ISS and More

Evening arrived with very clear sky and mild temperature. It was the last night of winter. The International Space Station was due to pass directly overhead from SW to NE. It would pass near the Moon, Mars, Taurus and Orion. The iPad was set with NightCap app to record for about 3 minutes. After recording the scene, I enjoyed some telescope time.

iPad with NightCap in ISS mode, 171.75 sec exposure

ISS Space Science | 2020

It has been a busy year of research aboard the International Space Station. In November, we celebrated the 20th year of continuous human presence aboard the space station, which so far has hosted 242 people and more than 3,000 science experiments. During the past year, research has ranged from growing radishes in microgravity to capturing 360-degree footage of life aboard station to monitoring our planet. This research benefits people on Earth while helping prepare us to explore farther into space.

More about this story is linked here.

Venus Passes Pleiades

Venus has risen high in the evening sky and is a very bright beautiful sight. During the evenings of April 1 – 5, it passed through the star cluster Pleiades. This short video made with desktop software shows the passage over the course of those nights.

Skies were clear enough for me to get an image on the 1st and the 4th. I did a copy-paste to place Venus in one frame for both dates. At the bottom of the image is the April 1st location. It is surrounded by a haze due to some thin cloud cover.

Exposure was a challenge since Venus was so bright compared to the Pleiades. I zoomed all the way in on Venus and exposed for it alone. That revealed the shape much like that of a waxing or waning moon. The sun’s position is to the lower right of Venus in this frame.

One additional event of interest was on the evening of April 5th. The space station passed overhead and came very close to occulting the star Pollux in the constellation Gemini. High thin clouds made it hard to see the stars. Exposure adjustments of the image helped bring them out.

Taken with NightCap. ISS mode, 90.79 second exposure

All-Women Spacewalk News Conference

I watched the 7 hour spacewalk and was impressed by the amount of work, the quality of the jobs done, and how difficult it was. Here is the follow-up news conference by NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir. If you have contact with young women at home or in the classroom, share with them.

Right Place | Right Time

Sometimes things work out just right. The Sun was high about 2pm in very clear blue sky. The Space Station passed over me and did a very brief transit of the Sun lasting only 0.63 sec. I drove 2 miles and put myself as close to the centerline as possible. The path of visibility was only about 3 miles wide. I needed to be in the right place at the right time. The video is slowed to 10% normal speed so you don’t blink and miss the transit.

Frame grab of the ISS in transit. Solar panels easily visible.

Of course, it is easy to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, or the wrong place at the right time. One of my favorite performers, Dr. John, captured the situation of being in the right place at the wrong time. Enjoy.