Saturday, April 30, 2011

Endeavour Launch Scrubbed For At Least 72 Hours

Hey Space Placers!

No looking in the sky for ISS and Endeavour until at least May 2nd at 2:33 p.m. EDT. The cause of the delay was problems with the heaters to the auxiliary power units (APUs). The APUs provide power to the orbiter during key phases of the flight such as liftoff and deorbiting. The APU heaters keep the hydrazine fuel that powers them from freezing in orbit. The thermostat that controls the heater didn't kick on when it was called to do so. There are two heaters on APU#1 and they are both needed to be functioning for launch.

The First Family was on hand at the launch and they met the crew and toured the Kennedy Space Center.

There will be a launch management team meeting this weekend and further updates will be forthcoming. I will keep you informed as the details develop.

In the DC area the weather is FINALLY clear so get out and enjoy the stars tonight.

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, April 28, 2011

All Systems Are GO!!!!

Hey Space Placers!

STS 134 and Space Shuttle Endeavour are GO for launch at 3:47 p.m. EDT on 4-29-11. Weather conditions should be 80% favorable at launch/

The 13-day  mission to the International Space Station (ISS) will be Endeavour's last. Large crowds are expected and Commander Kelly's wife, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is expected to be at the launch.

Read More About It: and

If we are lucky maybe we will be able to see ISS and Endeavour together in the sky during some flybys!

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Andromeda Galaxy Multi-View

Hey  Space Placers!

The farthest thing you can see with your unaided eye, and the closest major galaxy to us, is the Andromeda Galaxy or M-31. This is a beautiful galaxy that is seen in the fall as a faint smudge in the constellation Andromeda. Located at a distance of over 2.2 million light years this is a galaxy that has been intensely studied.

The European Space Agency (ESA) has added to our collective knowledge of M-31 by studying it in multiple wavelengths. You can view a great video on this at

Oh by the way. M-31 and our galaxy are on a collision course as they will be gravitationally interacting and possibly merging in 5 billion years. We are moving closer to one another at a speed of a million miles an hour. I'll have more on this in the future.

Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Voyager Talk at NASA HQ Open to the Public 4-28-11

Hey Space Placers!

From NASA:

The Voyager talk at NASA Headquarters to be held on April 28 at 1 pm ET will be open to the public. If you are in the area, please stop by. Otherwise, the program will be streamed live on NASA TV and on the NASA website for those who cannot attend in person. Following are details from the recent press release. A flyer with details and stunning graphics is attached. FYI…

NASA will hold a special Science Update at 1 p.m. EDT on Thursday, April 28, to discuss the unprecedented journey of NASA's twin Voyager spacecraft to the edge of our solar system.

The event will be held in NASA headquarters' Webb auditorium at 300 E St. SW, in Washington. It will be broadcast live on NASA Television and streamed at:

After 33 years in space, the spacecraft still are operating and returning data from about 10 billion miles away from our sun. The Voyagers also carry a collection of images and sounds from Earth as a message to possible life elsewhere in the galaxy.

The participants are:

-- Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist and professor of physics, California Institute of Technology
-- Ann Druyan, creative director, Voyager Interstellar Message Project; Carl Sagan's co-author and widow
-- Suzanne Dodd, Voyager Project Manager, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
-- Merav Opher, Voyager Guest Investigator and assistant professor of astronomy, Boston University

For more information about the Voyager mission, visit:

For NASA TV streaming video and downlink information, visit:

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, April 25, 2011

Want To Do Some Science?

Hey Space Placers!

Have you ever wanted to do science? Would you like to help scientists analyze real data and perhaps make a true discovery in the process?

If you are reading this you already have all of the hardware and Internet connectivity that you need to participate in an ongoing project.

Read More About It:

Sky Guy in VA

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Galactic Rose for a 21st Anniversary

Hey Space Placers!

Been enjoying a few days off hope everyone is enjoying this weekend according to their faith.

