Sunday, October 10, 2021

UPDATE: LIVE-STREAM WED. AM: Star Trek's Captain Kirk to Really Go to Space!

https://tos.trekcore.com/hd/albums/2x26hd/assignmentearthhd0725.jpg
William Shatner, on left, portrays star-ship Captain James T. Kirk, as he teleports back to the USS Enterprise. In this classic television episode, titled "Assignment Earth", Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock must ascertain the true motives of a mysterious man who teleports to Earth from a planet orbiting a distant star, in the year 1968.

(Image Sources: Star Trek, https://tos.trekcore.com/hd/albums/2x26hd/assignmentearthhd0725.jpg)

By Glenn A. Walsh

Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

UPDATE - 2021 Oct. 11: Launch of Blue Origin Mission NS-18 has been delayed one day, due to high winds expected on October 12. The launch is now expected no earlier than Wednesday Morning, 2021 October 13 at 9:30 a,m. EDT / 8:30 a.m. CDT / 13:30 UTC.

William Shatner, who portrayed the USS Enterprise star-ship Captain James T. Kirk in television and motion pictures on Star Trek, will actually go to Outer Space on WEDNESDAY MORNING (previouslyTuesday morning), in Blue Origin's New Shepard space capsule. The 90-year-old actor will become the oldest person to enter “The Final Frontier.” The launch and mission will be live-streamed on the Internet, beginning 90 minutes before launch.

Internet link to the Blue Origin Live-Stream is near the end of this blog-post.

The Blue Origin spacecraft, New Shepard, is scheduled to launch at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Daylight Saving Time (EDT) / 8:30 a.m. Central Daylight Saving Time (CDT: launch site is in the Central Time Zone) / 13:30 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) on Wednesday Morning, 2021 October 13 (previously scheduled Tuesday Morning, 2021 October 12), weather-permitting and provided there are no technical difficulties.

Of course, October 12 is the actual Columbus Day (this year, the Federal Columbus Day holiday will be commemorated on October 11), when in 1492 Italian mariner and explorer Christopher Columbus arrived in the Americas (on the island he called San Salvador, in the Bahamas).

Live-Stream coverage will begin at 8:00 a.m. EDT / 7:00 a.m. CDT / 12:00 UTC. The Blue Origin Launch Site One is located on a portion of the Corn Ranch, 25 statute miles / 40 kilometers north of the west Texas town of Van Horn. As with the New Shepard flight on July 20, this Blue Origin Mission NS-18 flight will be a short sub-orbital flight, lasting approximately ten minutes.

The New Shepard spaceship will launch like a rocket. Powered flight is expected to last about 110 seconds, reaching an altitude of 25 statute miles / 40 kilometers above mean sea-level. From that point, the spacecraft's momentum is expected to carry it in un-powered flight to the destination of 62 statute miles / 100 kilometers above mean-sea-level.

The crew module will, then, separate from the propulsion module (i.e. rocket) at a point close to the peak altitude of the mission. At that point, as the crew module begins to fall back to Earth, the crew will encounter about three minutes of micro-gravity (a.k.a. “weightless-ness”) and observe the curvature of the Earth from the edge of Outer Space, as well as the blackness of Space.

Then, the crew module will return to Earth, via three large parachutes, landing close to the launch site on the ground, as Russian Soyuz space capsules land. The only exception to the Soyuz-type landing on the ground is that New Shepard includes thrusters which ignite, just before the landing, to help to soften the landing. The total duration of the flight of the crew module is expected to be about ten minutes.

The rocket, which launches the New Shepard capsule, will make a vertical landing near the launch site, similar to the vertical landing of the first stage of SpaceX rockets. Both the crew capsule and the rocket are designed to be re-usable.

Unlike most past human space missions, there will be no pilot or flight engineer aboard the New Shepard crew capsule. This flight will be completely automated, from beginning to end!

In the case of a rocket malfunction or other emergency, New Shepard has, what is described as, a “full-envelope” launch escape system. Solid propellant separation boosters can separate the crew module from the propulsion module, and the crew capsule would then use parachutes to return to Earth.

On July 11, the Virgin Galactic space-plane flew 53 statute miles / 85.295232 kilometers above mean sea-level, just above the 50-statute mile / 80-kilometer altitude determined as the beginning of Outer Space by the U.S. Air Force, NASA, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The New Shepard spacecraft intends to go a little higher. Blue Origin will meet the altitude definition of Outer Space determined by an international aeronautic standards and record-keeping body, Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI): 62 statute miles / 100 kilometers above mean sea level, known as the Karman Line.

William Shatner will be joined on this flight by Audrey Powers, Blue Origin’s Vice President of Mission & Flight Operations, along with commercial customers Dr. Chris Boshuizen, a former NASA engineer and co-founder of Planet Labs, and Glen de Vries, Vice-Chair, Life Sciences & Healthcare, Dassault Systèmes and co-founder, Medidata. William Shatner was invited to participate in this mission by Blue Origin and Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos; he is not a paying customer.

