Sunday, March 31, 2019

International Dark Sky Week 2019

Hey Space Placers!

I hope you had a good Earth Hour event last night. We did onboard Azamara Pursuit! Pretty brisk wind & cooler temps with passing sprinkles and clouds BUT we saw Polaris and the Southern Cross on each side of the ship......THAT does not happen often!


DARKEN SHIP!
UNKNOWN 
We can keep the fight against wasted energy and light pollution going with the celebration of

International Dark Sky Week 2019 which starts today and runs through April 7th.


Visit the web site and see if there are any events in your area and see what you can do to help combat light pollution.

Sky Guy in the Atlantic off the coast of Africa

Saturday, March 30, 2019

DINOSAUR'S ACTUAL DAY OF DEATH FOUND?

Hey Space Placers!

This is an absolutely incredible scientific find - fossils and tektites from the actual day, if not the HOUR,  the dinosaurs died has been found in a layer of soil in a place called appropriately Hell Creek, North Dakota.


A meteor impact 66 million years ago generated a tsunami-like wave in an inland sea that killed and buried fish, mammals, insects and a dinosaur, the first victims of Earth’s last mass extinction event. The death scene from within an hour of the impact has been excavated at an unprecedented fossil site in North Dakota.
(Graphics and photos courtesy of Robert DePalma)
From UC Berkeley News


Here are three stories to read:

Washington Post

New Yorker - An in-depth and EXCELLENT article

UC Berkeley News

The claims and evidence from Hell Creek will have to be scrutinized and verified by other scientists before it can be judged as verified. But I have to say that it certainly appears to be an incredible find.

Sky Guy in Cape Verde


EARTH HOUR TONIGHT WORLDWIDE

Hey Space Placers!

Tonight worldwide is Earth Hour - when we turn off the lights outdoors for one hour at 8:30 p.m. local time.



Join the world in this hour about the Earth. On Azamara Pursuit we are turning off all topside lights for one hour and will have a stargazing session. I will tell guests and crew about our planet, the stars and the Universe they are a part of.

Turn off the lights, see the sky and think about our home planet and all life that resides on it.

Sky Guy in Cape Verde

Friday, March 29, 2019

WHAT A PRETTY COMET! OH, WAIT, THAT'S AN ASTEROID

Hey Space Placers!

Comet or asteroid?

Hubble image of asteroid (6478) Gault
This Hubble Space Telescope image reveals the gradual self-destruction of an asteroid, whose ejected dusty material has formed two long, thin, comet-like tails. The longer tail stretches more than 500,000 miles (800,000 kilometers) and is roughly 3,000 miles (4,800 kilometers) wide. The shorter tail is about a quarter as long. The streamers will eventually disperse into space.
Credits: NASA, ESA, K. Meech and J. Kleyna (University of Hawaii), and O. Hainaut (European Southern Observatory)
If we saw this in the sky odds are we would all think it is a comet and its tail.

But that is not the case.....it is an asteroid in the process of gradual self-destruction!

Read the story behind the stunning image.

All of that debris will become part of the dust in the solar system that I blogged about yesterday,

Sky Guy in the Atlantic

Thursday, March 28, 2019

DUST EVERYWHERE

Hey Space Placers!

Dust is EVERYWHERE! You may have thought it was only something you have to contend with in your home, car, everywhere. But dust abounds in the Universe.

Read this exciting story about dust rings that surround Earth, Venus and now Mercury. Astronomers think there may even be undiscovered asteroids responsible for these dust rings - WOW!

Dust rings in the inner solar system
Image credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Mary Pat Hrybyk-Keith

The prevailing theory as to how planets form involves dust and far larger solid fragments that form rings around new born stars. These rings are thought to eventually coalesce into protoplanets and finally planets over time.

A new discovery of just that happening was announced with an accompanying photograph.

Fuzzy concentric rings, the inner one more distinct and brighter, around an orange dot.
From EarthSky.org
ALMA image of the dusty disk around the young star DM Tau. You can see 2 concentric rings, where planets may be forming. Image via ALMA.

With over 4000 planets beyond our solar system having been discovered to date, this is a routine byproduct of stellar birth. It is estimated that a few TRILLION planets orbit the hundreds of BILLIONS of stars in our galaxy alone. Astronomers are discovering more exoplanets almost weekly.

