Saturday, September 1, 2018

Astronomical Calendar: 2018 September



Image of the Columbia Command Module, which transported the first humans to the Moon as part of the historic Apollo 11 space mission in July of 1969. The Columbia, along with many other artifacts from the Moon mission, are part of the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum exhibit, "Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission," which will open as a temporary exhibit at the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh on September 29. More information on this traveling exhibit: Link >>> https://www.heinzhistorycenter.org/exhibits/destination-moon-apollo-11-mission
(Image Source: National Air & Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution; Photographer: Eric Long)

Astronomical Calendar for 2018 September ---
Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium4.tripod.com/astrocalendar/2018.html#sep


 Related Blog Post ---

"Astronomical Calendar: 2018 August." 2018 Aug. 1.

Link >>> https://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2018/08/astronomical-calendar-2018-august.html


Source: Friends of the Zeiss.
              Saturday, 2018 September 1.

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gaw

Glenn A. Walsh --- < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
Electronic Mail: < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < 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.
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 >

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Are Sundials, to Tell Time, Really Obsolete ?

                    http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/sundial/carnpa/libpk/pix/lsw/sundial26lsw.jpg   
Photograph of an Open Armillary Sundial (which tells both time and date) located at the northern tip of Library Park, near the center of the Pittsburgh suburb of Carnegie, Pennsylvania; at the top of Library Hill is the historic Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall, the fourth (of only five) Carnegie libraries both built and endowed by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. This was the first of several Pittsburgh-area sundials visited by the North American Sundial Society on August 17, during their annual conference.
(Image Source: Friends of the Zeiss; Photographer: Pittsburgh-Area Free-Lance Photographer Lynne S. Walsh)

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

Today, with computers, smart-phones, and atomic clocks, are sundials, for telling time, really obsolete? For a dedicated group of amateur scientists, members of the North American Sundial Society, the answer to this question is an emphatic no! In fact, they are using computers and high technology to design and create even better sundials!

This-past weekend (August 16 to 19), the North American Sundial Society held their annual conference in the Oakland Civic Center District of Pittsburgh. The conference included many sessions on new types of sundials and new ways to design and use sundials, in addition to spending a day visiting several local and historic sundials in the Pittsburgh area.

Several of the sessions were presented by Fred Sawyer, whose breadth of knowledge of all aspects of telling time by sundial is amazing. He is President of the North American Sundial Society (NASS) and co-founded the educational organization in the Autumn of 1993. Mr. Sawyer, who now lives in Connecticut, received Masters Degrees in History and the Philosophy of Science from the University of Pittsburgh in 1976.

Mr. Sawyer's presentations ranged from determining the mathematical scales for laying-out a horizontal sundial to a session on how to create a sundial that tells time by the light of the Moon! Mr. Sawyer, and NASS member Frank King, both made presentations regarding Ring Sundials, smaller portable sundials that one can carry with them or wear.

“3D Printing A Double Helix Sundial” was the title of a presentation delivered by NASS member Bob Kellogg. According to Mr. Kellogg, it takes 21 hours and 55 minutes to complete a 3D-printed sundial.

One fascinating presentation regarded a house in Mexico, which was designed so that the Sun shone onto indoor sundials! The presentation, “El Cerrito Pyramid & The Cosmic Room,” was prepared by the home's owner, Mexican Statistics Professor Ruben Hernandez Herrara. Unfortunately, due to visa problems, Professor Herrara was not able to attend the conference; NASS member Bob Kellogg made the presentation.

NASS member Ken Clark demonstrated how to get more public attention to sundials by mounting small sundials on or near local businesses. With both a presentation and an exhibit, he showed how he set-up a small vertical sundial at a Rita's Italian Ice store in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania.

In addition to discussing Pittsburgh-area sundials, there were sessions on St. Louis-area sundials and “Gnomonic Activities in Italy.” And, NASS member Will Grant showed photographs of his visit to the Millennial Solar Monument near Antofagasta, Chile. This Monument was constructed in the Southern Hemisphere on the Tropic of Capricorn, the southern-most latitude where the Sun can be directly overhead.

Other presentations included, “A Viking Sunstone Sundial,” “Alternative Sunrise / Sunset Markers,” “Alt-Az Plots on Panoramic Photos,” “An Hours to Sunset Solar Decliner Reflection Sundial,” “An Original Bifilar Sundial With Helix Wires,” and “A Sundial With A Helix Polar Gnomon Showing Civil Time.”

