Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Comet ISON Meeting August 1-2

Hey Space Placers!

  There will be a meeting held by NASA on observing Comet ISON August 1-2 which will be carried via Livestream. The workshop will discuss what space based assets will be used to observe the comet as it comes in by Mars, passes by the Moon and swings around the Sun.

This is a tune up for how and with what observers will observe this denizen from the deep of the solar system.

If you can't watch it live the workshop will be archived.

Get details here: http://www.jhuapl.edu/newscenter/pressreleases/2013/130715_image1.asp

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, July 29, 2013

Sky Guy ALERT 7-29-13 6 P.M. EDT Live Telescope Views of Large Asteroid 2003 DZ15

Hey Space Placers

Just learned about a live telescope feed of an asteroid flyby tonight - check out the details here:


Sky Guy in VA

Lunar Influence on Heart Surgery and Sleep Cycle

Hey SPace Placers!

   Interesting research on how the Moon affects humans.....



One thing is certain, our planet and the Moon affect each other, the Moon more so on the Earth in terms of tides and light at night. If there are humans on the Moon someday in colonies, I am sure the Earth will be a sight to behold in the lunar sky.

The Moon has stabilized Earth's spin on its axis which has led to consistency in sunlight, seasons and weather - all good for life to develop and thrive.

Sky Guy in VA

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Comet ISON Photobomb

Hey Space Placers!

   You have to go to the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) website to see this pic in full view - it is stunning. Although it is 3-months old, it shows a beautiful tail on Comet ISON floating amongst foreground stars of our galaxy and distant galaxies.

   Try to view it in the dark and take in the expanse of the Universe - our solar system, the stars of the Milky Way Galaxy and island universes that are visible. This is a classic......


The link is here: http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2013/31/

Sky Guy in VA

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Sky Guy Viewing ALERT-Delta Aquariid Meteor Shower

Hey Space Placers!

   The Delta Aquariid meteor shower starts tonight and will continue to peak until July 31st. This shower is visible as far north as Canada but the hourly rates of the number of meteors seen improves the farther south you are.


  Here is an excellent article on how to see the meteor shower: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/community/skyblog/observingblog/Catch-a-Shooting-Star-216158451.html

   And the best news is that this is just a warm up for the Perseid Meteor Shower which will delight us in August. I'll have more on that in the weeks to come.

  Good hunting and clear skies!

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, July 26, 2013

Check Out Bill Nye the Science Guy on Asteroid Defense

Hey Space Placers!

   Check out the new video by Bill Nye, the Science Guy, which discusses asteroids and defense against them.

  Gives you a lot of information in 7 minutes - well worth your time: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Agdvt9M3NJA&feature=c4-overview&list=UUC552Sd-3nyi_tk2BudLUzA

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Curiosity From Orbit

Hey Space Placers!

Here is the view of NASA's Curiosity lab-rover from orbit:

View from Mars Orbiter

The photo was taken from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's (MRO) HIRISE canera. You can see the landing area on the left where the red dust of Mars was blasted away. The rover's tracks can be seen leading to Curiosity herself, the bright blue spot. Read More About It:

Curiosity just completed her longest drive so far of the mission on July 21, going a shade over 100 meters.

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Comet ISON Coming to Life

Hey Space Placers!

Even COmet ISON is still a third of a billion miles out from the Sun the comet is coming to life spewing dust and probably carbon dioxide gas as seen in these pics from NASA:

Spitzer Eyes Comet ISON These images from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope of C/2012 S1 (Comet ISON) were taken on June 13, when ISON was 310 million miles (about 500 million kilometers) from the sun. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/JHUAPL/UCF

As of June 13 it is estimated that ISON is losing 120 million pounds of dust and 2.2 million pounds of CO2 gas a DAY! These number should increase as the cimet falls inward and ever closer to the Sun. Comet ISON's tail now stretches 186,400 miles and should continue to grow as well.

Estimates for the size of COmet ISON still range at less than 3 miles across with a weight of between 7 billion and 7 trillion pounds - but these numbers should solidify as the comet gets closer and more observations are made.

