You can’t beat a dramatic headline!
The Sun is starting to develop one or two sunspots after a few years of quiet and is producing solar storms to match. There’s one erupting at the moment, and will be making its way towards Earth over the next couple of days. This means we could be in for a display of Northern and Southern Lights – the Auroa Borealis.
If the sky is clear at night, make sure you take a look – we might be in for a good display.
See: Sky and Telescope
It is now official that Galloway Forest Park, in Scotland, is one of the darkest places on Earth. The International Dark Sky Association has named the forest in Dumfries and Galloway the first Dark Sky Park outside of the USA. This makes it one of the best places on the planet to really see the night sky, something city-dwellers can only imagine.
It may also be the case that a dark night sky is good for your health, making the southwest of Scotland a desirable location for all of us, not just the astronomers. Find out more at the BBC website. Dark Sky Parks are explained on the International Dark-Sky Association’s site. You can also study astronomy at the New Curiosity Shop with one of our courses.
In the small hours of tomorrow morning, NASA’s LCROSS spacecraft will crash land on the moon. The craft will be deliberately hard-landed in two sections providing data about the composition of the lunar surface. NASA TV will provide live coverage and you can find out more on the Spaceweather site.
[caption id="attachment_243" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
What a way to celebrate 40 years since Apollo 11 landed on the Moon! The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has been passing over the old Apollo landing sites and has sent back images in which you can just make out the descent stages of the old lunar modules.
For full details about these images and higher resolution pictures, visit the LRO site.
… today, forty years ago. On 20th July 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first human being to set foot on another planet. How will you celebrate today?
After 40 years the achievement is still staggering and seems to be nearly impossible. Let’s celebrate Armstrong, Aldrin, Collins and all of the NASA support team who made the trip possible.
40 years ago, today, the Saturn V rocket carrying Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins was launched. This event marked the beginning of mankind’s greatest journey and would see John F Kennedy’s pledge completed and a man landed on the Moon and returned safely to Earth.
At 9.32 (local time) on the morning of 16th July 1969, the huge Saturn V rocket lifted clear of the launch pad and Apollo 11 was safely on its way. In twelve minutes the third stage of the rocket, with the Apollo spacecraft attached, was in orbit around the Earth. After one and a half orbits, the third stage rockets fired and Apollo 11 was on its way to the Moon.
Follow The Story Of Apollo with the New Curiosity Shop.Thank you to NASA for the images.
The celebrations of forty years since the Apollo 11 moon landing are heating up and now we have a new moon mission on its way. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter took off from Cape Canaveral on Thursday and will photograph the lunar surface in higher resolution than ever before. Images with a resolution of 1 m should be able to pick out equipment left behind at the old Apollo sites, including the LEM descent stages. The conspiracy theorists can work out their own version of these images we’re sure.
The LRO will also laser map the Moon and look for signs of water ice in permanently shadowed craters. A companion spacecraft, launched on the same booster, called LCROSS, will crash land in one of those craters in an attempt to kick up some of the buried ice that may be buried there.
There is more information and regular updates at the LRO website.
The International Space Station crew is awaiting the arrival of three new members that will usher in an era of six-person crews aboard the orbiting laboratory. Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko, European Space Agency astronaut Frank De Winne and Canadian Space Agency astronaut Bob Thirsk launched aboard a Soyuz spacecraft Wednesday morning from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The Soyuz is scheduled to dock with the station today. The trio will join station Commander Gennady Padalka and Flight Engineers Mike Barratt of NASA and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to form the Expedition 20 crew. It will mark the first time all five partner agencies are represented by astronauts on the station at the same time.
The expanded crew of the International Space Station will discuss the start of six-person operations in a news conference on Monday. The news conference will be broadcast live on NASA Television and streamed on the NASA Web site.
For full reports on the International Space Station, visit the ISS site.
40 years ago today, Apollo 10 was launched into space. Commanded by Thomas P Stafford, this was the last pathfinder mission before Apollo 11 would land on the Moon two months later. This was a complete Apollo spacecraft with a command-service module called Charlie Brown flown by John W Young, and a lunar module called Snoopy flown by Eugene A Cernan. Gene Cernan was later to be the last man on the Moon when he commanded Apollo 17 and John Young would be the first shuttle commander.
Apollo 10 went to orbit the Moon where the astronauts tested the docking systems and flight characteristics of the lunar module. Lunar module Snoopy was flown down to an altitude of 15.6 km on 22nd May 1969. All the systems checked out and the go-ahead was given for Apollo 11 to make the first moon landing.
Apollo 10 returned safely to Earth on 26th May 1969, setting the speed record for a manned vehicle at 39,897 km/hr, unbroken to this day.
You can read more about the Apollo missions at NASA’s 40th anniversary site.