellite Launch Center on the edge of the Gobi desert in northern China, Wu told reporters at the center. The launch is scheduled for 6:37 p.m. (1237 GMT) Saturday, she said.

Joining Liu, a major, is veteran astronaut and mission commander Jing Haipeng and newcomer Liu Wang, both air force senior colonels.

"You could say this mission is a combination of the old and the new and coordination between the male and female," Wu said.

Success in docking — and in living and working aboard the Tiangong 1 — would smooth the way for more ambitious projects, including the creation of a permanent space station and missions to the moon, and add to China's prestige in line with its growing economic prowess.

China is hoping to join the United States and Russia as the only countries to have sent independently maintained space stations into orbit. It already is in the exclusive three-nation club to have launched a spacecraft with astronauts on its own.

The mission demonstrates China's commitment to "long-term human spaceflight" and marks a test of "the technological capabilities requisite for a future permanent space station," said Joan Johnson-Freese, an expert on the Chinese space program at the U.S. Naval War College in Rhode Island.

Still, that is some years away. The Tiangong 1 is only a prototype, and the plan is to replace it with a permanent — and bigger — space station due for completion around 2020.

The permanent station will weigh about 60 tons, slightly smaller than NASA's Skylab of the 1970s and about one-sixth the size of the 16-nation International Space Station.

Analysts say China's exclusion from the ISS, largely on objections from the United States, was one of the key spurs for it to pursue an independent program 20 years ago, which reaches a high point with Saturday's launch.

The three astronauts will perform medicals tests on the effect of weightlessness on the human body, as well as other scientific and engineering tasks on Tiangong, or Heavenly Palace, which was put into orbit in September.

Wu said the capsule would first dock by remote control, then later separate and dock again manually, to prepare the technology for a permanent space station.

"After we have realized both the auto and manual docking technology, we can completely master this technology," she said.

China first launched a man into space in 2003, followed by a two-man mission in 2005 and a three-man trip in 2008 that featured China's first space walk.

In November 2011, the unmanned Shenzhou 8 successfully docked with the Tiangong 1 by remote control — twice to show the durability of the system.

While operating with limited resources, China's space program is a source of huge pride and enjoys top-level political and military backing. This has left it largely immune from the budgetary pressures affecting NASA, although China doesn't say what it spends on the program.

The selection of the first female astronaut is giving the program a publicity boost. State media have gushed about Liu, reporting she once successfully landed her plane after a bird strike disabled one of its engines.

Shortly after Wu's news conference, reporters were driven to a second building for a question and answer session with the astronauts, who were dressed in blue jump suits and seated behind a glass partition.

"We won't let you down. We will work together and successfully complete this mission," said Liu Yang, who like China's other female astronaut candidates is married and has a child, a requirement because of fears that exposure to space radiation could affect fertility.

___

Associated Press writer Christopher Bodeen in Beijing contributed to this report.
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Cupola hit by minor MMOD strike, shutter closed for evaluations

June 12th, 2012 by Chris Bergin

Window 2 on the Cupola module has been hit by a minor MicroMeteoroid and Orbital Debris (MMOD) strike. With the window's protective shutter closed, per flight rules, ISS managers are evaluating photos of the damage downlinked from the International Space Station (ISS) before they are expected to give the crew clearance to reopen the shutter.



After arriving at the ISS with Node 3, during Endeavour's STS-130 mission, the European Space Agency (ESA) built Cupola has provided Station crews with a stunning view of the planet, often shared with the public via downlinked photography.

The module also hosts a Robotic Work Station (RWS), allowing crewmembers to actually see Visiting Vehicles (VVs) such as SpaceX's Dragon and Japan's HTV arrive for berthing, complimenting the camera views of their displays, allowing for increased situational awareness when operating the Station's robotic assets.

The Cupola's seven windows were exposed to space for the first time during STS-130's EVA-3, following the removal of the module's MLI blanket insulation by spacewalkers Bob Behnken and Nick Patrick.

After the spacewalkers removed the launch locks on the windows, the ISS crew cycled the window shields/shutters one at a time, providing them with the first view of the Earth from their new observation deck.

All of the windows weren't open at the same time, with the task simply used to check the shutters opened without a problem. A few hours later, all of the windows were opened together, an event that is now commonplace on the ISS.

The module has hardly suffered from any issues during its tour of duty with the orbital outpost, with only a minor temperature issue noted ahead of Dragon's arrival last month.

Through no fault of its own, the MMOD strike is a risk all spacecraft have to deal with, although exposed windows are built to withstand such impacts.

This latest strike, to Window 2 on the Cupola, looks more dramatic via close up photos, but is in reality very small and probably would not have been instantly obvious to crewmembers entering the module.

Cupola Window MMOD Strike On June 10, the crew reported an MMOD strike on Cupola window 2 and downlinked photos (full set available on L2) of it, noted L2 level ISS Status (LINK). The shutter for window 2 is closed now, as required by flight rules, until the MMOD strike has been evaluated.

Teams are working to determine the structural implications of the MMOD strike and clear the window 2 shutter for re-opening if possible.

The flight rules are naturally cautious, in order to ensure a large amount of margin for crew safety. It is highly likely this will be cleared as an issue after the evaluations are completed.

It is understood that this MMOD strike is the first to be suffered by a Cupola window.

In the event of the damage being more serious, on-orbit replacement of an entire window is a design feature. Such a replacement would require an EVA to fit an external pressure cover to allow for the changeout, with a pressure cover requiring a flight up to the ISS.

The window is made up of four panes an inner scratch pane to protect the pressure pane from accidental damage, two pressure panes 25mm thick to maintain cabin pressure, and finally an outer debris pane. The debris panes can be replaced individually, via EVAs.

