Monthly Archives: September 2013

ArTeMiS First Light

The Cat's Paw Nebula is the first for ArTeMis.  Credit: ESO et al.
The Cat’s Paw Nebula is the first for ArTeMis. Credit: ESO et al.

Oh my! Just look at this! The Cat’s Paw Nebula (also known as NGC 6334) is a supernova remnant between about 1,687 parsecs (5500 light-years) away in the constellation Scorpius.

Here’s a SEDS page on NGC 6334, with an older image.

From the ESO:

ArTeMiS [1] is a new wide-field submillimetre-wavelength camera that will be a major addition to APEX’s suite of instruments and further increase the depth and detail that can be observed. The new generation detector array of ArTeMIS acts more like a CCD camera than the previous generation of detectors. This will let wide-field maps of the sky be made faster and with many more pixels.

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Space X Launch

Space X rocket production.  Image Space X
Space X rocket production. Image Space X

Launch time (scheduled): 16:00 UTC / 12:00 EDT / 09:00 PDT LAUNCHED!

I’ll add a video when it comes up.

Mission: CASSIOPE Mission for MDA Upgraded Falcon 9 Demonstration Flight of Canada

Launch Facility: Vandenberg AFB, California USA

Hope everyone saw Cygnus docked and installed on the ISS earlier.  If not click here.

September has been very busy for launches!

Enceladus Plus

Enceladus in "Saturnshine" by Cassini.  Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
Enceladus in “Saturnshine” by Cassini. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Here’s a picture of Enceladus from Cassini. The image was taken from a distance of 832,000 km (517,000 miles). The Sun and the camera are on opposite sides of the moon. The light provided to be able to see the moon and the now famous jets of water is “Saturnshine”, light reflected off Saturn.

Plus this:

You might have seen the news of Curiosity finding water on Mars. The soil sample contained two percent water. This is the first direct measurement as far as I know. There have been estimates of soil water detected by the HEND instrument on the Mars Odyssey. I managed to find the reference. Further findings will be very interesting, I’d look in one of the “gullies”, then again I’d be doing all sorts of things that might be fun for me but not for the mission.

Two percent is quite a lot I would think considering. Seems like there are a few variables too, like soil particle size. I’m assuming, and I say that because I don’t know nor have I been able to find out for sure, is this hygroscopic water (i.e. beyond capillary water)? I would think it would sublimate when exposed, continuing to look at that. Here’s the story. If anybody knows leave a comment.

Cygnus :

There will be an attempt a docking tomorrow morning (Sunday, 29 Sept.). Coverage starts at 08:30 UTC (04:30 EDT). I’ll put a video link here before hand.

Capture was successful.  Nice and smooth as far as I could see.   I noted about a four second delay between the streamed version and the television.  Had a little bit of a time getting the right feed and then my computer decided to spaz out for a few minutes.  Not a disease or anything but ever since a couple updates ago, we seem to have these little “fits”.  LOL.

Cygnus is now attached!

Space X

There will be yet another launch tomorrow too. Space X is scheduled to launch the Falcon 9 with Canadian research satellite (and the Canadian Space Agency) and MDA Corp.

The launch window opens at 16:00 UTC. I’ll have more on that launch tomorrow morning.

The Densest Galaxy Yet

No not the big one, look at the arrow. Click for an enlargement.  Credit: NASA, ESA, CXC, and J. Strader (Michigan State University)
No not the big one, look at the arrow. Click for an enlargement. Credit: NASA, ESA, CXC, and J. Strader (Michigan State University)

The environment around the galaxy M60 contains a very dense galaxy called M60-UCD1.

At first I was kind of surprising this galaxy was even noticed being so close to M60. Turns out a closer look with Chandra shows it to be very distinctive.

The densest galaxy in the nearby universe may have been found. The galaxy, known as M60-UCD1, is located near a massive elliptical galaxy NGC 4649, also called M60, about 54 million light-years from Earth.

This composite image shows M60 and the region around it, where data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory are pink and data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope are red, green and blue. The Chandra image shows hot gas and double stars containing black holes and neutron stars, and the Hubble image reveals stars in M60 and neighboring galaxies including M60-UCD1. The arrow points to M60-UCD1.

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Get Ready for ISON!

Skies are supposed to be good so I’m going to try and get a look at ISON this weekend!!

If you missed the Soyuz launch yesterday you can catch the replay on the previous post. The launch occurs at 12 minutes into the video.

You can see the Soyuz docking here.


Soyuz Launch

Deliver crew members to the ISS:

  • Oleg Kotov, Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) (to be Expedition 38 Commander)
  • Sergey Ryazanskiy, Roscosmos (Expedition 38 Flight Engineer)
  • Michael Hopkins, NASA (Expedition 38 Flight Engineer)

Return Crew members to Earth (on November 11):

  • Fyodor Yurchikhin, Roscosmos, Expedition 37 Commander
  • Karen Nyberg, NASA, Expedition 37 Flight Engineer
  • Luca Parmitano, ESA, Expedition 37 Flight Engineer (YAY Luca!)