As mentioned, at age 90, William Shatner will become the oldest person to fly in Outer Space. On the July 20 flight (New Shepard Mission NS-16, launched on the 52nd anniversary of the first landing of humans on the Moon), Blue Origin had also flown the oldest person to ever fly in Outer Space, 82-year-old Wally Funk.

Previously, the late U.S. Senator John Glenn had held this record, when he launched as a Payload Specialist on the Space Shuttle Discovery (mission STS-95) on 1998 October 29, when Senator Glenn was age 77. Of course, John Glenn is well-known for being the first American to orbit the Earth in the Mercury capsule Friendship 7 (three orbits in the 4-hour and 55-minute flight) on 1962 February 20, when John Glenn was age 40.

In 1961, Wally Funk was at the top of her “Mercury 13” class of 13 women who all qualified to fly as part of the Woman in Space Program. Ms. Funk is a very experienced pilot with 19,600 flight hours.

However, NASA never pursued flying women in space in the 1960s, even though Russian female cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova flew alone, for almost three days in Earth orbit, beginning on 1963 June 16. NASA did not launch a woman into space until 1983 June 18, when Sally Ride flew on the Space Shuttle Challenger (mission STS-7) and was the third woman to fly in Outer Space.

Blue Origin New Shepard Mission NS-18 LIVE-STREAM ---

 Link >>> https://www.blueorigin.com/

Internet Links to Additional Information ---

William Shatner: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Shatner

Star Trek: Link >>>  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Trek:_The_Original_Series

Blue Origin New Shepard Mission NS-18 ---

Link 1 >>> https://www.blueorigin.com/news/next-human-flight-on-october-12

Link 2 >>> https://www.blueorigin.com/news/shatner-powers-announced-ns18

Link 3 >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Origin_NS-18

New Shepard ---

Link 1 >>> https://www.blueorigin.com/new-shepard 

Link 2 >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Shepard 

Blue Origin ---

Link 1 >>> https://www.blueorigin.com/ 

Link 2 >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Origin

Karman Line: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%A1rm%C3%A1n_line

Female Aviator & 'Mercury 13' Woman in Space Program Member Wally Funk:

Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wally_Funk

Related Blog-Posts ---

"Astro-Calendar: 2021 Oct. / Launches: SpaceX to ISS; NASA to Jupiter Asteroids."Fri., 2021 Oct. 1.

Link >>> https://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2021/10/astro-calendar-2021-oct-launches-spacex.html 


"LIVE-STREAM Early Tue.: Blue Origin Flight to Space w/ 'Mercury 13' Woman & Jeff Bezos." Mon., 2021 July 19.

Link >>> https://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2021/07/live-stream-early-tue-blue-origin.html 


"LIVE-STREAM Sunday: Virgin Galactic Flight to Space w/ Founder Richard Branson." Fri., 2021 July 9.

Link >>> https://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2021/07/live-stream-virgin-galactic-flight-to.html 


"50th Anniversary: 'Star Trek'" Tue., 2016 Sept. 6.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2016/09/50th-anniversary-star-trek.html

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

                 Sunday, 2021 October 10.

                             Like This Post?  Please Share!

           More Astronomy & Science News - SpaceWatchtower Twitter Feed:
            Link >>> https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower

        Astronomy & Science Links: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#sciencelinks

                Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your in-box ?
                Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >.

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Informal Science Educator & Communicator:
Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/
Electronic Mail: < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/
SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/
Formerly Astronomical Observatory Coordinator & Planetarium Lecturer, original Buhl Planetarium & Institute of Popular Science (a.k.a. Buhl Science Center), Pittsburgh's science & technology museum from 1939 to 1991.
Formerly Trustee, Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall, Pittsburgh suburb of Carnegie, Pennsylvania.
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh: Link >>>  http://www.planetarium.cc  Buhl Observatory: Link >>>  http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2016/11/75th-anniversary-americas-5th-public.html
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago: Link >>> http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear: Link >>> http://johnbrashear.tripod.com
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries: Link >>> http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc

* Other Walsh Authored Blog & Web-Sites: Link >>> https://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/gawweb.html

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Strong, New Laser to Advance R&D at European Southern Observatory

  

The Laser Guide Star of the Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the European Southern Observatory in northern Chile.

(Image Sources: Wikipedia.org, By G. Hüdepohl/ESO - http://www.eso.org/public/images/gerd_huedepohl_2/, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10980623)

By Glenn A. Walsh

Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

An Adaptive Optics Laser, being pioneered by the European Southern Observatory, is expected to greatly improve the sharpness of stellar images observed by ground-based telescopes. To do this, the Observatory and its commercial partners have developed a laser three times more powerful than the lasers currently used at astronomical observatories.

The problem that the European Southern Observatory (ESO) is trying to solve is the same problem that has vexed ground-based astronomers for hundreds of years. Atmospheric turbulence, which is what causes stars to appear to “twinkle” in the sky, has always made it more difficult for astronomers to study the composition and behavior of such stars, particularly dim and very distant stars.

