Saturday, June 23, 2018

Friday, June 22, 2018

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

NEW EXOPLANETS?

Hey Space Placers!

Take a look at this amazing image that shows what is in all probability 3 new planets:

Our Solar System formed out of a huge, primordial cloud of gas and dust. The vast majority of that cloud formed the Sun, while the leftover disc of rotating material around it eventually coalesced into the orbiting planets we know — and live on — today. Astronomers can observe similar processes happening around other stars in the cosmos. This splendid Picture of the Week shows a disc of rotating, leftover material surrounding the young star HD 163296. Using the observing power of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, astronomers have been able to discern specific features in the disc, including concentric rings of material surrounding the central star. They were even able to use ALMA to obtain high-resolution measurements of the gas and dust constituents of the disc. With these data they could infer key details of the formation history of this young stellar system. The three gaps between the rings are likely due to a depletion of dust and in the middle and outer gaps astronomers also found a lower level of gas. The depletion of both dust and gas suggests the presence of newly formed planets, each around the mass of Saturn, carving out these gaps on their brand new orbits.

The gaps between the rings are likely due to a depletion of dust and in the middle and outer gaps astronomers also found a lower level of gas. The depletion of both dust and gas suggests the presence of newly formed planets, each around the mass of Saturn, carving out these gaps on their brand new orbits. Credit: ESO, ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO); A. Isella; B. Saxton (NRAO/AUI/NSF).

Discovered using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) these are considered to be the first three planets discovered by ALMA - that's how strong the evidence is that there are new exoplanets in this system.


The parent star HD 163296 is only 4 million years old so once again we are seeing how planets are a natural byproduct of stellar birth.


Our solar system at 4.6 billion years old is ancient compared to this one.


Sky Guy in VA


















Monday, June 18, 2018

9th LAUNCH ANNIVERSARY FOR LRO AND LCROSS

Hey Space Placers!

Hard to believe it has been nine years since Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and Lunar Crater Remote Observation Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) launched.



I saw both of these lunar bound spacecraft while they were being built and wrote the June 2009 Sky and Telescope magazine article about their 2-for-1 mission launch.

Me and LCROSS at NASA Ames 

Me and LRO at NASA Goddard
Humanity is going back to the Moon and LRO will finally have some company with the upcoming Chinese Chang'e 4 and 5 missions.

Here's to more good data LRO and thank you LCROSS for you daring demise in search of lunar water in Cabeus Crater.

Sky Guy in VA


Saturday, June 16, 2018

SKY GUY VIEWING ALERT 6/16/18 MOON & VENUS AFTER SUNSET

Hey Space Placers!

All around the world people can see the Waxing Crescent Moon and brilliant Venus in the West after sunset tonight.

You can't miss it.....

Enjoy the view and try taking a pic with any camera.

Earthshine from our planet's clouds and oceans will illuminate the dark portion of the Moon - the part that is not illuminated by the Sun - so that you can see craters and the Maria (impact basins).

Get out and enjoy the view.....

Oh, and that bright "star" in the south is Jupiter.

The Milky Way will be up too when it is dark as you saw in my pics yesterday.

Enjoy......

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, June 15, 2018

ENJOY THE PICS

Hey Space Placers!

Up at Shenandoah National Park Big Meadow last night and got a few pics to share. Gt a lot of sky glow due to the clouds but the sky still won the light pollution battle!

Bright Mars, Saturn and Jupiter



Saturn and Antares & Milky Way



The REAL Skyline Drive is the Milky Way Galaxy.



Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, June 14, 2018

FATE OF MARS ROVER OPPORTUNITY UNKNOWN

Hey Space Placers!

A HUGE dust storm on Mars has shut down NASA's 15 years on Mars Rover Opportunity due to lack of solar power.

This series of images shows simulated views of a darkening Martian sky blotting out the Sun from NASA’s Opportunity rover’s point of view, with the right side simulating Opportunity’s current view in the global dust storm (June 2018). The left starts with a blindingly bright mid-afternoon sky, with the sun appearing bigger because of brightness. The right shows the Sun so obscured by dust it looks like a pinprick. Each frame corresponds to a tau value, or measure of opacity: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Exploration Rover Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington.
For more information about Opportunity, visit http://www.nasa.gov/rovers and http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov

Credit

NASA/JPL-Caltech/TAMU

The fate of the rover remains to be seen. Opportunity's twin, Spirit, died years ago, leaving nuclear powered Curiosity as the only operational rover on Mars at the moment.

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

GRAVITATIONAL WAVES - UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL

Hey Space Placers!

Here is my WTOP story about gravitational waves as told by Nobel Prize Laureate Dr. Rainer Weiss.

Dr. Rainer Weiss
Credit: Greg Redfern

Enjoy.....