Strikes of these tiny pieces of debris are relatively commonplace and are only immediately noticeable when they impact on areas such as windows.
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Did you go JPL? I didn't, lol
Thanks for the planet lineup. Can you do anything about the fog? ;)
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Quoting LowerCal:
I updated the CURRENT PLANETS section near the top of the blog entry to early June.
Quoting LowerCal:
I added a FUTURE PLANETS section for late June below the CURRENT PLANETS section for early June near the top of the blog entry.


I drop by here at least once and sometimes multiple times per day to see what's up or to click on your links.

Thought that before I sign off for the weekend, I should at least post a thankyou for the updates.

Take good care man.

-Hood out!
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In Memoriam: Ray Bradbury 1920-2012
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I added a FUTURE PLANETS section for late June below the CURRENT PLANETS section for early June near the top of the blog entry.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9228
I updated the CURRENT PLANETS section near the top of the blog entry to early June.
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Pat Nice viewpoint for sunsets and a clear western horizon. Beautiful photo. Makes me miss living on the waterfront.
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GG :^) Yep, it was a reminder of just how sophisticated and versatile the human visual processing system is.
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Talk about problems with having your photo subject "backlit" ;-)

No welders helmet and standing on the roof. Just relied on the professional pics of it happening.
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Venus has left the Sun. In another week it will start to be visible as the Morning Star.
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shore, Finn Nice to see you. Thanks for stopping by and you're welcome. :^)
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Hi Cal & WUBAs!
Wonderful pics, thanks for this great blog :)
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Just splendid photos of all the events. Thanks for posting them!
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At the bottom of the blog entry I added a WunderPhoto of the start of today's transit of Venus by the WU Master of solar photography, Ralfo.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9228
Pat Glad that turned out so well for you all. Hope you got a nice photo too.

Regarding my failure to produce a photo today, well, there's a reason for test flights. :^]
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9228
O man, clouds broke and we saw a AMAZING sight here.

Shame the nocular pooped out but we could see it in them clearly and fully even with the naked eye last 60-90 secs as well..

Lotsa folks were there.

Got some stills and one I may can enlarge for a nice shot.

Was awesome Sunset.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129435
Got an excellent view with the small scope setup. The sunspots were beautiful. I'm going be using that setup more often now that we're in the high sunspot activity period of the solar cycle.

Unfortunately I got no pictures today. :^( The digital camera's proprietary battery needs replacement and the image was just too bright for my cell phone in spite of picture settings plus a second filter on the telescope. To the eye it looked a lot like the following image.

Reload/Refresh for latest image. Click for full size image.

Image credit: SOHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory)

Cosmic Thanks for that link.

Rob Thanks for that most appropriate tune.

Pat Hope you had a successful quest and that Tstm evaporated in time.

Ylee Glad you got a firsthand view.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9228
354. Ylee
Electronic welder's hood set at #15 works pretty good! Thing I didn't realize is that all the web images are mirror images of the real thing! Venus is actually moving from right to left!

APOD's up and running reliably now! :)
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Sunset NOLA 7:59 CDT

Heading to Audubon turn on the Mississippi River to try and nab some Transit pics.
Binocular cam may be 86 as its over 6 years old now.


Installed resh batts.


"No joy Houston".

But will take to see near the Horizon Hopefully.
Have a T-storm fading fast and hoping for a clear West view.


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"There's a little black spot on the sun today!"

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The view from this site features a nice image of the transit plus it has nice background music. From NASA......Link
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So happy to see you all here! :^)

As I suspected the view through eclipse glasses was not especially impressive. Ingress started here at 3:09pm PDT but I wasn't able to clearly make out the "dot" of Venus until 3:30. I'm going to set up a small computerized telescope with a solar filter and see if I can get a decent picture through that.

sp You've got a binocular projection going. Way cool! :^)

Ylee I kinda figgered many sites would be swamped. :^( Hope you're able to find something that will work.

Pat Thanks for the terrific contributions. :^) The approach photo and video are especially awesome!
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9228
This image refreshes every minute

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129435
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129435
Try this from Griffith Park.
The other links I left aren't working - weird.
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National Solar Observatory Integrated Synoptic Program



Transit of Venus June 5-6 2012
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129435
From solarham.com

SDO current image

Venus is approaching the Sun's Limb,as the Transit begins at 6:09 EDT

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129435
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129435
343. Ylee
I wish I knew how NASA's servers worked; trying to get the latest image of the sun has been a challenge! The one that APOD recommended for an update every 15 minutes has been down most of the day, presumably from server overload. The image APOD itself has been using on its website updates every half hour.

Have fun this afternoon!
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There is a promise of transit photos from the ISS on the Flickr page but so far just the sun.
I have made a pinhole thingy from a four-foot box I found. It is not good.
I have tried the binoculars and that is way better - can see sunspots! Working on a tripod setup that will stop it from shaking ;)
Member Since: January 27, 2007 Posts: 82 Comments: 4307
I didn't get to witness last night's partial lunar eclipse myself. The sky was clear when a checked about 1:30am but when I went out for a look at 3:00am it was overcast. At the bottom of the blog entry I've added a couple of WunderPhotos by skilled WunderPhotographers who had much better views of the eclipse.

Ylee Thanks for that link. I love contemplating that grand time span and the changes that will unfold. I hope someone who can claim us as ancestors will witness them. They could reuse that same article if it doesn't get lost along the way.

sp Except in NC where nobody is allowed to get wet, apparently. Sorry ... cross referencing blogs doesn't always work ;)

Sure it does, just provide a link - NC Considers Making Sea Level Rise Illegal. ;^)

Thanks for all those all new (to this blog) links related to the transit of Venus. I have one more to add -
NASA TV: Live Webcast Streams.

Hiya, Rob!
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9228

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