Late July-August is when the comet gets to the vicinity of Mars and other gases plus water should start coming off of the comet.

Read More About It: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2013-231

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, July 22, 2013

Tune In to the Latest on Pluto

Hey Space Placers!

We are 2 years from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft flying by Pluto.

Scientists associated with the mission are holding a conference from July 22 to July 26 and you can tune in here: http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/news_center/news/20130722.php.

You can tune in to a live presentation on July 23 at 7:30 p.m. EDT given by Dr. Alan Stern, New Horizons Principal Investigator. Tune in by clicking on the link above and going to the "webcast live" link.

Sky Guy in VA

Apollo 11 F-1 Engine Found

Hey Space Placers!

A Saturn-V first stage F-1 rocket engine recently recovered from the bottom of the Atlantic off of Cape Kennedy has been positively identified as being from the Apollo 11 mission.

Jeff Bezos' expedition to find the F-1's on the floor of the Atlantic recently recovered enough hardware to make up two F-1's. His dream was to be lucky enough to find an engine from the Apollo 11 mission. 

Each Saturn V had five F-1's in its' first stage. With 10 apollo missions - 8 through 17 - that's 50 engines total, so the odds were pretty high against recovering one from Apollo 11.

Luck however was with Jeff as he announced on July 19 the recovery of engine serial number 2044, the number 5, or center engine of Apollo 11's Saturn V S-1C first stage: 


Jeff will continue to restore the engines and they will eventually end up on display. Read More About It: http://www.bezosexpeditions.com/updates.html

F-1 Engine

Sky Guy in VA

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Here We Are From Saturn

Hey Space Placers!

Take a look at us in a raw image from almost 900 million miles away:


This image is in color and cropped:


While they may not look like much, you have to remember the distance and the size of the subjects in the camera - Earth and our Moon are not very large.

Pretty amazing that a spacecraft we sent to Saturn takes our picture which is sent such a far distance to be processed and shared worldwide on the Internet.

Our planetary portrait from Mercury should be out soon.

Sky Guy in VA

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Happy 44th Anniversary Tranquility Base

Hey Space Placers!


44 years ago the world held its breath while the Apollo 11 Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) "Eagle" carrying Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin came in for a landing at the Sea of Tranquility. Watching Walter Cronkite and astronaut Wally Schirra on CBS News was spell binding. I still have the Kodak Ektachrome 200 slides I took of the TV broadcast.

Listening to the live feed from Mission Control one could sense the tension, even through the TV. The worrisome 1201 and 1202 alarms, and then the "60 seconds" call for the amount of fuel remaining - all added up to the world watching and waiting.

When Neil gave the call, "Houston, Tranquility Base here, the Eagle has landed", you could feel the planet wide relief and instant exhilaration. I don't think there has been a shared POSITIVE world wide moment like that since then.

Image from Lunasociety
Neil and Buzz would explore the Moon for a few hours and get the all important science experiments deployed and pick up lunar samples. All went well with the remainder of the mission and they fulfilled the second part of President Kennedy's mandate of "before this decade is out landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth."

The full measure of Apollo was never realized as budget cuts to pay for the Vietnam War and other troubles in America cancelled Apollo 18, 19 and 20 - spacecraft and rockets bought and paid for to go to the Moon on the most scientifically interesting and longest duration missions abandoned.

Mankind has not been back in person since. One wonders if America will ever return to the Moon with manned missions - the Chinese will and possibly others.

NASA and other world wide organizations keep the dream of space exploration alive. I can only hope that the current and future Congress keep funding flowing for manned and unmanned space missions.

Go out and look at the almost Full Moon tonight - the image above shows where the Sea of Tranquility is. Also go to Tranquility Base courtesy of Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and see the hardware and footsteps left behind:  http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LRO/news/apollo-11.html

I hope humans go back to stay one day.

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, July 19, 2013

Smile - You're On Two Spacecraft Cameras

Hey Space Placers!

Today and tomorrow we on Earth will have our picture taken by spacecraft cameras onboard Cassini at Saturn (Friday) and MESSENGER at Mercury (Saturday).