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, June 11, 2018

BIG DAY TOMORROW

Hey Space Placers!

I have a big day tomorrow as I get to interview one-on-one Dr. Rainer Weiss, a 2017 Nobel Prize-Physics winner.

CREDIT: LIGO
Half of the award went to Dr. Weiss for his pioneering work on Gravitational Waves (GWs). He designed the instrument that led to the 9/14/15 detection of gravitational waves from two merging black holes. The other half of the Nobel Prize went to Kip Thorne and Barry Barish for their work on the detection of GWs.

I hope to share with you on Wednesday the results.....

Sky Guy in VA

Sunday, June 10, 2018

FIRST MAN TRAILER

Hey Space Placers!

The movie based on Neil Armstrong's biography is called FIRST MAN and is due in theaters October 18.

Watch the trailer and I think you will get goosebumps as I did at seeing all of that NAS hardware including:

X-15 rocket plane
Gemini-Titan
Apollo-Saturn
Apollo 11

I.CAN.HARDLY.WAIT

No matter the acting, which I am sure will be good, the hardware sets will be the real stars of the show for me ;-)



Sky Guy in VA

Friday, June 8, 2018

BIG FIND ON MARS

Hey Space Placers!

NASA's hunt for life on Mars moved forward a bit yesterday with the announcement that the Curiosity rover had found organic material in an ancient lakebed and discovered seasonal spikes in methane gas.

NASA's Curiosity rover has discovered ancient organic molecules on Mars, embedded within sedimentary rocks that are billions of years old.Credit: NASA/GSFC 
To me the best quote in the news release is this one:
"Are there signs of life on Mars?" said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program, at NASA Headquarters. "We don't know, but these results tell us we are on the right track."

It is becoming clear that the search for life in the Universe beyond our own planet can focus right here in our solar system. Water abounds on planets and moons in clouds, in craters, poles that never see sunlight and under ice warm salt oceans. And one thing our planet has shown us is that life can live in the most extreme environments.

I think it is only a matter of time until we find the proof we are seeking that past, and maybe even current life, exists beyond Earth. Whether that will be "simple" cellular life only or intelligent life (in the form of received signals) remains to be seen.

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, June 7, 2018

NEW HORIZONS IS AWAKE

Hey Space Placers!

The New Horizons spacecraft is alive, well and AWAKE after an extended hibernation period. The plucky Pluto explorer is in the process of preparing for its 1/1/19 flyby of ULTIMA THULE, a Kuiper Belt Object called 2014 MU 69.

Artist's impression of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft encountering 2014 MU69, a Kuiper Belt object that orbits one billion miles (1.6 billion kilometers) beyond Pluto, on Jan. 1, 2019.  

Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Retute/Steve Gribbe
This will be something to see......

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

JUNE 6, 1944

Hey Space Placers!

74 years ago today allied troops, airmen and sailors invaded Hitler's Europe at Normandy, France. Thousands were killed. The European Theater of WW II would end early in the following year with millions saved and liberated.

The world must pause and remember this day that marked the beginning of the end of the dark forces that led to the great global conflict. If it weren't for the success of D-Day paid for with the blood and death of those thousands, who knows what might have happened.

To stand on Omaha Beach and then the embankment overlooking it is to understand why there are thousands in the nearby Normandy Cemetery.









Sky Guy in VA Remembers

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

BLACK HOLES AND GRAVITATIONAL WAVES VIDEO

Hey Space Placers!

Are you curious about black holes and gravitational waves? I have blogged about them often and now I have a real treat for you. Got about an hour? Well, a shade under 51 minutes actually.

Sit back and tune in to this video about "Black Holes Last Tango in Space: LIGO and the Dawn of Gravitational-Wave Astronomy". It is an excellent talk given by a human that would know about the subject as he is Dr. David Reitze, Executive Director, LIGO Laboratory, from the California Institute of Technology.


There will be much more to learn about the Universe and black holes from gravitational wave astronomy.

Stay tuned.

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, June 4, 2018

HOW THE SOLAR SYSTEM FORMED

Hey Space Placers!

Ever wonder how our place in the Universe, the solar system formed? Here is a great 4K video that gives us insight on how astronomers think the solar system came to be.

It also gives a description of the NASA OSIRIS-REx mission which will reach the asteroid Bennu in December of this year. The spacecraft is in good health and will begin its  last deep space maneuver June 28 and instrument checkout in July.




In the video chondrules (thought to be the first solid matter to form in the solar system and basic building blocks for planets) are mentioned. Here is what a large chondrule looks like - it is the large gray spherical shape in this Chelyabinsk meteorite specimen.




Sky Guy in VA

Sunday, June 3, 2018

INCOMING!

Hey Space Placers!

An asteroid - a very small one - was discovered on Saturday just hours before it was due to hit Earth. 



