Monday, June 29, 2009

Moon... in High Definition

Photo of the "Wall" in High Def!

Kaguya (Slene)took this High Definition picture as it orbited the Moon. You can view some other JAXA High Def pictures at this Link. They show some of the best detailed shots of seas, craters and mountains I have ever seen. There are hundreds of remarkable craters and mountains on the moon to observe. One feature that I go back and observe each month is a favorite: Rupes Recta ( the Straight Wall). It captures the dark shadow along the slope of the fault. A closer view shows a ramp and debris along the wall. A close up photo of that dark line that we can see just after first quarter.

This description is from

Sometimes called "the railroad," is a remarkable and almost unique formation on the E. side of Birt, extending for about 65 miles from N.W. to S.E. in a nearly straight line, terminating on the south at a very peculiar mountain group, the shape of which has been compared to a stag's horn, but which perhaps more closely resembles a sword-handle,--the wall representing the blade. When examined under suitable conditions, the latter is seen to be slightly curved, the S. half bending to the east, and the remainder the opposite way. The formation is not a ridge, but is clearly due to a sudden change in the level of the surface, and thus has the outward characteristics of a "fault" Along the upper edge of this gigantic cliff (which, though measures differ, cannot be anywhere much less than 500 feet high) I have seen at different times many small craterlets and mounds. Near its N. end is a large crater, and on the E. is a row of hillocks, running at right angles to the cliff. No observer should fail to examine the wall under a setting sun when the nearly perpendicular W. face of the cliff is brilliantly illuminated.

Another description is at the LPOD

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Summer Night: Marathon

Saturday night was Clear and "Sauna" in your face, hot - this time I set up the LX90. The trees can be difficult but you get used to "Waiting" for the sky to move over the open area. Setting up at one end of the space forces a loss of horizon at that end. That said, I set up at 8:30pm.

StarLog^090627-Sky Clear, seeing good- Aligned with Vega and Altair: I started with a connection to the big battery ,of course, it did not have enough power. I shut down and put in the 8 C batteries. Aligned with Vega and Antares at 9:30 and now dark enough to see Polaris. Just after alignment, Satellite LaCross A flew above the backyard moving NE to NW.

Started with Globular Clusters in View: M13 and M3, both clusters were farliy clear and dense in the eyepiece. Sloohed to Albireo, in Cygnus, still a beautiful double in blue and gold. Moved up to M57, the Ring nebula, the translucent doughnut was not bright in the eyepiece tonight, but there. M22 was still below the treeline at 11:22, so I shot over to M5 in Serpens. A fine Globular with a good tight core of stars. Jumped to M4 in Scorpius -not as compact and dense as the other Globulars. Targeted the Open Cluster M11, the wild duck, first observation at 11:31 was at best, a dusty cluster. I used the zoom to 12mm and got that tell-tale group V formation in Scutum.

Targeted Nebulas in Sagittarius next: At 11:36- M8, the Lagoon, was only a tight cluster of stars , no nebulosity. Up the line to the Trifid, M20, I did see some nebula here. Began using a Nebula Filter ! The gaseous tube was visible at 11:44 in the M17, the Swan. M22 was still in treeline at 11:49. At 11:53 I Jumped to M10 and M12 in Ophiuchus - these are not as compact and dimmer than the other Globulars.

Midnight: Sloohed to a double star in Delphinus - Gamma Del, nice close yellow/golden double. @:08 went to the Dumbbell Nebula, M27 in Vulpecula- using Nebula filters the oblong nebulosity was distinct and sharp in the eyepiece. @0:17, I went back to Sagittarius and found M25-an open cluster that was clear and sharp. Next M22 @0:21- finally above the treeline, a large/wide, not as dense Globular.

Scanned the Constellation Bootes @:30- Stars Nekkar, Seginus and the double Izar (able to separate at 8mm) blue and yellow.

The Constellation Lyra @ :42- am always impressed with the double/double, Epsilon Lyrae: zoomed in to separate

@ 1AM Jupiter is in the top of the treeline. Set the scope on Albireo and then scanned the line with binoculars from Vega to Altair to find the Coathanger- Cr399.

