Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!

Hey Space Placers!

Did you know that Halloween is an astronomically inspired holiday? It marks the halfway point between the Fall Equinox and the Winter Solstice.

Read all about it here  and here .

Have a SAFE and enjoyable Halloween. By the way, the Moon is at its farthest from Earth for the entire year and in two weeks will be at its closest - with another Super Full Moon.

Sky Guy in VA

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Last of New Horizons Flyby Data Received

Hey Space Placers!

The last data from the New Horizons spacecraft flyby of Pluto on July 14, 2015 has been received.

You can read about it here.

I wonder what treasures are in store for us......

Stay tuned as we find out.

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Latest on Strange Star

Hey Space Placers!

Here's an article on the very latest about the strange star that captured the world's attention when it was thought it could be surrounded by an alien megastructure.

We'll see what astronomers develop after they get this latest run of data.

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Dark Energy Exist? Yes or No?

Hey Space Placers!

If you have been following Twitter or some of the major news outlets the last couple of days has seen some amazing headlines about the Universe.

There has been a paper published that dealt with the acceleration of the expansion of the Universe. The upshot of the paper as interpreted by readers is whether "Dark Energy" exists.

Read this article to get a good handle on the whole issue.

Bottom line is Dark Energy is still a VERY viable theory that is supported by multiple lines of evidence/data.

Sky Guy in VA

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter views Schiaparelli landing site

Hey Space Placers!
It is beginning to look like ESA's  Schiaparelli Lander did not survive the landing attempt. Although data continues to be reviewed, photos of the area where it was to land show a new dark marking - crater - that could indicate a crash landing and explosion.

The other part of the mission, the Trace Gas Orbiter, is in orbit and working so this mission to the Red Planet is overall a success in terms of getting to Mars. 

Getting to Mars is HARD and the Red Planet is littered with crash sites from NASA, Russia and ESA to prove it. ESA's lander was an engineering test vehicle so it was successful in that valuable data was returned during the descent until contact was lost.

Humans will keep trying.......

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, October 20, 2016

ExoMars Update

Hey Space Placers!

Here is the latest from the European Space Agency (ESA) on their ExoMars mission which placed a new spacecraft in orbit and is awaiting the fate of their lander.

Time will tell if the lander survived.

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Mars To Get New Visitors Today

Hey Space Placers!

Tune in today as the European Space Agency (ESA) prepares for its ExoMars spacecraft and Schiaparelli lander arrive at the Red Planet. 

If the landing is successful the Schiaparelli lander will join NASA's Curiosity and Opportunity Rovers on the surface of Mars and add to our knowledge of the planet.

Orbital ATK and NASA Wallops Flight Facility successfully launched the OA-5 resupply mission to the International Space Station on Monday night and here is my photo of the 1st stage rocket from 150 miles away.

OA-5 1st Stage Rocket PlumeFrom 150 Miles Away
Greg Redfern
Sky Guy in VA

Monday, October 17, 2016

Sky Guy Viewing ALERT! 10/17/16 Antares Rocket Launch

Hey Space Placers!

If you are in the DC, Maryland, Virginia (DMV) area or the U.S. East Coast, you may be able to see
tonight’s launch at 7:40 p.m. EDT of Orbital ATK’s sixth resupply mission, CRS-5, from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility to the International Space Station (ISS) is a GO according to Keith Koehler, Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia

Wallops is Located on Virginia’s Eastern Shore so CRS-5’s launch and ascent to orbit will be visible to viewers in the DMV and along the U.S. East Coast. Using these maps  you can find your location and determine the best time to look for segments of the flight.

This is a return to flight for Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket which suffered an explosion during the CRS-3 launch from Wallops to ISS on October 28, 2014 . The rocket exploded just after liftoff and was completely destroyed along with the Cygnus spacecraft    carrying supplies and items destined to ISS. There was also damage to the launch facilities which have been repaired.

Orbital ATK and NASA determined that the launch failure was due to an issue with one of the AJ-26 engines’ turbo pump - there are two engines . The decision was made by Orbital ATK to switch to RD-181 engines for the Antares rocket which required design and manufacturing changes. The Antares rocket had to undergo certification tests and successfully conducted a static engine firing in May 2016

Last week the launch window had to be moved to Sunday because of Hurricane Nicole’s proximity to a ground tracking  station in Bermuda and then to Monday due to a faulty ground support equipment cable.

NASA TV coverage of the launch of the Orbital/ATK OA-5 Antares/Cygnus Mission to the ISS Starts at 6:45 p.m. EDT 

For the next few days you can see ISS in our skies. To get the sighting details for your location go to this NASA website .While there sign up for “ISS Sighting Alerts” so you will know when ISS is visible. 

ISS will be bright in the sky for these passes and if we are lucky we may even be able to see the Cygnus spacecraft “chasing” ISS. We won’t know until after launch if that is possible but I will update you.


Sky Guy in VA

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Thursday, October 13, 2016


Hey Space Placers!

Incredible news today from Hubble Space Telescope observations that states there are a minimum of TWO TRILLION GALAXIES in the visible Universe. That is an amazingly large number that I suspect will grow even larger once the James Webb Space Telescope and the 30 and 39 Meter Telescopes are built and in operation.

This increases the number of previously observed galaxies by at least 10.

The visible Universe just got a whole lot bigger. I can hardly wait until we get those next generation telescopes observing and see what we shall see!

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

POTUS Talks Mars

Hey Space Placers!

Please take a moment to read President Obama's editorial on America getting to Mars.

NASA is doing the necessary steps to get there by continuing required medical research on the International Space Station (ISS) and building the Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System. But it will take political and financial will to achieve a manned landing on Mars - "No bucks, no Buck Rogers".

The incoming President and Congress will have to fund NASA to achieve a manned landing on Mars. We CANNOT afford a "do over" of space policy and goals because of the American electoral process. Space is NOT political in of itself but alas it has always been so. Our success on the Moon was due to politics as was the cancelling of Apollos 18,19 and 20 - Kennedy and Nixon.

The Senate recently introduced the NASA Transition Authorization Act. To me the most significant provision of the Act is this one, "but the main thrust is to provide stability to NASA's human spaceflight program as a presidential transition nears."  

Stability in political will. That's what we need if we want to get to Mars. That is what got us to the Moon. Political will leads to stable AND required funding. Let NASA do the job without political interference.

Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Zodiacal Light

Hey Space Placers!

I am back from being at sea and had a marvelous voyage. It was tough for Internet so I am sorry I was out of touch. I could so some Twitter tho ;-)

Here is a pic I took on the way to Hawaii of the Zodiacal Light.

Zodiacal Light at Sea
Greg Redfern
This happens only twice a year at the equinoxes and is caused by reflected sunlight off of countless asteroid and cometary dust particles. It is sometimes called the "false dawn" because from a dark sky sight - such as being at sea - it can be mistaken for the onset of dawn.

The Zodiacal Light has a distinctive "pyramid" or oblong shape as these particles are in the ecliptic or the plane of the Zodiac where the asteroids and planets can be found. Comets contribute to the Zodiacal Light when they have tails and comas as they get near the Sun.

Here is a good article on the Zodiacal Light.  Try for the late Oct-early Nov dates to see it.

Sky Guy Back in VA