The 'net is abuzz about this photobombing that will take place and it is pretty cool to think that we will have a chance to see ourselves from two different viewpoints within the solar system.

Since my blog on June 19 about the Saturn photo shoot, MESSENGER scientists realized that their spacecraft would have a photo opportunity with planet Earth on Saturday, July 20th, so they will be clicking away as well.

I look forward to seeing us with the backdrop of Saturn's rings and the perspective from Mercury.

Neither planet will be visible to Northern Hemisphere residents when the pics are taken, but Saturn will be visible in the southwest after sunset, so take a wave anyway.

Read More ABout It here: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2013-225


and here


Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Curiosity Drives Past The 1 KM Mark

Hey Space Placers!

  The nuclear powered lab Curiosity has passed a significant milestone in that the "odometer" reads over 1 KM traveled in Gale Crater. The rover passed the milestone on the 335th day on the Martian surface.

To commemorate the event Curiosity took a picture of the terrain where the odometer passed 1 KM.
.One Down, Many Kilometers to Go

The ultimate destination for Curiosity lies in the upper left of the picture - Mount Sharp. Curiosity is heading towards Mt. Sharp and will hit the lower slopes in about 8 KM. Boy, what a site that is going to be - seeing Mt. Sharp growing ever larger and the destination slopes ever closer.

Stay tuned - the best is yet to come.

Sky Guy in VA

UPDATED 7-17-13 1 p.m. EDT Press Conference on Origin of Gold

Hey Space Placers! 

From Harvard Center for Astrophysics (CFA):

Read the Press Release: http://www.cfa.harvard.edu/news/2013/pr201319.html
and see the video.


Did you know:
* Gold is so pliable it can be made into sewing thread! One ounce can be stretched to 50 miles!
* The Greeks believed it was a dense combination of water and sunlight!
* Gold is so rare, the world pours more steel in one hour than all the gold ever poured in the history of civilization.
* It is rare on Earth and rare in the universe. And, it was not created by exploding supernovas!

Curious as to where it came from? Join us this Wednesday to find out.

The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) will host a press conference at 1:00 p.m. EDT (17:00 UTC) Wednesday, July 17, to discuss recent findings on the origin of Earth’s gold.

Video of the press conference will be streamed live beginning at 12:55 p.m. EDT (16:55 UTC), in both Real and Flash formats, from the links at http://www.cfa.harvard.edu/news/webcast.html
This should be interesting!

Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

New Neptunian Moon

Hey Space Placers!

   Add a new member to the solar system family! A tiny new moon has been discovered orbiting distant Neptune.

  The moon was discovered by an astronomer who went through the archive of Hubble Space Telescope (HST) photos of the blue-green planet from 2004-2009 and found the 12-mile wide moon wandering over 65,000 miles from Neptune.

New Moon of Neptune (splash)

The moon, temporarily called S/2004 N1, is the 14th moon of Neptune. It was found during a study of the ring segments that partially encircle the planet. Mark Showalter made the discovery on July 1st when on a whim he decided to look beyond the ring segments or arcs and found the solitary white dot in the photos.

Pluto's newest moons were just named - see my July 4th blog - and Neptune's moon will go through the same process to get named.

Astronomy has always benefited from the study of archived telescopic observations and Snowalter's whim to go out to new territory on old photographs shows why.

Very cool.

Read More ABout It: http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2013/15jul_neptunemoon/


Sky Guy in VA

Monday, July 15, 2013

Sky Guy Viewing ALERT 7-15-13 Moon and Spica Meet

Hey Space Placers!

If you skies are clear go out after it gets dark and watch the First Quarter Moon meet up with the bright blue star Spica in the southwest.

For observers in lower latitudes in the Americas and the Pacific, the Moon will actually occult, or cover up, the star. For others it will be a very close pass. Everyone will be able to see the Moon move relative to the star over the course of several hours which is caused by the Moon's easterly orbital movement. The two will get closer as the pair edge towards the western horizon and eventually set.

Binoculars will help the view. Be sure to look at the Moon and see the craters on the terminator - the line between night and day.

Read More About It:

Sky Guy in VA

Sunday, July 14, 2013

NASA's LADEE - Newest Mission to the Moon

Hey Space Placers!