@ 1:30AM the bands of Jupiter were clear and the planet was above the treeline and it had 4 moons. These are Ganymede, Io to the left ____ Callisto and Europa to the right
@ 5AM Jupiter was higher and had 4 moons:
These are Ganymede, Io to the left____ Callisto and Europa to the right

The 8"LX did the work.....End Marathon Session.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Weeks End... A Look Ahead

The past week, except for maybe Tuesday night, we still had clouds dominating the night sky with a not-so-good Atmosphere.

Time to review and plan for next week's events in the night Sky. Start with Tammy's Weekend Skywatcher's Forecast. Then review Sky and Telescope's Week's Sky at a Glance. The Moon is at Crescent moving to first Quarter. Will try to capture Scorpius-M4 in the eyepiece this week. Along with other Globular Clusters in Sagittarius. Jupiter is beginning to rise around midnight and I hope to catch the Giant Planet and moons this week. The Globular M15 will begin to be in the right part of my sky and of course the stars and objects in and around the Summer Triangle. There are several Double Stars coming into view, including Albireo.

Yesterday the LRO team reported: A nominal day heading into our LOI-4 burn. We are in a 199x740km orbit with an inclination of 89.93 degrees. LOI-4 at 8:25am EDT tomorrow(Friday) will put us in a 200km circular orbit. Next week LRO should begin the camera survey of the Moon. Anticipating the first frames from that satellite. Hope to see/get more HD Moon pictures released by the JAXA group, from the Selene survey.
The Omega Dome of High Pressure is still causing us to have High Temps(102), but there is a chance that the High will move west next week and allow for more normal temps. However this may cause More Clouds to move over our sky as moisture is pulled in from the coast.
All we need now are Clear Skies!

SciFi on TV Tonight: Virtuality
Ronald D. Moore, of BattleStar fame debuts his Virtuality pilot as a two hour movie tonight on FOX TV and might still get picked up as a series. Virtuality follows the Crew of the Starship Phaeton, on a ten year mission to some airless rock past Neptune, toward the Epsilon Eridani Star System, someplace uncomfortable. On the way, to avoid possible space madness in the cramped and therefore realistic Phaeton, the crew resorts to virtual reality to pass the time and give the illusion of Space. Sounds good, we will see if it's four star SciFi.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Interactive Lunar Mosaic

This was posted on the LPOD yesterday. The mosaic was made from about 1000 individual subimages acquired by a British team of 10 observers including LPOD regular contributors such as Damian Peach and Pete Lawrence. Careful planning had each observer imaging specific sections of the Moon, all on the same night. Clicking on The Photo will allow you to Zoom in and move around this Gibbous Moon. Link up to Lunar Mosaic and enjoy the view of the Mountains, Craters, Seas and other Features of the Moon Close-Up.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Stargazing Tuesday night

Larry and I were invited to a new spot to consider the area for future group star party. We set up scopes on this hot and still summer night to observe the lay of the land and the stars. Young Robin R., a member in the group, lives out in the country closer to San Antonio. The area near his house was open and tree lined. The SSW horizon was full of Metro dome light. Larry set up his LX200 and aligned two stars after 9pm. Robin worked his 8" DOB with "Object Finder". The stars were bright and the sky was Clear. The Summer Triangle,Vega, Altair, Deneb dominated the night sky. Started with Saturn which was bright and I saw one moon away from the right ring. Larry targeted several galaxies, M81 and M82 were bright in the eyepiece. Robin followed with his DOB. Globular and Open Clusters M13, M5, M6, M44 and M22. We tried to find Omega Centauri without any luck. It was too low. The Ring Nebula and M8 were observed. Several doubles included Albireo. First time this summer I saw the full Constellation of Scorpius-tail to pinchers! Swept the Altair area for the Coathanger. We wrapped up aroun 11:30. We should make a return trip and hope to stay longer.

The Power of Magnetars

This sounds like something from a SciFi movie!
Distant Neutron stars with explosive power to send waves of magnetic impulses when they burst. A very large 2 second burst was detected in December 2006. It put a dent in the earths magnetic field. Magnetars are the most intensely magnetized objects in the universe. Their magnetic fields are some 10,000 million times stronger than Earth’s. If a magnetar were to magically appear at half the Moon’s distance from Earth, its magnetic field would wipe the details off every credit card on Earth. In December 2004, the magnetar SGR 1806-20 underwent such a starquake. In one-tenth of a second the subsequent blast released something like 2 times 1046 ergs of energy — equal to about 50 trillion times the Sun’s output during that same period. There was a recent 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast on these stars. The Spacewriter's Ramblings Blog covered the topic. And NASA put out a newsletter on these Magnetars. Let's hope we keep an eye on these and that they keep their distance!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

