May 31, 2020

June 2010: Life in the Astro-Blogosphere.

Summer is upon us, as most backyard astronomers begin to look forward to “crossing the hump” of the summer solstice. You won’t know it until fall, but the nighttime starts slooooowly creeping back into the northern hemisphere this month. What follows is a gathering of all things astronomical and what you can expect to see on the Astroguyz collective radar in the coming month;

Coming to a Sky Near You: To kick off June, we look at Comet McNaught, a visitor in the dawn skies that has the potential to reach naked eye visibility. Also in dawn skies, we’ll watch as Jupiter and Uranus near a close mutual conjunction on June 8th. On June 26th a partial lunar eclipse occurs for viewers from the Americas (moonset) westward to the Far East (moonrise). Maximum partiality is 53%, and this sets the Moon up for another outstanding total solar eclipse over the South Pacific in July. On June 24th, another in the continuing series of Sigma Scorpii occultations is in the offing, and we’ll also look at how to spot the elusive Lunar X. Did you know that at some times of year, the Sun never sets on the ISS? Later this June, we’ll look at the high flying ISS in “all-nite” mode. The Full Strawberry Moon occurs this month on June 26th, and being the closest to the summer solstice on the 21st, is also the most southerly Full Moon of the year.

This Month in Science: On June 13th, all eyes will be on the Australian outback as the Hayabusa sample return plummets to Earth…did it in fact retrieve a piece of an asteroid ? This may be the comeback science story of the year if successful. Here at Astroguyz, expect a review of The Telescope by Geoff Andersen, as well as the PBS documentary Journey to Palomar. In the how-to department, we’ll reveal a low-rent technique for imaging the ISS, as well as continue our look at orbital astronomy with a focus on gamma ray observatories. Aslo, don’t forget to follow the NASAtweetup at the World Science Festival June 5th in New York City!

This Month in Science Fiction: This month brings the old and the new as we review 50 Short Science Fiction Tales, as well as the Dervish House by Ian McDonald out from Pyr Books. And speaking of Pyr, what’s the rumble we’ve heard of a sequel to Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s outstanding Diving into the Wreck? Also, Escape Pod has resurfaced again and is continuing to crank out quality SF, now with Mur Lafferty hosting… do give it a listen!

Launches in June: It’s a busy month for spaceflight, kicking off with Space X’s on again, off again Falcon 9 spacecraft now slated for June 4th out of Cape Canaveral. This will probably be the biggest launch this month, as many feel the private sector must “measure up” to be a viable alternative in LEO. On the 3rd, a Proton rocket out of Baikonur will deploy the BADR 5 telecommunications spacecraft. The 4/5th sees the launch of India’s Cartosat 2B remote sensing satellite out of Satish Dhawan, and the 9th will see the launch of STSAT 2B, South Korea’s science and technology demonstration spacecraft. On June 15th a Dnepr rocket out of Yasny, Russia will launch Prisma & Picard, a Swedish and French pair of satellites that will demonstrate miniaturization technologies. On the 21st, another Dnepr rocket out of Baikonur will launch Germany’s TanDEM-X, a research satellite geared towards precision elevation measurement. Two ISS bound launches occur in June, a manned Soyuz launch on June 15th and a Progress resupply on June 30th, both out of Baikonur. For updates, be sure to check the schedule on SpaceFlightNow.

Astro Bloopers: Traditional media has been cutting back on its dedicated science writing staff, and it shows. This past week was a dismal case in point, as media scrambled to slap up some shoddily pieced together articles on exoplanet Wasp-12; the “cannibalized hot Jupiter”. Not only did some outlets (YOU know who you are!) Get the facts blatantly wrong (one said the system was 600 million light years distant), but a few proclaimed that NASA’s artist’s conception was a real Hubble image! Thanks, old school media; you’ve just reminded me why I sit in front of a computer screen and blog about this stuff!

This Month in Astro-History: June 18th, 1983; Sally Ride was the 1st United States woman astronaut in space aboard STS-7. This was 20 years to the day that Valentina Tereshkova made her historic flight. The creation of the position of mission specialist opened up the astronaut corps to non-pilots, although it wasn’t until Eileen Collins took the helm of STS-93 that a shuttle crew had its first woman shuttle commander. In the words of Jeri Cobb; “We don’t want to be just riding in back; we want to be in the drivers’ seat!”

Astro Quote of the Month: “The black holes of nature are the most perfect macroscopic objects there are in the universe: the only elements in their construction are our concepts of space and time.”
Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar

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