≡ Menu
The Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft is seen as it launches to the International Space Station with Expedition 43's NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) onboard Friday, March 27 (Saturday, March 28 Kazakh time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.  Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

The Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft is seen as it launches to the International Space Station with Expedition 43’s NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) onboard Friday, March 27 (Saturday, March 28 Kazakh time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

The first ever ‘One-Year Mission’ to the International Space Station (ISS) started with a bang today, March 27, with the spectacular night time launch of the Russian/American crew from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:42 p.m. EDT Friday (1:42 a.m., March 28 in Baikonur and culminated with a flawless docking this evening.

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka launched aboard a Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft to the International Space Station precisely on time today on the Expedition 43 mission. [click to continue…]

{ 2 comments }

Host: Fraser Cain (@fcain)
Special Guest: Dr. Sukanya Chakrabarti, Lead Investigator for team that may have discovered Dark Matter Galaxy “X”.

Guests:
Morgan Rehnberg (cosmicchatter.org / @MorganRehnberg )
Dave Dickinson (@astroguyz / www.astroguyz.com)
Brian Koberlein (@briankoberlein)
[click to continue…]

{ 1 comment }
Soyuz Spacecraft Rolled Out For Launch of One-Year Crew . The Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft is seen after having rolled out by train to the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Wednesday, March 25, 2015. NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) are scheduled to launch to the International Space Station in the Soyuz at 3:42 p.m. EDT, Friday, March 27 (March 28, Kazakh time). Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Soyuz Spacecraft Rolled Out For Launch of One-Year Crew
The Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft is seen after having rolled out by train to the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Wednesday, March 25, 2015. NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) are scheduled to launch to the International Space Station in the Soyuz at 3:42 p.m. EDT, Friday, March 27 (March 28, Kazakh time). Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
Watch live on NASA TV link below

At long last, the first ever crew embarking on a 1 year mission to the International Space Station (ISS) – comprising NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko (both veterans) – is slated for blastoff just hours from now aboard a Soyuz capsule from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. [click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }
Solar energy energizes the drama of life on Earth, such as the bird caught transiting the solar disk as seen here. Image credit and copyright: Roger Hutchinson

Solar energy fuels the drama of life on Earth, such as the bird seen here transiting the solar disk. Image credit and copyright: Roger Hutchinson

You can be thankful that we bask in the glow of a relatively placid star. Currently about halfway along its 10 billion year career on the Main Sequence, our Sun fuses hydrogen into helium in a battle against gravitational collapse. This balancing act produces energy via the proton-proton chain process, which in turn, fuels the drama of life on Earth. [click to continue…]

{ 2 comments }

Predicting Eclipses: How Does the Saros Cycle Work?

Image credit and copyright:

A sequence of images from the April 15th 2014 ‘Tax Day’ total lunar eclipse. Image credit and copyright: Kenneth Brandon

Boy, how about that total solar eclipse last Friday? And there’s more in store, as most of North America will be treated to yet another total lunar eclipse on the morning of April 4th. This eclipse is member three of four of a quartet of lunar eclipses, known as a tetrad. [click to continue…]

{ 1 comment }
Asteroid 2014 YB35 will safely pass Earth at 4.5 million km on Friday, March 27. (Composite image by J. Major showing asteroid Lutetia imaged by ESA's Rosetta, Earth and Moon imaged by NASA's Galileo, and the Milky Way imaged by ESO and Serge Brunier.)

Asteroid 2014 YB35 will safely pass Earth at 4.5 million km on the morning of Friday, March 27. (Composite image by J. Major showing asteroid Lutetia imaged by ESA’s Rosetta, Earth and Moon imaged by NASA’s Galileo, and the Milky Way imaged by ESO and Serge Brunier.)

There are ways to report on occasional close approaches by near-Earth objects (NEOs) that convey the respectful awareness of their presences and the fact that our planet shares its neighborhood with many other objects, large and small… and that sometimes their paths around the Sun bring them unnervingly close to our own.

