May 28, 2020

July 2011: Life in the Astro-Blogosphere.

July means lightning photography season at Astroguyz HQ…(Photo by Author).

Ah, the seventh month of the calendar year is upon us. July brings our home-world of Earth to aphelion, the start of a new saros, and a look at a fascinating asteroid… and oh yes, the end of a certain low-Earth orbit delivery system. What follows is a sneak peak of what’s up in the July sky and coming to an astro-blog near you;

Coming to a Sky near You: July 1st sees a remote partial solar eclipse and the start of a new saros #156… but will any obsessed eclipse chaser be on hand off the shores of Antarctica to witness it? The 4th sees our planet Earth at aphelion and its farthest point from the Sun, a fact that ameliorates our northern hemisphere climate somewhat during the current epoch. We’ll also take a look at the fascinating close double star Porrima this month, a star that’s been getting a fair amount of telescopic attention as it pairs with Saturn. And by some celestial reckonings, the 12th is the planet Neptune’s “Birthday” as it completes one full orbit since it was first spotted in 1846. This month, we’ll also turn our attention to our nearest natural neighbor in space, as we attempt a spotting of the Lunar Swirl, aka Reiner Gamma. Another notable lunar feature is visible on the 24th, when the Curtis Cross is at a favorable illumination. On the 27th, an occultation of the planet Mars by the waning crescent Moon occurs for viewers the South America; expect a close and photogenic conjunction worldwide. The 28th of the month sees a ramping up of the Southern Delta Aquarid meteor shower, a good lead-in to the Perseid meteors next month. New Moon for July 2011 occurs 14:40EDT on the 30th, and Full Thunder Moon occurs 2:40AM EDT on the 15th.

This Month in Science: This month, all eyes are on the asteroid belt as NASA’s Dawn spacecraft enters orbit around the asteroid Vesta… just what will this world reveal? Craters? Ice? A smiley face or a monolith? Tune in and find out! Another interesting solar system event occurs towards the end on July, as NASA’s sun-monitoring STEREO-B spacecraft gets a good vantage on a passing Comet Elenin… just how well will this comet perform this late fall? Here at Astroguyz, we’ll also look at the ultimate fate of the universe and more reasons not to panic. In the science review department, we’ll look at the planetarium software Starry Night, as well as the chemistry opus The Disappearing Spoon, A Brief History of Time, Cycles of Time by Roger Penrose (I see a “time” theme developing here!) and The Man Who Sold the Milky Way, David Levy’s biography of Bart Bok.

This Month in Science Fiction: And speaking of not panicking, we’ll also review The Salmon of Doubt, the final collection of works by the late great Douglas Adams. Our review monkeys are also furiously reading Black Halo & Down to the Bone: the 5th Book in the Quantum Gravity series. Also, Pyr books’ the Ghosts of War, recently featured on this very site is due out this month. But the big burning question this month in sci-fi is; will we actually get out from behind our keyboard this month to a theater to review the latest Green Lantern movie?

One thing is certain; we’re going to get out from behind the keyboard, put some pants on and head out into civilization for the release of the summer sci-fi blockbuster Cowboys & Aliens out on July 29th. Starring Harrison (Han Solo) Ford and Olivia (House’s 13) Wilde, this is the sci-fi big ticket of the summer. Watch this space for a timely release day review!

Launches in July: First up this month on July 1st is an Ariane 5 launch out of Kourou, French Guiana with the ASTRA 1N & BSAT 3C satellites. But the big ticket launch this month occurs July 8th with STS-135 and the launch of space shuttle Atlantis and the final mission of the space shuttle program… it’s gonna be a bitter-sweet day when she lands, as for the first time in several decades, no one will be able to point to a calendar date and say when the next manned launch will occur from U.S. soil. Next up on July 9th is a Proton launch out of the Baikonur Cosmodrome with SES3 & Kazsat 2. This is followed by a July 14th Delta 4 launch out of Cape Canaveral with the GPS 2F-2 for the USAF. Another interesting launch occurs on July 17th of a Zenit 3F rocket carrying the Spektr R radio astronomy observatory, also out of Baikonur. To Be Determined launches include ViaSat1 and Globalstar satellites out of Baikonur, and a multi-payload launch out of Dnepr, and a PSLV launch with GSAT 12 out of Satish Dhawan, India. For all the latest, follow @astroguyz on Twitter and check SpaceFlightNow.

Astro-Atta-Boy: A recent White Collar episode entitled “Where There’s a Will” caught our astro-attention; the show accurately worked in Tycho Brahe, planetary motion, and sundials all interwoven into one seamless and largely scientifically error-free plot! And it even taught us a thing or two, to boot…I didn’t know that Tycho had written an ode to his dead twin, for example… great research job, guys; alert the North American Sundial Society!

Astro Bloopers: A series of whoppers came our way as we worked through the History Channel series The Universe on Netflix. Namely, the asteroid 99942 Apophis was not “set to strike the Earth in 2004” Shortly after its discovery in 2004, Apophis enjoyed a brief notoriety as the first object to reach a level 1 rating on the Torino Impact Hazard scale for its projected close passages in 2029 and 2036. It climbed briefly to a level 4 before its orbit was carefully studied and dropped back down to zero with a negligible chance of an Earth Impact in the near future.

Astro Quote of the Month: Wearing a bikini on Mars, I can assure you, would be almost instantly fatal.

-          Robert Burnham, Jr.



  1. nana yaa says:

    God said 2 billion people are going to the New Jerusalem and 4 billion people are going to hell, so he’s going to remove the Sun and The Moon until everybody receive Jesus. He’s not bringing it back until everybody receives Jesus as their Personal Saviour, else he won’t bring it back…hmmm

    God bless you!!!

Speak Your Mind