Summer is the season for Noctilucent Clouds

Full Moon and Perigee Moon converge for a Supermoon

Track down two asteroids, Ceres and Vesta

Planetary pairings of Saturn and Mars, Jupiter and Venus

The Perseid meteor shower peaks

The Equinox restores balance to days and nights

Mars meets its rival, Antares

An early Harvest Moon occurs in September

Look out for Noctilucent Clouds
Full details in the Sky Guide » »

STS-126: 27th Shuttle Mission to the ISS

Posted by Lydia on November 5th, 2008

sts-126 crew


With Commander Chris Ferguson in control, Endeavor makes an ontime arrival at Edward’s Airforce Base surrounded by a cerulean blue sky.  Amazing wrapup for STS-126’s 15 day, 20 hour mission!

…… L/


It’s lift off for the Space Shuttle Endeavor which left Earth orbit on a successful and beautiful night launch on its way to the International Space Station, which it should reach on Sunday.

The first module was carried into space ten years ago on 20 November, 1998, marking the commencement of construction of the ISS.

STS-126’s 15 day mission will commemorate this anniversary. STS-126 carries supplies, equipment, a regenerative life support system and additional living quarters which once installed will increase the present living area from a “three bedroom one bath living space to a five bedroom two bath home-away-from-home with a gym” enabling crew expansion from three to six onboard astronauts by next spring. The installation of a “regenerative environment control system” will provide astronauts with recycled condensation and waste water which will be used for cooling systems and drinking water in the near future decreasing the dependence on the Space Shuttle, to be retired in 2010.

Read the rest of this post …

Return to the Moon by 2015?

Posted by Lydia on November 4th, 2008

In 2004, the Bush administration set a goal of 2015 as the year we would return to the Moon. We do know that exploration of the Moon would provide insights into lunar history as well contribute to what we know about Earth and of the history of the solar system. So, seriously contemplating the subject, I ponder several questions which remain to be answered before Scientific Lunar Colonies can be established:

  1. Is it a priority? With the world economic situation as it is at this point in time, is funding a science-based Lunar Colony worth the expense?
  2. Where does Space Exploration stand in the bigger picture?
  3. Do the world leaders have the resolve to fund and contribute jointly to the establishment of a Lunar Base Camp?

Obviously the establishment of a Lunar colony should be a multinational effort. Can we all work together to make it happen? Taking the Space Station as an example of joint international camaraderie, we would hope the answer to these questions would be an affirmative. What do you think?

… Lunar eclipse photo taken by Mr. R. Nugent of Houston, TX.

Update to Space Trash Posting

Posted by Lydia on November 4th, 2008

As reported by Space Station programme manager Mr. Mike Suffredini yesterday, 3 November, 2008, the toxic tank of ammonia coolant, referred to as “space trash”, mostly burned up about 50 miles above the Earth. Anything that may have survived the burning fall (what I call the Re-entry Roast) has now found a new home in the ocean between Australia and New Zealand.

Space Trash Falling on our Heads

Posted by Lydia on November 2nd, 2008

Sometime tomorrow (Sunday, November 2, 2008) 1,400 pounds of space trash the size of your refrigerator may be falling to Earth.

This trash consists of an ammonia tank discarded in July of 2007 by astronauts aboard the International Space Station and will burn up on its descent back to Earth, except for about forty pounds of it, which should fall into “the ocean” at the speed of about one hundred miles per hour. Question is: which ocean?

Hubble Repaired!

Posted by Lydia on October 31st, 2008

Interacting Galaxies, ARP 147The Hubble Space Telescope is back in business! This week NASA rebooted several critical backup units on board the Hubble to repair the primary instrument control and data formatting unit which failed in late September this year causing the telescope to shutdown.

Hubble immediately responded by sending a superb image of ARP 147, interacting galaxies resembling the number 10.

Next year NASA plans to launch a mission to install two new cameras on the Hubble. This mission will not take place in February as planned, but at a later as yet undetermined date.

epsilon eridani Astronomers are excited by the possible discovery of three planets circulating Epsilon Eridani, one of the nine closest stars to us. The findings of NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope are consistent with the presence of three planets around the star. This newly reported solar system is quite interesting as it resembles our own system as it may have been many years ago. (Our system is nearly five times older than that of Epsilon Eridani.) The similarities of the two systems include the following:

  • The Epilson Eridani system holds two rocky asteroid belts and an outer icy ring.
  • The inner asteroid belt is is the same distance from its host star as our own ring of asteroids orbiting between Mars and Jupiter and Epsilon Eridanis’s second belt holds the same similarity in its distance as our planet Uranus in our system.
  • Epsilon Eridani’s icy ring of circulating objects resembles our Kuiper Belt of mini planets. Read the rest of this post …

Dwarf Planet Haumea

Posted by Lydia on October 23rd, 2008

The Kuiper Belt is home to a number of dwarf planets. Haumea is one such body: shaped like a deflated American football it rotates end over end every four hours, faster than any other rotating body in our solar system. Its rock-like density, consisting of layered rock and ice, is unusual for a Kuiper Belt object most of which are mainly made up of ice.

Haumea’s moons are pieces of ice whacked off the dwarf by another fast spinning object. This collision contributed to its quick spin which in turn is probably the reason for its oblonged shape. More interesting is the possibility of addition circulating pieces of neighbouring ice which could also be bits of whacked off Haumean mantle. Read the rest of this post …

It’s India’s “Lunar Year”!

Posted by Lydia on October 23rd, 2008

Indian Space AgencyThe Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is now a worthy member of Earth’s space exploration programme and “space competitive industry”, proving this by launching Chandrayaan-1, which successfully departed Earth’s orbit yesterday commencing a two year lunar exploration mission. One of India’s newspapers titled The Hindu stated “the mission would catch the imagination of young Indian men and women who are to become tomorrow’s pool of talented scientists, the lifeblood of such programmes”. Read the rest of this post …

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