Scientists have learned a lot about the atmospheres on various worlds in our Solar System simply from planetary sunrises or sunsets. Sunlight streaming through the haze of an atmosphere can be separated into its component colors to create spectra, just as prisms do with sunlight. From the spectra, astronomers can interpret the measurements of light to reveal the chemical makeup of an atmosphere.Continue reading “Sunrises Across the Solar System”
Sunrises are beautiful almost any place in the world, but for some reason first light every morning over Central Florida is almost always breathtaking. Then, if you add into the mix a sunrise over Kennedy Space Center — America’s Spaceport — any space geek will likely melt with delight. Thanks to Jen Scheer, a shuttle technician at KSC, anyone can see the sunrise over the space center almost every day. Jen takes tons of images at KSC and shares them via Twitter (follow her @flyingjenny) and her Flickr page, but her specialty is taking a daily picture or two of the sunrise. “I’ve been taking sunrise pics since 2006,” Jen told me, “but only sporadically until early January of this year. That’s when I began stepping it up a bit, and it became a daily thing.”
Some of the images have some interesting landmarks or space-related features in them, too, such as the image above, or the one below that includes the Vertical Processing Facility which housed many parts of Hubble at one time, as well as Chandra and others. This image is especially poignant as that building was recently torn down. “In some of my sunrise pics, you can see the progression of it being dismantled,” Jen said.
But don’t wait very long to take advantage of Jen’s marvelous photography. With the shuttle program ending soon, Jen’s job will be eliminated and she likely will not be working at KSC much longer. “We all love the shuttle program and will be very sad to see it come to an end,” Jen said. (Read our previous article, “Tough Times Could Be Ahead for Kennedy Space Center.“) “There are a lot of people who have no idea what they are going to do when it is all over. I’m looking into some possibilities, but we’ll just have to see how everything turns out.”
As an avid supporter of spaceflight, Jen also started the Space Tweep Society, an organization with a mission to “promote enthusiasm for all things space and to unite those inside the space industry with those who are outside looking in.” Check out the website for how you can get involved.