Saturday, September 20, 2014

NASA Spin-Offs Highlighted

NASA-Thumb

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, known to everyone by the acronym "NASA," was established by the National Aeronautics and Space Act on 1958 July 29, superceding the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). Launches of Americans into space began on 1961 May 5, when Astronaut Alan Shepard went on a sub-orbital flight in a Mercury spacecraft named Freedom 7.

Starting in 1962, NASA technologies became available for use by businesses and the general public, with the establishment of NASA's Technology Utilization Plan (TUP). Products, services, and processes, from this technology transfer, have generated billions of dollars worth of American jobs and company profits, as well as saving lives. For every tax dollar used by NASA, studies estimate a boost in the economy of $7 to $14.

The following are the four general categories of NASA spin-offs:

1) NASA develops a technology and sells the license for commercial use.

2) NASA enhances an existing technology and helps grow the industry.

3) NASA contracts a company to produce a technology that has future commercial use.

4) NASA employees develop a commercial product with the expertise gained from working at NASA.

Since 1976, a NASA publication titled, Spinoff, has documented nearly 1,800 commercial spin-offs from NASA technology.

An infographic created by the Internet web site, www.GreatBusinessSchools.org , now highlights some of the major NASA spin-offs which have helped the American economy over the last half-century.

Infographic: http://www.greatbusinessschools.org/nasa/

Sources: GreatBusinessSchools.org ; Glenn A. Walsh, Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.

2014: 75th Year of Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium Historic Zeiss II Planetarium Projector at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science.


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Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
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Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
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  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
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* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
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* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
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* Public Transit:
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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Top Secret Clearance Required for Next Space Telescope Director


James Webb space telescope mirror segments
SPYING THE HEAVENS: The director of the James Webb Space Telescope might have to guard national secrets, judging by the level of security clearance NASA requires. Here, six segments of the telescope's primary mirror undergo testing in preparation for launch in 2018. (Image Source: NASA)
 
By Clara Moskowitz 
 
Conspiracy theorists may wonder, why does NASA’s next major telescope director need top secret clearance? The space agency recently posted a want ad for a person to lead its James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) program, and in addition to aerospace engineering credentials and management experience, the candidate must have the highest possible level of security credentials.

NASA says the requirement is standard, although the ad raised some eyebrows in the security community. “It seems quite unusual,” says former CIA analyst Allen Thomson, who speculates that the clearance might allow the JWST director to coordinate using NASA telescope technology for National Reconnaissance Office satellites. Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy noted the requirement on his Secrecy News blog. “My first reaction was surprise that this was among the key requirements for the position,” Aftergood says. “And it’s a sign of just how closely the civilian space program is intertwined with national security.”
 
More - Link >>> http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/nasa-james-webb-space-telescope-director-top-secret-clearance/?&WT.mc_id=SA_DD_20140917

Source: Scientific American Magazine.

2014: 75th Year of Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium Historic Zeiss II Planetarium Projector at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science.



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Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, & More: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
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Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
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Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

2017: SpaceX, Boeing to Launch U.S. Astronauts to Space Station

U.S. astronauts once again will travel to and from the International Space Station from the United States on American spacecraft under groundbreaking contracts NASA announced Tuesday. The agency unveiled its selection of Boeing and SpaceX to transport U.S. crews to and from the space station using their CST-100 and Crew Dragon spacecraft, respectively, with a goal of ending the nation’s sole reliance on Russia in 2017.
Image Credit: NASA

U.S. astronauts once again will travel to and from the International Space Station from the United States on American spacecraft under groundbreaking contracts NASA announced Tuesday. The agency unveiled its selection of Boeing and SpaceX to transport U.S. crews to and from the space station using their CST-100 and Crew Dragon spacecraft, respectively, with a goal of ending the nation’s sole reliance on Russia in 2017.

"From day one, the Obama Administration made clear that the greatest nation on Earth should not be dependent on other nations to get into space," NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden said at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. "Thanks to the leadership of President Obama, the hard work of our NASA and industry teams, and support from Congress, today we are one step closer to launching our astronauts from U.S. soil on American spacecraft and ending the nation’s sole reliance on Russia by 2017. Turning over low-Earth orbit transportation to private industry will also allow NASA to focus on an even more ambitious mission – sending humans to Mars."

These Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts are designed to complete the NASA certification for human space transportation systems capable of carrying people into orbit. Once certification is complete, NASA plans to use these systems to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station and return them safely to Earth.

The companies selected to provide this transportation capability and the maximum potential value of their FAR-based firm fixed-price contracts are:

-- The Boeing Company, Houston, $4.2 billion

-- Space Exploration Technologies Corp., Hawthorne, California, $2.6 billion

The contracts include at least one crewed flight test per company with at least one NASA astronaut aboard to verify the fully integrated rocket and spacecraft system can launch, maneuver in orbit, and dock to the space station, as well as validate all its systems perform as expected. Once each company’s test program has been completed successfully and its system achieves NASA certification, each contractor will conduct at least two, and as many as six, crewed missions to the space station. These spacecraft also will serve as a lifeboat for astronauts aboard the station.

NASA's Commercial Crew Program will implement this capability as a public-private partnership with the American aerospace companies. NASA's expert team of engineers and spaceflight specialists is facilitating and certifying the development work of industry partners to ensure new spacecraft are safe and reliable.

The U.S. missions to the International Space Station following certification will allow the station's current crew of six to grow, enabling the crew to conduct more research aboard the unique microgravity laboratory.

"We are excited to see our industry partners close in on operational flights to the International Space Station, an extraordinary feat industry and the NASA family began just four years ago," said Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA's Commercial Crew Program. "This space agency has long been a technology innovator, and now we also can say we are an American business innovator, spurring job creation and opening up new markets to the private sector. The agency and our partners have many important steps to finish, but we have shown we can do the tough work required and excel in ways few would dare to hope."

The companies will own and operate the crew transportation systems and be able to sell human space transportation services to other customers in addition to NASA, thereby reducing the costs for all customers.

By encouraging private companies to handle launches to low-Earth orbit -- a region NASA's been visiting since 1962 -- the nation's space agency can focus on getting the most research and experience out of America's investment in the International Space Station. NASA also can focus on building spacecraft and rockets for deep space missions, including flights to Mars.

For more information about NASA's Commercial Crew Program and CCtCap, visit:


-end-

Stephanie Schierholz
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1100
stephanie.schierholz@nasa.gov

Stephanie Martin
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
321-867-2468
stephanie.a.martin@nasa.govS

Source: NASA.

Additional News Stories ---

Raab, Lauren and Melody Petersen. "SpaceX, Boeing land NASA contracts to carry astronauts to space." Los Angeles Times 2014 Sept. 16.
Link >>> http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-nasa-spacex-boeing-contract-20140916-story.html

Sunseri, Gina and Alyssa Newcomb. "Space Race: NASA Awards Contracts to Boeing, SpaceX."
ABC News 2014 Sept. 16.
Link: >>> http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/space-race-nasa-announce-company-wins-space-taxi/story?id=25537315

Rooney, Ben. "Boeing, SpaceX land NASA contracts." CNN Money.
Cable News Network 2014 Sept. 16.
Link >>> http://money.cnn.com/2014/09/16/news/companies/nasa-boeing-space-x/index.html

2014: 75th Year of Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium Historic Zeiss II Planetarium Projector at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science.



Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your inbox ?
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Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, & More: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
< http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Bicentennial: National Anthem Inspired by British Rockets


American Flag, with 15 stars and 15 stripes, flown over Fort McHenry
in Baltimore during the British rocket bombardment in the War of 1812,
inspired Francis Scott Key to write "The Star Spangled Banner." 
(Image Source: Wikipedia.org )

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

Two-hundred years ago today, on 1814 September 14, a British rocket bombardment, allowing sight of the American Flag flying above Baltimore's Fort McHenry, inspired Francis Scott Key to write a poem which would become the lyrics to the song, The Star Spangled Banner, which became the American National Anthem in 1931.

While space exploration and commercial purposes are common uses of rockets today, along with continued military use of this technology, the rocket became a regular tool of war for the British Empire in the early nineteenth century. The earliest solid fuel rockets used by the British were known as Congreve Rockets, which were the rockets used in the 1814 Battle of Baltimore.

