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