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

Monday, March 26, 2018

NASA JWST MEDIA TELECONFERENCE

Hey Space Placers!

NASA to hold media teleconference tomorrow on James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).

JWST Optical Telescope Element at NASA Goddard
Credit: Greg Redfern
I'll let you know what takes place. My guess is a delay in launch.

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, March 22, 2018

THREE WAY GALACTIC TUG OF WAR

Hey Space Placers!

 Here's a fascinating article about the 3 way tug of war going on between the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (LMC, SMC) which can be seen in the Southern Hemisphere and our very own Milky Way Galaxy (MWG).

LMC & SMC and Achenar
Taken by Greg Redfern Underway On Oceania
LMC and SMC orbit our MWG and all 3 are undergoing gravitational interactions, some of which result in the Magellanic Stream and Leading Arm which can be seen in the following photo:

Caption From NASA:
This is a photo mosaic of an edge-on view of the Milky Way galaxy, looking toward the central bulge. Superimposed on it are radio-telescope images, colored pink, of the stretched, arc-shaped Magellanic Stream below the plane of the galaxy and the shredded, fragmented Leading Arm crossing the galaxy’s plane and extending above it. These gas clouds are being gravitationally pulled apart like taffy from the Small and Large Magellanic Clouds—satellite galaxies to our Milky Way—which appear as bright clumps within the gas. 
The source of the ribbon-like Magellanic Stream was uncovered by the Hubble Space Telescope about five years ago, and it was found to come from both Magellanic Clouds. However, the source of the Leading Arm remained a mystery until today. Now, scientists have used Hubble’s ultraviolet vision to chemically analyze the gas in the Leading Arm and determine its origin. Because they could not directly sample it, they instead used the light from seven quasars—the bright cores of active galaxies—to measure how it filtered through the Leading Arm’s gas. These quasars reside billions of light-years beyond the Leading Arm and act as “lighthouses” shining through the gas.
Scientists looked for the absorption of the quasars’ ultraviolet light by oxygen in the cloud. This is a good indication of how many heavier elements reside in the Leading Arm’s gas. The team then compared Hubble’s measurements to hydrogen measurements made by the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope in Green Bank, West Virginia, as well as several other radio telescopes. 
Marked locations indicate the three brightest of the seven quasars used to study the composition of the Leading Arm. Spectra for these three quasars are superimposed at the bottom of the graphic. The vertical axis of each spectrum indicates how much absorption is taking place. The more absorption, the greater the signal strength is. The horizontal axes indicate the velocities of the gas at different points. Blue boxes isolate the velocities unique to the Leading Arm.
The oxygen, combined with the hydrogen, provided conclusive chemical “fingerprints” to match the origin of the Leading Arm’s gas. The team found that the gas matches the contents of the Small Magellanic Cloud. 
Credits
Illustration: D. Nidever et al., NRAO/AUI/NSF and A. Mellinger, Leiden-Argentine-Bonn (LAB) Survey, Parkes Observatory, Westerbork Observatory, Arecibo Observatory, and A. Feild (STScI)
Science: NASAESA, and A. Fox (STScI)

CAPTION END
It is amazing to think that gas from the SMC will possibly provide the MWG the raw material needed  to form new stars and solar systems far into the future.

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Moon Beckons Us

Hey Space Placers!

Back from sea and just in time to go from 89+F to 6+" of snow......love it.

Watch this video, it will only take a few minutes but will bring a smile to your face I am sure:




If you are a long time follower - my thanks to you - you know the Moon is my fave place in the Universe and I truly love our planet's companion.

As the video shows and Phil Plait writes, the Moon is a great unifier for us all - if we ONLY look. Whether it is with our eyes, binoculars or in a telescope, the Moon captures us when we look. I too have seen the light of the Moon going into the pupil of a human looking through my telescope and heard the exclamations that erupt forth.....they are music to my ears.

Take a look at the Moon for yourself.....enjoy the moment.....you'll be glad you did.

Sky Guy in VA

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Sky Guy Viewing ALERT!!! MOON, MERCURY, VENUS AFTER SUNSET 3/18/18

Hey Space Placers!

Find a good clear view of the Western horizon as tonight the THIN Waxing Crescent Moon will be going Mercury and Venus in the sky after sunset. 

