September 15, 2014

Astro-Vid Of the Week: When Satellites Collide

A replica of an Iridium satellite at the National Air & Space Museum.

(Credit: ideonexus, under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license).

A landmark event occurred on this day back in 2009, one that has grim implications for the future of spaceflight. On February 10th around 4:56 PM Universal Time, the defunct Cosmos 2251 satellite collided with the Iridium 33 communications satellite over northern Siberia. The impact occurred at a closing velocity of well over 15,000 miles per hour, and the resulting impact showered Low Earth Orbit (LEO) with thousands of pieces of debris, many of which are still being tracked to this day. [Read more...]

Review: Many Skies by Arthur Upgren

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It’s a question we all find ourselves asking on occasion. What would our skies look like if things were a little bit different? It’s a fun thought experiment to play; add a Moon here or a Sun there and see what happens. While the night sky may be beautiful, it’s somewhat of a cruel joke that we live out our earthbound existence from but a single vantage point. Perhaps this mediocre position in time and space is why we’re here at all; having lots of active and exotic objects nearby such as supernovae and black holes may not bode well for life. [Read more...]

AstroEvent: A Wild Card Meteor Shower.

Comet 21P Giacobini-Zinner. (Credit: NASA).

Comet 21P Giacobini-Ziner. (Credit: NASA).

 

   Sure, everyone’s heard of the Leonids and the Perseids, but have you ever stood vigil for… the Giacobinids? Also sometimes referred to as the Draconids, this sporadic shower tends to go unnoticed on most years. Radiating from the circumpolar constellation Draco, the Giacobinids produce a lackluster <5 meteors per hour… so, why the fuss? Well, the Giacobinids have been known to occassionally put on a show approaching 1,000+ storm level activity, most notably on the years 1933, 1946, and most recently, 1998. [Read more...]