The annual Sawyer Dialing Prize was awarded to Italian NASS member Gianpiero Casalegno for creating computer software tools to assist in the development of new sundials. Mr. Casalegno donated the small cash prize to a new sundial being built in Seattle.

At age 25, the North American Sundial Society is one of the oldest sundial science and educational organizations. Only the British Sundial Society is older, at age 29.

Mr. Sawyer emphasizes that researching sundials is multidisciplinary, including several academic areas such as science, mathematics, technology, history, and culture.

From time-to-time, the NASS assists in some public educational programs, including a STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Math) festival in Washington DC a few years ago. More recently, NASS participated in a program at the National Archives, again in Washington.

NASS, which publishes a quarterly journal, has also participated in a history book project with the Adler Planetarium in Chicago. And, from time-to-time NASS members contribute to projects to build new sundials, including a sundial mural expected to be completed next month in Bellingham, Washington.

The local host for the 24th annual conference of the NASS was John Sibenac. In addition to his interest in sundials, Mr. Sibenac produces bookmarks from postage stamps, including the wonderful postage stamp issued last year in commemoration of the Great American Solar Eclipse. A first-of-a-kind stamp, the heat from the touch of a finger transforms the eclipsed Moon into the image of the Moon!

Special Thanks: Fred Sawyer and John Sibenac.

                  “Sundial – original”  Taken between 1894 and 1900, this image shows how the Fort Pitt Sundial would have appeared shortly after it was found by the Fort Pitt Society.  The carvings and numerals are clearly visible and in good condition.  The sundial’s surface was heavily damaged during the 20th century from being exposed to pollution and rain.  Credit - Fort Pitt Society.
Photograph of the sundial discovered buried just outside of the Block House of historic Fort Pitt, in Pittsburgh, in 1894. Found without the gnomon, it is believed to date from 1763 following the Battle of Bushy Run during Pontiac's Rebellion, immediately following the French and Indian War. In addition to receiving a site visit by the North American Sundial Society, this sundial was the topic of one of the history presentations at the Pittsburgh conference.
(Image Source: Fort Pitt Society, Daughters of the American Revolution / Fort Pitt Block House)

Internet Links to Additional Information ---

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

North American Sundial Society: Link >>> http://sundials.org/

British Sundial Society: Link >>> http://sundialsoc.org.uk/

Historic Fort Pitt Sundial: Link >>> http://www.fortpittblockhouse.com/sundial/

Library Park Sundial, Carnegie PA:
Link >>> http://andrewcarnegie.tripod.com/photofreelibrary.htm#SD

Another interesting sundial - Bracewell Radio Sundial at Very Large Array Radio Telescope Observatory in New Mexico: Link >>> https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap180713.html

Related Blog Posts ---


"Journey to the Sun !" 2018 Aug. 12.

Link >>> https://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2018/08/journey-to-sun.html

 

"Special Solar Eclipse Stamp to be Unveiled During Stonehenge-Type Solstice Event in Wyoming." 2017 June 19.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2017/06/special-solar-eclipse-stamps-to-be.html


Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.
              Wednesday, 2018 August 22.

                             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 --- < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
Electronic Mail: < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < 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.
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 >

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Journey to the Sun !

The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 3:31 a.m. EDT, carrying NASA's Parker Solar Probe.
Launch of the Parker Solar Probe on a 3-month journey to the Sun. The on-time launch (although there was a one-day delay) occurred from Space Launch Complex 37 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida early on Sunday Morning, 2018 August 12. (Image Source: NASA)

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

Early Sun-day morning (ironically, before local Sun-rise on August 12), NASA launched a mission to the nearest star, our Sun. The Parker Solar Probe will enter and study the solar corona, the Sun's atmosphere, when it arrives in November, for the beginning of a 7-year mission, orbiting the Sun 24 times.

It was just on August 21 of last year, during the Great American Solar Eclipse, that millions of Americans saw the solar corona, safely, with their own eyes. The first data about the Sun, from the Parker Solar Probe, should start arriving in December.

After nearly a 24-hour delay from the original launch time, the Parker Solar Probe was launched, on-time, from Space Launch Complex 37 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The early Sunday morning (2018 August 12) darkness was disrupted at 3:31:56 a.m. Eastern Daylight Saving Time (EDT) / 7:31:56 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) when the 1,400-pound / 635.029318 kilogram probe, about the size of a small automobile, lifted-off.