Sky Guy Crossing the Atlantic

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

ASTRONAUTS ON THE MOON IN FIVE YEARS SO SAYS ADMINISTRATION

Hey Space Placers!

Read this story about the announcement from the Administration to land astronauts on the Moon in five years.

Here's my two cents worth on this.

No buck$, no Buck Roger$.

Unless this Administration does more than talk a good game this is as meaningless as Bush's speech in 2004 announcing the Constellation Program.

Remember the push for Apollo and the Space Shuttle to "go, go, go"? Safety essentially went out the window and we got the Apollo 1 and  Challenger disasters as a result.

Until REAL money is added to NASA's budget this is political theater.

I can assure you China is on track for the Moon to include landing Taikonauts. Russia is way behind with no proven rocket or crew-rated spacecraft or lander cut from metal.

I know it is not favored by some but the Lunar Gateway makes a LOT of sense for protracted and wide ranging lunar orbital and surface missions.


Show me the money......until then this is just another sorry chapter of grand promises spoken but never kept.


Sky Guy in the Atlantic

Monday, March 25, 2019

RETURN TO THE MOON POLITICS

Hey Space Placers!

I'm no fan of politics in our space program but it is central to it.

Here is a GEAT article by Marcia Smith on what is currently going on politically with America's "Return to the Moon". You should follow her on FB and Twitter

Sky Guy in Recife, Brazil

Sunday, March 24, 2019

BECOME A CITIZEN SCIENTIST

Hey Space Placers!

Here is the latest opportunity for you to contribute to science.

As described in the press release, "AstroQuest—researchers are looking for volunteers to study images of galaxies and figure out which light is coming from which galaxy. AstroQuest is a chance for anyone who’s interested in astronomy to be involved in one of the biggest scientific projects of the next ten years, astrophysicist Dr Luke Davies, from the University of Western Australia node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), said.

“You can essentially be at the forefront of scientific research and help out a huge million-dollar international project just by being at your computer and drawing over pictures of galaxies,” he said."

If you have wanted to do something to contribute to science, this is your latest opportunity.
There are other citizen science projects that you can become involved in at https://www.zooniverse.org.

Here's hoping you will consider helping science.....

Sky Guy in the Atlantic


Saturday, March 23, 2019

BOEING PUSHES BACK STARLINER LAUNCH & LATEST ON SLS

Hey Space Placers!

More bad news for Boeing.

Boeing is pushing back the maiden launch of an uncrewed Starliner from April to at least August.

Top notch reporting by the Washington Post gives us the inside scoop on Boeing issues with the Space Launch System (SLS)    and     this additional article on the Starliner.

What I find to be most interesting is how the pressure being applied to NASA and its contractors is centered on political purposes surrounding the 2020 election. a LOT of the Nation's problems in its exploration of space have come from political sources. But NASA's greatest accomplishment of landing on the Moon was a purely political one as well.

Maybe someday NASA will be given a budget free of politics, one legislatively defined as a certain percentage of the federal budget. Such a defined budget would really go along way in improving the timeliness and mission accomplishments of NASA.

Sky Guy in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil

Thursday, March 21, 2019

ASTEROID MISSIONS UPDATE

Hey Space Placers!

Be sure to check out my pics of the Equinox Full Supermoon from last night  https://twitter.com/SkyGuyinVA/status/1108518231130734593

Here's the latest on two active missions that exploring up close and personal different asteroids. It is pretty amazing what they are finding out and how they are doing so.

I am in awe of the pics from Bennu showing ROCKS being ejected from the surface of the asteroid

This view of asteroid Bennu ejecting particles from its surface on January 19 was created by combining two images taken on board NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. Other image processing techniques were also applied, such as cropping and adjusting the brightness and contrast of each image.
Credits: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/Lockheed Martin

This is absolutely incredible! And no one knows WHY this is happening, either. Maybe some of these  will eventually make their way to Earth as meteorites. Meteorites (Space Rocks) come from the asteroid belt, the Moon and Mars. Oh, and there are 60,000+ classified meteorites!

Chances are this magnificent bolide produced meteorites that fell into the Bering Sea.

