Thursday, January 31, 2019


Hey Space Placers!

I hope you got to see the wonderful sky scene this morning of Antares, Jupiter, the Waning Crescent Moon with Earthshine and brilliant Venus.

During Azamara Pursuit's transit to Ushuaia, Argentina this morning I photographed the following from 0320-0430 local time (2 hours ahead of EST).

Jupiter (upper left) with the Moon and Venus

Closeup of Earthshine Moon and Venus

Antares (far upper left), Jupiter, Moon and Venus

Jupiter, Moon, Venus and Ushuaia channel

Ushuaia Morning
Sky Guy at the end of the world

Wednesday, January 30, 2019


Hey Space Placers!

This morning and tomorrow morning before dawn the Waning Crescent Moon, brilliant Venus and Jupiter will be in the southeast an hour or more before dawn. Be sure to look for Earthshine on the Moon and use a window for a view if it is too cold.

I had to use a my stateroom window (bottom pic) and a window on deck 9 for these pics due to a raging storm at sea in the far south (51 deg latitude S) Atlantic Ocean this morning 3am local time.

Sky Guy in a storm at sea

Tuesday, January 29, 2019


Hey Space Placers!

A team from Japan has made an important discovery about our solar system.

Using small telescopes they have detected the missing link in planetary formation - smaller sized objects deep in the depths of the solar system. Predicted for 70 years they were finally found when they passed in front of distant stars blocking out their light in what astronomers call occultations.

Predicted for 70 years they were finally found.

Artist’s impression of the newly discovered object.
I am always amazed at how much we do not know about our own backyard, the solar system.

Many more discoveries await.....

Sky Guy Headed To Cape Horn

Friday, January 25, 2019


Hey Space Placers!

Amazing. More pictures and data will be coming in the months ahead.

Ultima Thule

Sky Guy in Montevideo

Tuesday, January 22, 2019


Hey Space Placers!

It is being reported that a meteoroid hit the Moon while it was totally eclipsed. Multiple reports from observers as well as photographic evidence seem to indicate that this was in fact a real impact.

The Moon is monitored during favorable lunar surface viewing conditions - when the Moon's phase has large areas not in sunlight- with telescopes and sensitive cameras to be on the lookout for such Lunar Transient Phenomena. There have been hundreds of impacts detected. These are small impacts and nothing that we could see with our eyes alone from Earth.

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) will be looking for this new crater as it has been very successful in finding new craters.

It is worth noting that the impact rate picks up during meteor showers which makes sense as Earth and the Moon are moving through large debris fields left by comets and an asteroid.

Of course Earth gets bombarded 24 hours a day like the Moon but our atmosphere vaporizes the incoming meteors. Occasionally something large enough to explode and produce meteorites gets through and grabs our attention.

Sky Guy in Buenos Aires

Monday, January 21, 2019


Hey Space Placers!

I hope you saw the Full Wolf Supermoon Total Lunar Eclipse last night.

I wanted to share with you my once in a lifetime experience seeing the eclipse underway on cruise ship Azamara Pursuit off the coast of Port Madryn, Argentina in the South Atlantic Ocean. Even though I have seen 5 total lunar eclipses at sea and at least a dozen more on land this was the best ever.

Why? Because in the over half century I have been observing and photographing total lunar eclipses this was the first time EVER that I had experienced the deep southern sky come into stunning viewing during totality. Cloudy weather on 1/31/18 aboard Azamara Journey prevented me seeing such a view off the coast of S. Australia in the Southern Ocean. Not so last night.

During totality our home galaxy, the Milky Way, spanned the ENTIRE SKY from port to starboard passing DIRECTLY overhead! The enchanting Southern Cross with its two bright guardian stars, Alpha and Beta Centaurus greeted us. We also saw the famous Magellanic Clouds, two dwarf galaxies flying through intergalactic space with the Milky Way. They appeared like spectral presences in the dark sky - the same way Ferdinand Magellan saw them in 1509.

Here is my pic from a previous voyage aboard Azamara Quest of what they look like deep down under the equator.

We had LOTS of lightning before the eclipse and the bridge monitored the weather as Azamara Pursuit was headed towards the storm.

We had several hundred guests on deck for the eclipse and Captain Carl Smith used his green laser pointer - bright like a Star Wars' laser saber (he could take on Darth Vader easily) - to point out navigational stars. As Captain Carl said today in his daily noon public announcement, "It was amazing to have over a hundred guests on deck after midnight when there was no food or drink".