“That’s a relatively light spacecraft,” said Andy Driesman, Project Manager for the mission at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab in Laurel, Maryland. “And it needs to be, because it takes an immense amount of energy to get to our final orbit around the Sun.”

Being launched on one of the most powerful rockets in the world, a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy Rocket (with a rocket third-stage), this rocket has 55 times more energy than is required to reach Mars! About two hours after launch, at 5:33 a.m. EDT / 9:33 UTC, the mission operations manager reported that the spacecraft was healthy and operating normally.

It takes a lot of fuel to place even a fairly light-weight object into Outer Space. By about a minute or-so after launch, the entire rocket was half the weight it was at the time of launch! The fuel consumed in the launch constitutes the rocket's lost weight.

The first time NASA has ever named a space mission after a living person, the Parker Solar Probe is named after American astrophysicist Dr. Eugene Parker, the S Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago. Now age 91, Dr. Parker viewed the launch at Cape Canaveral this morning.

It was 60 years ago near the beginning of the Space Age, in 1958 at about the same time that NASA was officially established, that Dr. Parker published an academic paper which developed the theory of the solar wind, the stream of charged particles and magnetic fields that flow continuously from the Sun, after observing that as a comet approaches the Sun the comet's tail always points away from the Sun. He also predicted the “Parker Spiral” shape of the solar magnetic field extending into the Outer Solar System.

This project has literally been in the planning for the last 60 years, since the publication of Dr. Parker's academic paper. Only now have we been able to develop the technologies that will allow the Parker Solar Probe to travel close to the Sun, safely.

“NASA was planning to send a mission to the solar corona for decades, however,
we did not have the technology that could protect a spacecraft and its instruments from the heat,” said Adam Szabo, the Mission Scientist for the Parker Solar Probe at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “Recent advances in materials science gave us the material to fashion a heat shield in front of the spacecraft not only to withstand the extreme heat of the Sun, but to remain cool on the backside.”

The most important technology developed was the shadow heat shield, made of a reinforced carbon-carbon composite. This will protect the scientific instruments from the solar corona's intense heat and radiation. While the Sun-facing side simmers at +2,500 degrees Fahrenheit / +1,371.11 degrees Celsius, behind the shield the spacecraft will be a cozy +85 degrees Fahrenheit / +29.44 degrees Celsius.

Energy to power the spacecraft and scientific instruments will come from two solar, photo-voltaic power arrays. The larger, primary array is used until the spacecraft gets close to the Sun; then it is retracted behind the shadow shield. The smaller, secondary array will power the spacecraft at the closest approaches to the Sun. A pumped-fluid cooling system will be used to keep the secondary array from over-heating.

NASA Parker Solar Probe Project Scientist Nicky Fox, with the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab, describes the probe as "the most autonomous. spacecraft that has ever flown." She goes on to say, “We’ll be going where no spacecraft has dared go before — within the corona of a star...With each orbit, we’ll be seeing new regions of the Sun’s atmosphere and learning things about stellar mechanics that we’ve wanted to explore for decades.”

Greater spacecraft autonomy is necessary because much of the time, particularly when the spacecraft is on the other side of the Sun from Earth, the probe will be out of communication with Earth scientists, due to the great amount of radio noise that comes from the Sun. And, even when the probe is within communication range, it will take eight and one-third minutes to send a command to the spacecraft, as it takes light eight and one-third minutes to travel from the Sun to the Earth.

To reach the Sun, the Parker Solar Probe will use a gravity-assist from the Planet Venus. But, unlike other gravity-assist missions which help the spacecraft to speed-up, in this mission the Parker Solar Probe actually gives-up some energy to Venus to slow-down the spacecraft and ensure a more directed solar orbit for the probe.

In fact, the probe will orbit Venus seven times before it reaches the final, quite eccentric solar orbit. Actually, all of the probe's orbits will be highly elliptical, to reduce the amount of time the probe's scientific instruments and electrical systems have to be exposed to the spacecraft charging effects, highly-charged particles, radiation, and heat from the near-solar environment. And, at closest approach to the Sun at a distance of only 3.83 million statute miles / 6.16378752 million kilometers, this will be the closest any human-made object has gotten to our Sun!

