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.


Past 24 Hours Visitors
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All Time Visitors
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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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Spaceflight Now | Dragon Mission Report | Mission Status Center
....
FRIDAY, MAY 25, 2012
1620 GMT (12:20 p.m. EDT)

We will air a news conference with NASA and SpaceX officials at 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT).

FRIDAY, MAY 25, 2012
1606 GMT (12:06 p.m. EDT)

The space station crew will open the hatch and enter the Dragon spacecraft Saturday, beginning work to unload cargo from the pressurized capsule and install equipment tagged for return to Earth.

Dragon is scheduled to remain at the space station until May 31.

Mating of the Dragon with the space station occurred 3 days, 8 hours, and 18 minutes after the flight blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Fla.
....
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9196
Pat Thank you for the update.

Spaceflight Now | Dragon Mission Report | Mission Status Center
....
FRIDAY, MAY 25, 2012
1603 GMT (12:03 p.m. EDT)

All 16 bolts in the common berthing mechanism have driven to create a firm connection between Dragon and the Harmony module. The commercial spacecraft is now part of the International Space Station, the first U.S. vehicle to visit the outpost since the last space shuttle mission departed in July 2011.

Final berthing occurred at 12:02 p.m. EDT (1602 GMT) as the space station flew over the Pacific Northwest region of the United States.
....
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9196
Spaceflight Now | Dragon Mission Report | Mission Status Center
....
FRIDAY, MAY 25, 2012
0155 GMT (9:55 p.m. EDT Thurs.)

The International Space Station mission management team just gave a "go" for integrated operations between the space station and Dragon spacecraft.

Integrated operations will begin around 3 a.m. EDT (0700 GMT), after which the space station control team in Houston will have authority over the progress of the mission. SpaceX controllers in California will continue sending commands to Dragon after approval from Houston.

We will have live streaming video and comprehensive updates on Dragon's progress beginning at 2 a.m. EDT (0600 GMT).
....
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9196
There's a Dragon stalking the Space Station.


Time to see SpaceX capsule in night sky is now - Technology & science - Space - Space.com - msnbc.com
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9196
Pat Thanks for the launch video and the update.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9196
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128874
Spaceflight Now | Dragon Mission Report | Mission Status Center
....
THURSDAY, MAY 24, 2012
1430 GMT (10:30 a.m. EDT)

All systems are in good shape for tomorrow's rendezvous and berthing with the International Space Station, according to NASA and SpaceX officials.

The commercial Dragon spacecraft flew about 8,000 feet directly beneath the space station this morning after astronauts and engineers successfully proved the ship's relative GPS navigation system and tested a communications link between the craft and the station crew.

In a news conference from Houston and SpaceX headquarters in California, officials said today's activities went as expected.

Dragon fired its thrusters to enter a looping trajectory around the space station, eventually arriving at a point below and behind the complex - much like it did earlier today - to start a second rendezvous with the outpost.
....
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9196
Karen The Falcon 1 rockets launched from Omelek Island, Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands.

Falcon 9 rockets have launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida. In the future the Falcon 9 will launch from Cape Canaveral and from Vandenberg AFB, California. The Falcon Heavy will launch from Vandenberg. SpaceX is considering sites in Alaska, California, Florida, Texas and Virginia for a new commercial launch pad.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9196
Wow - that link that Shores left was pretty cool! When I was a 5th grade teacher 5 years ago, one of the student's in my class father worked at SpaceX. Actually, he still does. He still has a younger daughter in elementary school and he shared a link with a teacher (through NASA) to see the launch the other day.

I remember, a number of years ago, they lived on the island where SpaceX has launched a few rockets. I wonder what that might have been like!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Free Online Astronomy Course by Bruce Betts Ph.D.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9196
Rob My thoughts often run along similar lines. I wish I knew what it would take to motivate us to push out into the universe.

On that note...

shore That is a beautiful piece of work. Any time spent with it is well worth it. Thank you for sharing that.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9196
I'm dropping this in a few blogs not because I want to spam, but because this truly is wonderful, and I'd hate for anyone to miss it.
You all may have seen it already.

The Scale of the Universe
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Just a small start, but a huge step.

