Morning Planets at a Safe Distance

Jupiter took the lead guiding this trio across the morning sky. It is upper right at 6 am with Saturn and Mars close behind. Saturn is on top.

Three of the four Galilean Moons of Jupiter were visible at full zoom. A brisk breeze added a little camera shake. From left to right are Ganymede, Europa, and Io. Callisto was almost emerging on the upper right limb of Jupiter.

Saturn appeared as a tiny oval above Mars. It has been several days since we had a clear morning. It was a good start to the day.

This is Rocket Science | Factory Tour

I have been a fan of space travel and rocket science for about 60 yrs of my life. The technology is fascinating. Space flight is a dangerous thing to do. Success depends on reliability and small margins of error. This video published by Smarter Every Day is a tour inside the rocket factory of United Launch Alliance ULA in Alabama. I hope you find it as interesting as I did.

A few more minutes from Tory Bruno about rocket science.

Moon Occults Mars | 18 Feb 2020

I waited for this event for weeks. The Moon was going to pass directly in front of Mars at about 6 am local time. Clouds were a problem in the days leading up. The forecast gave a 50% chance of some clearing.

I normally wake up pretty early. Today was no exception as I noticed the clock said 5:05. I shut my eyes for a few more minutes of sleep. Next time I looked it was 5:55. I looked outside and saw the Moon in a clear sky. I was never going to make it in time to get a picture of Mars just before it disappeared. But, I tried. My first photo was time stamped at 6:03 am. No sign of Mars. It would have been at the 8 o’clock position if I was earlier.

6:03 am

Disappointed, I came back inside. Maybe I could see Mars emerge from behind the Moon in about 90 min. I had some coffee and tried to get over my goof. It soon was time to go out and try again. Trouble is the Sun was up and the sky was too bright to see Mars. It should have been at the 2 o’clock position in this photo.

7:23 am

Fortunately, a fellow Iowan not far from me did manage an excellent photo. Another about 10 min earlier can be found at the Space Weather Gallery site.

Mark A. Brown