October 19, 2017

AstroChallenge: Hunting the Vanguards.

Vanguard 1, the “Flying Grapefruit.” (Credit: NASA).

Looking for something new in the realm of satellite hunting? A few weeks ago, a discussion popped up on Twitter for the possibility of spotting an elusive set of targets still in space. In early 1958, the United States orbited the Vanguard 1 spacecraft, the first of a series of three successful launches of Project Vanguard and only the second successful object placed in orbit by the United States following Explorer 1. [Read more...]

AstroEvent: The Autumnal Equinox.

An African Sunset. (Credit: Art Explosion).
An African Sunset. (Credit: Art Explosion).

 

   The Balance between the forces of darkness and light are restored on Thursday in the form of the autumnal equinox. This is the point that the position of the Sun along the ecliptic intersects the equator, causing the length of daylight and darkness to be approximately equal from pole to pole. This can vary slightly in reality, owing to respective positions across time zones, the sun fast, and the equation of time. Keep in mind; like the Full or New Moon, the equinox is also a precise moment in time. From here on in until the December solstice, nights will get shorter in the northern hemisphere and days will get longer in the southern. Catch that sunrise or sunset today, and you are looking exactly at the point which is due east or due west of your locale, respectively. [Read more...]

Astro-event: SDO and STS-130 are go!

The Crew of STS-130! (Credit: NASA/KSC).

The Crew of STS-130! (Credit: NASA/KSC).

Two (count ‘em!) launches will light up the Florida Space Coast over the next few days; that of the Space Shuttle Endeavour on mission STS-130 and the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). STS-130 is scheduled to liftoff from launch pad 39A out of the Kennedy Space Center on the morning of Sunday, February 7th at 04:39 AM EST enroute to the International Space Station. Cargo includes the Tranquility connecting node which houses the Cupola, a Millennium Falcon-like window that will give residents unprecedented views and aid in spacewalks and exterior work. [Read more...]