The planetary duo, Venus being the brighter of the two, has graced our skies for the past few weeks as you can see in this pic I took aboard Azamara Quest underway off the NW coast of Cuba a few days ago:

Venus, lower left, and Mercury grace the Western sky after sunset
off the NW coast of Cuba
Taken underway on Azamara Quest
Greg Redfern

The key to seeing this trio is going out about a half hour after sunset and looking due West. If you have binoculars that will help. Venus and Mercury will be in the same field of view. The Moon will be to the lower left of Venus. You may even be able to see Earthshine on the Moon - the ghostly light that is from the reflection of sunlight off our planet's oceans and clouds that illuminates the dark of the Moon.

The Moon will move to the upper left in the next few days and will be easier to see with some Earthshine as well.

I'll be underway on Azamara Quest enroute to Miami so I'm hoping to get a great pic which of course I'll share.

Good luck and clear skies!

Sky Guy Greg

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Stephen Hawking Dies

Hey Space Placers!

Sad day as Dr. Stephen Hawking is dead at 76.

Read the Washington Post news story about his life.

The world will miss his intellect and wit.

Sky Guy in Cienfuegos, Cuba

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

NEW THEORY ON DOUBLE LOBED COMETS

Hey Space Placers!

There's a new theory out about how double lobed comets are formed.

Check out the video:



This video shows modelling of how a high-speed collision between two objects could have resulted in the comet 67p/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.
ESA/ROSETTA/NAVCAM - CC BY-SA IGO 3.0



Sky Guy in Santiago de Cuba

Saturday, March 10, 2018

VIEWING ALERT: Mercury Venus at Sunset; Saturn, Mars, Moon, Jupiter before Dawn

Hey Space Placers!

Underway on Azamara Quest to Haiti and Cuba.

Venus and Mercury are in the West after sunset and will be getting easier to see each night.


Credit:
www.EarthSky.org

https://twitter.com/SkyGuyinVA/status/972427568908554240

The Zodiacal Light is in the West also about 90 minutes after sunset from a dark sky sight and should be visible for another week or so.

Zodiacal Light at Sea
Greg Redfern

Mercury will be getting higher until after mid-month when it will start to descend into the Sun's glare. This is the BEST view of Mercury for Northern Hemisphere observers this year so make sure you get out to see the planet closest to the Sun.

Venus will keep getting higher and brighter and will dominate the western sky for month's to come.

In the Southeast before dawn the Moon, Saturn, Mars and Jupiter, along with the Milky Way will be a beautiful view for the next few days. Once the Moon moves out of the scene it WILL REALLY be something as the Milky Way will dominate the view with the planets on full display.

This pic was taken this morning on Azamara Quest with 30+ knot winds. The image was defocused a bit to highlight the colors and seaspray is on the lens filter.


SkyGuy at Sea Aboard Azamara Quest


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

SEND YOUR NAME TO THE SUN

Hey Space Placers!

Just about every mission NASA sends into the solar system carries along the names of Earthlings.

I have sent my name on every mission that has offered to do so and I have carried on that tradition with NASA's Parker Solar Probe.



Hey, if Captain Kirk and Sky Guy in VA have signed up, shouldn't you?????? Sign up the whole family!



Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

MOON'S BIRTH: NEWEST THEORY

Hey Space Placers!

The Earth-Moon Synestia Visualization
 Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
As promised yesterday here is the newest theory on how the Moon formed. 

Previously the leading theory was that the Moon formed as the result of a Mars-sized object called Theia impacting the Earth.

In this new theory the Earth has been vaporized due to a huge impact forming a Synestia - a hypothesized structure that forms - and the Moon emerges shortly afterwards followed by the Earth reforming.

This is a very intriguing, and to me, very plausible theory. More computer modeling and analysis of the Apollo lunar samples, including hopefully a new sample box - see yesterday's blog - will provide further refinement, and maybe, just maybe, a way to confirm how Luna came to be.

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, March 5, 2018

UNOPENED APOLLO LUNAR SAMPLES

Hey Space Placers!

I have had some posts recently on the Moon so here is one more (with another to follow tomorrow ;-))

I hope NASA opens at least one of the sample boxes as we have come a LONG way in our ability to analyze lunar samples as the article describes. Wow, NEW lunar findings from pristine samples. It would be like a whole new lunar mission.

I'll be on the look out for updates on this story and hope to visit the Astromaterials Curation Center myself later this year.

Sky Guy in VA

Sunday, March 4, 2018

SKYGUY VIEWING ALERT!! VENUS & MERCURY PLUS ZODIACAL LIGHT

Hey Space Placers!