NASA's newest mission to the Moon - the Lunar Atmosphere Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) is getting closer to her September 5th launch date from Wallops Island, VA.

The LADEE spacecraft awaits spin balance testing, conducted to ensure stability during flight, at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia July 10.
LADEE at WALLOPS CLean Room  - NASA Patrick Black
LADEE is designed to answer questions about the Moon's extremely tenuous atmosphere which is believed to be made up of dust. Apollo 12 astronauts reported seeing evidence of an atmosphere while in lunar orbit and there is thought to be interaction with the Moon's dust and the transition from night and day. Impact events are also thought to send dust into the lunar sky and contribute to the creation of the atmosphere.

We need to learn more about this aspect of the Moon to complete our understanding of the lunar environment, of which lunar dust is a very major factor.

The spacecraft was successfully shipped by truck from NASA Ames in California to NASA Wallops Island and is undergoing final testing.

The night time launch from Wallops will be aboard a solid fuel Air Force Minotaur rocket and will be the first planetary mission launched from Wallops.

Read More About It: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LADEE/main/#.UeLCJhYbTFI

I will have more on LADEE as we get closer to launch.

Read More About It:

Sky Guy in VA

Saturday, July 13, 2013

What a Sight It Must Be

Hey SPace Placers!

A cobalt blue Jupiter sized planet orbiting ONLY 2.9 million miles from its' star. WOW!

HD 189733b illustration
An artist's illustration of HD 189733b, a blue gas giant. Don't let the cool colors fool you — it sits so close to its star its temperature is a scorching 1200ยบ C.
NASA / ESA / M. Kornmesser

This is the first exoplanet to have its' color determined and it was done using the Hubble Space Telescope. The planet is a hell hole with 2200 degree F temps and it rains GLASS. Oh, and the winds are thought to be about 9,000+ mph!

The fact we can discern such things just by the light from the exoplanet, which is a feat in of itself to do, is simply amazing.

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Our Star Has A Tail Of Its' Own

Hey Space Placers!

Astronomers have found stars that have tails that trail behind them.

Solar System Tail (tails, 200px)

Now it has been confirmed that our star and solar system does as well. It has also been determined that the tail is shaped like a four leaf clover. The findings are the result of the Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) spacecraft.

IBEX was launched by NASA to learn more about the outer boundary of the solar system - the edge of where the Sun's presence is felt and then gives way to true interstellar space. Many new discoveries have resulted since IBEX launched in 2008. More are expected to come.

Read More About It and see a video here: http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2013/10jul_ibex/

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Pluto Ahoy

Hey Space Placers!

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft enroute to Pluto passed a significant milestone by taking the first picture of Pluto and its' Texas sized moon Charon using one of the onboard instruments.


While it may not look like much, it was taken at a distance of over half a billion miles! The picture cleanly separates the two bodies and will only get better over time. New Horizons has been in space since its launch on January 19, 2006.

The spacecraft is due to fly by Pluto at closest approach on July 14, 2015, still 2 years away.

I look forward to seeing the ever better pics!

Read More About It: http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/index.php

Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Mars 2020 Rover

Hey SPace Placers!

If you missed today's teleconference on NASA's next Mars Rover you can find out about the proposed mission here: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2013-217#2

Artist's Concept of Mars 2020 Rover

As Curiosity and Opportunity continue their respective missions roving Mars, NASA is looking ahead to the next great step in Martian  exploration.
Sky Guy in VA

Monday, July 8, 2013

NASA 7/9/13 Teleconference on Science Objectives Next Mars Rover

Hey Space Placers!

Tune in on 7/9/13 at 3 p.m. EDT for a live stream on NASA's science objectives for the next Mars Rover.