To ameliorate this twinkling effect, astronomers have used nearby stable stars, brighter and often closer stars of which more information is known, to calibrate their telescopes. However, in many cases, such nearby stable, reference stars do not exist.

So, researchers have hit on the solution of creating artificial stars to help calibrate their telescopes. These artificial stars are created by using a laser to blast sodium atoms at a height of 55.9 statute miles / 90 kilometers in the atmosphere.

Such a laser, known as the Four Laser Guide Star Facility, already operates at the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT) array, located on Cerro Paranal in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. This laser, which currently has a strength of 22 watts, has been essential to the success of the VLT.

However, in order to create an even more stable, artificial guide star, ESO has now increased the new laser's power to 63 watts, nearly three times the power of the VLT laser. This more powerful laser comes from a Raman fiber amplifier laser source, developed by an ESO commercial partner, a Canadian company called MPB Communications.

Additional new technology, to assist with this Adaptive Optics Laser, has been developed by a German company, TOPTICA Photonics Ag. This company specializes in frequency “chirping,” which allows a laser to bounce back and forth between several frequencies. This provides larger bandwidths and more excited sodium atoms, and hence, brighter artificial stars to use for telescope calibration.

The Adaptive Optics Laser was tested at the Allgaeuer Volkssternwarte Ottobeuren Observatory in Germany, in August. This new laser will first be installed at the European Space Agency's (ESA) Optical Ground Station in Tenerife, Spain, which is a research and development (R&D) collaboration between the European Southern Observatory and the European Space Agency.

This new laser can also help with satellite communications. Atmospheric turbulence can also disrupt some of the newer laser systems in-use between satellites and ground stations. The Adaptive Optics Laser, with the greater power, may allow much better data transfer from satellites to ground stations. This will also be tested at the ESA facility in Spain.

Internet Links to Additional Information --- 

Laser Guide Star: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laser_guide_star

European Southern Observatory (ESO):

Link 1 >>> https://www.eso.org/ 

Link 2 >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Southern_Observatory

Very Large Telescope, European Southern Observatory: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Very_Large_Telescope 

European Space Agency (ESA):

Link 1 >>> https://www.esa.int/

Link 2 >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Space_Agency

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

                 Thursday, 2021 October 7.

                             Like This Post?  Please Share!

           More Astronomy & Science News - SpaceWatchtower Twitter Feed:
            Link >>> https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower

        Astronomy & Science Links: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#sciencelinks

                Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your in-box ?
                Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >.

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Informal Science Educator & Communicator:
Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/
Electronic Mail: < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/
SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/
Formerly Astronomical Observatory Coordinator & Planetarium Lecturer, original Buhl Planetarium & Institute of Popular Science (a.k.a. Buhl Science Center), Pittsburgh's science & technology museum from 1939 to 1991.
Formerly Trustee, Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall, Pittsburgh suburb of Carnegie, Pennsylvania.
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh: Link >>>  http://www.planetarium.cc  Buhl Observatory: Link >>>  http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2016/11/75th-anniversary-americas-5th-public.html
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago: Link >>> http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear: Link >>> http://johnbrashear.tripod.com
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries: Link >>> http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc

* Other Walsh Authored Blog & Web-Sites: Link >>> https://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/gawweb.html

Friday, October 1, 2021

Astro-Calendar: 2021 Oct. / Launches: SpaceX to ISS; NASA to Jupiter Asteroids

         SpaceX Crew-3 (official portrait).jpg

Two U.S. space launches in October ---

SpaceX Crew-3 with 3 NASA astronauts & 1 European astronaut to International Space Station (ISS) October 30. Link >>> https://buhlplanetarium4.tripod.com/astrocalendar/2021.html#spacexcrew-3

NASA robotic mission to 8 asteroids October 16. Link >>> https://buhlplanetarium4.tripod.com/astrocalendar/2021.html#nasalucy

(Image Sources: NASA, Wikipedia.org, By Robert Markowitz - Flickr, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=108303723)

Astronomical Calendar for 2021 October ---
Link >>> https://buhlplanetarium4.tripod.com/astrocalendar/2021.html#oct

 Related Blog Post ---

"Astro-Calendar: 2021 Sept. / 1st All-Civilian SpaceX Launch Sept. 15." Wed., 2021 Sept. 1.

Link >>> https://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2021/09/astro-calendar-2021-sept-1st-all.html

Source: Friends of the Zeiss.
            Friday, 2021 October 1.

                             Like This Post?  Please Share!

            More Astronomy & Science News - SpaceWatchtower Twitter Feed:
            Link >>> https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower

        Astronomy & Science Links: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#sciencelinks

                Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your in-box ?
                Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >.