As March progresses make an effort to watch the movements of Mercury and Venus in the Western sky this month.

I got this pic on 8/3/18 when the two were at their closest to one another. Venus is on the left and always the brighter of the two.

Venus (L) and Mercury in the West after sunset
Greg Redfern
For the next two weeks the planetary pair will rise higher in the West making them easier to see and on the 18th the Waxing Crescent Moon will join them to make a nice view.

To see them find a Western horizon clear of obstructions, and go outside about 20 minutes after sunset. Look to the left of where the Sun set, or to the left go the bright horizon glow of the set Sun. If you have binoculars this will help too although they will be visible to the unaided eye as the month progresses.

Venus and Mercury will change their positions in the sky due to their respective orbits around the Sun as well as that of our own planet. It is viewing opportunities like this that show us that we live in a dynamic solar system where constant motion is the name of the game.

Venus will remain visible and resplendent in the Western sky for the most part of 2018. Mercury will move from the evening to morning sky later this month.

ZODIACAL LIGHT
While looking West after sunset if you have a dark sky site look for the Zodiacal Light as it gets dark now that the Moon rises later each night. This will be visible as a pyramid shaped band of dim light that is tilted to the left in the sky from the horizon.

Zodiacal Light At Sea
Greg Redfern
We see it due to the reflection of sunlight off of the countless particles of interplanetary dust. The best time to look is when it just gets dark, about 80 or so minutes after sunset.

For my southern hemisphere Space Placers it will be visible in the East before sunrise but you have to wait a few days for the Moon to be less bright.

Enjoy your time outdoors looking at the sky as we get nearer and near to the Vernal Equinox.

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, March 1, 2018

HAPPY METEOROLOGICAL SPRING

Hey Space Placers!

Get the scoop about March 1st AND the planets...FIVE OF 'EM are coming to a sky near you.

2018 will be a grand time for the planets as Venus returns to the evening sky with Mercury no less and Mars takes center stage this summer.

Enjoy!

Sky Gy Greg

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

LUNAR ORBIT PLATFORM GATEWAY

Hey Space Placers!

Orion Spacecraft Approaching the Lunar Orbit Platform Gateway
NASA
I recently blogged about NASA's returning humans to the Moon and wanted to follow up with providing you this informative article about the Lunar Orbit Platform Gateway.

The most important part of the article is that the Gateway is part of NASA's budget. Things do not happen unless they are budgeted. The Gateway is such a  logical and critical element for what NASA does next in terms of its human spaceflight program. It incorporates new propulsion technology,  gives us continued access to the Moon and prepares us for beyond Low Earth Operations.

The lunar future seems bright, especially when you add in all of the other space faring nations' plans for the Moon.

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, February 26, 2018

EXPANSION OF THE UNIVERSE 101

Hey Space Placers!

Hubble Ultra Deep Field 2014
NASA

You may not know it, but we experience ALL kinds of motions here on our planet, the solar system, our galaxy, our local supercluster of galaxies and the Universe.

But so far the supreme motion that we currently know of is the expansion of our Universe. This is science fact because astronomers can directly measure this expansion and have done so since the 20th century. We have also discovered that not only is the Universe expanding but it is ACCELERATING in its expansion.

We know a lot but there is much more that we do not know at present. All of this adds up to a 'Holy Grail' in astronomy that astronomers are striving hard to unravel and understand. When they do it will greatly expand (forgive the pun) our knowledge of the Universe.

Here are two GREAT articles to help YOU understand what this is all about:

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2018/improved-hubble-yardstick-gives-fresh-evidence-for-new-physics-in-the-universe

http://www.syfy.com/syfywire/how-fast-is-the-universe-expanding-the-answer-depends-on-how-you-measure-it-and-thats-a

Sky Guy in VA

Sunday, February 25, 2018

5,000 SOLS & COUNTING

Hey Space Placers!

How do your cars hold up? Do you get a new one every year with a lease or are you like me, keeping a car for years and years.

How would you feel about a vehicle that was warrantied for 90 days by its manufacturer but lasted you over FIVE THOUSAND DAYS?! Oh, and this is not on vehicle friendly Earth but Mars.

NASA's intrepid rover Opportunity just recently passed the 5,000 Sol (Martian day) mark. Its twin, Spirit, died years ago when it got stuck in sand and couldn't get sufficient solar power to stay alive.

