More than half a billion people watched the televised first moonwalk that took place on July 20, 1969. It was a day so historic that space enthusiasts still celebrate it annually. It was the day that marked the culmination of human endeavor, spirit, and perseverance. And it can always be summed up in that now-famous sentence uttered by Neil Armstrong, “That is one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
July 15th was a historic occasion as it marked the first time we were able to see close-up pictures of Pluto’s surface. Traveling at over 30,000 mph, New Horizons snapped some very interesting pictures of the dwarf planet’s surface as it came within 47 thousand miles of it, beaming back to us details never before seen. What New Horizons captured for us was a first glimpse at mountain ranges and deposits of methane & nitrogen ice.
We might be half-way through 2015 but there are still 7 upcoming stargazing events that you won’t want to miss.
The first validated Earth-sized planet to orbit a star in the habitable zone, Kepler-186f, has been discovered. It beats out the current most potential candidate for a world with Earth-like life which went to Kepler-62f–a planet forty percent larger than Earth, yet still residing in its own habitable zone.
Hello from the Southeastern Planetarium Association. I’m currently at the SEPA 2015 and while I’m here I participated in a brief story-telling workshop where planetarians got together to share their favorite stories of the night sky. I chose to tell the story of the largest star ever observed (so far): UY Scuti.
Tonight marks an interesting alignment of two bright planets in the sky with our moon. Through the rest of June you can look up and see Jupiter and Venus, along with the moon, in a triangular fashion just after sunset.
Since Pluto’s discovery by Clyde Tombough in 1930, it has remained a great mystery. It’s difficult to study since it’s about 3 billion miles away from the sun. The Hubble Space Telescope has been able to capture images of the dwarf planet, but Hubble is really geared towards taking pictures of giant objects like galaxies, not dwarf planets–so the images we have of Pluto are fuzzy. However, Pluto is about to get its first sharp images courtesy of the New Horizons spacecraft as it passes the dwarf planet by 7,800 miles by July 14th. With this date looming only next month, let’s take some time to take a fresh look at Pluto and the seven biggest misconceptions that people have of it.
For over six decades, scientists have speculated that there might be structures of plasma residing in the upper atmosphere of Earth, affecting civilian and military satellite-based navigation systems. Thanks to Australian researcher, Cleo Loi, this theory has been confirmed.
While on board the International Space Station, geophysicist Alexander Gerst spent a lot of time looking back down to Earth from 205 miles above. In his tenure aboard the ISS he took loads of photographs, documenting hurricanes, floods, dust storms, and oil fields. One of his favorite things, however, was taking pictures of how clouds cast shadows. The results can be quite dramatic.
Carl Sagan once proposed the idea of sailing through the cosmos via a solar-powered spacecraft. This spaceship would use sunlight radiation to power its flight much like a boat uses the wind for propellant. On May 20th, the Sagan co-founded Planetary Society will initiate its first test flight for such a solar vehicle: the LightSail.