All posts tagged astronomy

SpaceX Dragon

The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft successfully berthed with the International Space Station this morning after a long overnight approach including several unplanned maneuvers. The crew at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, concluded a long night of flight demonstrations and troubleshooting by watching astronaut Don Pettit control the station’s robotic arm and grapple the Dragon at 6:56 a.m. PDT.

ISS Welcomes SpaceX Dragon — First Private Spacecraft at Station | Autopia |

SpaceX Falcon9 launch

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida to begin a demonstration flight. Credit: NASA TV
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket thundered into space and delivered a Dragon cargo capsule into orbit May 22, 2012. The launch began an ambitious mission to show that the company is ready to deliver cargo to the International Space Station.

SpaceX launches Falcon 9/Dragon on historic mission – Astronomy Magazine.

The scientific term for the Super Moon is “perigee moon.” The perigee moon occurs when the moon’s elliptical orbit is closest to the earth. During the night of May 5-6, the full moon reached perigee and it should have appeared 14% bigger and 30% brighter (than a full moon at apogee, farthest away).

The supermoon of March 19, 2011 (right), compared to an average moon of December 20, 2010 (left). Will you be able to notice with your eye alone that tonight’s full moon is bigger or brighter than usual? Astronomers say no, but it’ll be fun to stand outside under tonight’s full moon and know the moon is closer than it has been since March 19, 2011. Image Credit: Marco Langbroek, the Netherlands, via Wikimedia Commons.

At perigee, the moon lies only 356,955 kilometers (221,802 miles) away. Later this month, on May 19, the moon will swing out to apogee – its farthest point for the month – at 406,448 kilometers (252,555 miles) distant.

Even the proximity of full moon with perigee in today’s moon isn’t all that rare. The extra-close moon in all of these years – 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 – finds the full moon taking place within an hour or so of lunar perigee. More often than not, the closest perigee of the year comes on the day that the full moon and perigee coincide.

How often does the full moon coincide with perigee? Closest full moons recur in cycles of 14 lunar (synodic) months, because 14 lunar months almost exactly equal 15 returns to perigee. A lunar month refers to the time period between successive full moons, a mean period of 29.53059 days. An anomalistic month refers to successive returns to perigee, a period of 27.55455 days. Hence:

14 x 29.53059 days = 413.428 days
15 x 27.55455 days = 413.318 days

This time period is equal to about 1 year, 1 month, and 18 days. The full moon and perigee will realign again on June 23, 2013, because the 14th full moon after today’s full moon will fall on that date.

Moon closest to Earth


Year Date Distance
2011 March 19 356,575 km
2012 May 6 356,955 km
2013 June 23 356,991 km
2014 August 10 356,896 km
2015 September 28 356,877 km


Looking further into the future, the perigee full moon on November 14, 2016 (356,509 km) will even be closer than the one on March 19, 2011 (356,575 km). The perigee full moon will come closer than 356,500 kilometers for the first time in the 21st century on November 25, 2034 (356,446 km). The closest moon of the 21st century will fall on December 6, 2052 (356,421 km).

via Biggest and Closest Full Moon

via Clouds play Supermoon spoiler – The Washington Post.

Work is speeding up a bit, got the final of my yearly Performance Review, got a 3 which is said to allow a bonus that is suppose to be paid out soon but ChrisC (my team lead/boss) says he hasn’t heard any numbers yet. If nothing comes out of it I guess I will need to start looking for another job, 3 extra weeks of vacation is a lot to lose though. But if I can get a raise that would balance that it may be worth it.

IR Star trails

Eeek, I placed some files in a directory on my key-usb-memory stick for work and walked over to a support gal, TB to send them to a customer, she failed to click on the correct directory and instead brought up a nice little GIF I had on the root of the drive, a bit embarrassing to say the least, at least she didn’t accidently click on the video I also had there of a gal very close up to the camera, I guess I need to get a USB drive that is ONLY for work.

Sunny out most of the afternoon, although it started out cold and overcast in the morning.

Worked a bunch to get some more trace code and helped a dude, John get his system setup for debugging Windows Mobile stuff. I think I’ll be helping him a bit more, maybe I can groom him for CPR and then get myself out of there.

I came on home, then Brian and I went out to Taco Mac after I became quite bored messing on the computer and hoping Nicki and Jorael would LEAVE so I could watch my TV, they have been watching it with NOTHING but bullshit E! crap.