LRO in Orbit, LCROSS flyby

LRO executed an Orbit insertion burn this morning. Team stated that the LOI-1 was flawless. Five days and the orbiter will acquire final Polar orbit to begin instrument mapping. This is the NASA NEWS RELEASE

LCROSS conducted a flyby maneuver that sent it traveling south to north on the far side of the Moon and back toward earth, to return in October.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Pluto... Opposition

Opposition: A planet (or asteroid or comet) is said to be "in opposition" when it is in opposition to the Sun as seen from the Earth. This is the best time to observe a planet because: it is visible almost all night, rising around sunset, culminating around midnight and setting around sunrise; its orbit brings it closest to the Earth, making it appear bigger and brighter. The opposition effect increases the reflected light from bodies with unobscured rough surface.

Most Astronomy sites listed the event as:

Best night to see the dwarf planet, requires a large scope -10" or greater. At magnitude 14, Pluto is overhead at 1 AM in the constellation Sagittarius. Very hard to see. Of course there is the Clyde Tombaugh method of snapping a photo several nights from the same location and then "blinking" the images to see which dot moves.

Detail infomation on the dwarf planet is at the IAU Minor Planet Center: Pluto (134340)

Today's Earth and Sky- Skywatching post was on the topic of Pluto's Opposition. They noted: "Pluto – the former planetcomes to opposition tonight. Of course, in Pluto’s case, it’s not exactly opposite since the orbit of Pluto is inclined to the plane of the solar system by 17 degrees. That’s a greater inclination than the orbits of Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus or Neptune … and it’s one thing that has always set Pluto apart. Pluto’s differences ultimately lost this world its planet status, according to a 2006 decision by astronomers of the International Astronomical Union."

Six more years and we get a closer look at the KBOs and what's out there. The New Horizon Mission page is supposed to have a link to find the current location of the spacecraft. Will continue to keep an eye out for Alan Stern's updates on the mission.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Clear Sky... Saturday Night

Saturday night was a bit windy, but the sky was clear over my backyard. A couple of hours to observe before the Clouds roll in. Seeing Conditions were better than some nights past. Stepped outside at 10:30 pm to check the sky. I saw the summer triangle constellations, Hercules and the heart of the Scorpion, Antares. Set up the DOB and Targeted M13 first. The Cluster was sharper in the eyepiece than previous nights. Zoomed the eyepiece to get a closer look at the outlying stars and the center. M13 was nearly at Zenith and it was difficult to target in the finder scope, but worth the struggle. Jumped to the Ring Nebula M57. Not difficult to find in Lyra and center in the eyepiece. The translucent doughnut was still a bit dim and fuzzy to view. Zoomed in to get a better look at the Center. While in the area moved to the double Albireo. It was bright and in the scope the blue star was floating on top of the bright golden sun. Picked up the Binoculars and scanned the line from Altair to Vega, found The Coathanger. Rested for 30 minutes, then scanned Antares and the head of Scorpius with the scope. Moved over to Klaus Boriealis in Sagittarius and centered M22 in the finder scope. This cluster has been brighter in the eyepiece.

Midnight and the sky was still clear, I scanned the star Deneb and down the wing area of the Swan. Multiple open clusters, lots of stars.

At 12:30 a few clouds began to appear. By 1pm Scorpius and Sagittarius were covered, by 1:30 the sky was filled in by clouds and no stars. End of Session

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Weekend Forecast

It is the weekend and it is time to review the week ahead. Jump to Sky and Telescope's This Week's Sky at a Glance. To start this weekend off, the Group Event at the lake was cancelled, what else...Clouds and wind. Last night the sky was full of clouds again, hiding the stars we seek. Missed Jupiter, Venus and Mars again early this morning. Reviewed Tammy's Weekend Skywatcher's Forecast, even though we may not observe this weekend. So far this past week I have had just a two hour window of clear to partly clear sky, before the clouds roll in. Lots more time to review star charts and research the night sky.