This is a newly released photo from Hubble Space Telescope (HST) to mark its 21st anniversary. What a grand sight indeeed! Read More About It:

Sky Guy in VA

Hubble image of Arp 273

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

STS-134 Is GO for April 29th

Hey Space Placers!

STS-134's 14-day mission to the International Space Station (ISS) is GO for launch on 4-29-11 at 3:47 p.m. EDT. This will be Endeavour's final flight.

Mark Kelly is commanding and his wife, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is expected to attend.

Read More About It:

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, April 18, 2011

ISS Flyovers of the US This Week

Hey Space Placers!

First time I have done two posts in one day! But I wanted to make sure that US readers were aware that the International Space Station (ISS) is flying over the US this week early in the evening. I watched a GORGEOUS -3.2 magnitude (Bright!) flyby last night while the beautiful Full Moon was was all very wonderful.

ISS is the brightest object in the night sky except for the Moon so it is easy to spot. Check the following sites for info in your area:  You have to specify your viewing area. This is a complete site for all things flying overhead.

Easier to use:

Wave as nearly 1 million pounds of spacecraft and 6 astronauts and 1 robot fly by!

Sky Guy in VA

Got 16 Minutes?

Hey Space Placers!

If you have a few soare minutes you want to check out a great video on Astronomy Picture of the Day. The visuals are really something to see and the music is pretty good too.

Sky Guy in VA

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Space Shuttle Tribute Video

Hey Space Placers!

You HAVE to see this video narrated by William Shatner (Captain Kirk of Star Trek fame). It is a well done history of the Space Shuttle program from inception to completion.

You will want to add this to your favorites:

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Discovery Is Coming to Virginia!

Hey Space Placers!

NASA made its announcement about where the 4 shuttles are going:

  • Shuttle Enterprise, the first orbiter built, will move from the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York.

  • The Udvar-Hazy Center will become the new home for shuttle Discovery, which retired after completing its 39th mission in March.

  • Shuttle Endeavour, which is preparing for its final flight at the end of the month will go to the California Science Center in Los Angeles.

  • Shuttle Atlantis, which will fly the last planned shuttle mission in June, will be displayed at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Complex in Florida
Read More About It:

Not everyone was happy about the selections as some cities were left empty. I am pretty sure that the shuttles will go where they have been selected to go.

Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

50 Years Ago Today.....

Hey Space Placers!

April 12, 1961, Yuri Gagarin blasted off from the USSR into orbit and set in motion human spaceflight. The Soviets would have additional manned spaceflight successes but the US won the space race to the Moon and hasn't looked back since although that could change with India and China's programs.

  A History of Human Spaceflight

His flight was daring and the first so all of humanity should reflect upon and remember his accomplishment.

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, April 11, 2011

A New NASA Outreach Feature

Hey Space Placers!

NASA has several public outreach modes and it is adding another. Here it is:

NASA Science News

The Science@NASA team is pleased to announce a new product: the ScienceCast. Every week, we produce a short video highlighting a topic in NASA science news. This week's episode is about the night sky. Check out "Spring is Fireball Season" on Youtube:

A complete list of ScienceCast episodes may be found on Science@NASA's Youtube channel: .
Sky Guy in VA

Sunday, April 10, 2011

NASA Needs Your Input

Hey Space Placers!

NASA wants your input as to what the space agency should be doing the next decade with regard to planetary exploration. A new report from the National Research Council (NRC) recommends a suite of
planetary science flagship missions for the decade 2013-2022 that could provide a steady stream of important new discoveries about the solar system.

As stated in a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) press release, “Our recommendations are science-driven, and they offer a balanced mix of missions -- large, medium, and small -- that have the potential to greatly expand our knowledge of the solar system,” said Steven W. Squyres, professor of astronomy at the Center for Radiophysics and Space Research, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., and chair of the
committee that wrote the report. “However, in these tough economic times, some difficult choices may have to be made. With that in mind, our priority missions were carefully selected based on their potential to yield the most scientific benefit per dollar spent.”