Then there’s just straight-up over-sensationalism intended to drum up page views by scaring the heck out of people, regardless of facts.

Apparently this is what’s happened regarding the upcoming close approach by NEO 2014 YB35. An asteroid of considerable (but definitely not unprecedented) size – estimated 440-990 meters in diameter, or around a third of a mile across – YB35 will pass by Earth on Friday, March 27, coming as close as 11.7 times the distance between Earth and the Moon at 06:20 UTC.

11.7 lunar distances. That’s 4.5 million kilometers, or almost 2.8 million miles. Cosmically close, sure, but far from “skimming”…and certainly with no danger of an impact or any of the nasty effects that would be a result thereof. None. Zero. Zilch. NASA isn’t concerned, and you shouldn’t be either.

[click to continue…]

{ 2 comments }

Is the Universe Finite or Infinite?


Two possiblities exist: either the Universe is finite and has a size, or it’s infinite and goes on forever. Both possibilities have mind-bending implications.
[click to continue…]

{ 35 comments }

Using 19th Century Technology to Time Travel to the Stars

This image of a spiral galaxy, taken on a glass photographic plate, is one in a series of photos taken over decades. From the Harvard Plate collection.  Image courtesy American Museum of Natural History.

This image of a spiral galaxy, taken on a glass photographic plate, is one in a series of photos taken over decades. From the Harvard Plate collection. Image courtesy American Museum of Natural History.

In the late 19th century, astronomers developed the technique of capturing telescopic images of stars and galaxies on glass photographic plates. This allowed them to study the night sky in detail. Over 500,000 glass plate images taken from 1885 to 1992 are part of the Plate Stacks Collection of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), and is is the largest of its kind in the world.

“The images captured on these plates remain incredibly valuable to science, representing a century of data on stars and galaxies that can never be replaced,” writes astronomer Michael Shara, who is Curator in the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, who discussed the plates and their significance in a new episode of AMNH’s video series, “Shelf Life.”

These plates provide a chance to travel back in time, to see how stars and galaxies appeared over the past 130 years, allowing astronomers to do what’s called “time domain astronomy”: studying the changes and variability of objects over time. These include stars, galaxies, and jets from stars or galactic nuclei.
[click to continue…]

{ 4 comments }
Help ULA name America’s next rocket to space. Credit: ULA

Help ULA name America’s next rocket to space. Credit: ULA
Voting Details below
Watch ULA’s March 25 Delta Launch Live – details below
Update 3/26: 2 new names have been added to the voting list – Zeus and Vulcan !

United Launch Alliance (ULA) is asking the public for your help in naming their new American made rocket, now under development that “represents the future of space”- and will replace the firms current historic lines of Atlas and Delta rocket families that began launching back near the dawn of the space age.

Eagle, Freedom or GalaxyOne – those are the names to choose from for the next two weeks, from now until April 6.

UPDATE 3/26: 2 new names have been added to the voting list – Zeus and Vulcan !
[click to continue…]

{ 15 comments }

Turning Stars Into Art

Short time exposure of the star Sirius with the camera attached to a small telescope. I tapped the tube to make the star bounce around, recording the star's rapid color changes as it twinkled. All photos by the author

Color Crazy. Short time exposure of the star Sirius photographed through a small telescope. I tapped the tube to make the star bounce around, recording the star’s continuous and rapid color changes as it twinkled.  Refraction of the star’s light by our turbulent atmosphere breaks it up into every color of the spectrum. Credit: Bob King

We all have cameras, and the sky’s an easy target, so why not have a little fun? Ever since I got my first camera at age 12 I wanted to shoot time exposures of the night sky. That and a tripod are all you need. Presented here for your enjoyment are a few oddball and yet oddly informative images of stars and planets.  Take the word “art” loosely!  [click to continue…]

{ 13 comments }