Space and Astronomy
This lense is loveingly dedicated to all things space: astronomy, space exploration, human space flight and anything else I can think of.
I am actively seeking more content for this lense, and would love you feedback, insight and opinions. Have you seen an interesting space article? Have you heard of an upcoming space event? Have an opinion about one of my comments? Contact me!
Finally, if you like what you see, please rate my lense. I work hard to update it regularly and the feedback would be deeply appreciated. Thanks!
Space News & Commentary - My opinions of space related news
- SpaceX Prepares for New Launch Attempt within the Week
Jan 19 - SpaceX today announced that the next launch attempt of the its Falcon launch vehicle has been pushed off to mid February with a considerable chance for continuing delays. A quote from the SpaceX website: "...Upon completion of the static
- Comet McNaught Shines Bright
Jan 12 - A truly excellent treat. This evening I personally saw Comet McNaught for the first time. In spite of the unusual subfreezing weather for the Bay Area the trip was well worth it. The comet was plainly and easily visible to the naked eye star
- Blue Origin Video of Sub-Orbital Craft Testing
Jan 5 - A couple of days ago, Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos' suborbital craft building venture, released a number of short video clips showing a vertical take-off and landing test of the craft that they are building. This is pretty cool. Take a look.
- COROT - Earth-like Planet Hunting Mission Launches
December 27 - The European Space Agency today launched COROT - a satellite designed to locate terrestrial size planets orbiting other stars by searching for periodic dimming of the parent star's light.
- Hilarious: Mars Rover Beginning To Hate Mars
Oct 28 - After nearly three years of nonstop data collection, Spirit has begun transmitting obscene gestures and confusing rants.
Save the Night Sky, Stop the Orange Glow
If you live in a big city you know that the night sky is virtually drowned out in an Orange Glow. This is especially bad on cloudy or hazy nights, but for us strange folks who like to point a telescope at creation this is a menace that we face every night of the year.
I happen to live in the Bay Area Peninsula (California), a very light polluted region of the country. When I want to gaze up at the heavens, I need to get into my car and drive for a while in the direction of the mountains. Even so, I don't even try to look at celestial targets to the east, as they are overwhelmed by the Orange Glow...
My town is relatively dark at night, but even so, star gazing within city limits is virtually impossible. Street lights are the least of my concerns. Next door neighbors are the biggest culprits. Do we really need so much outdoor lighting at 2:00AM? And if we do, why should we waste energy lighting up the sky when we really want to illuminate the earth below?
Do amateur astronomers and night lovers everywhere a big favor. Turn off that outdoor light before you go to bed. You'll save on your electric bill, cut down on global-warming-inducing carbon emissions, and will do a big favor to a bunch of guys carrying large telescopes and searching for a nice piece of dark sky.
Blue Origin Short Test Flight
This is one of a few videos released by Blue Origin - the space venture owned by entrepreneur Jeff Bezos of Amazon fame. The test flight reached an altitude of 297 feet and landed on the same spot from which it took off.
Clearly, the space race is on. Altough I do think that Blue Origin has a lot of ground to make up at this point to catch up with industry leaders such as Scaled Composites and SpaceX.
You Vote: Will Blue Origin Ever Make it to Suborbital Space
So, with the latest video's showing flight hardware from Blue Origin actually taking off and landing safely, the question is:
Will Blue Origin ever make it into suborbital space?
Space Books You Would Love
Great astronomical discoveries and how they were made. The best part: each brief chapter includes a brief excerpt from the original scientific paper announcing the discovery. Excellente!
Did you ever ask yourself: if the universe is so large, why aren't we regularly visited by aliens? Well, I have. This book offers 50 possible explanations to this conundrum. Fun, light and informative. Recommended for SETI fans everywhere.
True story folks! In the 50's there was a serious effort to build a massive space ship, that would be powered by... nuclear bombs. This is really fascinating book.
Excellent Space Web Sites
Here I will feature a new astronomy or space website every week. There are so many out there, and many of them are pretty nifty.
- Asteroid Impact Calculator
What would happen if an asteroid hits the earth? How much damage would there be? How far would you need to be to be safe? This website lets you run your own interactive scenarios. Change the size, composition, location of impact and then stand back a
- Free 400 Page e-Book: the Sky in 2007
This downloadable eBook offers detailed information about what to look for in the sky in 2007. The file is 23Mb.
- Previous Website of the Week: Orbiter - A free space flight simulator
Orbiter is a free 3D space flight simulator using real physics. Check it out.
