≡ Menu

More Spectacular Images from the MUOS-4 Launch

Stunning downrange plume over the rising sun, about 3 mins after launch of the MUOS-4 satellite from Space Launch Complex 41 in Florida. Used by permission. Credit and copyright: Mike Seeley.

Stunning downrange plume over the rising sun, about 3 mins after launch of the MUOS-4 satellite from Space Launch Complex 41 in Florida. Used by permission. Credit and copyright: Michael Seeley.

Skywatchers across Central Florida got an unusual view early Wednesday morning in conjunction with the Atlas V launch of the MUOS-4 satellite.

“That wasn’t thunder this AM, Florida: An absolutely stunning MUOS launch!” tweeted photographer Michael Seeley, who shared several images of the launch with Universe Today. Mike is a freelance photographer and works with Spaceflight Insider. You can see more of his imagery at his website.

The pre-dawn light combined with unusual atmospheric conditions produced stunning views both during and well after the launch. The skyshow was visible across a wide area.

“Folks as far south as Miami and up to Jacksonville to the north saw it,” Universe Today’s David Dickinson said. “I even heard kids waiting for the school bus on our street crying out in surprise!”

You can read more about the launch and the mission in our article from Ken Kremer, but see a stunning gallery of images of the unusual cloud formations following the launch below:
[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }
ULA Atlas V rovket successfully launches MUOS-4 for the U.S. Navy on Sept. 2, 2015 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.  Credit: ULA

ULA Atlas V rocket successfully launches MUOS-4 for the U.S. Navy on Sept. 2, 2015 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Credit: ULA
See launch gallery below

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, FL – Today’s (Sept. 2) stunningly successful launch of the US Navy’s revolutionary MUOS-4 tactical communications satellite atop a mighty Atlas V rocket produced an unexpectedly exotic skyshow beyond compare for lucky spectators all around the Florida Space Coast, as it thundered off a Cape Canaveral launch pad and simultaneously generated house and bone rattling vibrations.

Seasoned and long time launch enthusiasts have rarely if ever never seen anything like this morning’s spectacular predawn launch of the Mobile User Objective System-4 (MUOS-4) satellite for the US Navy at 6:18 a.m. EDT aboard [click to continue…]

{ 1 comment }

A Fiery End for Kosmos 1315 Over Hawaii

Reentry of Kosmos-1315 captured by Joshua Lambus. Click here to see the full video.

Reentry of Kosmos-1315 captured by Joshua Lambus. Click here to see the full video.

A relic of the Cold War surprised beach-goers and Hawaiian islands residents Sunday night, as Kosmos-1315 reentered the Earth’s atmosphere in a dramatic display.

The reentry occurred right around 11:00 PM Sunday night on August 30th local time (Hawaii is 10 hours behind Universal Time). Folks in the satellite tracking community had been following the predicted reentry for some time, which was projected for August 31st at 10:56 UT +/- an hour. That puts the Hawaii sighting right at the beginning of the window. [click to continue…]

{ 2 comments }
A montage of  32 images taken in less than a second as the International Space Station transits the Sun and a solar prominence. Credit and copyright: Thierry Legault.

A montage of 32 images taken in less than a second as the International Space Station transits the Sun and a solar prominence. Credit and copyright: Thierry Legault.

When you’re Thierry Legault and you want to challenge yourself, the bar is set pretty high.

“This is a challenge I imagined some time ago,” Legault told Universe Today via email, “but I needed all the right conditions.”

The challenge? Capture a transit of the International Space Station of not just the Sun — which he’s done dozens of times — but in front of a solar prominence.

Legault said the transit of the prominence, which he captured on August 21, 2015, lasted 0.8 seconds. His camera was running at 40 frames per second, and he got about 32 shots in that time.