When I was a teen, I was sure we would have permanent colonies on the moon and beyond by now. Actually there is no reason we couldn't have. Just wasn't a national priority.

It's difficult for me, but it seems like we've lost our drive to excel, our need for each of us and our country as a whole, to be the very best that we can be. Maybe we got too comfortable. Anyway, that's not what I really want I came here to post about. I'm just blabbering...

I really do hope that this venture will inspire free enterprise to pick up the ball and run with it. Maybe see some of those old dreams fulfilled in my lifetime.
Member Since: September 2, 2008 Posts: 97 Comments: 32420
I added the scheduled berthing time of the Dragon capsule to the ISS in the blog entry.


Miles O'Brien on SpaceX Launch: Space for the Rest of Us | PBS NewsHour
....
It has now been more than fifty years since human beings first flew to space and little more than 500 of them have been there. Talk about the ultimate elite club.

It is, uh, high time that ended and that will never happen if the government runs its space enterprise the way it has up until now: with cost-plus contracts that provide no incentive for the private sector to think about efficiencies.

NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program - or COTS - literally turns COST inside out - cutting fixed price deals with private companies to perform a specific task: fly safely to the ISS, be grappled and berthed in order to deliver cargo, and then return to earth intact.
....
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9196
Rob LOL! They did want to make sure there was no uncooperative computer early on.

Spaceflight Now | Dragon Mission Report | Dragon early orbit timeline


Skye Very few informed observers have seen more launch vehicles climb up and over the hill firsthand. Your accounts are a valued contribution and appreciated all the more in light of all the other demands on your time.

At liftoff the Falcon 9 + Dragon is ~370 tons vs. ~2,000 tons for the space shuttle system.

The Falcon 9 + Dragon will deliver ~6.6 tons to low Earth orbit vs. ~27 tons for the space shuttle system.

That works out to about 33% more payload per launch weight for the Falcon 9 + Dragon vs. the space shuttle system. That's fine except when you have to get a lot of payload up all at once. The building of the International Space Station would have been totally impractical without the space shuttle system.

BTW the current price for a Falcon 9 launch is $54 million vs. the $1,500 million average cost of a space shuttle system launch.


GG There is an appreciable change in the quality of the daylight deep into a partial solar eclipse. The light seems weaker and maybe yellower and of course there's those crescent lights among the shadows.

I apologize for not disseminating more information and earlier. You could have cemented a reputation among the neighbors. ;^)

Let me give you an early heads up for the total solar eclipse on Monday, 21 Aug 2017. It will sweep from Oregon to South Carolina and it's only 1,917 days from now so start making your travel plans soon!
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9196
So glad you posted photos of the eclipse. Completly forgot about it. Was walking the dog that evening and it was a bit cloudy. Even so was thinking, what on earth are up with the shadows? Nothing was looking quite right.

Just as well, saved me from climbing on the roof with a welders hood..
Member Since: March 25, 2007 Posts: 256 Comments: 9640
273. Skyepony (Mod)
LowerCAl~ That was a really sleepy account. Had a long exciting day yesterday.

I never heard a rumble..Makes sense with no load that the burn wasn't as bright as it could have been.

I did take pics. I don't think there was any decent ones but I'll look when I get a chance.

Rob~ Seemed like it was higher or farther when it separated or it could have been a trick to the eye it being fainter. Glad you could see it from over there.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 179 Comments: 38327
So far, everything seems to be going well.
Thought this was cute:

TUESDAY, MAY 22, 2012
1039 GMT (6:39 a.m. EDT)

Elon Musk just tweeted: "Navigation bay pointing to deep space and star map being generated by star tracker one. Yes!"
TUESDAY, MAY 22, 2012
1032 GMT (6:32 a.m. EDT)

Elon Musk just tweeted: "Dragon spaceship opens the navigation pod bay door without hesitation. So much nicer than HAL9000 :)"

The opening of the bay door was a significant milestone in the mission. Inside the bay are Dragon's navigation sensors and grapple fixture required for the mission to the space station.