Although the probe will orbit Venus seven times, as it perfects its solar orbit, only one passage of Venus will permit data about Venus to be collected and sent back to scientists on Earth. On the other six passages of Venus, the scientific instruments will be off, to allow the spacecraft's limited power to transmit solar data back to Earth.

On the closest orbit to the Sun, the Parker Solar Probe will be traveling 430,000 miles per hour / 692,017.92 kilometers per hour, becoming the fastest human-made object ever built! At this speed, the probe would take but one second to travel from Philadelphia to Washington, DC !

There are three primary goals of this mission:

  • Determine why the surface (photosphere) of the Sun is only about +10,000 degrees Fahrenheit / +5,500 degrees Celsius, while the atmosphere (corona) is much hotter: ranging from +1.7 million degrees Fahrenheit / +1 million degrees Celsius to more than +17 million degrees Fahrenheit / +10 million degrees Celsius, according to the National Solar Observatory (NSO) Sacramento Peak in Sunspot, New Mexico. Scientists also want to know how this extra heating of the corona accelerates the solar wind.
  • Determine the structure and dynamics of the solar wind's magnetic fields.
  • Determine how energetic particles are transported and accelerated.

In particular, scientists want to learn more about how the Sun affects Space Weather, that is the extreme events in the solar corona which send-out highly-charged particles and radiation that often affects electrical systems on Earth and in Earth orbit. The gases and plasma in the Sun create strong magnetic fields, which often become twisted due to the uneven rotation of the Sun, creating sunspots, solar flares, and coronal mass ejections. The particles and radiation sent-out by these explosive events can effect radio communications, GPS, and satellites, disrupt electrical grids, and endanger astronauts.

“All of our data on the corona so far have been remote,” said Nicholeen Viall, Solar Physicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. “We have been very creative to get as much as we can out of our data, but there is nothing like actually sticking a probe in the corona to see what’s happening there.” 

Below the probe's high-gain antenna is a plaque which dedicates the mission to Dr. Parker and includes a quote from the scientist: “Let’s see what lies ahead.” The plaque has a memory-card, which includes the names of over 1.1 million people; NASA solicited these names from interested members of the general public. The memory-card also includes photographs of Dr. Parker, along with a copy of his 1958 scientific paper.

Internet Links  to Additional Information ---

Parker Solar Probe -
Link 1 >>> https://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/parker-solar-probe
Link 2 >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parker_Solar_Probe

More News Regarding Parker Solar Probe Mission -
Link 1 >>> https://blogs.nasa.gov/parkersolarprobe/
Link 2 >>> https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2018/nasa-s-parker-solar-probe-is-about-to-lift-off

Earth's Sun -
Link 1 >>> https://www.nasa.gov/feature/want-to-learn-more-about-the-sun-here-s-how
Link 2 >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun

Celestial Star: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star

Solar Eclipse / Eclipse of the Sun: Tips for Safe Viewing:
Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/FAQ/soleclipse/solareclipseviewingtips.html

Related Blog Post ---

"Great American Solar Eclipse Early Mega-Movie & Balloon Images." 2017 Aug. 26.

Link >>> https://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2017/08/great-american-solar-eclipse-early-mega.html


Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.
              Sunday, 2018 August 12.

                             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 --- < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
Electronic Mail: < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Formerly Astronomical Observatory Coordinator & Planetarium Lecturer, original Buhl Planetarium & Institute of Popular Science, Pittsburgh's science & technology museum from 1939 to 1991.
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 >

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Astronomical Calendar: 2018 August


Image of a 2007 Perseid Meteor, just to the right from the Milky Way. The Perseid Meteor Shower, one of the best meteor showers of the year, will be even better this year as the Moon will be in New Moon phase (Lunation # 1183) on August 11 at 5:58 a.m. EDT / 9:58 UTC, and moonlight will not interfere with meteor viewing during this meteor shower's peak (Perseid Meteor Shower runs from July 14 to August 24, with the peak occurring Sat., Aug. 12, 9:00 p.m. EDT / Aug. 13, 1:00 UTC - Best viewing: Aug. 11, 12, & 13, Midnight to Dawn). And, Mars will continue to be a bright beacon in the night sky for another month or so. More info on viewing Mars this Summer:
Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2018/07/mars-bright-beacon-in-sky-in-july-august.html
(Image Sources: Wikipedia.org, By Brocken Inaglory - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2632873)

Astronomical Calendar for 2018 August ---
Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium4.tripod.com/astrocalendar/2018.html#aug


 Related Blog Posts ---

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

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

 

"Astronomical Calendar: 2018 July." 2018 July 1.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2018/07/astronomical-calendar-2018-july.html


Source: Friends of the Zeiss.
              Wednesday, 2018 August 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 --- < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
Electronic Mail: < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < 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.
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 >

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

A U.S. 'Space Force' ?