See a video of the transit in real time, and more, below:

[click to continue…]

{ 2 comments }
MUOS-4 US Navy communications satellite and United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at pad 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL for launch on Sept. 2, 2015 at 5:59 a.m. EDT. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

MUOS-4 US Navy communications satellite and United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at pad 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL for launch on Sept. 2, 2015 at 5:59 a.m. EDT. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, FL – Blastoff of an advanced communications satellite for the US Navy is set for early Wednesday morning, Sept. 2, using the most powerful variant of the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket – following a 48 hour postponement due to terrible weather expected from Tropical Storm Erika, which pounded islands in the Caribbean causing destruction and over 20 deaths.

The threat of strong winds and heavy rains forced Florida Gov. Rick Scott to declare a state of emergency in every county in Florida last [click to continue…]

{ 1 comment }

Watch the Moon Occult Aldebaran This Weekend

Image credit:

The first Quarter Moon approaches Aldebaran (left) earlier this year. Image credit and copyright: Chris Lyons

How about that perigee Full Moon this past weekend? Thus begins ‘Supermoon season’ for 2015, as this month’s Full Moon occurs even closer to perigee — less than an hour apart, in fact — on September 28th, with the final total lunar eclipse of the ongoing tetrad to boot. Keep an eye on Luna this week, as it crosses into the early AM sky for several key dates with destiny just prior to the start of the second and final eclipse season for 2015. [click to continue…]

{ 1 comment }

What Did We Learn About Pluto?

GuideToSpace207v2

This is a video – you should watch it!

We’ve only had blurry images of Pluto up until New Horizons. So what did we learn when we got up close and personal with Pluto and its moons?
[click to continue…]

{ 5 comments }
A test version of NASA's Orion spacecraft successfully landed under two main parachutes in the Arizona desert Aug. 26, 2015 at the U.S. Army's Yuma Proving Ground. Credit: NASA

A test version of NASA’s Orion spacecraft successfully landed under two main parachutes in the Arizona desert Aug. 26, 2015 at the U.S. Army’s Yuma Proving Ground. Credit: NASA

What would happen to the astronaut crews aboard NASA’s Orion deep space capsule in the event of parachute failures in the final moments before splashdown upon returning from weeks to years long forays to the Moon, Asteroids or Mars?

NASA teams are evaluating Orion’s fate under multiple scenarios in case certain of [click to continue…]

{ 11 comments }
The Full Moon at 10:30 p.m. last night (Aug. 30). Even at 25° altitude, it glowed a deep, dark orange due to heavy smoke from western forest fires. Credit: Bob King

The Full Moon at 10:30 p.m. last night (Aug. 29). Even at 25 degrees altitude, it glowed a deep, dark orange caused by heavy smoke from western forest fires. Credit: Bob King

Did you see the Moon last night? I walked outside at 10:30 p.m. and was stunned to see a dark, burnt-orange Full Moon as if September’s eclipse had arrived a month early. Why? Heavy smoke from forest fires in Washington, California and Montana has now spread to cover nearly half the country in a smoky pall, soaking up starlight and muting the moonlight.

If this is what global warming has in store for us, skywatchers will soon have to take a forecast of “clear skies” with a huge grain of salt. [click to continue…]

{ 2 comments }

The Dwarf Planet Orcus

Artist's impression of the Trans-Neptunian Object (TNO) 90482 Orcus. Credit: NASA

Artist’s impression of the Trans-Neptunian Object (TNO) 90482 Orcus. Credit: NASA

Since the early 2000s, more and more objects have been discovered in the outer Solar System that resemble planets. However, until they are officially classified, the terms Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) and Trans-Neptunian Object (TNO) are commonly used. This is certainly true of Orcus, another large object that was spotted in Pluto’s neighborhood about a decade ago.

Although similar in size and orbital characteristics to Pluto, Orcus is Pluto’s opposite in many ways. For this reason, Orcus is often referred to as the “anti-Pluto”, a fact that contributed greatly to the selection of its name. Although Orcus has not yet been officially categorized as a dwarf planet by the IAU, many astronomers agree that it meets all the requirements and will be in the future.

[click to continue…]

{ 17 comments }