This is the third time this has happened and I am sure there will be a meteorite expedition launched to try and find pieces of the space rock.

The planet gets hit everyday with space debris, occasionally man-made but most often the cosmic kind from asteroids and comets.

We celebrate Asteroid Day every June 30th to remind us of the dangers of these space rocks. That date was chosen because it was when the largest impact event in modern history took place over Tunguska, Siberia and wiped 2000 km of forest - the equivalent of a large hydrogen bomb detonation of millions of tons of TNT.

Sky Guy in VA

Saturday, June 2, 2018

JEFF BEZOS' LUNAR SETTLEMENT

Hey Space Placers!


Blue Moon lander
An artist’s conception shows Blue Origin’s Blue Moon lander on the lunar surface. (Blue Origin Illustration)

Be sure to read this article about how Jeff Bezos wants to go to the Moon and stay in a BIG way.

I for one sure hope it happens as the future of humanity to survive and thrive depends on it.

Sky Guy in SOGGY VA


Friday, June 1, 2018

A NEAT LOOK AT SLS

Hey Space Placers!

Enjoy this video on the Space Launch System (SLS). Some interesting facts are provided.



Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

RED PLANET HELO

Hey Space Placers!

Talk about out-of-this-world-ideas!!

NASA has plans to send a mini-helicopter to Mars on its next mission, Mars 2020 Rover.

Mars helicopter animation
Animation of Mars helicopter and Mars 2020 rover.
Credits: NASA/JPL-CalTech


NASA's Mars Helicopter, a small, autonomous rotorcraft, will travel with the agency's Mars 2020 rover, currently scheduled to launch in July 2020, to demonstrate the viability and potential of heavier-than-air vehicles on the Red Planet.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech 


This addition to the Mars 2020 Rover will be a first in the history of planetary exploration. The hope is that this technology will be proven and then used to further the exploration of Mars.

Looking forward to this....

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, May 28, 2018

PLUTO THE COMET?

Hey Space Placers!

For those of you in the U.S. I hope you have a safe and wonderful Memorial Day holiday - please pause and reflect on the true meaning of the day.

Tombaugh Regio is the name for Pluto’s heart-shaped feature. Sputnik Planitia forms the heart’s left lobe. Image via New Horizonsspacecraft/NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI
FROM EARTHSKY.ORG

New research on the composition of Pluto  puts forth the intriguing theory that Pluto is composed of a BILLION comets that came together in the frigid and distant outreaches of the solar system.

This theory is based on analysis of the composition data from the Pluto flyby by New Horizons and the analysis of Comet 67/P by the Rosetta spacecraft.

It is an intriguing theory but many questions need to be answered. Perhaps we will learn more with the 1/1/19 flyby of Ultima Thule - 2014 MU69 - by New Horizons.

Our solar system is definitely an unknown for the most part.

Sky Guy in VA

Sunday, May 27, 2018

CAPTAIN ALAN BEAN, USN, RETIRED, 4th MOON WALKER DIES

Hey Space Placers!

Humanity lost a luminary yesterday when Alan Bean died following a sudden illness.

Alan Bean, Apollo 12 Lunar Module Pilot
NASA
He was one of my fave Moonwalkers because he told it like it was as only Alan could - straight up and with a humor not seen very often.

We now have only four living Moonwalkers left.......

We need to make more.

Sky Guy in VA




Saturday, May 26, 2018

THE MOON HELPS MONITOR THE EARTH

Hey Space Placers!

The Moon and Earth are a double planet system, which means that the Moon is large in comparison to its parent planet, the Earth. There is one other double planet system in the solar system and that is Pluto-Charon.

The Earth and the Moon are interwoven in so many ways but one of the most interesting is how scientists use the Moon to monitor the atmosphere and the Earth itself.

One method is to monitor the amount of moonlight the Earth receives which can be used in calibrating Earth monitoring satellites.

The other is to analyze the clarity of the Earth's atmosphere during total lunar eclipses to do so.  This helps in deterring how "clear" the Earth's stratosphere is of volcanic aerosols which in turn can affect the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth. I personally observed the total lunar eclipse in 1992 mentioned in the article while I lived on the island of Guam and I can tell you it was DARK!

These combined studies will help us to better monitor the health of Mother Earth.

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, May 25, 2018

Take A Trip To Another World

Hey Space Placers!

Looking for an exotic get away this weekend?

NASA has just the place - another world beyond our solar system!

TRAPPIST-1
The imagined surface of exoplanet Kepler-186f, on NASA's interactive Exoplanet Exploration website. Kepler-186f is an Earth-size planet orbiting a small red star, which may or may not have an atmosphere. No real photos of Kepler-186f exist. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

It is an amazing time for exoplanet discoveries - worlds that exist beyond our solar system. We currently have confirmed almost 4,000 exoplanets with 3,000 more awaiting confirmation! NASA's new Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) was launched earlier this month and made its first test image - WOW.