                         

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

Last Friday marked the 49th anniversary of the first landing and walking by humans on Earth's Moon. And, next Sunday will mark the 60th anniversary of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the nation's first civilian space agency (signed into law by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower on 1958 July 29, after Congressional passage on 1958 July 16; NASA became operational on 1958 October 1). The Trump Administration and the National Space Council are now calling for the establishment of the nation's first true military space agency, the U.S. Space Force.

U.S. President Donald J. Trump announced his proposal for a Space Force on 2018 June 18, during an address to the newly reconstituted National Space Council. In the address, the President said, “I’m hereby directing the Department of Defense and Pentagon to immediately begin the process necessary to establish a space force as the sixth branch of the armed forces. That’s a big statement.” He further said that the Air Force and the Space Force would be two "separate but equal" branches of the United States Armed Forces.

The President had floated the suggestion for a Space Force during an earlier speech in March of 2018. Apparently, he felt that few people, particularly in the Pentagon, had taken the suggestion seriously, which resulted in the National Space Council address and official proposal.

Last year, a new U.S. Space Corps within the U.S. Air Force (as the U.S. Marine Corps is within the U.S. Navy), had been proposed by the Trump Administration. As the Pentagon showed little support for a Space Corps, the initiative went unfunded by the Congress.

Russia is the only nation that has had an independent Space Force. The Russian Space Forces operated as an independent branch of the Russian military from 1992 to 1997, and again from 2001 to 2011. The Russian Space Forces became a part of the Russian Aerospace Forces in 2015, similar to how the U.S. Air Force Space Command is part of the U.S. Air Force.

Currently, only three other nations have space-related military agencies:

  • China: People's Liberation Army Strategic Support Force
  • France: French Joint Space Command
  • United Kingdom: Royal Air Force Air Command

Although he was Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe during World War II, President Eisenhower preferred creating a civilian space agency, which became NASA, for most scientific research into space exploration. In a Presidential Memorandum of 1958 March 5, it states the following:

The President...said he has asked himself how we should use space activities for our national purposes. It seems to him that military activity on space projects is acceptable in the area of application of knowledge. He feels certain, however, that discovery and research should be scientific rather than military. He felt that there is no problem of space activity (except ballistic weapons) that is not basically civilian, recognizing that application of findings may be made to serve military purposes.”

For military space activities, a new Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) was set-up within the Department of Defense on 1958 February 7. Today, this agency is known as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and advances scientific research that often has civilian applications. The Internet and the Global Positioning System (GPS) originated with DARPA projects.

Since 1958, responsibilities for military activities in Outer Space has been reorganized a few times. A U.S. Space Command, which was a Defense Department Unified Combatant Command, operated from 1985 to 2002. In an attempt to streamline Defense Department commands, the U.S. Space Command was absorbed into a larger U.S. Strategic Command in 2002.

Additionally, three armed services-based commands, related to military space activities, continue to exist:

  • Naval Space Command which was merged into the Naval Network and Space Operations Command in 2002;
  • Air Force Space Command;
  • Army Space and Missile Defense Command.

In fact, the Wall Street Journal reported on a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study that stated that, as of 2016, there were "60 distinct entities that deal with (military) assets in space." Although details for the organization of a new Space Force are not yet available, it seems that these would all be absorbed by the new, separate Space Force.

Following President Trump's official Space Force proposal, before the National Space Council, the Congress has commissioned two studies to consider the feasibility of such a new military service. The first study, which is due next month, would determine whether such a Space Force would be necessary. The second study, due in December, would examine the nature, implementation, and costs of a Space Force.

Supporters of a Space Force contend that American military space efforts are fractionalized among several different commands and other agencies. This leads to uneven implementation of military space goals and objectives.

Further, Space Force supporters believe that the Navy, Air Force, and Army have their expertise in sea, air, and land (respectively) activities, that does not transfer well into the realm of Outer Space; the Navy, Air Force, and Army just have other priorities. They believe that a single Space Force, which can completely concentrate their efforts in activities related to Outer Space, would be a much more efficient and effective manner to implement the nation's military efforts in Outer Space.

