Saturday, August 23, 2014

SPACE-X Rocket Explodes, ESA Sats In Wrong Orbit

Hey Space Placers!

As I prepare to give my talk on "The Future of U.S. Manned Spaceflight" today at Almost Heaven Star Party, two incidents remind us that getting to space is not easy.

The European Space Agency (ESA) announced today that two of their Galileo GPS satellites that were just launched on 8/22/14 by a Soyuz rocket are in the wrong orbit. The satellites are under control and safe. ESA is assessing the situation and will decide on the appropriate course of action.

A Space X Falcon 9R rocket exploded on Friday during a fight test. The F9R is designed to be a reusable rocket and Elon Musk commented in a Tweet after the incident that "Rockets are Tricky".

Both of these incidents show us that access to space is not easy. Each organization will review data and telemetry to determine what happened, make corrections and try again.

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, August 22, 2014

Sky Guy Viewing ALERT 8-23-14 Pre-Dawn Trio

Hey Space Placers!

I'm heading out to AHSP. It is cloudy and will be for the next few days :-(

But there is still plenty to do there.

If it is clear tomorrow morning make sure you get up before dawn and view the splendid trio of Venus, Jupiter and the waning crescent Moon in the East. They will form a big, bright triangle and the Moon will have Earthshine I am sure.

I will be sharing (I hope) pics & tales from AHSP with you over the coming days.

Sky Guy on the way to AHSP!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Send A Message to Mars

Hey Space Placers!

I'm getting ready for the 2014 Almost Heaven Star Party. I honestly can't remember the last time when I went to a star party WITH my telescope. I've been to many as a speaker - I'll be talking about NASA's Manned Spaceflight Program and James Webb Space Telescope at AHSP.

I should have Internet while at AHSP so I can stay in touch.

I wanted to tell you about a neat fund raiser by the good folks of Uwingu - the same folks that are taking names for Martian craters to make a "people's map of Mars". I have a crater named 'REDFERN' that is in Gale Crater where Curiosity is located:

Named by gredfern2014-02-27

Diameter: 6.61 km (4.11 mi)
Latitude: -6.37° N, Longitude: 137.12° E
District: 3377Province: 405
Citation: Named for the family of "SkyGuyinVA" Greg Redfern, a NASA JPL Solar System Ambassador, cruise ship lecturer, space contributor to WTTG and WTOP and "What's Up:The Space Place" blogger.
It is not an official designation but it is still cool to see your name on a Martian Crater/map.

Their latest fundraiser is to charge as a little as $5 to beam a message to Mars on November 28, 2014. This date commemorates the 50th anniversary of the launch of Mariner 4 to Mars, the very 1st mission to the Red Planet.

Join in and make a contribution. 50% of it will go to research, education and outreach. I've sent mine!

Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Moon's Deep Interior Still Hot

Hey Space Placers!

Here is a fascinating article on new research done by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NOAJ) that shows the Moon's deepest mantle layer is still hot.

When we look at the Moon we are seeing the outermost layer of the Moon, the crust. Underneath the crust lies the mantle and then at the very center of the Moon the core. This structure, although vastly different in size and scope, is the same for the Earth.

The Moon and Earth are locked in a gravitational sequence that produces tides which affect both the Moon and Earth. The research done by an international team shows that the deepest interior of the mantle is soft due to this tidal heating.

Our view of the Moon has changed from being a dry, dead and geologically dormant world to one where water exists, a tenuous atmosphere and now interior heat.

The Moon beckons us to return to explore and I believe inhabit it.

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, August 18, 2014

GREAT Crowd Last Night

Hey Space Placers!

We had a capacity crowd at Big Meadows Lodge at Shenandoah National Park to learn about the James Webb Space Telescope.

Families with kids, couples and attendees from international venues enjoyed learning about the space telescope successor to Hubble.

It was cloudy at the Park last night but what really struck me was how QUIET it was. There were lots of people staying in the campsites and the lodge where we were but the quiet was surreal. It made me realize how precious a commodity silence is in modern times.

We saw license plates from FL, VA, PA, NJ, NY, MN, CA and MD. People were riding bikes - one gent from the Netherlands was taking on the fluctuating terrain of Skyline Drive - to families riding together.

The campgrounds are a mixture of tent and RV separate sites. It was neat to see people and their campsite set ups. Nothing beats the smell of a campfire in the wilderness air.

It was cloudy so we could not have our star party that follows my talk and it was cloudy this morning so Jupiter-Venus were out. But all in all it was another great session in our "Let's Talk About Space at Shenandoah National Park.

If you haven't visited one of the Nation's National Parks in awhile, you owe it to yourself to do so.

Here's one pic I did get of Deer 084:

SKy Guy in VA

Sunday, August 17, 2014

James Webb Space Telescope: Join Me At Shenandoah National Park 8-17-14

Hey Space Placers!

Heading up to the mountains.

Tonight I will be at Shenandoah National Park's Big Meadow's Lodge at 9 p.m. to talk about NASA's James Webb Space Telescope.

This is the 3rd in the "Let's Talk About Space at Shenandoah National Park".

Don't forget to look for Jupiter & Venus tomorrow morning - see yesterday's blog for details.

Oh, and here's my first astropic with my new 80mm f/5 short refractor from last night:

Looking forward to getting more pics with this 'scope.

Sky Guy in the Mountains of SNP