After the Kingdom of Mysore in India made successful use of rockets against the British East India Company, during the Second, Third, and Fourth Mysore Wars (1780 to 1799), before Mysore's eventual defeat, the British became very interested in military rocketry. When Mysore rockets were sent to England in 1801, William Congreve started a research and development program to produce better rockets for Great Britain.

Sir William Congreve, son of the Comptroller of the Royal British Arsenal, prepared a new rocket propellant mixture and new rocket motor with a strong iron tube and a conical nose. The earliest Congreve Rocket, which weighed about 32 pounds (14.5 kilograms), was first demonstrated in 1805. These rockets were first used during the Napoleonic Wars (1803 to 1815).

The American defeat by the British at the Battle of Bladensburg, Maryland, during the War of 1812 on 1814 August 24, led to Washington, DC being captured by British forces and the burning of several government buildings including the White House (originally known as the President's House or Executive Mansion), followed by a Raid on Alexandria, Virginia just across the Potomac River. After spending several days looting stores in Washington and Alexandria, the British sought to subdue the large American port city of Baltimore.

The attack on Fort McHenry began on 1814 September 13, when the British Rocket Vessel HMS Erebus started launching Congreve Rockets at the fort. At the entrance to Baltimore Harbor, the fort, constructed in the form of a 5-pointed star, successfully repulsed the 25 hours of bombardment, primarily because at maximum range the British rockets were very inaccurate. Fort McHenry's cannons had kept the British ships at maximum range.

Francis Scott Key, an attorney who was in Baltimore on an official mission for U.S. President James Madison, was aboard a British ship seeking to secure the exchange of prisoners, including Dr. William Beanes, an elderly and popular town physician of Upper Marlboro, Maryland and a friend of Francis Scott Key. Having overheard the British plans for the invasion of Baltimore, Francis Scott Key was held on British ships until the battle ended. The prisoner exchange was eventually agreed-to.

Through the rainy night of September 13 and early morning hours of September 14, Francis Scott Key noticed that Fort McHenry's "storm flag" continued to fly, due to the light from the rocket and bomb blasts. After the bombardment ended, he waited until dawn when he saw a much larger American Flag flying over the fort. Both the "storm flag," used during inclement weather, and the larger flag were sewn in 1813 by Baltimore seamstress Mary Pickersgill.

While still aboard a British ship and writing on the back of a letter he had kept in his pocket, this American victory inspired Francis Scott Key to begin the writing of a poem which would be titled, "Defence of Fort M'Henry." Of course in particular, the lyric, "the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air, grave proof through the night that our flag was still there," was inspired by the British rockets. Just a little later, the poem lyrics were set to a popular British song, "The Anacreontic Song," and renamed "The Star Spangled Banner."

"The Star Spangled Banner" soon became a well-known patriotic song. The U.S. Navy recognized the song for official use in 1889, as did U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in 1916. A resolution approving the song as the American National Anthem was enacted by the U.S. Congress on 1931 March 3, which was signed by U.S. President Herbert Hoover.

More on Congreve Rockets: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congreve_rocket

More on Rocket Vessels: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocket_vessel

More on Rockets: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocket

More on the Star Spangled Banner ---
Link 1 >>> http://amhistory.si.edu/starspangledbanner/
Link 2 >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Star-Spangled_Banner

More on Francis Scott Key: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Scott_Key

More on the War of 1812 ---
War of 1812: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_of_1812
Burning of Washington DC: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burning_of_Washington
Raid on Alexandria VA: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raid_on_Alexandria
Battle of Baltimore: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Baltimore
Fort McHenry: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_McHenry

Source: Glenn A. Walsh, Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.

2014: 75th Year of Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium Historic Zeiss II Planetarium Projector at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science.


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Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, & More: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
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Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
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Thursday, September 11, 2014

2 Solar Flares: Aurora Thur.-Sat.?

An intense, X-class solar flare occurred on Wednesday afternoon, originating from Active Region 2158. This is the second major flare in two days from AR2158, and could provide an intense aurora show Friday night if the associated coronal mass ejection is earth-bound. (NASA)
An intense, X-class solar flare occurred on Wednesday afternoon, originating from Active Region 2158. This is the second solar flare in two days from AR2158, and the associated magnetic cloud could provide an intense aurora shows on Thursday and Friday. (NASA)

By Angela Fritz

A strong geomagnetic storm is on its way to Earth this week after two solar flares erupted from a sunspot region pointed almost directly at Earth. The second of the two was a low-end X-class flare — the most intense type of flare on the classification scale.