Mark Albrecht, Executive Secretary of the National Space Council from 1989 to 1992 has noted that “Space is a place where there is now tens of billions of dollars” in infrastructure, from the International Space Station to the the Hubble Space Telescope, to GPS and military surveillance satellites. He adds, “Everything from financial transactions to the GPS that guides your car is controlled from space, or at least facilitated by space.” He believes that we have such a huge financial investment in Outer Space today, we do need something such as a Space Force to protect that investment.

Recently, perhaps surprising support for a Space Force came from a well-known, science popularizer, Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, long-time Director of New York City's Hayden Planetarium and host of the most recent Cosmos television series. He insists that people should not dismiss the Space Force proposal out-of-hand, simply because it was proposed by President Trump. Dr. Tyson believes a Space Force may be the best way to organize protection against possible asteroid strikes on the Earth.

People opposed to a new Space Force see the new military service as a new, unnecessary expense. They see a new enlarged and costly bureaucracy that will be a rival to the other military branches. They contend such an additional rivalry for military resources would be inefficient, and during a time of national crisis could be harmful.

Last year, when a U.S. Space Corps was being considered, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said, “The Pentagon is complicated enough...This will make it more complex, add more boxes to the organization chart, and cost more money. If I had more money, I would put it into lethality, not bureaucracy.” Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis also wrote to Congress in opposition to the Space Corps proposal.

On 1967 January 27, most nations of the world, including the United States, Russia (then, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), and China, signed the Outer Space Treaty. The treaty forbids weapons of mass destruction in Outer Space, but does not forbid conventional weapons. The treaty, however, does forbid the use or testing of any type of weapon on another planetary body.

The Outer Space Treaty also forbids military installations or military maneuvers on other celestial bodies, as well as any nation claiming land on a planetary body. Space analysts have long suggested that this portion of the treaty may some day need to be amended, to promote economic development and resource exploitation of other planetary bodies, including asteroids.

Few private corporations will be willing to make huge investments in Outer Space, if they do not have property rights on certain portions of planets or asteroids. Further, when such planetary and asteroid development begins, the nations from which the corporations come from will want to provide some type of military protection for the corporation's celestial activities, as our military currently protects corporations within our legal boundaries.

In the popular, science-fiction television series, Star Trek, to justify military action in a distant part of our Milky Way Galaxy, Star-Ship Enterprise Captain James T. Kirk (who led the Flag-Ship of the United Federation of Planets' “Star Fleet”) sometimes said something to the effect, “We are the only cops out here!” The question is: how soon will true “space cops” be needed?

Internet Links to Additional Information ---

Memorandum of Conference with the President (Eisenhower) - regarding establishment of NASA - 1958 March 5
Link >>> https://eisenhower.archives.gov/research/online_documents/nasa/Binder12.pdf:

Space Forces Around the World: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_force

Proposed U.S. Space Force: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Space_Force

20th Century Space Race between U.S. and Russia:
Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Race

1967 UN Outer Space Treaty: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outer_Space_Treaty

Related Blog Posts ---

"45 Years Ago: Man Lands on the Moon !" 2014 July 20.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2014/07/45-years-ago-man-lands-on-moon.html

 

After 30 Years, New "Cosmos" Science TV Series Airs on FOX." 2014 March 7.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2014/03/after-30-years-cosmos-science-tv-series.html

 

"JFK: Loss of the Man Who Sent Us to the Moon." 2013 Nov. 22.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/11/jfk-loss-of-man-who-sent-us-to-moon.html

 

"Moon Day - A National Holiday ?" 2013 July 20.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/07/moon-day-national-holiday.html

 

"The Historic Mission of Apollo 11, Man Walks on the Moon for the First Time; A Personal Remembrance From 40 Years Ago By Glenn A. Walsh" 2009 July 20.

Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/bio/Apolloremembrance.htm


Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.
              Tuesday, 2018 July 24.

                             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 --- < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
Electronic Mail: < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Formerly Astronomical Observatory Coordinator & Planetarium Lecturer, original Buhl Planetarium & Institute of Popular Science, Pittsburgh's science & technology museum from 1939 to 1991.
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 >

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Mars: Bright Beacon in the Night Sky in July & August !

