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 » »

Crew of Atlantis STS-135

Atlantis STS-135 Crew

While firefighters tapped out a grass fire across the road from Johnson Space Center, Kennedy Space Center slated Shuttle Atlantis for its final journey to the ISS. Shuttle Atlantis’s preliminary launch date is set for 11:40 a.m. EDT on July 8, 2011. Atlantis still must pass the Flight Readiness Review scheduled for June 28, 2011 after which the official launch date will be announced.

The Atlantis crew: Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley, Mission Specialist Rex Walheim and Mission Specialist Sandy Magnus, call themselves “The Final Four”. Why only four instead of six or seven space travelers for the shuttle’s final journey? In the event of an emergency rendering the Shuttle Atlantis useless as a return vehicle, the crew of four have been retrofitted with a Russian Sokol pressure suit and molded Soyuz seat liner for a safe return aboard a Soyuz capsule.

Atlantis’s goal is to transport the Raffaello multipurpose logistics module along with supplies and space parts to the ISS.

Endeavour lands safely

Posted by Lydia on June 1st, 2011
Endeavour lands safely at KSC

Endeavour lands safely at KSC

Space Shuttle Endeavor arrived safely early this morning from its eventful last journey to the ISS. Mission Control thanked Commander Kelly and the shuttle crew for “122 million miles flown during 25 challenging spaceflights….. Your landing ends a vibrant legacy for this amazing vehicle that will long be remembered. Welcome home, Endeavour. ” Commander Kelly replied to Mission Control in stating: “It’s sad to see her land for the last time, but she really has a great legacy.” Endeavour’s landing was witnessed by Atlantis’s crew in addition to a large crowd at KSC.
Endeavour logged 122.8 million miles on 299 days in space, completing 4,672 Earth orbits and transported 170 crew members.


Endeavour docks with International Space Station

Posted by Lydia on May 18th, 2011
CDR M. Kelly & Nobel Laureate Sam Ting

CDR M. Kelly & Nobel Laureate Sam Ting

Endeavour arrived at the International Space Station this morning on its twelfth and final visit serenaded by the Space Station crew ringing the on board welcoming bell. The main goal of Endeavor’s journey is the installation of the 7-ton Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer which will begin beaming information on the presence of dark and anti matter withing two hours of activation. About the size of a bus, costing two billion dollars, the AMS uses a magnet to detect cosmic ray particles which will then be analysed for the presence of antimatter and other particles. The entire project was cancelled in October 2005 after the Columbia accident in 2003, however after review by the National Academy of Sciences, Nobel Laureates, and all countries involved, the AMS was deemed of such importance that NASA agreed to find another transporter.

The AMS project is chaired by its principle investigator: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Nobel Laureate Samuel Ting.
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Cdr. Mark Kelly’s remarks before Endeavour liftoff

Posted by Lydia on May 16th, 2011

Portrait of NASA Cdr. KellyJust before commanding Endeavour into space, Commander Mark Kelly had a few words:
It’s in the DNA of our great country to reach for the stars and explore. We must not stop. To all the millions watching today, including our spouses, children, family and friends, we thank you for your support.”

Endeavour is ‘Go’ for launch

Posted by Lydia on May 16th, 2011
Endeavour is Ready

Endeavour is Ready

This was another perfect launch for the history of space flight and science. Watching the Shuttle program coming to an end brings back pleasant memories of visiting NASA with my uncle in the 70s and listening to the tour operator explain the ambitious plan of the future Shuttle programme.  We toured the facility where training would take place and had a look at the diagrams and mock ups of the shuttle. What seemed sci-fi and high tech then may be considered “routine” now. We have quite a few articles here on Astronomy Today about the Shuttle and Space programme.  Now that you have a minute, you may want to have a read. Check out our posted interviews as well.
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Endeavour STS-134

Posted by Lydia on May 13th, 2011
Endeavor's Crew Returns to KSC

Endeavor's Crew Returns to KSC

All Systems Go for Monday’s launch!

The countdown has resumed for the shuttle launch on Monday, May 16, 2011 at 0856 a.m. EDT from Launch Pad 39A at KSC in Florida. Technicians will begin loading Endeavour’s external fuel tank today.
Endeavour’s crew returned to Florida yesterday and will practice shuttle landings and review the shuttle’s ingress plan with the Vehicle Integration Test Team this morning.
This is the Shuttle’s 36th tour of duty to the ISS during which Endeavour will deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, spare parts, two S-band communications antennas, a high pressure gas tank, and micrometeoroid debris shields. All is functioning smoothly for Monday’s launch.

Space Shuttle Endeavour – Recent Updates

Posted by Lydia on May 6th, 2011
Crew of Endeavor

Crew of Endeavor

Endeavour’s earliest possible launch date may be Monday, May 16, 2011, 8:56 a.m. EDT. Technicians will spend this weekend repairing and re-testing Endeavour’s electrical circuitry. The cause of the failure has yet to be determined however it was located “inside an aft load control assembly, which is a switchbox in the shuttle’s aft compartment, and possibly its associated electrical wiring”. The power switching box has been replaced and the wiring between the box and the heaters are to be replaced.
The STS-134 mission will be extended from fourteen to sixteen days.

(My friend at the launch site was hoping to see the ATLAS V Launch this afternoon, but that was delayed until tomorrow due to weather.)

Space Trivia Questions

Posted by Lydia on May 1st, 2011


Do You Know?

How many Voyager probes are there?

When were they launched?

What is the GOLDEN RECORD located on each craft?

Voyager has shone us three objects in the solar system comprised of a nitrogen dominated atmosphere.

What are they?

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