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Informal Science Educator & Communicator:
Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/
Electronic Mail: < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/
SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/
Formerly Astronomical Observatory Coordinator & Planetarium Lecturer, original Buhl Planetarium & Institute of Popular Science (a.k.a. Buhl Science Center), Pittsburgh's science & technology museum from 1939 to 1991.
Formerly Trustee, Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall, Pittsburgh suburb of Carnegie, Pennsylvania.
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh: Link >>>  http://www.planetarium.cc  Buhl Observatory: Link >>>  http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2016/11/75th-anniversary-americas-5th-public.html
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago: Link >>> http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear: Link >>> http://johnbrashear.tripod.com
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries: Link >>> http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc

* Other Walsh Authored Blog & Web-Sites: Link >>> https://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/gawweb.html

Thursday, September 23, 2021

175th Anniversary: Discovery of Neptune

   Neptune - Voyager 2 (29347980845) flatten crop.jpg     Narrow Angle Camera image of the planet Neptune taken by the NASA Voyager 2 spacecraft on 1989 August 20, as the spacecraft approached the planet for an August 25 fly-by, the first and only visit to Neptune by a human-produced space probe. "The Great Dark Spot" and cirrus clouds are seen in the center. "Dark Spot, Jr." is seen rotating into view at the lower left of the disk, with a patch of cirrus clouds (called "Scooter") visible just north of Dark Spot, Jr.

 (Image Sources: NASA, Wikipedia.org, By Justin Cowart - https://www.flickr.com/photos/132160802@N06/29347980845/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=82476611)

By Glenn A. Walsh

Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

September 23 marks the 175th anniversary of the discovery of Neptune (1846 September 23), the eighth planet in our Solar System. It took only one night to discover Neptune, once mathematicians directed astronomers where to look.

Actually, it seems that famous Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei observed Neptune in 1612 and 1613, confusing Neptune for a star that was in conjunction with Jupiter.

For years, astronomers had noticed that there were discrepancies in the orbit of Uranus, the Solar System's seventh planet. In 1821, French astronomer Alexis Bouvard noticed irregularities in the movements of Uranus, in tables he published on the motions of Uranus. He, then, hypothesized that there must be an eighth planet in the Solar System.

Two scientists, independently, determined through mathematical calculations that the orbit of Uranus was being perturbed by an unseen and unknown planet even further from the Sun, using the observations of the late Mr. Bouvard.

British astronomer John Couch Adams, in 1843, began working on the calculations of the Uranus orbit, from Mr. Bovard's data as well as from other information provided by British Royal Astronomer Sir George Airy. John Couch Adams came-up with several estimates for the location of a new planet in 1845 and 1846. Not much was done with Mr. Adams' predictions.

At about the same time, French astronomer Urbain Le Verrier produced his own calculations for the position of the-then unknown planet. Again, there was little interest in searching for a new planet using a telescope.

After evaluating the calculations of both Mr. Adams and Mr. LeVerrier in June of 1846, George Airy convinced British astronomer James Challis to search for the planet. However, he found nothing after searching in August and September of 1846.

Mr. Le Verrier sent a letter, including his calculations, to Johann Galle at the Berlin Observatory. Mr. Galle received the letter on 1846 September 23, then looked for Neptune that night and found it! However, it was through a little bit of luck that he did find the newly-discovered planet, since Mr. Le Verrier's calculations were somewhat in error, by one degree.

Neptune was named for the Roman God of the sea. It is the fourth largest planet, by diameter, in the Solar System, one of the two “ice giants” (the other being Uranus). Neptune is the third most massive planet and the densest of the four giant planets.

Neptune is 17 times the mass of Earth. It is slightly more massive than Uranus, as well as denser and physically smaller than Uranus.

As the farthest major planet from the Sun, it takes Neptune 164.8 years to make one solar revolution.

Neptune's largest moon, Triton, was discovered shortly after the discovery of Neptune. The planet's other 13 known moons were discovered in the 20th century.

Prior to Pluto being reclassified as a Dwarf Planet, Neptune was either the eighth or ninth planet from the Sun, depending on the year. Due to Pluto's eccentric orbit, Pluto was actually closer to the Sun than Neptune from 1979 to 1999. For a 20-year period, during Pluto's 247.94-year orbital period, Pluto is closer to the Sun than Neptune.

Until 1989, a limited amount of information regarding Neptune could be discovered using only Earth-based telescopes. The first NASA probe to fly past Neptune, in August of 1989, would change all that.

The NASA spacecraft, Voyager 2, finished its “Grand Tour of the Planets” when it passed Neptune on 1989 August 25, as well as passing Neptune's largest moon, Triton. Previously, Voyager 2 had passed near Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus. As part of the “Grand Tour,” Voyager 1 had passed Jupiter, Saturn, and Saturn's largest moon, Titan, earlier.

These fly-bys, of four planets and two natural satellites of two of the planets, by only two spacecraft were made possible by a periodic configuration of the planets during the late 1970s and the 1980s. When NASA discovered this special planetary configuration, early in the Space Age, the space agency arranged for the launch of Voyage 1 and Voyager 2.