After we discussed Red (Carbon and Varible) Stars at Thursday's meeting, I went back to my older Observing files and found a couple of links that list some Red Stars. Observing Red Stars is very gratifying after searching for them in the night sky. I have found and seen some but not all on these lists. Link #1, Link #2,

Friday, June 19, 2009

Clouds and Group Meeting

Last night the Astronomy Group (10) met and discussed what we did not see the past month. Reviewed what we did find in the eyepiece and with Binoculars, red stars and the Coathanger (Cr399) There were two scopes for sale by one in the group. Also discussed Saturday’s event at the site near the lake. Clouds continue to cover the night sky... hopes in having a clear sky are little cloudy. A Quarterly event was discussed, to be held at the Church parking lot in August on the 15 or 22. Astrophotography was reviewed. New member Mike discussed problems and successes in astrophotography with his scope in detail. After the meeting as I was walking out, the first thing I noticed was a large cloud bank covering the Sky, West to North. I did see Vega and Antares in the pre dark sky.

Observations early this morning were hindered by Clouds. I did see Jupiter and the Crescent moon tring to break through the veil of thick clouds around 4:30 AM. Venus was still below the treeline.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Summer Triangle

It is hot and hot enough to be summer, even though it is not summer yet...this Sunday is the first day of Summer. The Summer Solstice...the longest Day.

The Summer Triangle , Deneb, Altar and Vega are up over the trees late in my backyard. Time to search out the double Albireo and find the Coathanger. Locate the Clusters and Nebulas in Sagittarius. Look for and find the Center of the Universe. Tuesday night at 10:15 pm the Triangle was not yet complete as I spotted the HST again racing across the top of the sky. The Telescope came out of a Blanket of Clouds in the WNW at 10:15pm. It was dimmer than when we observed it Monday night.

Last night I started with the HST pass at 10:09pm, not as high as Tuesday night but brighter.

This Wednesday night was clear with a few cotton clouds moving across the sky. At Midnight I set up the DOB. The Harp, The Swan and the Eagle were over the trees. Seeing was fair/good. I could see the Summer Triangle clearly and swung the scope to the head of the Swan, the double Albireo. The blue and golden stars were sharp in the eyepiece. With the binoculars I found the Coathanger, still hung on the line between Altair and Deneb. Swung over to Antares and M4. Still having trouble finding this cluster. The top of the Tea Pot , Kaus Borealis was just at the tree line. Will have to wait a little longer to see more of Sagittarius above the treeline. Break out the star charts and review surrounding objects for a while! Before I left the scope, I took another look at M57 the Ring in Lyra. The translucent nebula looked like a small jellyfish, without tentacles, trapped in a jar. I did zoom in and found the open center. Went back out at 1AM, the clouds covered a large area of the sky. M22 will have to wait for the next clear night. Summer has started early this year. Capped the tube and closed the session.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Moon Impacts... future exploration

LRO/LCROSS Launch is Thursday afternoon to map the moon that will impact future exploration.

The final views from the Kaguya spacecraft were released after impact in the south pole region. JAXA posted this video of the craft moving at 6,000km/hr.

This is what Kaguya viewed as it cruised over the surface at 15km before impact June 10:

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Chasing Antares

Last night the sky was somewhat clear. I spotted Vega and The Dipper. Then found Scorpius half way above the tree line. The reddish/orange Antares stood out like a distant cautionary signal. First the HST was going over high-moving SE from the W. When it reached the highest point, the Telescope"Flared". Must be that new wrap they put around the main tube! Some clouds began to move in. Found the Ring again. Antares was already in a descent mode, I was losing sky. My Finder Scope was not aligned after I jarred it. I tried to find M4. Could not locate the sector it was supposed to be in with my finder out of wack. Cygnus was over the trees. More clouds came in and I blew my chance to look at Albireo... next time!
June 15, 2009 observations
HST 10:15 pm 70 degrees almost at highest and it flared!
Broke out the Cambridge star charts: reviewed Scorpius and Lyra
Set up at 10:30 pm
Antares, vega
The ring
Fell against the finder scope and it moved!
Started the search for Albireo at 11:30 when the Swan was over the tree line, but the finder scope was off, way off. Nothing on terra firma to align and adjust to. Clouds began to fill some of the sky. Will need to adjust and align. Try again Tuesday night ?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Omega Centauri

I have not seen this Great Globular Cluster this month yet, but Phil's Astronomy Blog has an Observation and photo posted on his site. I have had the opportunity to observe this Cluster several times under Texas Skies. A couple of times in the "Slooh" Telescope. It is an awsome sight in the eyepiece. I think Phil's photo is pretty good considering our current atmosphere and the object is very low in our sky this time of year.