After Tuesday’s minor solar fare from sunspot region AR 2158, the same location emitted an X1.6-class flare on Wednesday, prompting the NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center to up their forecasts for the geomagnetic storm expected to arrive here on Earth on Friday. A G2 geomagnetic storm watch is in effect for Friday, and a more intense, G3 storm watch is in effect for Saturday, due to the combined effects of the two coronal mass ejections (CMEs).

Geomagnetic storms of this magnitude are not uncommon, but the current solar cycle, in which we are near the maximum, has been relatively quiet. Tom Berger, director of the Space Weather Prediction Center, estimates that a G3-level storm occurs about once a month in the more active, 11-year solar cycles.

More - Link >>> http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/wp/2014/09/11/back-to-back-solar-flares-prompt-strong-geomagnetic-storm-watch/

Source: The Washington Post.

2014: 75th Year of Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium Historic Zeiss II Planetarium Projector at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science.


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Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
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Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
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Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
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Monday, September 8, 2014

Harvest Moon: 3rd 'SuperMoon' of 2014

Image: Supermoon vs. Mini-moon The Weather Channel



This graphic compares the size of the Moon when it's closest to Earth, during a SuperMoon full phase (left), with how a Full Moon would look when it's farthest from Earth (right).
By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

At the moment of the posting of this blog post, Monday Evening, 2014 September 8 at 9:38 p.m. EDT / September 9, 1:38 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), marks the Full Moon of September, which is also the Harvest Moon for 2014 and the third and last so-called 'SuperMoon' of the year.

This month's Full Moon is considered by some a 'SuperMoon' because, like the Full Moons of July and August (the August Full Moon was the largest 'SuperMoon' of 2014), the Full Moon is closer to the Earth than normal - a perigee-Full Moon. Actually, this month's lunar perigee, the point in the Moon's orbit when it is closest to the Earth, occurred this morning at Midnight EDT (4:00 UTC), when the Moon was 358,389 kilometers from the Earth. At the time of a perigee-Full Moon, such as  today, larger than usual tides are predicted along ocean coastlines.

Since  the Moon is closer to Earth than it typically is, the Moon looks a bit larger than usual in the sky, particularly near the horizon during Moon rise and Moon set (actually, the Moon always looks a little bigger during Moon rise and Moon set, as a person's vision then compares the size of the Moon to other objects near the horizon).

Often, but not always (usually, two out of every three years), the September Full Moon is considered the Harvest Moon. The Harvest Moon is the Full Moon closest to the Autumnal Equinox, when the season of Autumn or Fall officially begins, usually September 22 or 23. This year the Autumnal Equinox occurs Monday Evening, 2014 September 22 at 10:29 p.m. EDT / September 23 at 2:29 UTC.

So, the Harvest Moon, in general, can occur from two weeks before the Autumnal Equinox to two weeks after the beginning of Fall. When the October Full Moon occurs early in the month, it is then sometimes considered the Harvest Moon. The October Full Moon, which is usually the first Full Moon after the Harvest Moon, is usually considered the Hunter's Moon, providing hunters with additional light to hunt game after sunset. When the October Full Moon is considered the Harvest Moon, some still consider it the Hunter's Moon as well, while others then consider the November Full Moon the Hunter's Moon.

Occurring in the late Summer or early Autumn, in September or October in the Northern Hemisphere, the Harvest Moon provides farmers with additional light in the early evening, during the very busy harvest time.  The Harvest Moon has the same characteristics in the Southern Hemisphere, when it occurs in March or April.

On average, throughout the year, the Moon rises 50 minutes later each day. However, this lag time between successive Moon rises shrinks to an annual minimum near the Full Moon closest to the Autumnal Equinox. This greatly reduced lag time averages between 25 and 35 minutes throughout most of the United States, and as little as 10 to 20 minutes for Canada and much of Europe, each day for several days around the time of the Full Moon. Hence, for a few days around the date of the Harvest Moon, there is little or no period of darkness between sunset and Moon rise. This provides farmers with several days of extra, uninterrupted, light after sunset, for completing the harvest (of course, weather-permitting).