Vehicle: Soyuz

Launch Facility: Baikonur Cosmodrome

Date: 25 September 2013 (26 September 2013 at launch site)

Launch Time: 20:58 UTC / 02:58 Kazakh time / 16:58 EDT

Docking time: 02:47 UTC / 22:47 EDT

Launch Live Link:

Launch coverage starts at 20:00 UTC / 16:00 EDT
Docking coverage starts at 02:00 UTC / 22:00 EDT

As usual I will replace the live link with a YT video (or equiv) when it becomes available.

I said at the start of the month September was going to be a busy month for launches!



The imagined perception of a pattern or meaning where it does not actually exist, as in considering the moon to have human features.

But in this case is it really pareidolia or has Solo been found on Mercury?  Click to compare with a “Empire Strikes Back” Han Solo prop.

From the Messenger site:

If there are two things you should remember, it’s not to cross a Hutt, and that Mercury’s surface can throw up all kinds of surprises. In this image, a portion of the terrain surrounding the northern margin of the Caloris basin hosts an elevated block in the shape of a certain carbonite-encased smuggler who can make the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs. This block may be part of the original surface that pre-dates the formation of Caloris, which was shaped by material ejected during the basin-forming event. The act of seeing a meaningful shape in random landforms is a form of pareidolia—and has been seen for Mercury more than a few times before…

Image(s) credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington/UPI/Johnathon Hordle/Rex Features

Cygnus Docking Delayed

An Orbital Science Slide from a press briefing on 4 September Showing some of the test points for objectives that must be met before docking. Click for larger. Credit: Orbital Science.
An Orbital Science Slide from a press briefing on 4 September Showing some of the test points for objectives that must be met before docking. Click for larger. Credit: Orbital Science.

Orbital’s Cygnus cargo ship docking to the ISS has been delayed due to an unspecified software problem.

The Cygnus had established direct data communications with the International Space Station at which time some of the data values received by Cygnus had unexpected values. Those unexpected values caused Cygnus to reject the data and an interruption of the approach sequence was necessary.

The cause of the data problem has been discovered by Orbital and they have a developed a fix.

The next docking attempt will occur no earlier than September 28th due to Wednesday’s launch of a Soyuz from the Baikonur Cosmodrome bringing Michael Hopkins of NASA and Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy of the Russian Federal Space Agency to the ISS.  More about that Wednesday.

When docking time does come, Cygnus being a new cargo craft it must as any new cargo craft that is to dock with the ISS must pass a series of objectives in order to prove it is capable. At each of the test points used to measure the objectives a go or no-go order is given by mission controllers before it can proceed to the next point (see image above). There are three more test points between 250 meters and capture. It is only after all of those tests or objectives are met it can then be captured or docked.


See all of the images from the press briefing where the above image came from.



Southward Equinox

Depiction of illumination of the Earth on the equinox.  Image: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
Depiction of illumination of the Earth on the equinox. Image: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic

Ah today is the Spring Equinox or Autumn Equinox depending on your location. If you are in northern hemisphere it is of course the autumn equinox and spring in the south.

One of the word origins has equinox coming from Medieval Latin equinoxium “equality of night (and Day)”. It’s easy to see why people think the day and night are the same length everywhere on Earth on the equinox. Problem is, this really isn’t quite true.

Here is how I like to think of it:

On the equinox (either the Northward or Southward) the sun’s rays are perpendicular to Earth as depicted on the image above,  The tilt of the Earth is seemingly absent at and for the moment of equinox (but ONLY for the moment because of course the tilt is in reality not gone at all).

The lengths of light/dark periods towards either pole is not the same as it is on the equator, but for this day the lengths of light/dark periods for a particular latitude above and below the equator ARE pretty much the same. Each hemisphere is illuminated equally so the length of daylight and darkness for say 40 degrees north AND south latitude are the same, but the same cannot be said for mis-matched latitudes like say 10 degrees north and 40 degrees south.

So when does that moment of Southward Equinox occur? It varies a wee bit from year to year, this year the Southward Equinox occurs today (September 22, 2013) at 20:44 UTC (16:44 EDT).

Edit:  Alan in his comment pointed out some confusing language on my part having to do with the 40 degree north and south example.  I am not meaning those particular latitudes have equal light and dark times of 12 hours each, rather the light and dark periods they do have will match and remember there is some discrepancy.

The actual sunrise and sunset values for 40 deg N and S are below:

40 North Sunrise is 1048 UTC and /Sunset is  2257 UTC


40 South Sunrise is 1047 UTC and /Sunset is  2258 UTC

Thanks Alan!