Caught in action
In this animated sequence of photos taken by Japan's Himawari 8 weather satellite on Dec. 18, 2018, you can follow the progress of the dark dust cloud and glowing trail left by the meteoroid as it came crashing down into Earth's atmosphere at an estimated 32 km/s (72,000 mph). 
Japan Meteorological Agency
Humanity is at risk due to the impact threat. We need a space based asset like NEOCam that can look for threats approaching Earth that we cannot see due to the Sun.

Sky Guy at Sea

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

SKY GUY VIEWING ALERT 3/20/19: FULL SUPER EQUINOX MOON!

Hey Space Placers!

Happy Equinox day! It is now spring in the Northern Hemisphere and Fall in the Southern Hemisphere.

Regardless of where you are on the planet, tonight the Full Moon is a Full Super Equinox Moon - there hasn't been a Full Moon on the equinox since March 2000! And it won't happen again until March 2030!

This is also the last 'Supermoon' for 2019.

So get out and enjoy the Equinox Full Supermoon - it will be 30% brighter than normal.

I'm hoping to get pics of it here in Rio de Janeiro to share with you.

Sky Guy in Rio

Monday, March 18, 2019

What Does the Milky Way Weigh?

Hey Space Placers!

I am sure you are getting your March Madness Brackets set up.

Check out the most accurate to date determination of how much our home galaxy "weighs", or more precisely, how much mass does it contain.

Center of Milky Way Galaxy
Taken Underway on Azamara Quest

Pretty amazing story and result.

Most of our galaxy's mass is in the form of dark matter - something we can detect by its gravitational influence but cannot see.

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, March 15, 2019

Cooking up Alien Atmospheres on Earth

Hey Space Placers!

Now that we have just gone over 4,000 KNOWN PLANETS BEYOND OUR SOLAR SYSTEM - known as Exoplanets - with many more to come, research is being done on what they may be like.

This artist's concept shows planet KELT-9b orbiting its host star, KELT-9. It is the hottest gas giant planet discovered so far.
Credit NASA JPL

Read the story on how alien atmospheres are being made and studied in the laboratory.

Pretty fascinating.

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Friday, March 8, 2019

CREW DRAGON SAFELY SPLASHES DOWN

Hey Space Placers!

The SpaceX Demo-1 mission has concluded with the successful splashdown of the Crew Drago spacecraft in the Atlantic Ocean at 8:45 a.m. EST.


NASA TV





This is a BIG step forward on returning astronauts to space using US built hardware launched from US soil.

I'll have much more tomorrow.

Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

SPACEIL BERESHEET SPACECRAFT SELFIE

Hey Space Placers!

Here's something you don't see very often - a spacecraft headed to the Moon selfie!

I LOVE IT!

A picture taken by the camera of the Beresheet spacecraft 23,363 miles from Earth. Photograph: AFP/Getty 
via
UK THE GUARDIAN


SKY GUY IN VA

Sunday, March 3, 2019

APOLLO 11 THE MOVIE & CREW DRAGON AT ISS

Hey Space Placers!

I am going to see "Apollo 11-The Movie" at Udvar Hazy IMAX and I can hardly wait. The trailer is a joy to see and hear.




How appropriate to share this movie with the successful docking earlier today of SpaceX Crew Dragon at the International Space Station!

Expedition 58 crew members enter the SpaceX Crew Dragon
NASA

Sky Guy in VA



Friday, March 1, 2019

ALL SYSTEMS ARE GO FOR SPACEX COMMERCIAL CREW DEMO-1 FLIGHT

Hey Space Placers!

On March 2, at 2:29 a.m. EST, SpaceX will try to launch its Crew Dragon spacecraft using a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center's Pad 39A.

An artist concept of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon and Falcon 9 lifting off from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center.
CREDIT: SpaceX

It will be uncrewed and launched to dock with the International Space Station on March 3rd. The mission, Demo-1, is a crucial test for NASA's Commercial Crew Program.

Live coverage will be provided by NASA starting at 2:00 a.m.

If Demo-1 proves successful the next mission should be with a NASA crew later this year.

The other Commercial Crew Partner, Boeing and its CST 100 Starliner, is also expected to conduct an uncrewed test flight in 2019.

If either is successful with a crewed launch it would mark the first time in EIGHT YEARS that NASA has launched a crew from Kennedy Space Center. No longer will the Russians have the only crew rated spacecraft in the world.

Let's light this candle!

Sky Guy in VA