We saw the ghostly penumbral shadow at about 0015 ship's time.

Then right on time the Earth's dark umbra shadow started to cover the Moon, showing that gravity still works in the solar system.

Totality was a full and glorious 62 minutes which allowed the stars to come out in stunning clarity and brightness as you can see in the stars near the Moon and upside down Orion (for those used to seeing the Hunter above the equator).

I will never forget the magic of seeing the Milky Way spanning the ENTIRE SKY horizon to horizon in a totally dark environment - less the occasional FLASH PHOTOGRAPH (grrrrrrr). As I commented, "Your flash photos are not strong enough to make it to the laser reflectors left on the Moon by the astronauts so please refrain from taking them". Well, that didn't work - LOL.

Some clouds kept the Moon company during totality off and on but overall it was a PERFECT event. Having been up for over 40 hours and flying 6,000 miles with a 3 hour nap AND having to give a lecture on the Moon at 10 a.m., I hung it up at 3 a.m. after totality ended.

Once last comment.

As totality enveloped us and the stars came out in the deep lunar glow and accompanying darkness in an almost primal fashion, I asked the guests to focus on the sound of Azamara Pursuit through the water. The sound of the waves graced our ears to accompany the surreal sky view we were privileged to witness.

Magical, indeed.

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, January 16, 2019


Hey Space Placers!

Take a peek in the SE sky at 5 am the next few mornings to see SPECTACULAR Venus and Jupiter pairing.

They will be getting closer to one another and be closest on the morning of 1/22/19. Venus will be the brighter of the two.

I'm hoping to be posting pictures of this this weekend.

Sky Guy in VA


Hey Space Placers!

If you read my blog yesterday - 1/15/19 - regarding NASA being effectively shut down over a political stunt contrast that to China's Chang'e 4 Moon mission.

There is life on the Moon in the form of cotton seedlings!

Cotton plants have been seen budding and growing, as shown by this close-up of the plants sprouting under a protective cover on the Chang’e 4 lunar lander .CLEP  via Astronomy Magazine
Pretty Amazing!

Sky Guy in VA


Sunday, January 13, 2019


Hey Space Placers!

Interesting article about China and the new space race.

I wrote about this in March of last year .

While the US contends with the longest federal government shutdown in the Nation's history - NASA is essentially shut down - China is exploring the far side of the Moon.

The American people had better wake up and demand their elected members of Congress to their jobs  instead of putting politics over country.

China's Communist Party is focused, financially supported and moving ahead in space.

America needs to do the same.

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, January 11, 2019


Hey Space Placers!

I can look at this all day......the landing video of China's Chang'e 4 far side lunar lander.

I look forward to seeing more Chang'e 4 videos from China National Space Administration.

I also look forward to see other Nations' lunar landing video - India's Chandrayaan 2 possibly at the end of January 2019 and China's - Chang'e 5 in late 2019. There are also four PRIVATE companies attempting Moon landings. 

Per Sky and Telescope:

  • SpaceIL: This Israeli-based company plans to launch its Beresheet lunar lander (named for the first Hebrew word in the Book of Genesis) on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on February 13, 2019. The spacecraft will take about two and a half months to reach the Moon, through a slow cycle of elliptical raising orbits.
  • ALINA: Germany's Autonomous Landing and Navigation module (ALINA) could bring two Audi lunar quattro rovers near the Apollo 17 Taurus-Littrow landing site in 2019. ALINA is operated by the Part-Time Scientists, and the company is working to secure a launch contract with SpaceX.
  • Moon Express: The sole remaining U.S. entry in the Google Lunar X prize competition, Moon Express still intends to field two missions in 2019: the MX-1E lander and the Lunar Outpost MX-3 lander. The company plans to launch these missions on Rocket Lab's Electron rocket, which carried out several successful launches from the company's Mahia New Zealand launch complex in 2018. MX-1E will carry a small optical telescope, a laser retro-reflector, and a Celestis memorial container.
  • Team Indus: Headquartered in Bangalore, India, this company is also looking to secure a launch contract in 2019. Two other teams, Synergy Moon and Hakuto, are looking to piggyback with Team Indus.
Looks good for space missions in 2019. 