Voyager 2's fly-by of Neptune provided a great deal of new information, as well as close-up images, of our Solar System's eighth planet. This included discovery of the previously unknown rings around Neptune. It is said that this fly-by completely re-wrote the science textbooks regarding what is known about Neptune!

Several planetaria and science museums across the country showed a live video feed, via the “NASA Select” satellite television channel, of the Voyager 2 passage of Neptune to the general public. This included Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science (a.k.a. Buhl Science Center); images from Neptune were shown continuously in Buhl's 250-seat Little Science Theater / Lecture Hall.

Buhl Planetarium had provided similar coverage of Voyager 2's passage of Uranus in January of 1986. Buhl kept the leased satellite dish the next week to provide live coverage of the “Teacher-in-Space” mission of the Challenger Space Shuttle, which tragically ended shortly after launch with the explosion of the space vehicle.

Today, live coverage of a space mission passing a planet, such as the Voyager 2 passage of Neptune, would be provided on an Internet live-stream. During the 1989 August 25 passage of Neptune, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) provided live coverage of the passage in a continuous program titled, “Neptune All Night.” In Pittsburgh, this was shown on the city's second educational channel, WQEX-TV 16 (first sister educational television station in the nation, going on the air in 1959).

This month, Neptune is in great view with a telescope, weather-permitting. A telescope or very strong binoculars would be needed to find Neptune, which would appear as a small blue disk, somewhat similar to Uranus.

Neptune reached Opposition, when the Earth lies directly between the Sun and Neptune, on September 14 at 5:00 a.m. Eastern Daylight Saving Time (EDT) / 9:00 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Right now, Neptune is visible, again weather-permitting, approximately from local sunset to local sunrise. Neptune is now located in the constellation Aquarius the Water Bearer.

At the time of Opposition, Neptune had a distance of 28.92 Astronomical Units (a.u.) from Earth (the closest to Earth this year); one Astronomical Unit is the average distance between the Sun and the Earth (92.9 million statute miles / 149.6 million kilometers). This distance could also be expressed as 4.0 Light-Hours, the time it takes light and radio waves to travel between the two planets. At the time of Opposition, Neptune had an Apparent Visual Magnitude of +7.8, with a 2.3 arc-seconds disk visible.

As of 2021 September 23, Neptune reaches the local meridian transit point (highest point in the sky for the evening) at ~12:41 a.m. local time. At this time, Neptune's celestial coordinates - Right Ascension: 23 hours, 29 minutes, 39.0 seconds; Declination: -4 degrees, 33 minutes, 3 seconds; Altitude: 35.7 degrees; Azimuth: 222.1 degrees. At this time, Neptune is 28.931 a.u. from Earth, with an Apparent Visual Magnitude of +7.8, and a 2.36 arc-seconds disk visible.

Internet Links to Additional Information ---

 Neptune: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neptune

Neptune Moon Triton: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triton_(moon) 

NASA Voyager 2 spacecraft: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voyager_2 

Grand Tour of the Planets: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Tour_program

 Related Blog-Posts ---

"Undiscovered 'Planet Nine' May Be Cause of Tilt of Our Solar System." Sat. 2016 Oct. 22.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2016/10/undiscovered-planet-nine-may-be-cause.html

 

"Another Odd Object Found Beyond Neptune!" Tue., 2016 Aug. 16.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2016/08/another-odd-object-found-beyond-neptune.html

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

                 Thursday, 2021 September 23.

                             Like This Post?  Please Share!

           More Astronomy & Science News - SpaceWatchtower Twitter Feed:
            Link >>> https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower

        Astronomy & Science Links: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#sciencelinks

                Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your in-box ?
                Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >.

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Informal Science Educator & Communicator:
Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/
Electronic Mail: < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/
SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/
Formerly Astronomical Observatory Coordinator & Planetarium Lecturer, original Buhl Planetarium & Institute of Popular Science (a.k.a. Buhl Science Center), Pittsburgh's science & technology museum from 1939 to 1991.
Formerly Trustee, Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall, Pittsburgh suburb of Carnegie, Pennsylvania.
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh: Link >>>  http://www.planetarium.cc  Buhl Observatory: Link >>>  http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2016/11/75th-anniversary-americas-5th-public.html
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago: Link >>> http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear: Link >>> http://johnbrashear.tripod.com
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries: Link >>> http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc

* Other Walsh Authored Blog & Web-Sites: Link >>> https://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/gawweb.html

Monday, September 20, 2021

Harvest Moon Mon.; Fall Begins Wed.

http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/pix/graphics/solsticeimage008.png
This diagram shows the position of the Earth, in relation to the Sun, at the time of the Autumnal Equinox, as well as the other equinox and solstices of the year.
(Graphic Source: ©1999, Eric G. Canali, former Floor Operations Manager of the original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science (a.k.a. Buhl Science Center - Pittsburgh's science and technology museum from 1939 to 1991) and Founder of the South Hills Backyard Astronomers amateur astronomy club; permission granted for only non-profit use with credit to author.) 