Got a call on the way home from Dad about Richard and Deanne stopping by ATL on Friday, talked to Richard, they will be calling sometime about 4pm on Friday and we will be meeting up for some Dinner and then maybe they will stay her the night, it will be hard but I have no problem with them staying so long as they realize that.

Yeah, I got my Federal Income Tax Refund today, noticed when I pulled out $100 from the bank after work.

After stopping in at the T-Mac of Suwanee and having a BOTM, Terrapin Pumpkinfest, and stopping in at the Fresh Market for some groceries and some sushi I began setting up for more weak astrophotography.

I got the scope setup rather quickly this time, but I spent more time than usual doing the alignment. The Polar Alignment went rather quickly (not doing drift alignment due to time) I was having trouble using the 12.5mm illuminated eyepiece since it had too much magnification.

The next issue I had was focusing. I continued to only be able to focus manually (without the use of the cover Brian had). He told me I would have to use photos to focus due to the limited light in the camera’s viewfinder, I’ll try it again tomorrow.

Took quick shots of M31 again a larger series, then M52, M27, M56, M71 and finally M57. Tried to do M20 and M92 but they were behind the house and trees toward the west and south.

Need to try them earlier in the evening tomorrow and use the light pollution filter as well.

This little black rat snake was just hanging around in the Big Creek Greenway, amazing that I saw him at all.

Got home and cooked up some pasta with red clam sauce, took a little creative liberty with this and added more capers (finished off the small jar) and then added heavy cream instead of the wine (needed to use up the heavy cream). Tasted really good.

Watched some of the Caprica pilot and then began setting up the CG-5 Equatorial Mount for viewing/ imaging tonight.

The neighbors received a new (old) Jag via very large car carrier. Talked with Patty and her oldest daughter, not Clair but … damn forget her name now. She will be getting the old car now they have a new one. The Jag will be needing some work before it’s drivable from what I saw (may be a totaled car but looked in good condition)

Finally it got dark enough to see Polaris and I tried with a lot of trouble to finally get the mount somewhat polar aligned. Didn’t bother doing a precise alignment since I wasn’t all that worried about it. I was trying to get some shots of the comet Hartley (103P) but didn’t end up getting anything that I thought was it. Instead I imaged quickly a few of the Messier objects in the sky I could see.

namely: M39, M33, M34, M15, M76, M31, M30, M2, M73, M72, M75, M11 and M103

My brother had to go into work this morning due to some meeting that came up over the weekend. Seems they are cutting costs by laying off a bunch of folks. This particularly sucks for my brother since he has worked for the company for over 9 years and had all kinds of stock options and has bent over backwards to hopefully help the company go public, even so far as getting pay-cuts and no raises for most of his tenure. They didn’t give him a bad severance package though, not quite a golden parachute but an OK package.

I was suppose to go to dinner with BeckyT, but as is often the case she bailed the day of due to some stuff with her dog and her ex picking up his cat. I kind of figured it might go this way so I’m not particularly surprised or disappointed, although I was looking forward to some sushi.

Instead, I took out the camera and telescope, setting up the camera for a star trail shot out front and the telescope to play with drift alignment. The temperature and humidity made for a very dewy time. The scope was almost dripping and the camera lens was fogging up. Got the hair dryer out to help with the camera but the telescope lens seemed fine since it is covered. Here is the results of the over 2 hour capture of star trails.

The PSSG was suppose to be this week, instead they changed it to last week.

This week it is going to be great, no rain, clear skies.

This stinks shit big time. I spent over $200 for one photo of the northern sky and I got to see Jupiter and some of it’s moons. Oh, I also got to see the movie “Forbidden Planet”, and I got to hurt my back and sleep in a very wet tent.

I’ll create a time lapse / star trail photo set and see what shows up. I think I can do this from my back deck without too much trouble. Only problem is the weather, I think it may be cloudy tonight.

Perseid Meteor Shower

Also the Peach State Star Gaze is coming up soon, info here http://www.AtlantaAstronomy.Org/PSSG

I know my brother plans on being there all week, I think I should go as well, could be a bunch of fun and I think I can do all kinds of photography while there.

I had a great time taking shots of the sky last night. Got everything setup pretty quickly although my polar alignment wasn’t the best I shot for 90 seconds most of the time. Next time I think I’ll try a precise polar alignment, haven’t tried that yet. I ended up taking photos of M81, M82, M57, M13, M22 and M8. Really only got good shots of M57 and M13 and possibly M8.

Getting ready to go with HeatherO to take some pictures of her 4 horses that she has stabled in Dacula GA. I’m hoping to get back soon enough to get to the pool and possibly get the front yard mowed.