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

Mercury Mars Conjunction | June 2019

I like to watch movements of the planets which bring them into close encounters, or conjunctions. Some conjunctions are at a time and position in the sky so images taken over a few days can show their movements. Such was the case June 2019. A big challenge to getting well-timed images is cloud cover. We have had too much of it.

This image is a composite of three evenings of images looking west-northwest at 9:30pm. The camera was on a tripod at the same spot framing two light poles. I cut and pasted the locations of Mercury and Mars from the images taken on June 7 and June 20 onto this image taken on June 11. The dates for each are labeled. Click here or on the image to embiggen in a separate tab.

Note that Mercury, in yellow highlight, moved toward the upper left between June 7 and 11. It moved farther to the upper left by June 20. Mars, in white, moved down to the right between June 7 and 11. It continued down to the right by June 20. I hoped to image the two planets on June 17 or 18 when they appeared very close together, the width of a full moon. But clouds happened.

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