TUESDAY, MAY 22, 2012
0954 GMT(5:54 a.m. EDT)

Officials expect the door to the bay containing Dragon's navigation sensors to open soon. They will be watching to make sure the door locks in place, a prerequisite for berthing with the space station.
Member Since: September 2, 2008 Posts: 97 Comments: 32420
The Dragon capsule has separated, is in the correct orbit and has deployed its solar panels. It's not carrying the massive cargo of a shuttle and doesn't need as big a burn. Some day it may carry up to seven crew to Earth orbit.

Here is the NASA TV schedule for the next 4 days. Times are EDT.

May 22, Tuesday
5:15 a.m. - SpaceX/Dragon Post-Launch News Conference - KSC (All Channels)

May 24, Thursday
2:30 a.m. - SpaceX/Dragon Fly-Under of the ISS Coverage - JSC (All Channels)
10 a.m. - SpaceX/Dragon Mission Status Briefing - JSC (All Channels)

May 25, Friday
2 a.m. - SpaceX/Dragon ISS Grapple and Berthing Coverage - JSC (All Channels)
1 p.m. - SpaceX/Dragon Mission Status Briefing (Time subject to change) - JSC (All Channels)

May 26, Saturday
5:30 a.m. - SpaceX/Dragon Hatch Opening Coverage - JSC (All Channels)
11:25 a.m. - ISS Expedition 31 Post-SpaceX/Dragon Hatch Opening Crew News Conference - JSC (All Channels)
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9196
Quoting LowerCal:
Congratulations, Rob. It looked good from here but I envy your view from there.

Skye's got the best seat in the house.
See ya tomorrow.
Member Since: September 2, 2008 Posts: 97 Comments: 32420
Rob I'm going to have to wind down and get some sleep too. :^/
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9196
Skye Thanks for the expert firsthand account.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9196
Good Morning Skye!
Glad you got to see it.
Very bright at first here, and as you said, gets tiny fast. Thought I was done and was surprised I could see the 2nd stage. Tiny orange star.

Now, I need to calm down and get some more sleep.
LOL
Member Since: September 2, 2008 Posts: 97 Comments: 32420
Congratulations, Rob. It looked good from here but I envy your view from there.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9196
265. Skyepony (Mod)
Saw it! Nice & bright at first. Had a happy feeling to see something launch at the ISS..that familiar direction. Then it faded fast. Looks like we are using less energy. Launching to ISS it goes up so high away from me, then goes down & over the horizon as in chases it around Earth. Usually you could see this all the way with shuttle where Dragon got really faint before reaching the apex from my advantage.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 179 Comments: 38327
Second stage engine cutoff as scheduled.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9196
Saw it!
Very clear this morning.
Was surprised how long I could keep it in sight.

Guess it was worth getting out of bed after all!
Member Since: September 2, 2008 Posts: 97 Comments: 32420
Trajectory is nominal.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9196
Stage 1 separation and Stage 2 ignition successful.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9196
LIFTOFF!
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9196
T minus 2 minutes and counting.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9196
All is GO at T minus 8 minutes and counting.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9196
Good morning, Ylee. Since it's headed for the ISS it should be taking the old space shuttle route off the Eastern Seaboard.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9196
256. Ylee
E CONUS water vapor shows a nice dry slot running through central Fla.

Working nights has its advantages! I'll have to go upstairs to the bosses' computer(his is running IE8) and see some NASA TV!
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Weather outlook is better than 90% favorable.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9196
Less than 1 hour to launch of the SpaceX Dragon C2+ capsule atop a Falcon 9 rocket.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9196
Rob It's good for you to have a cloudless evening once in a while to keep you from taking those spectacular Florida sunset for granted. You should hear the oohs and aahs when we have the rare multilayer cloud decks at sunset here.

The launch won't be that late here. I'll sacrifice my time with Craig Ferguson and maybe see you Late Late. :^)
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9196
Hmmm.
Been a while since I counted my chromosomes. One, two, three,...forty-four, forty-five, forty...Hey...wait a minute...did someone say something about aliens?

It has seemed to me that Venus has been a bit brighter for the last few months. Just wrote it off to all the highs in the neighborhood and unusually clear skies. But, maybe not.

On that note, bright orange sunset here tonight. Nothing photoworthy, because for that, you need a few clouds.