By Glenn A. Walsh

Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

The Harvest Moon, this year the Full Moon of September, occurs early Monday evening. Fall or Autumn begins less than two days later on Wednesday afternoon.

                                                        Harvest Moon

For the year 2021, the Harvest Moon will be the Full Moon of Monday Evening, September 20, at 7:54 p.m. Eastern Daylight Saving Time (EDT) / 23:54 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). For farmers eager to finish harvesting their crops, the bright Full Moon which shines on their farms for the several evenings closest to the Autumnal Equinox (the Autumnal Equinox is the astronomical beginning of the season of Autumn or Fall in Earth's Northern Hemisphere) is called the Harvest Moon.

The Harvest Moon is one of the signature astronomical events near the beginning of, or shortly after the beginning of, the Fall season. It is an event particularly anticipated by farmers of both the past and the present. As many crops reach the time of harvest in late Summer and early Autumn, often the work of the harvest has to continue past sunset, which comes earlier and earlier each evening.

Nature has come to the rescue of these farmers, with a bright Full Moon (weather-permitting), which arrives just around the time of sunset, that allows farmers and their staff to continue the harvest after the Sun's light has dissipated. Hence, long-ago this Full Moon came to be known as the Harvest Moon.

For a similar reason, the Full Moon of October is often known as the Hunter's Moon, which allowed Native Americans to continue the hunt after sunset, to begin to store meat for the coming Winter months. However, the Harvest Moon is designated as the closest Full Moon to the Autumnal Equinox, and such a Full Moon does not always occur in September. Every few years the Harvest Moon occurs in October, shortly after the Autumnal Equinox. During those years, the Hunter's Moon occurs in November.

On average, the Moon rises about 50 minutes later each day. However, during the days near the Autumnal Equinox, the Moon rises each day only about 25-to-35 minutes later each day in the U.S.A., and only 10-to-20 minutes later in much of Canada and Europe. Thus, for several days around the time of the Autumnal Equinox, the Harvest Moon appears to rise around the same time each evening (roughly coinciding with local sunset), providing light at the time most needed by farmers.

The reason for this is due to the ecliptic, the apparent path of the Sun, Moon, and planets through Earth's sky, which makes a narrow angle with the horizon this time of year. It is this narrow angle which provides that moonrise occurs around the time of sunset, near the time of the Full Moon of September (or sometimes October). Hence, several days appear to have a rising Full Moon.

Also, at this time of year when farmers need moonlight the most, the Harvest Moon appears larger and more prominent, due to the mysterious but well-known "Moon Illusion" that makes the Moon seem larger when it is near the horizon. And, while near the horizon, the Moon is often reddened by clouds and dust, creating the appearance of a large, rising red ball.

Some even liken a rising Harvest Moon to a rising "Great Pumpkin," of Peanuts comic-strip fame! In the Peanuts' network-television cartoon just before Halloween each year (originally aired on CBS-TV on 1966 October 27) titled, "Its the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown", the “Great Pumpkin” rises over the pumpkin patch to provide gifts to all good little boys and girls.

In China and Vietnam, a popular harvest festival is celebrated on the date close to the Autumnal Equinox of the Solar Cycle, as well as close to the Harvest Moon. This Mid-Autumn Festival / Moon Festival dates back more than 3,000 years to Moon worship in China's Shang Dynasty.

Native Americans also called the Full Moon of September the Corn Moon or Barley Moon, as Corn and Barley were among their main crops. Sometimes, the September Full Moon in the Northern Hemisphere is also known as the Fruit Moon.

In the Southern Hemisphere, where Winter is about to turn to Spring, the September Full Moon is known as the Worm Moon, Crow Moon, Sugar Moon, Chaste Moon, or Sap Moon.

The Harvest Moon in the Southern Hemisphere occurs in March or April, with the same advantages to Southern Hemisphere farmers as the Harvest Moon in the Northern Hemisphere.

                                                       Beginning of Autumn

The Autumnal Equinox (also known as the September Equinox), the beginning of the season of Autumn or Fall in the Northern Hemisphere of Earth, occurs Wednesday Afternoon, 2021 September 22 at 3:21 p.m. Eastern Daylight Saving Time (EDT) / 19:21 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). In Earth's Southern Hemisphere, this equinox marks the astronomical beginning of the season of Spring.

On the day of the Equinox, the Sun appears directly overhead at local Noon on the Equator. At the moment of Equinox, the Northern and Southern Hemispheres of Earth are illuminated equally. And, the time of Equinox is the only time when the Earth Terminator (dividing line on Earth between daylight and darkness) is perpendicular to the Equator.

