Endeavour Launch Week

November 9, 2008

The space shuttle Endeavour is scheduled to lift off from the Florida coastline on Friday, November 14th at 7.55pm EST to the International Space Station. The equipment includes new crew quarters, a galley, oxygen generator and wastewater recycling device. The equipment will allow the station to double its crew to six next year.

You can follow the mission at the shuttle mission page and if there are any special events, we’ll talk about them here. Locally, we have the Community Media Center to thank, as they broadcast NASA-TV on local cable channel 24 (Livewire). The GRAAA sponsors NASA-TV locally. Godspeed Endeavour, and good luck.


An August Full Moon

August 15, 2008

Somtething is going to happen at 5.16pm EDT on Saturday, August 16th. The moon will be opposite the sun in the sky, having reached its “full” phase.

The August full moon is called the “Sturgeon Moon” as the large fish were seemingly easier to catch this month.

And if you just so happened to be on the other side of the world there will be a partial eclipse of the moon. If you remember last August, we actually had a total lunar eclipse at full moon.

So as the sun sets on the warm Saturday evening, turn around 180º from the sunset and see the luminous full moon rising in the southeastern sky, as it begins its journey across the night sky, bathing the earth with its reflected glow.

June 2008’s Full Moon

June 17, 2008

The middle of the third week of June heralds the full moon for the month. This time the moon will attain “full” phase at 1.30pm Eastern Time on the 18th. June’s full moon is called the “Full Strawberry Moon” and everyone in Michigan knows it’s time for the sweet, juicy locally-grown berries, which are much better than the imported ones from other states.

June’s full moon is the southernmost full moon of the year. With the sun at it’s highest point in the sky for us in the northern hemisphere (the Summer Solstice was just over a week ago) the moon, which when it is in the “full” phase is 180° from the sun, is at it’s lowest point. Hence, the moon will rise in the southeast sky, and not get very high above the southern horizon all night.

The Universe (Cosmic Apocalypse)

April 29, 2008

The next episode of the amazing series The Universe continues tonight. The new episode is called “Cosmic Apocalypse.” Here’s a preview…

The Universe as we know it is condemned to death. Space, matter and even time will one day cease to exist and there’s nothing we can do about it. Harsh realities are revealed about the future of our Universe; it may collapse and burn or it might be gripped by a galactic ice age. Either of these scenarios might be a long way off. However, our Universe could suddenly be destroyed by a “random quantum fluctuation”, a bubble of destruction that can obliterate the entire cosmos in the blink of an eye. No matter how it ends, life in our Universe is doomed.

Check local listings for the time of the show.

Look Up Tonight! (March 28)

March 28, 2008

Since it looks like the skies will be clear here in West Michigan, it’s a perfect opportunity to not only look at the night sky, but see a great flyover by the International Space Station.

If you are interested, step outside just after 9.00pm and look to the West-Northwest. At 9.08pm the station will rise and slowly (sort of) traverse the evening sky, going high overhead, and then disappearing in the Northeastern sky  over six minutes later.

Because of it’s location overhead, and the time of day, ISS will be the brightest thing in the night sky, easily outshining all of the stars overhead. At it’s highest point – 72 degrees – the station will be half-way across the sky. Finally, before it disappears, it will pass just below the Big Dipper.

The link to the right will take you to a site with predictions for the ISS, space shuttle, and other satellites as they travel overhead. You can see just when a certain object will be in view.

Over the next few weeks, we will have many opportunities to see the space station in the evening sky. Some will not be as spectacular as tonight’s will, but then again, there are a few that will be better.

And as an added treat, there is something following the space station. You will notice about three minutes later a slightly dimmer point of light following in the ISS path. The is the Jules Verne ATV (Automated Transfer Vehicle), a  new supply ship on its maiden voyage to the space station.

So if you can, go outside, look up, and wave as the station (and its crew) fly overhead. They won’t see you, but will appreciate the interest.