NASA Administrator Charles Bolden officially unveils world’s largest welder to start construction of core stage of NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket at NASA Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans, on Sept. 12, 2014. SLS will be the world’s most powerful rocket ever built.  Credit: Ken Kremer - kenkremer.com

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden officially unveils world’s largest welder to start construction of core stage of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket at NASA Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans, on Sept. 12, 2014. SLS will be the world’s most powerful rocket ever built. Credit: Ken Kremer – kenkremer.com

MICHOUD ASSEMBLY FACILITY, NEW ORLEANS, LA – NASA Administrator Charles Bolden officially unveiled the world’s largest welder to start construction of the world’s most powerful rocket – NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket – at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans on Friday, Sept. 12, 2014.

Administrator Bolden was personally on hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the base of the huge welder at Michoud’s Vertical Assembly Center (VAC). [click to continue…]

NASA’s Orion EFT 1 crew module departs Neil Armstrong Operation and Checkout Building on Sept. 11, 2014 at the Kennedy Space Center, FL, beginning the long journey to the launch pad and planned liftoff on Dec. 4, 2014.  Credit: Ken Kremer - kenkremer.com

NASA’s Orion EFT 1 crew module departs Neil Armstrong Operation and Checkout Building on Sept. 11, 2014 at the Kennedy Space Center, FL, beginning the long journey to the launch pad and planned liftoff on Dec. 4, 2014. Credit: Ken Kremer – kenkremer.com
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KENNEDY SPACE CENTER – NASA’s first space worthy Orion crew module rolled out of its assembly facility at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) on Thursday, Sept. 11, taking the first step on its nearly two month journey to the launch pad and planned blastoff this coming December.

The Orion spacecraft is NASA’s next generation human rated vehicle and is scheduled to launch on its maiden uncrewed mission dubbed Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1) in December 2014.

Orion’s assembly was just [click to continue…]

How to Take Great Pictures of the Northern Lights

by Bob King on September 12, 2014

A group of amateur photographers set up on a beach on Lake Superior near Duluth to photograph the northern lights. To shoot the aurora you'll need a tripod and middle to high end digital camera. Pocket cameras work well in daylight and can be used to shoot bright northern lights, but the images will be noisy. Credit: Bob King

A group of amateur photographers take pictures of an aurora display from a beach along Lake Superior near Duluth. To shoot the aurora you’ll need a tripod and middle to high end digital camera. Pocket cameras work well in daylight and can be used to shoot bright northern lights, but the images will be noisy. Credit: Bob King

Everybody loves pictures of the northern lights! If you’ve never tried to shoot the aurora yourself but always wanted to, here are a few tips to get you started. [click to continue…]

Will Aurora Strike Tonight? Here’s What to Expect

by Bob King on September 12, 2014

A bright arc and pink-topped rays stipple the northern sky and cross the Bowl of the Big Dipper last night around 11:30 p.m. CDT over Caribou Lake north of Duluth, Minn. Credit: Guy Sander

A bright arc and pink-topped rays stipple the northern sky and light up the Bowl of the Big Dipper last night around 11:30 p.m. CDT over Caribou Lake north of Duluth, Minn. Credit: Guy Sander

(Scroll down for latest update)

Auroras showed up as forecast last night beginning around nightfall and lasting until about 1 a.m. CDT this morning. Then the action stopped. At peak, the Kp index dinged the bell at “5” (minor geogmagnetic storm) for about 6 hours as the incoming shock from the arrival of the solar blast rattled Earth’s magnetosphere. It wasn’t a particularly bright aurora and had to compete with moonlight, so many of you may not have seen it. You needn’t worry. A much stronger G3 geomagnetic storm from the second Earth-directed coronal mass ejection (CME) remains in the forecast for tonight.  [click to continue…]

Weekly Space Hangout – Sept. 12, 2014

by Fraser Cain on September 12, 2014

Host: Fraser Cain (@fcain)

Guests:
Morgan Rehnberg (cosmicchatter.org / @cosmic_chatter)
Brian Koberlein (@briankoberlein)
Alessondra Springmann (@sondy)
Nicole Gugliucci (cosmoquest.org / @noisyastronomer)
[click to continue…]