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, January 10, 2019


Hey Space Placers!

Been a LOT of astronomical news coming out of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) meeting in Seattle this week.

Read this amazing story about a supermassive black hole in the Cygnus A Galaxy that has a ricocheting jet blasting from a giant black hole has been captured by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory.

We are living in a golden age of discovery about our Universe, galaxy and solar system. With more spacecraft missions to the Moon and solar system, space based telescopes, and monster ground based telescopes it is only going to get better.

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, January 9, 2019


Hey Space Placers!

Bad news about Hubble Space Telescope (HST).

The primary camera, Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3, is broken and not working.

Worse yet, NASA cannot pull in the people necessary to try and fix it because of the stupid partial government shut down.

The problem is that NASA Goddard, where many of HST's expert work, is closed.

We'll have to see what happens.......

Sky Guy Greg

Tuesday, January 8, 2019


Hey Space Placers!

We continue to learn more about our solar system almost every single night.

Here is the latest binary asteroid .

Range-Doppler radar images of near-Earth asteroid 2016 AZ8 with range resolution (vertical axis) of 7.5 m/pixel and Doppler frequency resolution (horizontal axis) of 0.03 Hz where (left) is the sequence of images over the almost 40 min of data and (right) is the first frame, obtained over about 3 min.

Pretty amazing what we can see with radar on these worlds.

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, January 7, 2019


Hey Space Placers!

Happy 2019.

Back from being sick and the holidays.

Check out this INCREDIBLE video of the nearby Triangulum Galaxy (M-33) released today by the SPACE TELESCOPE SCIENCE INSTITUTE  using Hubble Space Telescope (HST) images:

Be sure to read the story about the 665 MB picture taken by HST.

Triangulum Galaxy Shows Stunning Face in Detailed Hubble Portrait
Release type: American Astronomical Society Meeting

For comparison here is my astrophoto of M-33 taken with my 10-inch telescope and DSLR:

Local Group Galaxy M-33 in a 10-inch Telescope and DSLR
Credit: Greg Redfern

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, January 3, 2019


Hey Space Placers!

China successfully landed on the far side of the Moon hours before midnight East Coast time.

Here is the first picture from the lander on the far side of the Moon:


Here is an excellent video about the mission:

Twitter is reporting that the Yutu 2 rover has deployed also.

2019 will be a year of planned lunar missions by Israel, India and China.

Meanwhile NASA remains furloughed over a Wall......

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, January 2, 2019


Hey Space Placers!


Latest images from New Horizon spacecraft (screen shot from press conference 1/2/19):

The first clear image of the object nicknamed Ultima Thule, beamed back after the New Horizons spacecraft's flyby on Jan. 1.CreditCreditJHUAPL/NAS

The first color image of Ultima Thule, taken at a distance of 85,000 miles (137,000 kilometers) at 4:08 Universal Time on January 1, 2019, highlights its reddish surface. At left is an enhanced color image taken by the Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC), produced by combining the near infrared, red and blue channels. The center image taken by the Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) has a higher spatial resolution than MVIC by approximately a factor of five. At right, the color has been overlaid onto the LORRI image to show the color uniformity of the Ultima and Thule lobes. Note the reduced red coloring at the neck of the object.  Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

The BEST is yet to come as these pics were taken BEFORE closest approach. There will be hundreds of pics and data that will take until 9/20 to download back to Earth.

The amazing thing to realize is that we are looking at a primitive solar system body that in all probability has not been changed since it took this form. This could be the way the solar system formed planets by ever larger bodies colliding to build ever larger bodies.

Ultima Thule is a contact binary where it appears that two smaller bodies joined together.

The color is also reminiscent of the color of Pluto's biggest moon Charon at its North Pole.

ULTIMA THULE rotates about once in 15 hours and its pole is almost directly pointed at Earth.

This is just amazing and will add so much to our knowledge of the solar system and planet formation.

Sky Guy in VA 

Tuesday, January 1, 2019


Hey Space Placers!

Ultima Thule Rotation
This sequence of three images, received on Dec. 31, 2018, and taken by the LORRI camera onboard New Horizons at 70 and 85 minutes apart illustrates the rotation of Ultima Thule.  

Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institu
New Horizons phoned home today to indicate it had successfully executed its flyby of Ultima Thule as planned.

Next up will be the receipt of data and pictures over the next two years.

Sky Guy in VA