This, and the reason for seasons on Earth in the first place, is due to the fact that Earth rotates on its axis, which is tilted at an approximate 23.44-degree angle from the ecliptic, the plane of the Earth's orbit around the Sun. As the Earth revolves around the Sun, this axial tilt causes one hemisphere of the planet to receive more direct solar radiation during that hemisphere's season of Summer and much less direct solar radiation about a half-year later during that hemisphere's season of Winter. As mentioned, during an Equinox [about half-way between Summer and Winter (Autumnal Equinox), and about half-way between Winter and Summer (Vernal Equinox)] both planetary hemispheres receive an equal amount of solar radiation. 

Although "Equinox" in Latin means equal-night, the day of the Equinox does not actually have an equal amount of daylight and nightfall, as it appears on the Earth's surface. If the Sun was just a pin-point of light in our sky, as all other stars appear, day and night would be equal.

But, because the Sun is a disk, part of the Sun has risen above the horizon before the center of the Sun (which would be the pin-point of light); so there are extra moments of light on the Equinox. Likewise, part of the Sun is still visible, after the center of the Sun has set.

Additionally, the refraction of sunlight by our atmosphere causes sunlight to appear above the horizon, before sunrise and after sunset.

September 25 will mark the Equilux ("equal-light"), the actual day with equal hours and minutes of the Sun above the horizon, and equal hours and minutes of the Sun below the horizon. The Equilux occurs twice each year, approximately 3-to-4 days before the Vernal Equinox, when Spring begins,  and 3-to-4 days after the Autumnal Equinox, after Autumn or Fall has begun.

An urban legend that has been making the rounds for decades has it that eggs can be stood on their ends only during an Equinox, whether the Vernal Equinox in the Spring or the Autumnal Equinox in the Fall. This is completely false. Depending greatly on the size and shape of the particular egg, eggs can be stood on their ends any day of the year! Astronomy has nothing to do with whether an egg can stand on its end. If an egg can stand on its end on the Equinox (and, due to the shape and size of some eggs, this is not even possible), it can stand the same way any other day of the year.

In the last few years, with the help of the Internet and Social Media, another urban legend has become prevalent. Now it is claimed that brooms can stand, on their own, on their bristles, only on an Equinox day. This is also false. Again, as with eggs, if a broom can stand on its bristles by itself (this usually only works with newer brooms, with more even bristles) on an Equinox, it can do so any day of the year!

September 22 is also designated as the annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day for this year.

 Internet Links to Additional Information ---

Harvest Moon: Link >>> https://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2013/16sep_harvestmoon/ 

Native American Full Moon Names: Link >>> https://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/full-moon-names/ 

Mid-Autumn Festival / Moon Festival: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mid-Autumn_Festival

Autumnal Equinox: Link >>> http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/astronomy/AutumnalEquinox.html


Season of Autumn or Fall: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autumn

Equinox: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equinox


Equilux: Link >>> https://darkskydiary.wordpress.com/2010/03/20/equinox-equilux-and-twilight-times/


Earth's Seasons: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Season

Tilt of a planet's axis: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axial_tilt

Urban legend of eggs and brooms standing on their own, only on an Equinox:
Link >>> http://www.snopes.com/science/equinox.asp

Falls Prevention Awareness Day: Link >>> https://nationaltoday.com/falls-prevention-awareness-day/

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

                 Monday, 2021 September 20.

                             Like This Post?  Please Share!

           More Astronomy & Science News - SpaceWatchtower Twitter Feed:
            Link >>> https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower

        Astronomy & Science Links: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#sciencelinks

                Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your in-box ?
                Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >.

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Informal Science Educator & Communicator:
Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/
Electronic Mail: < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/
SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/
Formerly Astronomical Observatory Coordinator & Planetarium Lecturer, original Buhl Planetarium & Institute of Popular Science (a.k.a. Buhl Science Center), Pittsburgh's science & technology museum from 1939 to 1991.
Formerly Trustee, Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall, Pittsburgh suburb of Carnegie, Pennsylvania.
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh: Link >>>  http://www.planetarium.cc  Buhl Observatory: Link >>>  http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2016/11/75th-anniversary-americas-5th-public.html
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago: Link >>> http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear: Link >>> http://johnbrashear.tripod.com
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries: Link >>> http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc

* Other Walsh Authored Blog & Web-Sites: Link >>> https://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/gawweb.html

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Astro-Calendar: 2021 Sept. / 1st All-Civilian SpaceX Launch Sept. 15

Crew Dragon Resilience Crew-1.jpg

Image of SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience capsule at the Kennedy Space Center. Four civilian, SpaceX astronauts will launch in this capsule for a three-day mission orbiting Earth. More information: Link >>> https://buhlplanetarium4.tripod.com/astrocalendar/2021.html#inspiration4

(Image Sources: SpaceX, Wikipedia.org, By SpaceX - https://images.nasa.gov/details-KSC-20201105-PH-SPX01_0002, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=95876932)

Astronomical Calendar for 2021 September ---
Link >>> https://buhlplanetarium4.tripod.com/astrocalendar/2021.html#sep

 Related Blog Post ---

"Astro-Calendar 2021 Aug. / Update: Boeing Starliner Launch Delayed Indefinitely." Sun., 2021 Aug. 1.

