Earth Weather / Space Weather

Perseid Fireballs

By: Susie77, 10:37 PM GMT on July 27, 2014

PERSEID METEOR SHOWER BEGINS:
Earth is entering a broad stream of debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle,
source of the annual Perseid meteor shower. Although the peak of the
shower is not expected until August, meteors are already flitting
acrosss the night sky. On July 27th, NASA cameras caught this Perseid
fireball flying over New Mexico:


Over the weekend, NASA
detected a total of five Perseid fireballs, a "mini-flurry" that signals
the beginning of the annual display. Normally the best time to watch
would be during the shower's peak: August 11th through 13th. This year,
however, the supermoon will cast an interfering glare across the nights
of maximum activity, reducing visibility from 120 meteors per hour (the
typical Perseid peak rate) to less than 30. Instead, late July-early
August might be the best time to watch as Earth plunges deeper into the
debris stream before the Moon becomes full.
If you go out meteor
watching in the nights ahead, you'll likely see another shower, too: the
Southern Delta Aquariids. Produced by debris from Comet 96P/Machholz,
this shower peaks on July 29-30 with 15 to 20 meteors per hour. This is
considered to be a minor shower, but rich enough in fireballs to merit
attention. NASA will stream the display from an observing site at the
Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. Live video begins on July 29th at 9:30 pm EDT.

Got clouds? Try listening to the Perseids and the Southern Delta Aquariids on Space Weather Radio.
The audio stream is playing echoes from a forward-scatter meteor radar in Roswell, New Mexico.

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45 Years Ago Today

By: Susie77, 4:28 PM GMT on July 20, 2014


Best photos of Apollo 11 and first footsteps on moon


Today is the 45th anniversary
of humanity’s historic first steps on the moon. “One small step for [a]
man, one giant leap for mankind.” The story in pictures.








July 20, 1969. On this date, Apollo 11 astronauts
Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong landed their moon module on a broad dark
lunar lava flow, called the Sea of Tranquility. Six hours later, Neil
Armstrong became the first human being to walk on the surface of a world
beyond Earth. Today – July 20, 2014 – is the 45th anniversary of this
great achievement. Armstrong and Aldrin spent 21.5 hours on the moon’s
surface. They collected 47.5 pounds (21.5 kg) of moon rocks for return
to Earth. Then they blasted off in their module from the lunar surface
to meet up with Michael Collins in the command module orbiting
overhead. They returned safely to Earth and landed in the Pacific Ocean
on July 24.
Apollo 11 launch on July 16, 1969.
Apollo
11 launch at 13:32:00 UTC (9:32:00 a.m. EDT local time) on July 16,
1969. Astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin E.
Aldrin, Jr. were aboard.
The Apollo 11 mission blasted off on July 16, 1969 via this Saturn V space vehicle.  Astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr. were aboard.
Apollo
11 left Earth via a type of rocket now no longer used, called a Saturn
V. The giant Saturn V rocket was 111 meters (363 feet) tall, about the
height of a 36-story-tall building. Read more about the Saturn V rocket.
The Apollo command module Columbia sat atop the Saturn V at launch.  The lunar module - the craft that descended to the moon's surface - is positioned just below it in this diagram.
The
Apollo command module’s position atop the Saturn V, at launch. The
lunar module – the craft that descended to the moon’s surface – is
positioned just below the command module in this diagram.
A view of Earth from Apollo 11, shortly after leaving Earth orbit and being placed on a path that would take it to the moon.
Apollo
11 orbited Earth one-and-a-half times. Twelve minutes after launch, it
separated from the Saturn V, as a propulsion maneuver sent it on a path
toward the moon. Here is a view of Earth from Apollo 11, shortly after
it left Earth orbit.
Happy Apollo 11 mission officials in the Launch Control Center following the successful Apollo 11 liftoff on July 16, 1969. Second from left (with binoculars) stands Dr. Wernher von Braun, Director of the Marshall Space Flight Center.
Happy
Apollo 11 mission officials in the Launch Control Center following the
successful Apollo 11 liftoff on July 16, 1969. The famous German rocket
engineer Wernher von Braun is second from left (with binoculars). Read more about Wernher von Braun.
Buzz Aldrin looks into the TV camera during the third broadcast from space on the way to the moon.
Buzz Aldrin looks into a TV camera during the third broadcast from space on the way to the moon.
Earth seen by Apollo 11 astronauts on their way to the moon.
Earth seen by Apollo 11 astronauts on their way to the moon.
The Eagle in lunar orbit after separating from Columbia.  The Apollo 11 Lunar Module Eagle, in a landing configuration was photographed in lunar orbit from the Command and Service Module Columbia. Inside the module were Commander Neil A. Armstrong and Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin. The long rod-like protrusions under the landing pods are lunar surface sensing probes. Upon contact with the lunar surface, the probes sent a signal to the crew to shut down the descent engine.
Here
is the Apollo 11 lunar module – the vehicle that would carry Neil
Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon’s surface. It was called “Eagle.”
This photo shows the module in a landing configuration, photographed
in lunar orbit from the command module, which was called “Columbia.”
Astronauts Michael Collins, alone aboard Columbia, inspected Eagle as it
pirouetted before him to ensure the craft was not damaged.
The Eagle lunar module captured this image of the Columbia command module in lunar orbit.
The
Eagle lunar module captured this image of the Columbia command module
in lunar orbit. Columbia stayed in lunar orbit with Michael Collins
aboard during Eagle’s descent and landing.
In the video below, you can hear the excitement in Armstrong’s voice
at the successful landing of Eagle on the moon’s surface as he says:

Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.


An early concern of space engineers had been that the lunar regolith,
the fine soil covering the moon, would be soft like quicksand. There
was some fear that the Eagle lunar module would sink after landing.
Hence Armstrong’s comment about the depth of the footpads in the lunar
soil as he descended the ladder before stepping onto the moon.

Neil Armstrong descending to the moon's surface on July 20, 1969.
The
world watched on television as Neil Armstrong took the first steps on
the moon’s surface on July 20, 1969. It was the first time humans
walked another world. As he stepped onto the lunar surface, Armstrong
said, “That is one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Buzz Aldrin descends the steps of the lunar module ladder as he becomes the second human being to walk on the moon.
Buzz Aldrin descends the steps of the lunar module ladder as he becomes the second human being to walk on the moon.
Armstrong and Aldrin at work on the moon.  They deployed an U.S. flag and several science experiments, and collected moon rocks.
Armstrong and Aldrin at work on the moon. They deployed an U.S. flag and several science experiments, and collected moon rocks.
Here is Buzz Aldrin,  who piloted the lunar module to the moon's surface, with the LR-3, a reflecting array designed to bounce laser beams fired from Earth back to Earth.  This experiment, which helped refine our knowledge of the moon's distance and the shape of its orbit around Earth, is still returning data from the moon.
Here is Buzz Aldrin, who piloted the lunar module Eagle to the moon’s surface, with the LR-3,
a reflecting array designed to bounce laser beams fired from Earth back
to Earth. This experiment, which helped refine our knowledge of the
moon’s distance and the shape of its orbit around Earth, is still
returning data from the moon.
The Apollo astronauts brought the first moon rocks back to Earth.  Here is sample number 10046.
The Apollo astronauts brought the first moon rocks back to Earth. Here is sample number 10046.
The lunar module Eagle on the surface of the moon.
The lunar module Eagle on the surface of the moon.
Neil Armstrong in the lunar module Eagle shortly after his historic first moonwalk, when he became the first human to set foot on a world besides Earth.
Neil
Armstrong in the lunar module Eagle shortly after his historic first
moonwalk, when he became the first human to set foot on a world besides
Earth.
Michael Collins caught this photo of the lunar module with Armstrong and Aldrin inside as it ascended from the moon's surface to join the command module. Soon after, the lunar module docked with the orbiting command module, and the astronauts began their journey back to Earth.
Michael
Collins caught this photo of the lunar module with Armstrong and Aldrin
inside – and with Earth in the distance – as the module ascended from
the moon’s surface to rejoin the command module. The lunar module
docked with the orbiting command module, and, shortly afterwards, the
astronauts began their journey back to Earth.
There were no runway landings in those days.  Splashdown for the three astronauts was in the Pacific Ocean.  Here, they await pickup by a helicopter from the USS Hornet.
There
were no runway landings in those days. Splashdown for the three
astronauts was in the Pacific Ocean. Here, they await pickup by a
helicopter from the USS Hornet.
Celebration at Mission Control as Apollo 11 draws to a successful end.
Celebration at Mission Control as Apollo 11 draws to a successful end.
Ticker-tape parade for the Apollo 11 astronauts in New York City on August 13, 1969.   This section of Broadway is known as the Canyon of Heroes.
Ticker-tape
parade for the Apollo 11 astronauts in New York City on August 13,
1969. This section of Broadway is known as the Canyon of Heroes.
Human footprint on the moon.
Human footprint on the moon.
Don’t believe it? Try this video: Why the Apollo moon landings could not have been faked.
Bottom line: July 20, 1969 is the anniversary of Apollo 11 and the first human footsteps on the moon.

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Three

By: Susie77, 2:38 AM GMT on July 11, 2014



Three Supermoons in a Row


July 10, 2014:
In June of last year, a full Moon made headlines.  The news media
called it a "supermoon" because it was 14% bigger and 30% brighter than
other full Moons of 2013.   Around the world, people went outside to
marvel at its luminosity.