NASA

Opportunity continues to make discoveries on Mars and who knows how long it will keep on ticking. 

Solar powered Opportunity has company on Mars as nuclear powered Curiosity roams the interior of Gale Crater and Mount Sharp. 

Next up for Mars is InSight which is scheduled for launch this May and will study the interior of Mars.

Mars will be on our minds this year as the Red Planet will be at its closes since 2003 and dominate the night skies this summer.

Looking forward to it.

Sky Guy in VA

Saturday, February 24, 2018

JAMES WEBB SPACE TELESCOPE BECOMING A REALITY

Hey Space Placers!

Completed Telescope On Display At NASA Goddard
Greg Redfern

JWST is becoming a reality. It is undergoing assembly of the telescope to the spacecraft at Northrop Grumman facilities in Redondo Beach, CA - which I plan to visit this year.

And the astronomical community is gearing up on what to do with the telescope when it becomes operational.

Every day we are closer to the reality of JWST......

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

NASA TO RETURN HUMANS TO THE MOON

Hey Space Placers!

Sorry for the dearth of blogs these past 6 days but I have been really busy taking care of a lot of things since getting back from cruise especially since I have another coming up.

BIG NEWS yesterday is Acting NASA Administrator Lightfoot announcing that NASA will return humans to the lunar surface in the latter part of the 2020's. This conforms to the policy set forth by the current Administration to go to the Moon 1st and then Mars.

Earth's Moon
Greg Redfern
I have always felt that the Moon is the pathway to our human exploration of the solar system as it is such a natural extension for us here on Earth.

The Moon is 3 days away and has resources we can use there as well as here on Earth.

NASA working with commercial partners and other space faring nations in getting to the Moon will help speed the process along as well as make it more lasting this time around.

I just hope I live to see it......

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Chelyabinsk Bolide 5th Anniversary

Hey Space Placers!

Artist's Illustration of Chelyabinsk Bolide
NASA
Interior of Chelyabinsk Meteorite

5 years ago today was the Chelyabinsk Bolide.

It will happen again.

Sky Guy in VA


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy Valentine's Day From Pluto/NASA/Voyager 1

Hey Space Placers!

NASA 360

Also on this date in 1990 Voyager 1 took a pic of Earth - the famous "Pale Blue Dot" photo.

Get more space based Valentine Day greetings from NASA here.

May this be a day of peace and love for you and yours.......

Sky Guy <3 greg="" in="" p="" va="">

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

WHOA>>>>PIECE OF MARS GOING TO, WELL, MARS!!!!!!

Hey Space Placers!

Rohit Bhartia of NASA's Mars 2020 mission holds a slice of a meteorite scientists have determined came from Mars. This slice will likely be used here on Earth for testing a laser instrument for NASA's Mars 2020 rover.
Martian Meteorite SAU 0008 To Return Home
NASA-JPL
Is this cool or what?

NASA's Mars 2020 Rover is going to take a piece of Mars - a slice of a Martian Meteorite called SAU 0008 - BACK TO MARS!

This is a space first as we have pieces of the asteroid belt, the Moon and Mars in the 57,395 catalogued meteorites (space rocks) that have been found on Earth as of Feb. 9, 2018. Oh, and we have discovered FIVE meteorites on MARS using our rovers on the Red Planet.

The returned Mars space rock will be used to help calibrate the laser on the Mars Rover 2020 and help it prepare for examining other Mars rocks.

What a mission!

Sky Guy in VA




Sunday, February 11, 2018

Tesla Starman

Hey Space Placers!

In case you haven't seen the video yet, here it is of Elon Musk's 2008 Red (I call it Mars Red) Tesla Roadster with Starman the Mannequin in space! The views of Earth are lovely and it is just so, well, SCI-FI!



Here is a great background article from the good folks at Earth-Sky on where Starman is headed.

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, February 9, 2018

AstrOlympics

Hey Space Placers!

Home from 18 days at sea and I sorry that I could not blog on ship :-(

Jet lagged as I am BACK......

Check out this UBER-COOL website from NASA that has science concepts related to the Olympic winter sports.....I mean this is REALLY cool and a great reference for students, teachers and the general public.

Girl Ice Skating
NASA

Sky Guy BACK in VA







Friday, January 19, 2018

Sunday, January 14, 2018

THE ORIGINAL 'COSMOS' SERIES IS AVAILABLE FREE ONLINE

Hey Space Placers!

Carl Sagan's original 1980 'Cosmos' series is available for a limited time free online via Open Culture.




