SpaceX | Heavy Launch | Unique Views

I watched with excitement and apprehension as the countdown for the SpaceX Heavy launch neared liftoff. This stuff is in my blood and has been for more than 50 years. When the world’s most powerful rocket lifted off and arced over the Atlantic, it brought tears. I eagerly waited for the two side boosters to separate, return, and land at the Cape. They did so perfectly and almost at the same moment.

If you missed the launch, this replay video shows it all. I skipped the pre-launch discussions and set the time slider to the 21:45 mark for the actual launch. You can drag the time slider to the beginning if you want to see the whole video. The intro minute is actually quite good. Drag the slider to the 29:00 mark to see the boosters come down and land.

The third booster in the center core which lifted the payload into orbit also came down but into the Atlantic. It was supposed to land on a barge. A mistake in calculation of the amount of fuel needed at the very end caused it to run out before reaching the barge. As a result, it missed by about 380 yards and struck the water going about 300 mph. Elon Musk says that is an easy fix.

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Supermoon | 31 Jan 2018

In the evening of 30 January, the Moon rose bright and large in the east. Within 12 hours, it would be in the shadow of the Earth. There were a few clouds. The forecast was calling for a 50% cloud cover in the morning.

7 pm CST

At about 3 am I noticed the Moon was shining brightly through the bedroom windows. I felt hopeful the much hyped Supermoon would be visible before moonset/sunrise. I got up at 5:40 and walked down the street a few houses with camera and tripod. The Moon was entering some clouds toward the horizon. Overhead it was very clear. Eclipse was in progress.

We drove to a location away from houses and lights to get one more chance to photograph the beginning of totality. Too late. Clouds took over and the Moon disappeared. We headed home to watch online. NASA carried excellent video from three sites in California. These four images were screen grabs from Griffith Observatory near Los Angeles. They show the blood moon and the emergence from totality.

Using video from NASA via Griffith Observatory, I layered frame grabs onto a disk the size of the umbra of Earth. It shows the relative size of the Moon compared to Earth. Progress was slow as it moved at a speed of about 2,300 mi/hr (3,700 km/hr or 1 km/s). Totality began at 6:51 and ended at 8:08 CST.

Video via NASA | Griffith Observatory

Here is a beautiful time-lapse of the view from Griffith Observatory. It takes only a minute.

As the event ended, the Moon appeared low to the horizon as viewed by a telescope at the Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards AFB. These frame grabs captured the distorted Moon behind some hills with wind turbines in view. As the Moon disappeared, it added a sense of finality to the entire event. It was a lot of fun to watch. I hope you were able to see it.

Colorized Images

There are many examples of black and white images with color added afterward. A fellow blogger has beautiful ones here. The techniques have been around since the first daguerreotypes of 1839. Hand coloring with pigments and dyes brought new life to the monochrome images before 1900. New 3-color techniques of adding color to images came about in the late 1800s. The more recent advent of digital photography allowed images in color without the need for film and chemicals.

My interest in photography goes back to the 1970s. I became interested in the desktop computer in the 1980s and bought my first Apple Mac in 1987. I moved into the digital camera realm by 1999. One could import the digital color images into the computer and manipulate the colors at will. It was great fun. A huge industry is built around color manipulation of images by the likes of Adobe Photoshop and other programs. Our phones can even do amazing things to our color images.

I was given a book last year called Mathew Brady and His World. It describes Brady‘s work from his first studio in 1844, his Civil War photographic experience, and includes photographs of many notables of the era. His black and white work was remarkable. I wondered how some of the photographs would look if they were in color.

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Endurance | A Year On ISS

I’ve been enjoying the book Endurance by Astronaut Scott Kelly. He tells of his life before becoming an astronaut and of his year in space aboard the International Space Station from March 2015 to March 2016. He and his identical twin brother Astronaut Mike Kelly were studied extensively to see the effects of long duration space flight on the human body. This study is an important one for the planned trip to Mars. The Twin Study is ongoing. Here are some of the latest articles about it.

The book provides countless behind the scenes looks at the lives of space explorers. I highly recommend the book to the space enthusiast. Part of Kelly’s duties now include travel to stores and special events to promote the book. My son attended a book-signing event near him and bought a copy for me. Kelly was invited to Talks at Google on 24 Nov 2017 where he spoke for about an hour about his experiences. You can watch his talk at this link.

I am a strong believer that we humans are capable of amazing and wonderful things. When we set our minds to a goal and work together, we can accomplish the most difficult of tasks. As Scott Kelly ended his talk, he spoke of how he feels about the potential of mankind. This is exactly how I see it.

A Dragon Flew Over Me

Just before 6:20 am, I looked to the western sky. Flying from the SW was the very bright International Space Station. Next to it, moving parallel, was another dim point of light. I realized it was the SpaceX Dragon which had been released a few hours earlier for its return to Earth with 4100 lbs of cargo.

I grabbed my iPad and set up in an east facing window with hopes of capturing the two in a NightCap app photograph. Dragon was too dim to show. But, ISS, the Moon, Jupiter, and Mars all shined bright in the 2 minute exposure. The ISS moved southeast toward the lower left.

Spaceflight Now  and SpaceX confirmed splashdown of Dragon in the Pacific.