Link >>> https://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2021/08/astro-calendar-2021-aug-boeing.html

Source: Friends of the Zeiss.
            Wednesday, 2021 September 1.

                             Like This Post?  Please Share!

            More Astronomy & Science News - SpaceWatchtower Twitter Feed:
            Link >>> https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower

        Astronomy & Science Links: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#sciencelinks

                Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your in-box ?
                Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >.

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Informal Science Educator & Communicator:
Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/
Electronic Mail: < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/
SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/
Formerly Astronomical Observatory Coordinator & Planetarium Lecturer, original Buhl Planetarium & Institute of Popular Science (a.k.a. Buhl Science Center), Pittsburgh's science & technology museum from 1939 to 1991.
Formerly Trustee, Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall, Pittsburgh suburb of Carnegie, Pennsylvania.
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh: Link >>>  http://www.planetarium.cc  Buhl Observatory: Link >>>  http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2016/11/75th-anniversary-americas-5th-public.html
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago: Link >>> http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear: Link >>> http://johnbrashear.tripod.com
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries: Link >>> http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc

* Other Walsh Authored Blog & Web-Sites: Link >>> https://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/gawweb.html

Monday, August 23, 2021

Citizen Science: Help NASA Identify Clouds & Sky Color

   2nd_last_pic.png

This graphic demonstrates how clouds affect the heating and cooling of the Earth. In general, high clouds hold-in heat from the Sun and warm the planet, while Earth is cooled when low clouds reflect sunlight back into Outer Space. (Graphic Sources: NASA, Zooniverse.org)

By Glenn A. Walsh

Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

A new Citizen Science project will help NASA scientists identify cloud types, cloud cover, and how blue the sky is at a given time. From the review of sky photographs on-line, Citizen Scientists will help NASA determine how clouds affect the Earth's climate.

The NASA Globe Cloud Gaze (i.e. Community science project Leveraging Online and User Data through GLOBE And Zooniverse Engagement) community science project utilizes photographs taken by GLOBE Citizen Scientists (through the Zooniverse Citizen Science Portal), and then compares Citizen Scientists' descriptions of these photographs with satellite data collected by NASA. NASA scientists expect this will help them map energy flows across the planet and show how clouds influence this flow of energy.

The height of clouds, and the amount of moisture they contain, determine whether the particular cloud helps to warm Earth or cool the planet. In general, high clouds tend to have a warming effect on the planet, as they block infra-red radiation from escaping back into Outer Space after being received from the Sun. While, in general, low clouds tend to have a cooling effect on the planet, as they reflect more sunlight back into Outer Space. (See graphic at the beginning of this blog-post.)

For sky color, scientists are studying the effects of other sky phenomena such as contrails, dust, haze, smoke, and smog. They hope to determine how much this additional sky phenomena affects the heating and cooling of the planet.

You can help NASA with this project by participating in one or more of the three lines of study:

  1. Cloud Cover - Focuses on how much each photograph is covered by clouds.

  2. What Do You See? - Focuses on which cloud types or other sky events (e.g. dust storm or smoke plumes) you observe in the photographs.

  3. Sky Color – Focuses on what is the deepest blue you see in each photograph.

To get started, just go to the NASA Globe Cloud Gaze Internet Web-Site:

Link >>> https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/nasaglobe/nasa-globe-cloud-gaze

 Internet Links to Additional Information ---

Citizen Science Projects: Link >>> https://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/FAQ/citizenscience.html

Zooniverse Citizen Science Portal: Link >>> https://www.zooniverse.org/ 

NASA: Link >>> https://www.nasa.gov/ 

Science Friday Public Radio Program: Link >>> https://www.sciencefriday.com

 Related Blog-Post ---

"Science Experiments Children & Teens Can Do At Home !" Tue., 2018 June 5.

Link >>> https://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2018/06/science-experiments-children-teens-can.html

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

                 Monday, 2021 August 23.

                             Like This Post?  Please Share!

           More Astronomy & Science News - SpaceWatchtower Twitter Feed:
            Link >>> https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower

        Astronomy & Science Links: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#sciencelinks

                Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your in-box ?
                Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >.

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Informal Science Educator & Communicator:
Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/
Electronic Mail: < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/
SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/
Formerly Astronomical Observatory Coordinator & Planetarium Lecturer, original Buhl Planetarium & Institute of Popular Science (a.k.a. Buhl Science Center), Pittsburgh's science & technology museum from 1939 to 1991.
Formerly Trustee, Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall, Pittsburgh suburb of Carnegie, Pennsylvania.
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh: Link >>>  http://www.planetarium.cc  Buhl Observatory: Link >>>  http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2016/11/75th-anniversary-americas-5th-public.html
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago: Link >>> http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear: Link >>> http://johnbrashear.tripod.com
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries: Link >>> http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc

* Other Walsh Authored Blog & Web-Sites: Link >>> https://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/gawweb.html