It has been announced that there will be a second season of Cosmos with Neil deGrasse Tyson in 2019.

You owe it to yourself to see the original....listening to Carl is an experience anyone who loves the stars and space should experience.

I still miss him.....

Sky Guy in VA

Saturday, January 13, 2018

FLY THROUGH THE ORION NEBULA

Hey Space Placers!

Well, the AAS meeting - see my last blog - was quite amazing. I have more to share and will be headed back to sea for 18 days - Bali to Australia. Oh, I will get to see the 1/31/18 Total Lunar Eclipse off the coast of Australia...PICTURES!!!!!!

Fly through the stunning Orion Nebula via this amazing NASA video. You can see the nebula as a fuzzy area under the belt of Orion in the sword. Binoculars really bring out more detail.



Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

231st Meeting of the American Astronomical Society

Hey Space Placers!

I am here at the 231st Meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS). Every January AAS holds what has been described as the Super Bowl of astronomy here at the National Harbor Convention Center.

Astronomers from around the world by the thousands gather to present research papers, lectures and mingle with their colleagues face to face and usually over some kind of beverage ;-)

I'll be sending out Tweets @SkyGuyInVA and posting blogs for the next three days.

My big event is on Friday when I get to tour the Space Telescope Science Institute where Hubble Space Telescope (HST) is operated and the future operations center for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).

Stay tuned.....

Sky Guy in MD

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Sun in 2017

Hey Space Placers!

If you have been in the deep freeze the past couple of weeks like I have then you will appreciate this story about the Sun, which ultimately powers all of our weather.

This shows our Sun for each day in 2017. Very cool to see the changing face of our star each day.

The Sun in 2017
Credit: ESA/Royal Observatory of Belgium
Downloading the image really helps to see the detail for each day. We are in solar minimum now and the Sun will become more active as time goes on. I plan to view more of the Sun in 2018 now that I have a Hydrogen Alpha filter unit to use on my telescope.

Sky Guy in FROZEN VA

Friday, January 5, 2018

UPDATE PICS: SKY GUY VIEWING ALERT!!! MARS & JUPITER THIS WEEKEND

Hey Space Placers!

UPDATE: 1/7/18 Pics:

DS8g1hmW0AAWJoD.jpg:thumb

Two Jupiter moons are visible as is Mars. Galileo discovered the 4 main moons
OTD in 1610
Greg Redfern


UPDATE: 1/6/18 Pics


Bright Jupiter and red Mars will be closest 1/7/18
Greg Redfern

Clear & cold but the solar system still moves on......

This weekend the planets Mars and Jupiter move close together, peaking in the predawn hours of January 7th, when they will be about a quarter of a degree apart and in conjunction.

Jupiter is very bright in the SE with reddish and dimmer Mars very close. Binoculars will enhance the view nicely and show the four main moons of Jupiter.

Mercury and Saturn MAY be visible very low in the SE  45 minutes before sunrise if observers have a flat and clear horizon for their viewing location. Mercury will be higher and brighter than Saturn.

Here is the celestial scene made with Simulation Curriculum Corporation's Sky Safari Plus 5.0


2018 will see the closest approach of Mars to Earth since 2003 and it will dominate our evening skies this summer - ahhhhhhhh, summer.

I will forward pics if I get any worthy of your review ;-)

Sky Guy in FROZEN VA


Wednesday, January 3, 2018

NASA VIEWS PLANET EARTH

Hey Space Placers!

Here is a nifty video from NASA that takes a look at our home planet from space as seen by a variety of missions.



These views show our world as a planet in space. We have no where else to go and the way we are treating our planet does not bode well for us. Climate change is real and here to stay and will get worse unless we act as a unified force. We are seeing the effects already.

I hope 2018 is a year in which we make great strides to protect our planet and ALL living creatures on it.

Sky Guy in FROZEN VA

Monday, January 1, 2018

UPDATED Sky Guy Viewing ALERT! NEW YEAR SUPERMOON 1/1/17

Hey Space Placers!

Happy New Year to you and yours!

The last Supermoon was December 3, 2017 which I photographed at sea in the Atlantic:



Tonight at sunset the glorious Moon is going to rise and will be a Full Wolf Supermoon at 9:24 p.m. EST.

Full details are here.

I hope to post pics later tonight.

PERIGEE MOON



FULL WOLF SUPERMOON




Sky Guy in FRIGID VA