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.