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 » »

Updates: STS-134 – Endeavour’s last flight

Posted by Lydia on April 29th, 2011


UPDATE: Wednesday, May 4, 2011 0800 hours, Houston TX USA:

The following update is from my friend at the launch site in Florida:

“National Aeronautics and Space Administration – NASA
To prevent a conflict with a possible STS-134 launch next week, NASA managers have moved space shuttle Atlantis’ rollover to the Vehicle Assembly Building to May 16 & roll out to the launch pad to May 23. STS-135 launch remains targeted for June 28.”


UPDATE: Tuesday, May 3, Houston, TX , USA, 0700 hours:

NASA has determined May 10th as the earliest launch date for Endeavor.

The following statement is from my friend in Florida, located at the launch site:

” The latest that I’ve heard: NASA’s Kennedy Space Center:
NASA managers met Monday and determined that Tuesday, May 10 is the earliest Endeavour could be launched on the STS-134 mission. Plans are for managers to reconvene Friday to determine a more definite launch date after the box is removed and replaced and the retest of systems has been completed. ”
Read the rest of this post …

World’s Largest Vacuum

Posted by Lydia on March 1st, 2011

SPF Have you ever wondered where the world’s largest vacuum is located and what it could be used for? Well, fear not, and wonder no more as here is the answer to all your persistent questions!

If you ever find yourself near NASA’s Glenn Research Center’s Space Power Facility located at Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio, you would be within shouting distance of this grandiose marvel. Constructed of Type 5083 grade aluminum and at one hundred feet in diameter and one hundred twenty two feet in height, with flooring able to support three hundred tons in weight, the Space Power Facility’s (SPF) Aluminium Vacuum Chamber was built to simulate the vacuum of space and to test space flight vehicles. It was also been used to test “non-nuclear space hardware in a low earth orbiting environment”. Although the building is designed to test nuclear hardware as well, this type of testing has not been carried out. Some of the hardware tested at this site include those required for the Mars Lander systems, deployable Solar Sails, many types of hardware used on the International Space Station, and other high-energy experiments and rocket-fairing separation tests.
Read the rest of this post …

These launches always bring tears to my eyes.

I contemplate the beauty of the launch, the marvel of scientific advances, the physical and mental strength of all astronauts to handle such a strenuous ride into space aboard such a powerful machine; the TRUST we all have in science and the men and women of all entities involved in getting our astronauts safely to their destination and home again; the memorable experiences that are relayed by the space travelers, to us who remained at home on our Blue Planet and peered into space every day and night thinking about the ISS and  all who have made it their temporary home. I contemplate the future of the space program and ask: “What is next?”

No doubt about it: It was a spectacular launch.
Read the rest of this post …

Famous Eclipses throughout History

Posted by Marc on February 18th, 2011

Eclipse of May 1878Understanding the science of solar and lunar eclipses is important. However, it is also worthwhile to look at the significant roles played by these impressive natural phenomena in the development of human culture generally and at crucial moments in human history specifically. This series of ten articles, written by Norma Reis, describes a wide variety of historical eclipses (both solar/lunar and full/partial) across a wide span of history (from ancient to modern times) and tells the stories associated with them. You can read these articles here: Astronomy Today’s History of Famous Eclipses.

Apollo 13 and Mercury 6 brought to life

Posted by Marc on December 19th, 2010

Control RoomWhile images of space have always dazzled us, Spacelog aims to bring space exploration to life through words. This new project presents the Apollo 13 and Mercury 6 mission transcripts in a highly readable form. Images from the missions are interspersed throughout the dialogue between the astronauts and mission control. The transcripts are easily navigable: you can dip in and out of them or indeed just jump directly to, for example, a most dramatic moment, a lighter moment or the sentence encapsulating John Glenn’s orbit.

Spending some time on this website demonstrates that when it comes to these missions, particularly Apollo 13, the detail and the broader context are inseparable. Well done to Spacelog’s designers who built the whole website from scratch in under a week! They have plans to extend it to cover Gemini 7, Apollo 8 and Apollo 11. We’re looking forward to these additions.

News Item for Astronomy Teachers / Educators

Posted by Marc on September 25th, 2010

Astronomy Education Review Title HeaderAstronomy Education Review has updated its website, which can now be found at All the journal’s articles are available to download in full on the new site. For those who haven’t come across the journal before, its target audience is “everyone who works in astronomy and space science education” and it covers a wide variety of subjects of interest to those involved in teaching astronomy at all levels. Examples of which include: “What It Would Take to Increase the Number of High School Astronomy Courses: A Survey of Principals”, “Using Visual Assessments and Tutorials to Teach Solar System Concepts in Introductory Astronomy” and “The Pulsar Search Collaboratory”. We would like to hear your thoughts about this journal. Feel free to leave comments on this post.

SkyGuide updated for Autumn/Winter 2010

Posted by Marc on September 15th, 2010

Pleiades in the night skyAstronomy Today’s Skyguide has been updated for the period for October to December 2010. There’s plenty to see over the coming months: Comet Hartley, a Total Lunar Eclipse and a prominent Jupiter. It is also possible to spot Discovery passing overhead on the penultimate mission of the Space Shuttle program. Read the full night sky guide for details of these and much more.

This latest SkyGuide was written by Kelly Whitt who has recently joined the AstronomyToday team. You can read a brief biography here. We’re very excited at this new arrival!

Mars Hoax Returns Yet Again

Posted by Lydia on August 29th, 2010

“… as large as the full moon … closest to Earth since (insert date) … will not be able to view again until the year (insert year) …”

The astronomy community has advised readers since 2004 of this erroneous post, yet every year it comes around again to fool readers into thinking Mars will be as bright as the Moon.

I can think of one positive thing about this silly falsity: it gets people outside at night to see if it is true.

My questions to the public:

1. Don’t you think that if an object in the sky was “as bright as the full Moon” you would be able to see it in the daytime as well as at night?

2. If there was an object as bright as this headed toward us, wouldn’t you be hugging your loved ones and asking forgiveness of those you may have wronged?

Let’s explore a few facts about Mars in reference to its proximity to our home planet. Read the rest of this post …

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