This test image from one of the four cameras aboard the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) captures a swath of the southern sky along the plane of our galaxy. TESS is expected to cover more than 400 times the amount of sky shown in this image when using all four of its cameras during science operations.
Credits: NASA/MIT/TESS

Astronomers are pretty sure that every star in the night sky has planets which are a natural byproduct of stellar birth. One estimate is that there are 10 major planets around each star so that equates to TRILLIONS of planets in our Milky Way Galaxy. 

The closest exoplanet to Earth is right next door orbiting the closest star to our Sun, Proxima Cenatauri, a mere 4.25 light years.

So take a virtual trip to another planet this weekend and then go outside at night to see the stars that have real worlds that await discovery.

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Cool Science on ISS

Hey Space Placers!

Back from sea and Europe. REALLY sorry about the interruption of blogs but between Internet issues and non-stop travel I just couldn't post.

I will start back today with a cool video of cool science on the ISS.




Help me close in on 3 MILLION VIEWS (just 20K views away!!!!!) by checking back everyday.

Sky Guy is BACK in VA

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Enjoy At Sea Pics From The Atlantic

Hey Space Placers!

Enjoy these pics of the Milky Way Galaxy & Jupiter at opposition, Moonrise & sunrise from Prinsendam in the beautiful Atlantic Ocean.





Sky Guy in the Atlantic

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Sky Guy Viewing ALERT!!!!! Jupiter & Venus Planetary Pair

Hey Space Placers!

Tonight Jupiter rises right at sunset in the E-SE as it is directly opposite the Sun or what astronomers call opposition. It is as bright as it will be for the viewing season. Look at Jupiter with binoculars and you will see the Galilean Moons as they orbit the gas giant; there are four of them but the number you can see will vary due to their positions around the planet.

Venus is opposite Jupiter in the W-SW just as it gets dark and is bright and will get brighter in the coming weeks.

Enjoy this planetary pair.

Sky Guy in Bermuda

Monday, May 7, 2018

A Must Read On Pluto THE PLANET

Hey Space Placers!

As I have said in my blog before, Pluto is a PLANET according to a lot of planetary scientists.

I am a member of the Pluto Resistance joining Dr. Alan Stern as part of the efforts to get a REAL definition of what a planet is by real world conditions NOT due to a vote.

Dr. Alan Stern (R) and I Show the Universal Resistance of Planet Nine for Pluto

Please read this excellent article by the authors Dr. Stern and Dr. Grinspoon, who are also authors of the new book "Chasing New Horizons". My autographed copy will be waiting for me when I get back from sea but the reviews agree that this is a GREAT book to read about the New Horizons mission to Pluto.

Join the REVOLUTION of PLANET NINE for Pluto!

Sky Guy in The Atlantic

Sunday, May 6, 2018

NASA Newest Mission To Mars Launches

Hey Space Placers!

Hello from the Atlantic Ocean!

At sea again this time on Holland America's Prinsendam - a BEAUTIFUL ship. She has lots of deck space with no lights so I am hopeful to get some great pics to share.

NASA launched InSight to Mars yesterday and launched the first ever deep space bound Cubesats in the process.

Sky Guy in The Atlantic Headed to Bermuda

Friday, May 4, 2018

NASA PLANS FOR THE MOON

Hey Space Placers!

High Contrast Supermoon
Greg Redfern
 Here is the latest from NASA on its plans for the Moon.

We've been down this road before but with the space bring nations of the world, especially China, making the Moon a priority, it will have to happen this time unless we cede all space capability to others.

Sky Guy in VA


Thursday, May 3, 2018

Big Finding on Lunar Water From Moon Meteorite

Hey Space Placers!

No big surprise about the Moon having water as we have known that for quite some time.

What IS a big finding comes from this study about a lunar meteorite that shows water MAY be present under the lunar regolith.

With the space faring nations and others returning to the Moon to stay, this has huge importance fo living off the land - in situ.

Sky Guy Greg

Sunday, April 29, 2018

UPDATED:Sky Guy Viewing ALERT!!!! 4/29 & 4/30 Moon & Jupiter

Hey Space Placers!

UPDATED: MOON & JUPITER AT BIG MEADOW SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK 4/29/18





Full Moon is tonight 4/29/18 and is the Pink Full Moon. No, it won't be pink in color.......it is named for the time of year when the flowers are in bloom.Two other names for the Full Moon in April are Grass Full Moon and Egg Full Moon.....as you can see all Spring related.

The Full Moon will be at precisely 8:58 p.m. EDT.

