Monday, November 5, 2007

Shuttle's Coming Home

Astronauts on the Shuttle Discovery have completed repairs on the solar array successfully using the home made cufflinks and are heading home. After the Shuttle Discovery undocked from the ISS they performed the 360 loop around the space station to take one final look to ensure nothing is about to fall off the station, it also allows the station's crew to take final images of the shuttles heat shield to analyze later for damage, which is now standard practice ever since the 2003 Columbia disaster. As the astronauts were leaving the ISS yesterday while closing the hatches Clayton Anderson noticed a ding on one of the shuttle's thick windows, NASA doesn't anticipate any complications from this, apparently the window was struck by a micrometeorite. Below is a picture of one of the cufflinks used to repair the solar array. The shuttle will be landing at Kennedy Space Center,Fla. 1 pm.EST Wednesday.




There are a couple of good meteor showers coming up in the next couple months to watch out for. Late evening on November 17th. through the morning hours of November 18th. sees the return of the Leonids meteor shower. The source of the shower is the parent comet Tempel-Tuttle discovered independently by William Temple in December 1865 and Horace Tuttle in January 1866. Look for the radiant, the place where the meteors seem to start from low in the NE. sky around 11:30 pm November 17th. that's where and when the constellation Leo rises. Leo will continue to rise until early morning bringing with it 20-30 meteors an hour.


The second major shower, the Geminids will occur December 14th. but you'll be able to catch them between December 7-16 with peak activity December 14th. The Geminids are the most reliable of all the showers with up to 120 meteors per hour. Look for the constellation Gemini, the radiant of the shower to rise in the NE. sky around 8pm. and will of course continue to rise and bring with it many meteors from dusk to dawn. Find yourself a comfortable spot or even a chair and get comfy, make sure you're warm, here in Saskatchewan 20c below is normal for December. If you find yourself relaxing too much to a stage where you're dozing off and seeing visions of Obi Wan Kenobi your probably getting dead, snap out of it man and get inside and warm up. Mars as a bonus will also be in the constellation Gemini. Every 26 months Mars and Earth get the closest they can be in their respective orbits around the Sun. On December 18th. at 6:46 pm.EST. Mars will be within 55 million miles of the Earth, I can't stress enough, get some binoculars, it'll be worth it


The best viewing of celestial objects is happening right now. I was up at 5am. Saturday morning, it's hard to put into words, the sky was full of gems. It's like all the players showed up for the performance of the century and I was the only one invited. Venus starts off the show a bright white gem low in the east; Saturn next, a bright yellow ball a little higher in the south east; a little further west was the Moon followed by Mars high in the south; west of Mars was the open star cluster the Pleiades and then just north west of the Pleiades is Comet Holmes. These are all naked eye candies, don't need a scope to view this stuff people, it was a busy quite, if that is even a term, it was remarkable!


I am going to leave you with a compilation of my best Comet Holmes images I took from October 25th to November 2nd. all at 200x. I put them all together in windows crappy Vista operating system's "Movie Maker", but that wouldn't upload properly, duh, Vista, so I uploaded to You Tube and embedded it to my blog. WARNING!!!, if you have an irrational fear of a comet crashing into the Earth destroying life as we know it, don't push the play button! Also just a note to let you all know I will be posting every Monday and Thursday nights from now on.

16 comments:

Anna said...

Bob, that crack on the panel wasn't pretty, and the task wasn't easy too, I am glad they were able to repair it safely, I don't know if being jolted in space with no gravity is a pretty site, lol.

Thanks for all the sky updates, if it wasn't you I don't think I knew half of that, or nothing. I will try to get ready for the meteor showers, however, every night its been cloudly or raining here, what are the chances it will be clear in the near future, I don't know. Many many clouds every day. About cold, you are funny, but that probably what would happen to me, I am always cold - may be you should have suggested to have some booze before, which wouldn't work for me either. Well the biggest challenge is the operational camera. Parts on the lens shrink and expand easily, so often I loose connection between lens and sensors, when too hot or too cold. Summer was the best. I will try though, may be I take day off if the weather is great. Thanks for all the information, and I will be back to view the video later, for some reason it was not available when I asked for play. Anna :)

Bob Johnson said...

Hi Anna, I couldn't get the video fixed, so I uploaded it to youtube and embedded it to the blog, but even that didn't upload the last clip I took tonight, weird. Hopefully the skies will be clear for you, the Geminids are the best.

self taught artist said...

The best viewing of celestial objects is happening right now. I was up at 5am. Saturday morning, it's hard to put into words, the sky was full of gems. It's like all the players showed up for the performance of the century and I was the only one invited.
Its writing like this about the stuff like that that forces me to stop and think about that stuff out there covering our heads day in and day out.
good job.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Paula! and it's all for free, this stuff is awe inspiring, glad it makes you think about what's up there.

JD said...

Hey Bob
Greta post...again. I'll be checking out the skies on the 17 and 18 for those showers. Looking forward to some great shots of yours.
~JD

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks JD, good luck with the shower.

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Bob, Anna and I are sharing the same weather. Thank God for your blog so we can enjoy the galaxy highlights when we can't see a darn thing. :D

I loooved your Comet Holmes posts, each and every one of them, and I enjoy every visit here!!!


Hugs, JJ

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks JJ, I always appreciate your visits, hopefully skies will clear for you soon, the comet will be around for awhile.

Will said...

Hi Bob - We looked for the comet here in Southern Oregon last night right after it got dark, but could not find it. I saw your instructions of where to look, but maybe we have too many lights close to the horizon. Does it stay visible as the night goes on. Is there a later time where we might see it higher in the sky? If so, what part of the sky should be train the binoculars on?

Thanks - Will

Bob Johnson said...

Hi Will, The best time to go out is just as it gets dark, you will see a bright star low in the NE, that is Cappella, futher up and to your right(higher and further NE) will be another less brighter star,(Mirphak). The comet is in between these two stars, closer to Mirphak, it will look like a fuzzy ball,about half way up from the horizon, thats where you point yout binocs. Throughout the night it will get higher and travel towards the SE, hope this helps.

Will said...

OK, thanks. That direction from our house in the country is exactly to the downtown city lights. Probably why we have no luck looking. We really see no stars at all close to the horizon because of all the light. If it is a real clear night, maybe I'll take a drive to a point where I can see to the NE without light interference. That may be many miles away, though.

Anna said...

Hey Bob, the video worked. Great job. Anna :) btw got first snow today :O

Bob Johnson said...

Hi Will, thats too bad, but if you get up early it will be in the west part of the sky about 3/4 way up from the horizon, use www.skyviewcafe.com, (I have a link to it on my blog) to find capella and mirphak around 5am just plug in your location and time it will give you a complete view of the sky at that time.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Anna, we are expecting our first snow tonight.

Tatiana said...

Hi Bob, thanks for all the news as always :) And the video looks awesome - great job you did with it - youtube or not ;)
And of xcourse I hope to be able to see the Geminids even though probabilities will not be great with the clouded skies here. But who knows, maybe I'll have a few clear hours, or so I hope :)

zunnur said...

When I read the 4th para "The best viewing of celestial objects is happening right now...", I hoped that I was there with you watching the great creation of God. Me standing alone looking at the skies at night, I could only see moon and stars.