- Previous Website of the Week: Asteroid Impact Risk
This JPL website offers real time data regarding the chance of impact by known Earth orbit crossing asteroids. The highest risk as of this moment is listed as 1 on the Torino scale and refers to a long shot hit (1 in 63,000) in the year 2102. Breath
- Previous Website of the Week: Real Time Satellite tracking
This website offers a real time satelltie tracking tool based on Google maps. The website covers about 8,000 satellites, including the ISS, Hubble and Space Shuttles when these are in orbit. Tres cool.
Astronomy & Space Websites
Below are some of the most useful, most fun and most interesting astronomy and space websites out there on the Internet. I will keep adding more on a regular basis.
- Flying Through Mariner Valley
This video simulates a flight through Mars' longest canyon, Mariner Valley (Valles Marineris). The video is a composite of images taken by Mars Oddesey, combined with topographical data generated from Mars Global Surveyer.
- Sky Map
A free and accurate map of the night sky in PDF format. A new monthly map is released every month.
- Hubble Space Telescope
The Hubble Space Telescope needs no introduction, but the Hubble web site is a great place to visit. Videos, pictures, articles - they're all there.
- Spirit & Opportunity Mars Rovers
It's been more than one full Martian year (2 Earth years), but Spirit & Opportunity are still at it. The website includes Martian images (some in 3D), press releases, even movies of Martian dust devils.
- Sky and Telescope Magazine
Sky and telescope magazine has a great website, with articles, sky charts and links to many other resources.
- Planetary Society Radio
A weekly space radio show from the Planetary Society, downloadable as a Podcast or a streaming broadcast.
- Astrobiology Magazine
Astrobioloigy Magazine focuses on a single topic: the search for life in the universe. You will find no UFO reports here - this is all about hardcore science.
I found this site on this Squidoo Lense. Spacesounds has a large archive of mission recordings, as well as an interactive solar system, in which clicking on a planet brings up sounds from that planet recorded by a visiting spacecraft.
- Google Mars
The site is an interactive map of Mars, complete with region names, lander landing sites and a bunch of other fascinating details.
- eSpaceTickets - Win a Ride to Space
This is an interesting concept: let the public fly to space for a fee they can pay. OK, so not everyone will fly, but a lucky few will, and there is a way to increase your chances. Check this out.
Star Gazing: What to Take
What to take with you when you go star-gazing
If you are about to set out into the night for some serious star gazing, here are some of the things you probably want to take with you:
- Sky Map - this is a must for any amateur astronomer, especially ones that are just starting out. In this lense I direct readers to an excellent and free online sky map in PDF format. See above.
- Small Red Flash Light - your map will not help you if you can't read it in the dark. A small red flash light costs about $3 and will not ruin your night vision.
- Green Laser (optional) - the human eye is great at seeing green, which is why a green laser can act like a pointer at night. Point at the star you are talking about and everyone will see which one it is... believe me, it makes life a lot easier. A green laser costs in excess of $100.
- WARM cloths - nothing ruins a great night out faster than cold bones, and even though you think you are warm now, wait until you've been outside for a couple of hours. Trust me on this - always wear warmer cloths than you think you'll need.
- Extra Batteries - especially if you are using a battery powered scope...
Sky and Telescope has a great website for beginning amateur astronomers. It covers everything from how to choose a telescope to how to read a star chart. Also, take a look at Space.com's Guide to Astronomy for tips on how to get started in Astronomy.
An Excellent Book for Astronomy Beginners
This is the perfect astronomy guide for beginners. Simple explanations and clear illustrations make it really easy for anyone using a small telescope or binoculars to truly enjoy the night skies.
Interesting Space Facts
Did you know...
- Why Jupiter's Great Red Spot is Red?
Good question. Scientists hypothesize that Jupiter's Great Red Spot, the most powerful known storm in the Solar System, dredges up material from the lower levels of Jupiter's atmosphere, and the material then reacts with UV radiation from the sun, thus turning red...
- Which man-made object is currently furthest from the Sun?
Voyager 1 took over this honor from Pioneer 10, on February 17, 1998. Voyager 1 is now about 95 AU from the Sun (an AU is the average distance from the Earth to the Sun, approximately 150 million km or 93 million miles). Voyager 1 & 2, and Pioneer 10 & 11 are currently the only man-made objects to leave the solar system.
- That solar eclipse tracks move from west to east, even though the earth itself rotates from west to east?
According to NASA, the reason for this is that the Moon moves to the east in its orbit at 3,400 km/hour. Earth rotates to the east at 1,670 km/hr at the equator, so the lunar shadow moves to the east at 1,730 km/hr near the equator. You cannot keep up with the shadow of the eclipse unless you traveled at Mach 1.5.
Movies for Space Junkies
The history of the Apollo program
The story of the Mercury astronauts dramatized (but well)
One of NASA's finest hours