The Moon will have a guest these next two nights as bright Jupiter will be keeping the Moon company throughout the night. Jupiter will be closer to the Moon on the last night of April into the 1st morning of May.

Get out tonight and enjoy the view. Oh, and don't forget to see brilliant Venus in the West as it gets dark. The beautiful planet is now about as high as it will get in our sky each night for Spring and Summer.

Sky Guy in VA

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Milky Way Data Bonanza

Hey Space Placers!

The European Space Agency (ESA) released today the most recent data about the Milky Way Galaxy (MWG) and surrounding area of space. This is a HUGE data release of over 1.7 BILLION stars in our galaxy, data on the 12 dwarf galaxies orbiting the MWG and the Andromeda Galaxy.

Just look at YOUR home galaxy in color:



Here is the description by ESA:

  • Gaia’s all-sky view of our Milky Way Galaxy and neighbouring galaxies, based on measurements of nearly 1.7 billion stars. The map shows the total brightness and colour of stars observed by the ESA satellite in each portion of the sky between July 2014 and May 2016.

    Brighter regions indicate denser concentrations of especially bright stars, while darker regions correspond to patches of the sky where fewer bright stars are observed. The colour representation is obtained by combining the total amount of light with the amount of blue and red light recorded by Gaia in each patch of the sky. 

    The bright horizontal structure that dominates the image is the Galactic plane, the flattened disc that hosts most of the stars in our home Galaxy. In the middle of the image, the Galactic centre appears vivid and teeming with stars.

    Darker regions across the Galactic plane correspond to foreground clouds of interstellar gas and dust, which absorb the light of stars located further away, behind the clouds. Many of these conceal stellar nurseries where new generations of stars are being born.

    Sprinkled across the image are also many globular and open clusters – groupings of stars held together by their mutual gravity, as well as entire galaxies beyond our own. 

    The two bright objects in the lower right of the image are the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, two dwarf galaxies orbiting the Milky Way. 

    In small areas of the image where no colour information was available – to the lower left of the Galactic centre, to the upper left of the Small Magellanic Cloud, and in the top portion of the map – an equivalent greyscale value was assigned.

    The second Gaia data release was made public on 25 April 2018 and includes the position and brightness of almost 1.7 billion stars, and the parallax, proper motion and colour of more than 1.3 billion stars. It also includes the radial velocity of more than seven million stars, the surface temperature of more than 100 million stars, and the amount of dust intervening between us and of 87 million stars. There are also more than 500 000 variable sources, and the position of 14 099 known Solar System objects – most of them asteroids – included in the release. 

    A complementary image showing Gaia’s density map of the stars is available here
    Acknowledgement: Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC); A. Moitinho / A. F. Silva / M. Barros / C. Barata, University of Lisbon, Portugal; H. Savietto, Fork Research, Portugal.
----------------------------

I don't know about you but I could stare at this picture for quite awhile soaking it all in...especially the galactic center and the tendrils of gas and dust that will form new stars and planets someday. The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds are gorgeous in the lower right and you can see Andromeda Galaxy in the upper right.

Astronomers have a gold mine of data to learn about our galaxy and the others observed by Gaia. This is going to keep them busy for quite a long time.


Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Farthest Star Imaged by 28 YO HST

Hey Space Placers!

HST is 28 years old this month! Hard to believe but it is still going strong as you can see in this image of the farthest individual star seen to date.

Icarus (MACS J1149+2223 Lensed Star 1)
The Farthest Star Ever Seen
Icarus, whose official name is MACS J1149+2223 Lensed Star 1, is the farthest individual star ever seen. It is only visible because it is being magnified by the gravity of a massive galaxy cluster, located about 5 billion light-years from Earth. Called MACS J1149+2223, this cluster, shown at left, sits between the Earth and the galaxy that contains the distant star. The team had been using Hubble to monitor a supernova in the far-off spiral galaxy when, in 2016, they spotted a point of light near the supernova that began to brighten. Even though the object subsequently became three times brighter in one month, the colors of the light coming from the object did not change. Analysis of these colors showed it was a blue supergiant star in the background galaxy whose magnification grew for several weeks due to an intervening object, probably a star, in the galaxy cluster. The panels at the right show the view in 2011, without Icarus visible, compared with the star’s brightening in 2016.

Hopefully HST will last a few more years to work in concert with James Webb Space Telescope.

Sky Guy in VA

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Earth Day 2018

Hey Space Placers!

This is our planet seen from the Moon. What a photograph for Earth Day 2018. Will human eyes experience this in person from the Moon someday? Only time and our collective caring for Earth and therefore ourselves will decide.
Earth From Lunar Orbit
Credit: NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
Please visit EarthSky to get a great read on Earth Day, its origins and learn about the theme of 2018 - plastic.

If there is just one thing you remember from Earth Day, let it be this: "The Earth doesn't need us, we need the Earth".

