All posts by Tom

Tornado Damage at NASA

Here’s the update to the damage sustained by NASA’s Michoud facility in Louisiana.

By the way:
Hopefully everyone that was able to, had a chance to see the lunar eclipse. When the moon rose over the mountains to the east it was beautiful but very shortly after cirrus clouds moved in and more or less ruined the show. I’m not that sad about the clouds though, it brought the temperatures up from the minus 20 deg C it was to the minus 5 deg C it is now.

I am going to try and do a post early for Monday because we have been assured we can expect 30 cm / 12 inches of snow with strong winds Sunday into Monday.  I’m a bit concerned about having power.  I


The comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova makes a close approach to us here on Earth as it will this time around.  The distance between us is just 0.083 A.U or 12.4 million km or 7.7 million miles at close approach.  You’d think we could see it but no because the Sun is so much brighter.

45P/Honda can be seen before daylight in the eastern sky, but you will need a telescope or a good pair of binoculars and a nice dark sky.

The image above was taken on 09 January 2017 by Jean-Francois Soulier.

See the full image here.

Lunar Eclipse Tomorrow

There will be a penumbral lunar eclipse tomorrow night (10 Feb) beginning at 22:34 UTC / 17:34 EST.  The moon won’t turn orange or red like in a total eclipse.

Take a look at hermit eclipse for a fantastic explanation about eclipses, including how a penumbral eclipse happens.

Here’s a visibility chart  (I get the whole eclipse!!) you probably will need to click the image so it looks correct:


Tornado Strikes NASA Facility

NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility was damaged by a tornado yesterday shortly after noon local time. There were reports of one injury of unknown severity and building damage. Michoud is where components to the new Space Launch System (SLS); there was no damage to any of the components such as the hydrogen and oxygen fuel tanks.

A facility assessment is underway so we should know to was extent of the damage shortly.


A nice image of the Saturn moon Enceladus from Cassini. The thought of a global ocean with liquid water that far away is amazing.

From NASA:
Seen from outside, Enceladus appears to be like most of its sibling moons: cold, icy and inhospitable. But under that forbidding exterior may exist the very conditions needed for life.

Over the course of the Cassini mission, observations have shown that Enceladus (313 miles or 504 kilometers across) not only has watery jets sending icy grains into space; under its icy crust it also has a global ocean, and may have hydrothermal activity as well. Since scientists believe liquid water is a key ingredient for life, the implications for future missions searching for life elsewhere in our solar system could be significant.

This view looks toward the Saturn-facing hemisphere of Enceladus. North on Enceladus is up and rotated 6 degrees to the right. The image was taken in green light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Nov. 27, 2016.

The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 81,000 miles (130,000 kilometers) from Enceladus. Image scale is 2,566 feet (782 meters) per pixel.


Here’s an image from the latest Juno-Jupiter encounter. I fiddled with this image a little, most of the processing was done by Gerald Eichstädt. I ended up only darkening it up a bit to bring out the color more; Gerald did a fantastic job and I actually lot a little of the image. Fun trying though, give it a try for yourself at the JunoCam Image Processing page.

Credit : NASA / JPL / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt © PUBLIC DOMAIN

This Week @ NASA

Featuring the Juno’s  fly-by of Jupiter passing just 4345 km / 2700 miles above the clouds.


I still am working on the image processing thing, I’m having difficulties thanks to an apparent lapse of organization. LOL, meaning I can’t find the power supply to the laptop with photoshop.

February Skies

Great skies if you can take the cold. Well around here anyway, fun though.

I was going to put up an image from PeriJove 3, there are some good ones. Then I started fiddling around with the one (already processed) and decided later today I will dig out the computer with Photoshop and just do one of my own from the raw images, I’ll post it here.

Trio In the Evening Sky

I took this picture off the back deck the night before last. The crescent moon, Venus (to the right and also in a crescent phase), and Mars (above moon at the top). A very pleasing sight. The camera was a Nikon Coolpix and I have to say, it’s not a great camera for this type of thing.

I think it is going to snow here again, however, if you have nice skies at about 18:30 (your local time) tonight take a look to the west. You will see the Moon higher in the sky, Venus will be very bright and lower towards the horizon and Mars will be between the two about a quarter of the way from Venus and the moon. About halfway between Mars and the Moon you might be able to spot Uranus. It is a magnitude 5.5 or thereabouts so you might be able to see it with just your eye, but use binoculars and save yourself some time.

Trouble seeing Mars? Try the annotated image.