Found a Ring last Night

Last night at 10 PM I observed my patch of the Night Sky. The Night Sky was Clear but not Dark. Seems we are still plagued with Atmospheric problems in our Night Sky! I could visually detect some light transparent clouds, high in the sky. As I scanned my sky dome I saw Vega, Spica plus Arcturus and the Dipper. My target was M57 the Ring in Lyra. Anchored between the stars Sheliak(Beta) and Sulaphat(Gamma). These Mag 3 stars were dim. I turned the 10” DOB toward Vega and easily found the two stars posted near the nebula in the finder scope. Centered in the eyepiece the ring was not as sharp and clear as I have seen it in the past. The doughnut shape was obvious, I zoomed in some and did get a better view of the center of the ring. The sky was still “Hazy” and seeing was not the best. I had to wait for the Swan to fly over the trees to get a glimpse of Albireo. I put the cover on the scope and ended the session. I went back out after 3AM to try and catch the double star and Jupiter….Clouds.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Dim Stars, Cloudy Sky

Last night I observed the sky around 10pm. There were some shredded clouds moving across the sky. The Stars were there but dimmed by the Haze in the atmosphere. I did see Spica and Vega. I looked for Jupiter around 3AM this morning. I saw a bright Moon hiding behind the clouds again. Lots of Clouds. I did not see Jupiter. We need a turn in the weather pattern to clear the sky and force a collapse in this dome of High Pressure.

The HST will be crusing over our sky in the evenings this week. What's next for the Hubble? Since the Last Servicing Mission was complete ScST engineers have been working behind the scenes to prepare for Hubble’s EROs. It will take months to tweek the Peoples Telescope. Look for Early Release Observations in September. The first targets will surely be a testament of the new technology and equipment aboard the orbiting Telescope.

SciFi on TV Tonight: Serenity
Space Western from the TV series Firefly. The Crew of the Cargo Ship Serenity continue their quest for freedom from the Alliance. Good fast forward from the origianl TV series.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Moon and Jupiter through the Clouds

Last night the blanket of Clouds was back at 10pm. I was up at 3 AM and did observe the Moon shining through thick clouds. I saw no Planets or stars. I checked again at 4:30 and did see Jupiter and the Moon going in and out of fast moving thick clouds. The sky was covered with blanket of clouds...Again!

Early this morning I had the NASA station on to catch the Endeavour launch and found that the launch had been scrubbed due to a Hydrogen leak. Next possible launch date is Wednesday, June 17. Wait a minute... the LCROSS/LRO is due to launch that day. There is just one window into space that day. Who will get the Wednesday launch Window?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Week End Review

I missed a lot of events in the night sky this past week due to CLOUDS. I missed the GRS transit on Jupiter early this morning. It’s Friday, time to look ahead at some of the coming events in the Night Sky. Sky and Telescope has the next seven days outlined in their Week at a Glance. A quick review of events for the Weekend at the Skywatcher’s Forecast.

Shuttle Endeavour is due to head for the ISS early tomorrow morning. When it docks Tuesday there will be 13 Astronauts orbiting the Planet.

This coming Wednesday, June 17, the LCROSS Mission rockets to the Moon. Once in Orbit, the LRO will begin surveying the Mountains and Seas of the Moon for landing sites targeted for the Constellation Program.

SciFi on TV Tonight: Star Trek Next Generation
Episodes #84 and #85
Data’s Day
The Wounded

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Pluto Planet Debate… Shifts Focus ?

Hot off the wire from Tuesday's forum, held at the American Astronomical Society's summer meeting in Pasadena. Read the full Article Here.
Highlights are noted below:

The AAS forum revisited the International Astronomical Union's decision three years ago to issue a definition of planethood that excluded Pluto because it hadn't "cleared its orbit" of other objects close to its size. Pluto and other round objects beyond Neptune were instead classified as "dwarf planets," and later as "plutoids"

Neil deGrasse Tyson, Tyson's view, it's time to move on. He noted that the solar system contained a wide diversity of objects that could be sliced and diced into categories ranging from shape and composition to geology and suitability for life."This is what we should be thinking about now, not arguing over the fricking definition of a planet,"

Alan Stern sees the issue: objects like Pluto make up the most numerous class of planets in the solar system - and objects like Earth should be considered the true oddballs.