We humans are so wrapped up in our own lives and timelines that we forget the Earth is 4.6 BILLION years old and has another couple billion years to go. The dying Sun will vaporize the planet and eventually return all that it was back to the Milky Way Galaxy. Every atom that ever existed on the planet will return to from whence it came perhaps to form a new planet and life elsewhere.

We are not immortal, nothing is. But we are in very grave danger of altering the planet's climate due to overpopulation, pollution, and lack of total worldwide political commitment to the issue - especially from the current Administration in the U.S. I have always said, "Change the planet's climate or its geology and you change humanity." We are at that point now with regard to climate change - see for your self at https://climate.nasa.gov.

We can destroy ourselves quite easily through any number of unleashed human causes or be wiped out by a comet impact. But there is comfort for me in knowing this, the Earth will survive regardless. The history of the Earth has seen several mass extinctions, the last being the dinosaurs 65 million years ago most likely due to an impact event in the Gulf of Mexico. The dinosaurs lasted hundreds of millions of years.....we just stood upright on the plains of Africa 2.5 million years ago and civilization   is only 30,000 years old.

The dinosaurs are dead because they didn't have telescopes and a space program to save themselves. What will be the epitaph for humanity? Will we destroy ourselves while temporarily altering the Earth?

Make no mistake about it this Earth Day 2018........we are now at the decision point that will determine the fate of humanity. We must act in Earth's favor which ultimately means in our own. Governments must be compelled by their people to be Earth (and human) friendly. Humanity must change the current worldwide status quo to renewable energy, less pollution and environmentally sound decisions.

We live on a very special planet that is currently home to the only known life in all of the observable Universe. What will be our future? Our legacy? Will we survive and thrive or fail to extinction?

The choice is ours.

Sky Guy in VA




Saturday, April 21, 2018

Sky Guy ALERT 4/21/18 Happy Astronomy Day & Lyrid Meteor Shower Viewing

Hey Space Placers!

Today is Astronomy Day and the Lyrid Meteor Shower is peaking.

Got back from Windstar Cruises' Star Pride - what a great trans-Atlantic crossing that was. Getting over a bit of jet lag ;-)

Have a grand time today and tonight.

Sky Guy Greg

Thursday, April 19, 2018

TESS In Orbit

Hey Space Placers!

NASA's TESS mission was successfully launched yesterday. The hunt for planets beyond our solar system will get a big boost with this mission.

Pulling into Lisbon tomorrow and returning to the U.S.

Sky Guy in the Atlantic

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

SKY GUY VIEWING ALERT!!!!! 4/17/18 Venus & Moon

Hey Space Placers!

Tonight about 45 minutes or so after sunset go out and face the West. Look for brilliant Venus about a fist width at arm's length above the horizon and the very thin crescent Moon just to the lower left.

Binoculars can help in the view and there should be some Earthshine visible.

We are cloudy out here in the Atlantic but I will be looking anyway to see if a pic is possible.

Sky Guy in the Atlantic

Monday, April 16, 2018

Another Close Asteroid Call

Hey Space Placers!

Read all about the close call we had by an asteroid this weekend that we discovered only hours before it flew by by just over 119,000 miles. This asteroid was 3 to 6 times larger than Chelyabinsk which hit Earth on 2/15/13.

Spaceweather.com in its 4/16/18 posting placed 2018 GE3 in the 48-110 meter range which makes it A Tunguska size asteroid - Tunguska wiped out 80 million trees over 800 square miles in Tunguska on 6/30/1908.

Once again we are reminded that space rocks are all around us and we need to step up our efforts to detect them and build a defense system.

Sky Guy in VA

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Enjoy This Video - Fly Through The Cosmic Web

Hey Space Placers!

Enjoy this video that takes you to the Cosmic Web - the structure of the network of galaxies in the Universe. Be sure to enjoy the fly through at 2:26!



Sky Guy in the Atlantic

Friday, April 13, 2018

Thursday, April 12, 2018

A LITTLE EARTH NEWS

Hey Space Placers!

Hello from the middle of the Atlantic.

Sorry I have been out of touch.

Learn a little about the Earth's outer atmosphere:



Be sure to check out my latest at sea pics on my Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Sky Guy Greg

Monday, April 2, 2018

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY 50TH & JUPITER MOON TONIGHT

Hey Space Placers!

50 years ago today, April 2, 1968, was the world premier of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey at the Hollywood Grauman's Chinese Theater.

I saw it at Grauman's and it was just incredible. It is my number 1 movie of all time. When I saw it in summer 1968 (school was out) I drove to Hollywood - my first time there. Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) was called in during the end of the movie due to some in the audience "tripping" on LSD, presumably caused by the sequence where Dave Bowman is being transported from Jupiter orbit to who knows where/when.

