Radiometer

My mother had this on her kitchen window sill for many years. Have you watched one of these when bright sunlight shines on it? One side of each vane is bright white. The other side is black. Did you notice which direction the sunlight made the vanes spin?

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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.

Viewing Heavenly Bodies | 2018

🔭  Updates an earlier post to include recent changes and new information.

As an amateur astronomer, I use desktop planetarium software to plan viewing sessions and keep track of the planets and Moon. There are many products available for all computer platforms and smartphones. A Google search yields links to many sources. I downloaded and use the open source Stellarium on my desktop computer. It can be customized to your location and is free. For Android and Mac phones and tablets, I like SkySafari. It isn’t free but is inexpensive.

Online planetarium sites are popular and offer many features. Below are highlights of some I find interesting. Each has multiple features, a unique look and feel, and different levels of detail. They can help satisfy your curiosity about astronomical events.

I have included only a few select sites and links since so many are available. I welcome reader questions or reviews about using these tools or others you find helpful.

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NASA

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Dark Skies, Everyone!

Thoughts about light pollution from fellow blogger and amateur astronomer Scott Levine.

Scott's Sky Watch

Hey, everyone.

In November 1988, and I’m having as hard a time believing it was 20 years ago as you are, I stepped off, or was shooed off, a dolmuş and watched as the beaded curtains in the windows disappeared into the exhaust and dust along the bumpy, cracked road a half hour drive from Antalya, Turkey.

A dolmuş is a van that fills the gap between bus and taxi, running along a fairly set route, along a fairly set schedule, but freely making stops along the way. Over the long hours before, my friends and I had ridden streetcars, subways, long-haul, overnight buses, and finally that dolmuş to get to the a spot that was so remote, so confusing, and so uncomfortable that, to paraphrase Homer Simpson, I was somewhere where I didn’t know where I was, and my immediate feeling was of total loss.

As we left Istanbul…

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Mars-Jupiter Conjunction | 2018 January 4, 5, 6, 8

Update: We did have cloudy skies on the 7th but the 8th dawned clear. I got the camera ready and grabbed the shot. Here are the four days superimposed. The latest position of Mars on the 8th is to the lower left of Jupiter. You might need to click to embiggen if using a small device for viewing.

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Previously Posted:

It was bitter cold outside each of the past three mornings. But, the skies were clear. Jupiter and Mars were visible through the living room windows. I set the camera on the tripod and captured three images here superimposed. Mars approached Jupiter from the upper right. In the closest position, Mars was less than the width of a full moon from Jupiter. The next two mornings will be cloudy here. Mars will be seen to the lower left. If it is clear where you live, look southeast an hour before sunrise.