Earth and Its Moon, as Seen From Mars
The Earth and the Earth's Moon as seen from Mars on 2016 November 20, using NASA's largest telescope in orbit of Mars, the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. For the next two months, Earthlings will have the best view of Mars available in the last 15 years! (Image Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory / NASA)

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

Now, through the beginning of September, will be the best time in the last 15 years to view the Planet Mars from Earth. Earth will make its closest approach to Mars in 15 years on July 31 [at 4:00 a.m. Eastern Daylight Saving Time (EDT) / 8:00 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)] !

The reason Mars will appear so close is because this year's Mars Opposition (Mars Opposition, when the Earth comes directly between Mars and the Sun, happens every 2 years and 50 days - the last Mars Opposition was on 2016 May 22) occurs near the same time as the Mars Perihelion, or the closest point in the Martian orbit that Mars ever comes to the Sun.  The last time Mars was this close to Earth was in 2003 (distance of 34.6 million statute miles / 55.7 kilometers), when Mars was the closest it had come to Earth in 59,635 years (since the year 57,617 B.C.). This year, the Mars Perihelic Opposition will only be 1.2 million statute miles / 2 million kilometers shy of the 2003 record!

The Earth comes close to Mars about once every two years (along with Mars Opposition), as Earth's one-year orbit of the Sun and Mars' approximately two-year orbit of the Sun (exactly 1.88082 Earth years) coincide. The next time Earth approaches Mars as closely as this year will be in the year 2035.

If you have never seen Mars in a telescope or binoculars, this Summer is the time to do so! Although, regrettably, due to a global-wide dust storm that continues plaguing Mars, it may be difficult to see details on the Red Planet.

However, you need to plan where and when to look for Mars. Due to what astronomers call Mars' current declination (one of two angles in an equatorial coordinate system, sort-of like astronomical longitude), Mars will be passing fairly low in the sky each night this Summer.

Today (July 11), the Mars declination is –23 degrees 51 minutes south of the celestial equator (all negative values are south of the celestial equator, while positive values in declination are north of the celestial equator). And, as the Summer goes along, Mars will continue to be even lower in the sky, with the Red Planet appearing –25 degrees 58 minutes 14 seconds on July 31 (Earth's closest approach to Mars) and -26 degrees 30 minutes on August 21. However, during the last weeks of August, as Earth moves farther away from Mars, Mars begins to start appearing higher in the sky – on September 1 it will appear exactly -26 degrees in declination.

So, to look for Mars, you will need an unobstructed view, away from buildings, trees, and hills. It would be best to try to find the highest hill easily available to you, to look for Mars.

Of course, there are specific times when Mars will be available for viewing.

On July 27 [at 1:00 a.m. EDT / 5:00 UTC], just four days before Earth's closest approach to Mars, Mars will be at astronomical Opposition from Earth's perspective, when the Earth is directly between the Sun and Mars. At this time, Mars will rise in the southeast at approximately local sunset, stay in the sky all-night long, and set in the southwest at approximately local sunrise.

At Mars Opposition, Mars will be 0.39 Astronomical Units [1 Astronomical Unit (a.u.) is the average distance between Earth and the Sun (average of aphelion and perihelion distances) = 92.9558072730249 million statute miles / 149.597870700million kilometers] from Earth. This will be a distance of 3.2 light-minutes - it will take 3.2 minutes for light, or radio signals, to travel from Mars to Earth (or visa-versa). At this time, the Apparent Visual Magnitude of Mars will be -2.8.

About a half-day after Mars Opposition, in Earth's Eastern Hemisphere (Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia) a Total Eclipse of the Moon / Total Lunar Eclipse will occur 6 degrees north of Mars [longest Total Lunar Eclipse in the 21st century (lasting approx. 1 hour, 43 minutes), as it occurs within a little more than a half-day of Lunar Apogee (July 27, 2:00 a.m. EDT / 6:00 UTC: 252,415.26982 statute miles / 406,223 kilometers)] - time of Primary Moon Phase of Full Moon: July 27, 4:20 p.m. EDT / 20:20 UTC (which will be the smallest appearance of the Full Moon for the entire year); time of greatest Lunar Eclipse: July 27, 4:21:43.5 p.m. EDT / 20:21:43.5 UTC (Eclipses of the Moon / Lunar Eclipses are the only types of eclipses safe to look at with the naked-eyes, binoculars, or telescopes).

At the present time, Mars rises in the late evening and sets about an hour and a-half after sunrise. By early September, Mars rises just before dinner-time and sets in the early morning.

