Posted tagged ‘Space’

Observation Log 7/20/09: ISS & STS-127

July 20, 2009

The International Space Station, currently docked with Space Shuttle Endeavour, just made a nice pass overhead. Although I have broken clouds at the moment, I managed to get a very nice view.

In the process, I tested a valuable new technique (for me, at least) for spotting ISS passes. I have an iPhone 3GS, which has a built-in clock and a built-in compass. So, I set up several alarms for the sighting (start, highest elevation, and end), noting from Heavens Above what the compass direction would be and putting that number in each alarm. When the alarms go off, I can quickly pull up the compass and know where to look.

This might seem a bit of overkill, except that my attempt to spot the ISS about a week ago failed! I’ve never completely missed it before. The pass was low in the sky and went through skyglow from the city to the north, but I think I should have been able to see it. Anyway, this little trick should help.

If I had unlimited energy and resources, I would love to write an iPhone application that would use the GPS, compass, the timers, and the inclinometers in the iPhone to allow a user to find any sky object (satellites especially) just by pointing the phone at the sky. Words or sounds could indicate which way to adjust the pointing angle (up, down, left, right) to find what you’re looking for. Real fanatics fans like myself could even hold a laser pointer with the phone, to make spotting even easier! Hopefully someone will do that some day soon!

Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos” TV series, now free online

June 19, 2009

This is a real treasure. Many thanks go to Hulu.com.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about "Carl Sagan’s "Cosmos" TV series, now …", posted with vodpod

This is National Dark Sky Week!

March 29, 2008

From March 29 to April 4 is the annual National Dark Sky Week. And tonight, from 8 to 9PM is Earth Hour. To take part in tonight’s event, turn off the lights and appliances you don’t need (like a PC running 24/7?) from 8 to 9PM. Outdoor lights are especially encouraged. Similarly, National Dark Sky week promotes energy saving and a better view of the beautiful universe around us for the whole week.

And it’s always a good thing do put less carbon into the atmosphere. Give it a try!

More information here.

Spectacular Space Shuttle night launch video

March 22, 2008

Space Shuttle Endeavour had cameras mounted on its solid rocket boosters when it climbed into orbit on March 11. Together they produced a beautiful video of a night launch from the spacecraft’s point of view. It’s hard to believe the shuttle is 28 miles up and moving at 3100 mph when the boosters detach—without the Earth in the background, the spacecraft appears still.

Holding the Sun

March 17, 2008

This is a page of pictures submitted by regular folks, all with the theme of holding the sun. A few, like the one here, are very well done. One is a very creative joke picture.

Warning: There are some links to some Not Safe For Work pictures on the “Holding the Sun” page. The one I viewed was artful and beautiful, but I make no promises. Kids, please get your parent’s permission first.

A lunar eclipse and a cosmic perspective

February 20, 2008

lunareclipse.jpgThe moon is in totality as I write. It’s beautiful, a fleeting mask on a face that has looked down on Earth for billions of years.

I can’t help but think of the words of one of my heroes, Carolyn Porco, who currently leads the imaging team for Cassini:

To know that we can know so much about our Solar System and about our cosmos, for me, makes life meaningful. It’s very much like being in love. It’s very much that kind of relationship where you want to know more and you want to be one with the person you’re in love with or topic you’re studying. It’s a connection… it’s really a connection, and for me it’s… it’s like being allowed a glimpse of the miraculous.

(from “Nova: Voyage to the Mystery Moon,” first aired 4/4/2006)

Observation Log 2/19/08: “USA 193” spy satellite flyover

February 19, 2008

Luck was not with me tonight. The cloud cover was about 95%, but a the few holes, moving quickly, might have given me a brief glimpse of this high, close pass. I’d gotten similarly lucky with the ISS before, but not this time. If the US Navy does not shoot down the satellite on Wednesday, perhaps I’ll have another chance on Thursday.

On the positive side, I’m delighted that friends and family have been in touch, asking how they might see some of the wonders in the sky!