In the Northern Hemisphere, the September Full Moon is also known as the Corn Moon, Fruit Moon, Wild Rice Moon, and Red Plum Moon.

The September Full Moon has been given several names in the Southern Hemisphere: Worm Moon, Lenten Moon, Crow Moon, Sugar Moon, Chaste Moon, and Sap Moon.

More on the so-called "SuperMoon": Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supermoon

More on the Full Moon: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Full_moon

More on Full Moon names ---
Link 1 >>> http://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/full-moon-names
Link 2 >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Full_moon#Harvest_and_Hunter.27s_moons
Link 3 >>> http://www.farmersalmanac.com/full-moon-names/

Source: Glenn A. Walsh, Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.


2014: 75th Year of Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium Historic Zeiss II Planetarium Projector at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science.


Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your inbox ?
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gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, & More: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
< http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Astronomy & World War II




Buhl Planetarium's first telescope seen here on the West Wing of Buhl's
third-floor Astronomical Observatory, a 4-inch terrestrial refractor
telescope, was sent to Pittsburgh by mistake by the Carl Zeiss Opitcal
Works in Jena, Germany. Due to the outbreak of World War II, it
could not be returned and replaced with an astronomical telescope.
(Image Source: Francis G. Graham, Professor Emeritus of Physics,
Kent State University)


By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower


This past-week marked the 75th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II, although America did not enter the war until two years later, following Japan's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. This war greatly affected science and technology, including the science of Astronomy.

RADAR, SONAR, jet aircraft, helicopters, and analog computers were important technologies perfected during the Second World War, which greatly advanced scientific research and discovery after the war. However, the greatest scientific and technological advancement was the successful production and application, by the United States, of the first atomic bombs. Physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer was the Scientific Director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, that designed the first atomic bombs for the famed Manhattan Project.

But, just before the beginning of the war, Dr. Oppenheimer, along with University of California graduate student Hartland Snyder, published a scientific paper predicting the existence of black holes. Titled, "On Continued Gravitational Contraction," it stated that gravity would squeeze a very heavy star to an extremely small point, once the star's fuel was used up.With the beginning of World War II, Dr. Oppenheimer could not continue this research.

By the time World War II commenced, many European scientists, including Albert Einstein, had left Europe for the United States, where they continued their scientific research.

German astronomer Walter Baade had moved to America in 1931 and was working at the Mt.Wilson Observatory near Los Angeles. He was offered the directorship of the Hamburg, Germany Observatory a few years later. Still a loyal German, he considered the offer but decided to stay at Mt. Wilson where he had better facilities and a milder climate. Although the United States classified him as an "enemy alien," he was allowed to continue his research.With Los Angeles black-outs due to the war, he made important discoveries regarding the size of the universe and the nature of stars.

Another German astronomer, Rudolph Minkowski, a colleague of Walter Baade, came to America under threat of being sent to a German concentration camp. After becoming an American citizen, he assisted the war effort at the California Institute of Technology. After the war, he made discoveries regarding galaxies and dying stars, as well as heading the National Geographic Society -- Palomar Observatory Sky Survey.

Except for technological research for military applications, most scientific research in Europe ceased during the war. Some astronomical observatories in Europe closed or were used for meteorological observations or celestial navigation training for military aircraft pilots.

Some research and production facilities, including astronomical observatories, were destroyed during the war. The Pulkovo Observatory, near St. Petersburg, Russia, was completely destroyed after fierce German air raids and artillery bombardment. Several astronomical instruments, and the 30-inch objective lens from the main telescope, were saved by the staff, as well as a large portion of the observatory's library. The Pulkovo Observatory was rebuilt and expanded in 1954.

The Carl Zeiss Optical Works in Jena, Germany, where the first planetarium projectors were built, was heavily damaged by Allied bombing during the war. Once the war had begun, the factory had been used to manufacture bombsights for German military aircraft.

After World War II, when the Jena factory became part of the Democratic Republic of Germany (East Germany), a second Zeiss Company was established in Oberkochen in the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany). In 1991, a year after the German reunification, the two Zeiss companies were effectively reunited, with the microscopy and planetarium divisions moving back to Jena.

