December 18, 2017

04.06.11: MPCV=Orion Reborn?

MPCV in Martian orbit. (Artist’s concept/NASA).

NASA may just have new marching orders for the post-shuttle era. Recently, NASA and Lockheed Martin announced a re-designation of its Orion (That OTHER Orion, not the Dyson one that shoots nukes out the back!) capsule as the MPCV, or the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle. The project had been in the doldrums since the cancellation of the Constellation program, and fans of manned spaceflight had wondered what was next for NASA with only one space shuttle flight remaining. [Read more...]

19.02.11: V1647 Orionis-A Request for Observations.

This past Tuesday, a call for observations went out from the American Association for Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) for observations past and present of a very poorly understood variable. In AAVSO Special Notice #235 Dr. Colin Aspin of the University of Hawaii has requested images past and present of the area surrounding M78 and the object known as McNeil’s Nebula.

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15.04.10: President Obama Addresses the Space Coast.

President Obama made a short stop to speak at the Kennedy Space Center today on his way to Miami. He was greeted by both space enthusiasts and nervous NASA employees who rightly wonder about the ultimate fate of their jobs as a result of the ending of the Space Shuttle program later this year. Would his speech be a Kennedy-esque vision or a consolation prize?

It’s a truism that when Kennedy spoke we didn’t even know how to reach LEO; 8 years later, we were on the Moon. That’s the kind of vision we need. Obama’s last visit to Florida didn’t fill NASA fans with a lot of hope; not only did he essentially nix the Constellation, but his promised “train to Disneyland” seemed like a bit of a snub. Mind you, we like this Prez… during the election, he was the only candidate that could speak articulately about science. Still, there seems to be a certain reluctance for the current administration to do something truly visionary. [Read more...]

See the Orionid Meteor Shower at its Peak.

Meteor season is now well underway. About midway between the August Perseids and the November Leonids is an often over-looked shower; the Orionids. The good news this year is the Orionids occur around the morning of October 21st, when the light-polluting moon is only three days past new and thus safely out of the morning sky. Expect to see up to 20-30 fast moving meteors, as was generally the reported case last year. For best results, be sure to watch several hours before dawn, or about 2-5 PM local.

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