Other speakers
Charles Beichman, executive director of NASA's Exoplanet Science Institute
The University of Arizona's Renu Malhotra
Mark Sykes, director of the Planetary Science Institute,
Jean-Luc Margot, an astronomer at the University of California at Los Angeles,
Vanderbilt University's David Weintraub
Caltech astronomer Mike Brown, (After the 2006 decision, he declared himself satisfied with the outcome.) Brown is focusing on Pluto's kin at the solar system's edge: Haumea and Sedna.

The question on many people's minds was whether there would be an effort to modify or overturn the IAU's definition at the organization's next meeting, set for August in Rio de Janeiro. Based on the views aired on Tuesday, neither side was anxious to have IAU officials revisit the issue in Rio.

Pluto…Rock or Planet, the Debate continues

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Clouds still cover the sky

Early this morning I checked the Sky. I saw the moon at 2am. The Jupiter moon transit event would not start for another hour and half, Jupiter would be higher in the Sky. Venus was still under the treeline. Checked Again at 4:30am, Clouds covered the Sky. Disappointed, I went back to bed.

Spaceweather posted: BIG ASTEROID FLYBY Today, June 9th, asteroid 2003 QO104 is passing by Earth only 9 million miles away. Measuring 2 miles in diameter, the massive asteroid is about 1/3rd the size of the K-T impactor that probably wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. There's no danger of a collision this time, it's just a photo-op.
Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) are space rocks larger than approximately 100m that can come closer to Earth than 0.05 AU. None of the known PHAs is on a collision course with our planet, although astronomers are finding new ones all the time.
On June 9, 2009 there were 1,062 potentially hazardous asteroids.

Speaking of Asteroids...Dawn reignites ion engines on the mission that targets Asteroids Vesta and Ceres.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Behind the Clouds

Last night at 10pm the moon was just coming up over the treeline like a Spot Light through a foggy night. So many clouds and no clear sky. Somewhere behind the clouds was a planet, and clusters of stars moving through the night sky. Somewhere on the Globe the sky is clear.

Here is the AAPOD for June 8, 2009 Today is M27: commonly known as the "Dumbbell" or "Apple-core" nebula, due to its shape. It is a planetary nebula – the last stage in a star’s lifetime – located about 1000 light years away. M27 is a few thousand years old, and was discovered by Charles Messier in 1764.

I am not an expert in Astrophotography. My basic knowledge and limited equipment keeps me from taking quality pictures that some in our group have taken. The Amateur Astronomers that post these photos have the "Right Stuff".

Great photos!

SciFi on TV Tonight: Star Trek Next Generation
TNG Episodes 65-68: Sins of the Father, Allegiance, Captain's Holiday and Tin Man

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Observing a Full Strawberry Moon

Last night I stepped out at 10pm, looked up and saw the moon in a veil of clouds. The bright orb was just above the treeline. There were many clouds scattered among a broken sky. I saw no stars. This morning the clouds were still there. Tonight the moon is full and while hoping to observe this bright Orb, I cannot help but think about the next trip to the moon.

Next week, a week from Monday, on June 17, the LCROSS-LRO mission launches toward our orbiting Satellite. The launch schedule is out, posted on the Lunar networks blog, and I am still studying the southern and northern areas on moon maps. There is some background on the mission posted on the Orbitalhub web site. He posted a Scouting the Moon segment on the page. At the bottom of the page he lists two other resources of background on going to the moon:
Scouting the Moon II and Scouting the Moon III.

Friday, June 5, 2009

A Weekend full of Moonlight

It's the weekend and there will be lots of Moonlight to fill the night sky. Time to review the upcoming week. Start with a review of the next 3 days at Tammy Plotner's Weekend Skywatcher's Forecast. Then a review of next weeks events with Sky and Telescope's Week at a Glance.