If you thought one supermoon was bright, how about three….? The
full Moons of summer 2014—July 12th, August 10th, and Sept. 9th--will
all be supermoons.
splash

A new ScienceCast video counts the supermoons of summer 2014. Play it
The scientific term for the phenomenon is "perigee moon." Full
Moons vary in size because of the oval shape of the Moon's orbit. The
Moon follows an elliptical path around Earth with one side ("perigee")
about 50,000 km closer than the other ("apogee").  Full Moons that occur
on the perigee side of the Moon's orbit seem extra big and bright.

This coincidence happens three times in 2014.  On July 12th and
Sept 9th the Moon becomes full on the same day as perigee.  On August
10th it becomes full during the same hour as perigee—arguably making it
an extra-super Moon."

It might seem that such a sequence must be rare.  Not so, says Geoff Chester of the US Naval Observatory.

"Generally speaking, full Moons occur near perigee every 13 months
and 18 days, so it's not all that unusual," he says. "In fact, just
last year there were three perigee Moons in a row, but only one was
widely reported."

In practice, it's not always easy to tell the difference between a
supermoon and an ordinary full Moon. A 30% difference in brightness can
easily be masked by clouds and haze.  Also, there are no rulers
floating in the sky to measure lunar diameters. Hanging high overhead
with no reference points to provide a sense of scale, one full Moon
looks about the same size as any other.

Chester expects most reports of giant Moons this summer to be … illusory.
image
Perigee is the point in the Moon's elliptical orbit closest to Earth. Diagrams:#1, #2
 “The ‘Moon Illusion’  is probably what will make people remember
this coming set of Full Moons, more than the actual view of the Moon
itself,” he says.

The illusion occurs when the Moon is near the horizon.  For
reasons not fully understood by astronomers or psychologists,
low-hanging Moons look unnaturally large when they beam through trees,
buildings and other foreground objects. When the Moon illusion amplifies
a perigee Moon, the swollen orb rising in the east at sunset can seem
super indeed.

"I guarantee that some folks will think it's the biggest Moon
they've ever seen if they catch it rising over a distant horizon,
because the media will have told them to pay attention to this
particular one," says Chester.

"There's a part of me that wishes that this 'super-Moon' moniker
would just dry up and blow away, like the 'Blood-Moon' that accompanied
the most recent lunar eclipse, because it tends to promulgate a lot of
mis-information," admits Chester. "However, if it gets people out and
looking at the night sky and maybe hooks them into astronomy, then it's a
good thing."

Indeed it is.

Mark your calendar--July 12th, August 10th, and Sept. 9th –and enjoy the super-moonlight.
Credits:Author: Dr. Tony Phillips | Production editor: Dr. Tony Phillips | Credit: Science@NASA

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Noctilucent Clouds

By: Susie77, 2:52 PM GMT on July 04, 2014


Europe got a fabulous display of noctilucent clouds last night


Europe had a wonderful display
of noctilucent clouds on July 3-4, 2014. The photos here are mostly
from EarthSky friends on Facebook.







Hubert Drozdz caught the July 3, 2014 display of noctilucent clouds in Poland.
EarthSky Facebook

friend Hubert Drozdz caught the display of noctilucent clouds in
Poland. He said he saw them around 2 to 3 a.m. on July 4, 2014.
During the past two nights, skywatchers at northerly latitudes in
Europe have reported seeing a wonderful displays of electric-blue noctilucent clouds, sometimes called night-shining clouds.
The display last night, July 3-4, was said to be especially good.
These clouds are made of ice crystals that form on fine dust particles
left behind by meteors. They are seen only at high latitudes in either
the N. or S. Hemisphere. This is the time of year to see them! Thanks
for all who posted to EarthSky Facebook.
Spaceweather.com said:

The display on July 3rd appears to be the best of the
year so far, and would seem to herald even more widespread sightings in
the nights ahead, not only in Europe but also in North America.

Sightings on the night of July 3-4 came from Norway, Sweden, France,
Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, Scotland, Ireland, England and
Belgium.
Another photo by Hubert Drozdz of the July 3 noctilucent clouds.
Another photo by Hubert Drozdz of the July 3-4 noctilucent clouds.
noctilucent-clouds-7-3-2014-David-Whinham-tweet
The July 3 display of noctilucent clouds as seen by Danny Spring in Berwick Upon Tweed in England.
The July 3-4 display of noctilucent clouds as seen by Danny Spring in Berwick Upon Tweed in England.
noctilucent-clouds-7-3-2014-Heiko-Ulbricht

Read more: The secrets of night-shining clouds
Bottom line: Europe had a wonderful display of noctilucent clouds on
July 3-4, 2014. The photos here are mostly from EarthSky friends on
Facebook and Twitter.

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About Susie77

Sometimes I complain about the earthly weather, but mostly I like to post about astronomy and space events. Hope you enjoy the articles.

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