Going to sign off soon, and hopefully get to sleep early, and hopefully (since I got a good night's sleep last night and that rarely happens twice) wake up in time to see tomorrow's launch.

Rest well!
Member Since: September 2, 2008 Posts: 97 Comments: 32420
The forecast is for 80% favorable launch weather for tomorrow morning's 3:44am EDT SpaceX launch from Cape Canaveral.

The Dragon 2+ mission has a busy agenda -
Spaceflight Now | Dragon Mission Report | Tests of new Dragon systems to begin minutes after launch.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9196
Pat Yep, they're among us and that is one lousy homo sapiens disguise, LOL!
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9196
I added my favorite WunderPhotos of yesterday's annular solar eclipse at the bottom of the blog entry.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9196
Do you think (for whatever the reason) that the albedo of Venus has increased in the past year or so? I swear, as an avid hottubber/skywatcher, I can't recall a time when Venus was so luminous.


Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128874
Rob I'd like to take that ride too. Since that's not likely I'm rooting really hard for anyone with 46 chromosomes to make it!

crab It does seem to me that the apparent brightness of Venus has been greater than ever in the past year. I recall a few months ago I was regularly able to easily spot Venus before sunset without having to take any measures to block the Sun from my field of vision. In the past it's always been tricky even when did block the Sun with a roof, tree, etc.

The apparent increase in Venus' brightness could be due to particularly favorable circumstances of geometry and proximity but before researching that I wouldn't rule out albedo change. Planetary atmospheres are dynamic and we've witnessed albedo change on other cloud shrouded planets, i.e., Neptune, Saturn and Jupiter. I would be interested in hearing your theories.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9196
Heya Lowercal ;o)

Thunderstorm heading in again, so I'll make this short (for once)...

Thanks for all the views and info. Good stuff, especially for us islanders that couldn't see the eclipse. I think I'll live to see the next one, but who knows?

Something I've been meaning to ask you: Do you think (for whatever the reason) that the albedo of Venus has increased in the past year or so? I swear, as an avid hottubber/skywatcher, I can't recall a time when Venus was so luminous.

Naturally, I have all manner of crackpot theories as to why this hypothesis might be true, but I'll spare you just this once, because I promised to make it short [roll eyes]
Member Since: January 20, 2005 Posts: 64 Comments: 9241
Quoting LowerCal:
Rob Thank you. I'll be heading out for a spot with an unobstructed western horizon pretty soon.
br>Check out the new WunderPhoto I added at the end of the blog entry.

Yep, saw that last night.
You always have the best stuff!

Quoting LowerCal:
BBC - Future - Science & Environment - 100-Year Starship: Mae Jemison reaches for the stars
.... The 100-Year Starship, funded by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) .... [is an] .... effort meant to lead within 100 years to a spaceship that will take humans to the stars.
....


And DARPA always has the coolest toys!
Just wish they'd speed it up a bit...I want a ride!
Member Since: September 2, 2008 Posts: 97 Comments: 32420
BBC - Future - Science & Environment - 100-Year Starship: Mae Jemison reaches for the stars
.... The 100-Year Starship, funded by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) .... [is an] .... effort meant to lead within 100 years to a spaceship that will take humans to the stars.
....
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9196
You all really should check out SBKaren's comment #3 and WunderPhoto's.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9196
shore, Pat, Karen Thanks for the personal reports and images.

Some more local images here -
Los Angeles solar eclipse 2012 video, photos | 89.3 KPCC.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 58 Comments: 9196
May 20th 2012 Solar Partial Annular Eclipse, Audubon turn, NOLA

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128874

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Astronomy with a minimum of terminology and technology.

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APRSWXNET Woodland Hills CA US
Calabasas, CA
Elevation: 984 ft
Temperature: 51.0 °F
Dew Point: 34.0 °F
Humidity: 53%
Wind: Calm
Wind Gust: 2.0 mph
Updated: 5:33 AM PST on December 01, 2013
At Gonzales Drive
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Elevation: 984 ft
Temperature: 84.5 °F
Dew Point: 55.4 °F
Humidity: 37%
Wind: 1.0 mph from the WSW
Wind Gust: 4.0 mph
Updated: 4:35 PM PDT on October 01, 2014

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