According to the Lunar Network site, next week the Lunar Satellite KAGUYA is scheduled to be maneuvered to be dropped around 80 degrees east longitude and 64 degrees south latitude on the moon's front-side surface at 3:30 a.m. on June 11 (Japan Standard Time.) According to my Global watch that’s Wednesday, June 10, 2009 at 1:30:00 PM, Texas Time. We will miss the dust plume on this one! Moon rise June 10 is 11:04 pm. I am sure there will be something on the web.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Telescopes and Accessories

A Business trip into San Antonio today gave way to an opportunity to stop by Analytical Scientific. The Science Store is always a great place for browsing through with all the technical stuff. Upstairs is the Deep Space vault of Astronomy. A variety of new scopes , packed in a small room to look at and behind the desk, Dale Cole to ask "How does this work?" Dale is a Chasm of knowledge regarding Telescopes and accessories. My question was on Astrophotography. He answered with several technical ways to solve my problem. I will try a view techniques and then go back for some hardware at another time. Next time I will take my DSLR camera along.
This day I walked out with one item, a collimation eye cap for the DOB and it only cost $7. I look forward to my next journey to the Science Store.

SciFi on TV Tonight: Alien Resurection
200 years after Ellen Ripley dies, the Company duplicates her from DNA. A band of space mercenaries lands on the USM Auriga, where the Company has been breeding the Alien creatures. Action picks up when the Creatures escape and whats left of the crew face getting rid of those nasty creatures before reaching Earth on the Mercenaries ship, The Betty. FX and Space CGs is worth the time and Winona Ryder plays the android in this final episode to the "Alien" Saga.

I caught this SciFi flick on G4. This Satellite station started out as Geek TV. It used to be called Tech-TV. I used to watch computer tech programs on this channel. The Station has Morphed to programs targeted for males 17-36. Computer games and electronics reviews plus sometimes movies.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Bright Gibbous Moon

Last night I had another session observing the waxing gibbous moon.
I started observing with the Celestron before the sun set and there were several sunlight spikes off various mountain peaks and craters as the sun reflected off these high site! The features were covered in blue and the seas dimmed by sunlight. Of course more Craters and features are coming into view. From the south rim viewing up: Craters Clavius, Longomontanus and Tyco.
Mare Nubium was in view with Crater Bulliadus near the Terminator.
Close to the center of the moon now: The Craters Copernicus, Eratosthenes, the Montes Apenninus leading to Mare Imbrium. There the Craters Archimedes, Autolycus and Aristillus are still visible. Moving North to find the Crater Plato.

After sunset the star Spica(dimmed by moon light) appeared, a bit off to the left of the moon.

I didn't use the DSLR much tonight. Concentrated on finding and identifying the new features on the face of the moon.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Atlantis stops in Texas

Early this morning theSCA and shuttle landed at Lackland to refuel. The 747 will continue the journey to Florida with a stop in Mississippi on the way. Follow the entire piggyback ride at this Blog.

Observing the "Straight Wall" on the Moon

Last night the wind picked up and the clouds went south or maybe north. Anyway the Sky cleared and the Moon was high after sunset. I set up scope in the drive. Took some photos with the DSLR in the Celestron Refractor. Found it extremely difficult with the scope straight up and down. The nine day Moon in the DOB presented several outstanding features. Crater Plato and Mare Imbrium. Craters Aristillus, Autolycus and Archimedes. Crater Eratosthenes at the Western terminus of the Montes Apenninus mountains. Looking farther down the Terminator is Mare Nubium, where the dark line of the Staight Wall lies near crater Brit. Rupes Recta is a dark shadowed wall that runs 120 kilometers long. The fault line is approximately 300 meters high. Measurements indicate that the dark line you see is not a sheer cliff, but one that angles to 20 degrees. It is always an impressive sight in the eyepiece. Here is a video of the Moon that includes the “Straight Wall” from the Sydney Observatory Telescope from down under:

An added event last night was an ISS pass. The bright moving point of light arced high across he sky around 8:55 pm. We did not observe any Flare during the evening’s pass

Monday, June 1, 2009

Atlantis on the way back to Florida

Space Shuttle Atlantis' Ferry Flight Now Under Way
Posted on Jun 01, 2009 03:27:12 PM Dan Kanigan
Space shuttle Atlantis’ ferry flight is under way! The modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft carrying Atlantis took off from Edwards Air Force Base in California at 11:06 a.m. EDT. The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft is heading to Biggs Army Air Field in El Paso, Texas, and is expected to arrive about 1:10 p.m. EDT. The shuttle and the ferry flight team will stay at Biggs overnight and then continue on tomorrow morning to NASA's Kennedy Space Center. (Photos)

It still remains cloudy here and the Moon is getting larger in the evening sky. Less stars are visible. If the clouds break, I will observe some moon features...craters and mares. Start looking for the Staight Wall.