Get details here: http://www.nasa.gov/press/2013/july/nasa-discusses-mars-2020-plans-in-july-9-teleconference/#.UdtzqRYbTFK

Sky Guy in VA

Roswell 66 Years Later

Hey Space Placers!
Sorry this is late....I hd technical issues on Blogger today!
66 years ago today newspapers had headlines about “flying disc” wreckage being found on a ranch in Roswell, New Mexico. Years later the flying discs became a flying saucer and alien bodies being found. Congressional hearings, GAO and US Air Force investigations have probably done nothing to answer the conspiracy theories that about the incident. In face they have probably fueled the faithful regarding the 1947 incident.
Today Google has commemorated the “Roswell Incident”  https://www.google.com/ with links and a game you can play.
To me UFO’s (Unidentified Flying Objects) DO exist….because there ARE things up there in the sky that we cannot identify. I have seen a few UFO’s myself that I could not equate to aircraft/satellites/aerial/astronomical causes. But do UFO’s necessarily equate to alien spacecraft? That is too large a leap. 
I have studied UFO’s over the years and there are a few famous sightings, to include the buzzing of the Nation’s capitol by UFO’s in July 1952 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1952_Washington,_D.C._UFO_incident Fighter jets were scrambled and they were supposedly tracked on radar – I have a copy of the reprint. That is an intriguing report that remains unexplained to this day.
I personally believe that life exists elsewhere in the Universe – there are just too many planets and stars for that to NOT to be true – BUT we have no evidence of that YET. We are searching the Universe for signs of life and intelligent life – there is a difference between the two. 
Life can exist in primitive form as well as in developed intelligence that may be space travel capable. According to Einstein, nothing can exceed the speed of light so there is a speed limit to space travel and the distances are exceedingly far between stars, so, it is hard to imagine that we have been visited by other alien species – I won’t go so far as to say impossible however.
The sci-fi realm has had so many wonderful movies about this question of intelligent life in the Universe – Contact being the best one I believe. We have also had the aliens have visited Earth and “made us” genre as well – Prometheus being the latest movie along those lines.
The late Carl Sagan said, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof”. Such it is with life in the Universe. We may someday have that proof. To me I do not believe it will come in the form of a spaceship landing on the White House lawn as happened in “The Day the Earth Stood Still” (original movie not the remake). It may happen with probes that land on Europa and sample the ocean known to exist under the ice or it may be a mysterious repeating signal that can’t be attributed to astrophysical processes.
That is why we must continue to look, listen and explore the Universe. The question of “Are We Alone” has its’ answer out there – not in conspiracies.
Sky Guy in VA

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Earthshine Moon OVER Earth

Hey Space Placers!

You have to see this pic taken from the International Space Station of the very young crescent Moon resplendent with beautiful Earthshine suspended over the Earth. The Moon is seen through the outer layers of the planet's upper atmosphere while the limb is visible through the thicker lower atmosphere.

You may recall Earthshine is the reflection of sunlight off of Earth's clouds and oceans that falls upon the unlit portion of the Moon. Strong Earthshine can illuminate lunar features as you can see in the pic - beautiful, just beautiful.

I wish there were more pics of the Moon from space but this is a good one that could make a perfect desktop background or in your favorites.

Enjoy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nasamarshall/9085751655/

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, July 5, 2013

Arctic Permafrost and Climate CHange

Hey SPace Placers!

Read the following story about how our planet's climate may be adversely affected by the Arctic permafrost if it thaws. Quite an eye opener........


Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Pluto's Small Moons Get Named

Hey Space Placers!

Happy 4th of July to my American readers!

Pluto's smallest moons have been called P4 and P5 for some time. But that has changed as they now have been officially named: Styx and Kerberos....

Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Details on Chinese Lunar Rover

Hey Space Placers!

The next nation to land people on the Moon will most likely be China. They just successfully returned Taikonauts from a manned mission to the Chinese space station.

China is expected to send a nuclear powered rover, complete with a piggyback solar powered rover to the Moon sometime late this year.

Artist's concept of Chang'e 3 rover on the Moon
Glen Nagle

This will be quite a mission if successful as it will mark the first lunar surface mission since Apollo 17 in December 1972. There have been plenty of lunar orbit missions but having a rover available to go places on the Moon is pretty exciting.

Read More About It: http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily-lakdawalla/2013/01091341-change-3-lunar-lander.html

Sky Guy in Rain Drenched VA

Monday, July 1, 2013