Although very bright this Summer, on and after July 27 you do need to wait until Dusk to start looking for Mars. And, Mars will be visible through Dawn, on and before July 27.

A great Internet web-site to learn the daily rise and set times of Mars, and all of the other planets in Earth's Solar System, for your particular location, is Heavens-Above:

Of course, as Mars rises you will find the Red Planet in the southeastern sky. At the time of Mars Transit (i.e. the point in time when Mars is the highest in the southern sky, half-way between Mars rise and set times), Mars will be in the southern sky. As it nears the time of setting, Mars can be found in the southwestern sky.

If you find a good location, and look in the right direction at the right time, you will have no trouble finding Mars. It will appear as the bright reddish-orange beacon in the night sky.

Usually, Mars is the fifth brightest celestial object that can be seen in the sky. The brighter objects, in rank of brightness, are the Earth's Sun (Apparent Visual Magnitude -26.74), Earth's Moon (Apparent Visual Magnitude during Primary Moon Phase of Full Moon -12.90), Planet Venus (second planet from the Sun - July 11 Apparent Visual Magnitude -4.0), Planet Jupiter (fifth planet from the Sun - July 11 Apparent Visual Magnitude -2.1), and then the Planet Mars (fourth planet from the Sun - July 11 Apparent Visual Magnitude -2.5). However, now through the first week in September, for about two months, Mars will shine brighter than Jupiter!

Mars is not the only planet visible in the night sky, this Summer. At the present time, the bright Planet Venus can be seen dazzling for a couple hours after sunset in the western sky. The Planet Jupiter, almost as bright as Mars this Summer, is high in the southwestern sky after sunset, setting in the early morning. And, the Planet Saturn, which is much dimmer (sixth planet from the Sun - July 11 Apparent Visual Magnitude +0.1), can be found at about the same declination as Mars, approximately between Mars and Jupiter.

Internet Link to Additional Information ---

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

Good Photograph of Mars:
Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2018/07/astronomical-calendar-2018-july.html

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

Apparent Visual Magnitude: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apparent_magnitude

Opposition: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opposition_(planets)

Perihelion: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perihelion_and_aphelion

Related Blog Posts ---

"NASA InSight Space Lander on Way to Mars." 2018 May 7.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2018/05/nasa-insight-space-lander-on-way-to-mars.html

 

"Beautiful Celestial Grouping in Pre-Dawn Sky Mon., Tue." 2016 April 25.

 Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2016/04/beautiful-celestial-grouping-in-pre.html

 

"Help Design Manned Spacecraft to Mars!" 2014 Sept. 25.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2014/09/help-design-manned-spacecraft-to-mars.html

 

"April Best Time to See Mars." 2014 April 8.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2014/04/april-best-time-to-see-mars.html


Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.
              2018 July 11.

                             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 --- < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
Electronic Mail: < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Formerly Astronomical Observatory Coordinator & Planetarium Lecturer, original Buhl Planetarium & Institute of Popular Science, Pittsburgh's science & technology museum from 1939 to 1991.
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 >

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Astronomical Calendar: 2018 July

   Mars appears as a red-orange globe with darker blotches and white icecaps visible on both of its poles.
Image of the Planet Mars, in natural color, from 2007. Mars will make its closest approach to the
Earth in 15 years on July 31 !  July and August would be excellent months to view Mars with a
telescope or pair of binoculars, when Mars will be brighter than Jupiter !
(Image Sources: Wikipedia.org, European Space Agency & Max-Planck Institute for Solar System Research for OSIRIS Team: By ESA - European Space Agency & Max-Planck Institute for Solar System Research for OSIRIS Team ESA/MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/RSSD/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA - http://www.esa.int/spaceinimages/Images/2007/02/True-colour_image_of_Mars_seen_by_OSIRIS, CC BY-SA 3.0-igo, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=56489423)

Astronomical Calendar for 2018 July ---
Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium4.tripod.com/astrocalendar/2018.html#jul


 Related Blog Posts ---

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

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

 

"Astronomical Calendar: 2018 June." 2018 June 1.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2018/06/astronomical-calendar-2018-june.html


Source: Friends of the Zeiss.
              2018 July 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 --- < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
Electronic Mail: < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Formerly Astronomical Observatory Coordinator & Planetarium Lecturer, original Buhl Planetarium & Institute of Popular Science, Pittsburgh's science & technology museum from 1939 to 1991.
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 >