The sets used in '2001' are still unsurpassed. These were not computer generated - it was gorgeous paintings and spacecraft models. The view of the Earth from low earth orbit is easily surpassed today by movies such as 'Gravity' BUT NO ONE has captured the beauty and majesty of the Pan Am Clipper on final approach to the orbiting and rotating space station or the WONDER of the Moon's surface and the subsurface Moon base.



2001 is making a limited return to theaters in May 2018.

The National Air and Space Museum will have a special 2001 exhibit from April 8 - May 28, 2018.

 I am watching '2001' tonight on my Blu Ray. I will feel the longing to be on the Moon when I see the artistry and scenery depicted in the movie.

Jupiter figures prominently in the movie as well.

So tonight take a look in the SE at the Waning Gibbous Moon that is right above brilliant Jupiter around midnight. Think of the spaceship Discovery flying to Jupiter from Earth and encountering the monolith.........

See the movie. You'll be glad you did.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

GLOBAL ASTRONOMY MONTH STARTS TODAY

Hey Space Placers!

April 1-30 is Global Astronomy Month (GAM).


Credit: Astronomers Without Borders
Click on the link to get the very latest and find out if there is an event near you.

Of course I am MOST pleased that the main theme this year "centers on Earth's lone natural companion that has fascinated cultures around the world -- the Moon. Throughout Global Astronomy Month this year, the Moon will be celebrated with special series of programming that will be dedicated to helping people rediscover our closest companion in space."

I hope you read my last blog about NASA returning to the Moon. GAM 2018 is just another indicator that the Moon is becoming more and more central in our current plans for space AND astronomy 
outreach-education.


Sky Guy in VA

Friday, March 30, 2018

NASA PLANS TO RETURN TO THE MOON

Hey Space Placers!

Here is my story on the "Return to the Moon" Symposium.

Enjoy  these pics I took at the Symposium.


Acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot
Credit: Greg Redfern
Dr. Harrison Schmitt, Apollo 17 Lunar Module Pilot/Moonwalker and I

The Symposium left me with the belief that humanity, if we don't destroy ourselves, will indeed return to the Moon and STAY this time.

I hope I live to see it happen........

Grumman did it right
Lunar Excursion Module At the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum
Greg Redfern
Sky Guy in VA




Thursday, March 29, 2018

HUGE DISCOVERY

Hey Space Placers!

This new discovery of a galaxy that contains little or NO Dark Matter is so huge it puts my blog about yesterday's "Return to The Moon" conference in Washington, D.C. on hold.

Astronomers just announced yesterday that using an array of commercial 400mm telephoto lenses called Dragonfly they have found a galaxy called NGC 1052-DF2 that is the size of the Milky Way Galaxy (MWG), contains less than 0.5% of the stars in the MWG, and has little or no Dark Matter which is found in every other galaxy to date.

This galaxy is so sparse that when the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) photographed it distant background galaxies could be seen through it!

Hubble Views ‘Ghostly’ Galaxy Lacking Dark Matter
This large, fuzzy-looking galaxy is so diffuse that astronomers call it a “see-through” galaxy because they can clearly see distant galaxies behind it.
The ghostly object, catalogued as NGC 1052-DF2, doesn’t have a noticeable central region, or even spiral arms and a disk, typical features of a spiral galaxy. But it doesn’t look like an elliptical galaxy, either. Even its globular clusters are oddballs: they are twice as large as typical stellar groupings seen in other galaxies.
All of these oddities pale in comparison to the weirdest aspect of this galaxy: NGC 1052-DF2 is missing most, if not all, of its dark matter. An invisible substance that makes up the bulk of our universe, dark matter is the underlying scaffolding upon which galaxies are built. It’s the glue that holds the visible matter in galaxies — stars and gas — together.
The galaxy contains at most 1/400th the amount of dark matter that astronomers had expected. But how it formed is a complete mystery.
The galactic oddball is as large as our Milky Way, but it had escaped attention because it contains only 1/200th the number of stars as our galaxy. Given the object’s large size and faint appearance, astronomers classify NGC 1052-DF2 as an ultra-diffuse galaxy.
Based on the colors of its globular clusters, NGC 1052-DF2 is about 10 billion years old. It resides about 65 million light-years away.
The image was taken Nov. 16, 2017, by Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys.
Credits
NASAESA, and P. van Dokkum (Yale University)
The Dragonfly team has other candidate galaxies to explore which is important because other galaxies lacking Dark Matter need to be discovered to provide more examples/data for study. Dragonfly is uniquely equipped for making such discoveries because it can really detect faint objects better than large telescopes.