NASA is seeking to include public opinion as part of the agency’s response to the Council’s recommendations.  To participate I suggest you visit the 2013 Decadal Survey website at: and review the material there. You can then provide input to me as a comment to this column or email me at . I would like to have your inputs by April 16th.

Thank you for contributing.

Sky Guy in VA

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Join Me Tonight....

Hey Washington D.C. Area Space Placers!

April 9th at 7 p.m. I will be giving a talk on the Chesapeake Bay (CBIC) Impact Crater. Here is the link with details:

Last night was a busy night at Geoge Mason University as Dr. Geller, GMU's Observatory Director and I hosted 34 Girl Scouts and their adult leaders. The sky was clouded out but we set up the inflatable planetarium and I brought some meteorites including from the Moon and Mars. I also had samples from CBIC for all to see.

Tomorrow I will have a special blog for you - a chance to provide input to NASA on where and what they should be doing for the next ten years.

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Magic Night at GMU Observatory

Hey Space Placers!

What a night at GMU Observatory last night. It appeared that the weather would cancel the observing sesssion but it was CRYSTAL CLEAR when people started showing up - early!

We had Cub Scouts to people probably in their 80's show up - over 50 in all.  Families, students, and staff had a magical time under the Earthshine crescent Moon, stars and Saturn. The wind and temperature were very mild and we observed the sky for 2 1/2 hours!

The Moon was awesome as she was among stars that were close to the limb and we could see many lunar features in the dark side of the Moon - the area illuminated by Earthshine. Earthshine is the reflection of sunlight off of our planet's clouds and oceans that falls upon the surface of the Moon.

We looked at the Orion Nebula, a stellar nursery that is visible to the unaided eye, binoculars and telescopes .

Only two people had ever seen Saturn in a telescope so when I turned the 12-inch on the ringed planet - Titan was easily visible too -there were many Ohhs and Ahhs and Wows to be heard. Saturn was a real crowd pleaser.

The new 32-inch telescope is approaching first light as the only thing left to receive is the mount and software. It should be soon that GMU gets the parts and starts putting the telescope together. There will be testing of the optics, software and hardware and then "First Light" - the moment when the telescope turns towards the sky to collect light from an astronomical object.

It is always a special time when people gather together to observe the night sky. I hope you will join us sometime.

Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Public Night at George Mason University Observatory

Hey Space Placers!

This Wednesday, April 6th, at 8:30 pm, weather permittng, the Observatory at George Mason University will be open to the public.

We will have telescopes and astronomers and yours truly there for enjoying the sky and looking through telescopes at a variety of objects.

Check out this link for more information:

Hope to see you there!

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, April 4, 2011

STS 134 Postponed

Hey Space Placers!

Endeavour and her STS-134 mission to the ISS has been pushed back 10 days to April 29, 2011. The change was necessary due to a conflict with a Russian Progress supply vehicle scheduled to launch April 27 and arrive at the station April 29.

You can
STS-134 crew on Launch Pad 39A
The STS 134 Crew Takes a Break at the Pad

 Sky Guy in VA

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Where Will She Go?

Hey Space Placers!

Endeavour is scheduled for her last flight, STS-134, starting near sunset on April 19th. This is her last flight and she will join her sister shuttle Discovery as being retired upon return to Earth. Atlantis will do the same later this summer.

There is a bidding competition ongoing for the honor of housing these space treasures. NASA's Kennedy and Johnson Spce Centers, the Smithsonian, Adler Planetarium, the USS Intrepid Sea-Space Museum, the US Air Force Museum and other venues have put forth proposals to NASA detailing their plans. NASA Administrator Bolden will make his decision public on April 12th - the 30th anniversary of the first flight in the shuttle program made by Columbia in 1981.

These icons need to be displayed in large facilities posed in frozen action depicting them in space - their natural element. It will be exciting to see who gets the prize and how they will display it.

Sky Guy in VA