Starlink 8 | Morning Pass

On 13 June 2020, SpaceX launched 58 Starlink and 3 Planet SkySats into orbit atop Falcon 9. Many photos and video of the launch are available here and satellite details here.

Early in the morning of 17 June, that same set of satellites passed directly over my location. It was 4:45 am. Twilight was beginning to brighten the sky. I set my iPad on a stable surface and started a long 200 sec exposure with the NightCap app in ISS mode. Within a minute the train of satellites appeared in the southwest (lower left) heading northeast (upper right). The constellation Cygnus was directly in their path. You might recognize Cygnus as a set of short star trails in the center of the image.

Starlink 8 | NightCap ISS mode | 200 sec | 1/2s shutter speed

In the weeks and months ahead, the Starlink satellites will use their ion engines to move apart to higher altitudes of 341 miles (550 km) and become part of the constellation of about 12,000 when all are launched and deployed. More are planned. Since May 2019, about 538 have been launched in sets of 60 at a time. Another 1000 are expected in multiple launches this year. Details of the plan to deliver internet service can be found in a Wikipedia article here.

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.

Wind Turbines | National Database

Electricity generated by wind turbine technology in Iowa is robust. There are over 4135 turbines installed producing nearly 37% of the electricity for the state. New installations will soon bring the installed capacity to 40%. Contrary to the claim by a politician, there is no outbreak of cancers due to these wind turbines. Rather, the reduction of fossil fuel use has likely reduced cancers.


The turbines are installed in wind farms over a broad region of the state mostly in the north and west where wind is most strong and steady. The map of Iowa turbines was captured from the U.S. Wind Turbine Database released in January 2019. The database is a collaborative effort of the U.S. Geological Survey, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the American Wind Energy Association.

Colors indicate output power of the turbine farms. The link to the interactive viewer is here. Use it to zoom in to find turbines near you if there are some. Details will appear for individual machines when you hover or click.

A wealth of information about installations is available through the viewer. Details can be filtered using tools at the right of the viewer. This excellent 6 minute video tutorial explains how those tools work.

Aerosols on 23 Aug 2018

Aerosols are very small particles of matter in the air suspended by winds and air currents. The haze they cause can reduce visibility and redden sunrises and sunsets. The particles are much smaller than grains of sand. Common types are carbon from fires, wind blown dust from deserts, and salt from winds at the ocean surface.

The map below is a snapshot from 23 August 2018 showing where these three types were observed globally by satellite sensors. Color coding makes them easy to identify. A much larger version of this map is available at this link. The download allows you to zoom in on any of the regions shown. A previous aerosol post is here.

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Booster Rocket Landings | Early 2018

Saturn V Booster | Kennedy Space Center | Launch Viewing Site

Booster Rockets are big, heavy, and expensive components essential to launching vehicles into space. The 12 ft diameter nozzles of the Saturn V booster from the Apollo era developed thrust of 7.5 million pounds capable of lifting the 6 million pound fueled rocket into orbit. Those boosters were not reused after they did their work and fell into the Atlantic Ocean. Cost saving is important, as are safety and reliability. Private companies are involved in the development of reusable booster rockets.

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