This discovery will force astronomers to rethink how galaxies form as NGC 1052-DF2  shows that DM isn't present in all galaxies as they once thought. It also shows that DM is real and not some type of gravitational interaction that allows galaxies to form mimicking DM. If that was true then NGC 1052-DF2 would have to be like very other galaxy.

As I have always said, "Stay tuned as the Universe always surprises us."

Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

JWST LAUNCH DELAYED

Hey Space Placers!


JWST Optical Telescope Element Completed
Greg Redfern
If you read my blog yesterday this is the follow on to it.

NASA held a media teleconference today in which I participated to discuss the status of the long awaited James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/webb/main/index.html  which had been slated for a launch in 2018 and then 2019  https://wtop.com/the-space-place/2016/11/james-webb-space-telescope-2-years-expected-launch/slide/1/ . It was announced today that NASA has now tentatively scheduled launch for May 2020.

Acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot stated, “Webb is the highest priority project for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD), and the largest international space science project in U.S. history. All the observatory’s flight hardware is now complete, however, the issues brought to light with the spacecraft element are prompting us to take the necessary steps to refocus our efforts on the completion of this ambitious and complex observatory.” 

JWST consists of two separate elements - the Optical Telescope Element (OTE)  and the spacecraft element which the OTE is attached to.

The OTE consists of the 6.5-meter telescope and its instruments. Over the years it was built, assembled and tested at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland before being completed last year. The OTE then underwent months of additional successful testing at NASA’s Johnson Space Flight Center, Houston, Texas. In early 2018 the OTE was flown by a C-5 aircraft to California for integration and testing with the spacecraft element.

The spacecraft that the OTE will be integrated with was built by primary contractor Northrop Grumman. It consists of a five layer sunshield the size of a tennis court to protect the OTE from heat of the Sun, Moon and Earth. The spacecraft also carries solar panels and batteries for power, radio communications and propulsion systems and the avionics/onboard computer system. The spacecraft will fly the OTE out to a gravitational point called L-2 one million miles from Earth where the telescope will operate just 40 degrees above Absolute Zero.

For the first time in the project’s history both elements are at the same facility in Redondo Beach, California for integration and testing. 

It was during the testing of the spacecraft element that several technical issues arose.

NASA said in a press release today https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-s-webb-observatory-requires-more-time-for-testing-and-evaluation-new-launch    that,“Testing the hardware on the observatory’s telescope element and spacecraft element demonstrate that these systems individually meet their requirements. However, recent findings from the project’s Standing Review Board (SRB) indicate more time is needed to test and integrate these components together and then perform environmental testing at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems in Redondo Beach, California, the project’s observatory contractor.

Because JWST, consisting of both integrated elements, has to be folded up in order to fit into the payload fairing of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Ariane-5 rocket, a complex deployment sequence has to take place in the proper order. Part of this sequence is the unfolding of the large sunshield. During testing of the sunshield’s folding process and subsequent deployment sequence it was found that tears developed and the sunshield’s tensioning cables had to be redesigned as the original design left too much slack. Additionally there were problems that developed with the spacecraft’s propulsion system, specifically thruster valve propellant leaks. A technical issue with transducers developed as well.

The discovery and fixing of these issues, the ongoing complex integration of the two JWST elements, plus the time needed for rigorous and thorough testing of the completed integration all led to the slipping of the launch date. 

Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, stated that,“We have a 70% confidence level for the May 2020 launch date. Rigorous testing is needed, we need to do it right on the ground and failure is not an option.  We want to get to a higher confidence level and will take no shortcuts.”

Besides the technical issues, JWST has a congressionally mandated spending cap of $8 billion dollars. Acting Administrator Lightfoot said, “NASA has spent $7.3 billion so far. If JWST needs more funding than the $8 billion, it will take a reauthorization from Congress.”

To determine more accurately the launch date and costs of JWST, today’s NASA press release stated, “NASA has established an external Independent Review Board (IRB), chaired by Thomas Young, a highly respected NASA and industry veteran who is often called on to chair advisory committees and analyze organizational and technical issues. The IRB findings, which will complement the SRB data, are expected to bolster confidence in NASA’s approach to completing the final integration and test phase of the mission, the launch campaign, commissioning, as well as the entire deployment sequence. Both boards’ findings and recommendations, as well as the project’s input, will be considered by NASA as it defines a more specific launch time frame. NASA will then provide its assessment in a report to Congress this summer.”

When I asked Dr. Zurbuchen what he thought was the most critical step going forward, he replied, “To learn how to make the changes to insure mission (JWST) success using lessons learned to get better, to do everything we could to insure mission success.”

JWST “mission success” will be a 10 year cycle of observations revealing what we have never seen in the Universe before - the first stars and galaxies forming, new discoveries in our own solar system and other planetary systems and most tantalizing, things we have not even imagined.


I will provide updates on JWST as they develop.

Sky Guy in VA