Nearly 75 years ago, the fifth Zeiss II Planetarium Projector in America was installed in Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science. Dedication of Buhl Planetarium came less than two months after the start of World War II, on 1939 October 24, when the Buhl Foundation gifted and legally conveyed the Buhl Planetarium building and all astronomical instruments and scientific exhibits to the City of Pittsburgh. However, the planetarium projector was not the only instrument Buhl Planetarium purchased from the Carl Zeiss Optical Works.

Along with the Zeiss II Planetarium Projector, Buhl Planetarium had ordered a 4-inch Zeiss Refractor Telescope. A much larger telescope, a 10-inch refractor from the Gaertner Scientific Company of Chicago installed in a rather unique sidereal-coelostat (i.e. siderostat) arrangement, would not be completed for another two years. Hence, for the first two years of Buhl Planetarium's operation, this Zeiss refractor would be Buhl's main telescope.

However, when the Zeiss telescope arrived in Pittsburgh, Buhl Planetarium officials were disappointed. The Carl Zeiss Optical Works had sent the wrong telescope. The Zeiss telescope that arrived in Pittsburgh was a terrestrial refractor, providing images that were right-side-up, similar to a nautical spy glass. However, Buhl had ordered an astronomical refractor, which provides an upside-down image of a celestial object.

Viewing astronomical objects right-side-up is not really necessary for scientific research. And, an astronomical image viewed in a telescope right-side-up is more degraded than an up-side-down image, because additional optical glass is needed to make an image right-side-up. Light is lost every time you add more optical glass, and scientists need to study as much light as possible from an astronomical object, to better understand the object.

Ideally, Buhl Planetarium would have returned the Zeiss telescope to Germany and waited for the correct replacement to be sent. However, with the outbreak of World War II this was impossible. So, the Buhl Planetarium staff had to learn to make-do with a terrestrial refractor. This Zeiss terrestrial refractor telescope, with a very unique history, continues to be used today for public programs of the Henry Buhl, Jr. Planetarium and Observatory at The Carnegie Science Center.

"The People's Observatory" with the 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope, on Buhl Planetarium's third floor, was dedicated on the evening of 1941 November 19. Famous Astronomer Harlow Shapley, who then was Director of the Harvard College Observatory, gave the keynote address at the dedication. First Light through the "Siderostat" was the ringed-planet Saturn.

On the same evening as the Siderostat dedication, Buhl Planetarium introduced a new planetarium show and opened a new temporary exhibit. The planetarium show was titled, "Bombers by Starlight," which showed how military aviators could use Celestial Navigation to find their way at night. During World War II, Buhl Planetarium was used to train military aviators in the science of Celestial Navigation.

The temporary exhibit which opened that evening, in the Octagon Gallery (located directly below Buhl Planetarium's "Theater of the Stars"), was titled, "Can America Be Bombed?" This exhibit opened two and one-half weeks before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii!

In October of 1944, Buhl Planetarium's five exhibit galleries were dedicated to a U.S. Army Air Force Air Power Show, which showed the public hundreds of items of AAF materiel, including a small military airplane, as well as captured enemy equipment. This exhibition was an expanded version of a similar exhibition held earlier at Rockefeller Center in New York City.

The AAF Air Power Show was jointly sponsored by the War Finance Committee and Buhl Planetarium. Of course, the main purpose of the exhibition was to sell War Bonds. Admission to the Air Power Show cost one 25-cent War Stamp for adults and a 10-cent War Stamp for children.

StarDate Radio Program produced by the University of Texas McDonald Observatory --- Radio program scripts on Astronomy and World War II ---
Program 1 Link >>> http://stardate.org/radio/program/paper-black-holes
Program 2 Link >>> http://stardate.org/radio/program/world-war-ii
Program 3 Link >>> http://stardate.org/radio/program/world-war-ii-part-ii
Program 4 Link >>> http://stardate.org/radio/program/world-war-ii-part-iii

Sources: StarDate Radio Program, written by Damond Benningfield and produced by the University of Texas McDonald Observatory; Glenn A. Walsh, Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.

2014: 75th Year of Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium Historic Zeiss II Planetarium Projector at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science.


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gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
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Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
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* Public Transit:
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