Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Eclipse expedition talk Wednesday 12:30 IfA Manoa auditorium

Karen Ehrhorn has posted this for Shadia Habbal, expedition leader-

Shadia and her eclipse Team return to Honolulu on Sunday. Before many of the team leave honolulu to return home, the Team would like to give a presentation on the eclipse expedition on Wednesday, July 29, 2009 at 12:30 in the IfA Manoa auditorium. As some may know, the team went to Enewetak Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands to view the eclipse. To whet your appetite for the presentation, following are excerpts from the limited reports received from the team over the last week-

Thursday's message: Everyone is happy with the experiments, and though there were a few clouds, most of totality was fully visible from their location. It appears that the selection of viewing location was optimal, since, according to Associated Press reports, in most of China (where many people went to view the eclipse) clouds, drizzle, rain, and smog obscured the view. Today, a small group taking a boat to Runit island to view the large concrete cap placed over the soil and waste cleaned up from the islands. Temperatures have reached 42 C during the day.

2nd day in Majuro message: I will never complain about slow internet again. I will never complain about slow internet again. I will NEVER complain about slow interenet again!!!!

1st message about the accommodations on Enewetak
: The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has donated space at the whole-body radiation counting facility they have constructed as part of the cleanup of the Marshall Islands. All of the food and water for the group was brought in from outside the island, so exposure to bio-accumulated radionuclides in local produce and water should be minimal.

Satellite Passes Tonight!

This from Ben Honey (West Hawaii Astronomy Club), forwarded by Gary Fujihara (IfA Outreach):

Tonight is an excellent opportunity to view 3 of the biggest 'satellites' in orbit right now! Endeavour will be undocking from the space station today in under 4 hours and will be slowly moving away throughout the day. This means that after dusk tonight there will be an opportunity to see both objects 'chase' each other over head. From a vantage point in Hawaii:

Look low in the Northwest at 8:52 PM. The space shuttle Endeavour will appear first. A few seconds later the ISS will become visible, brighter and chasing right behind. The pass will be brief, only about a minute, and will not get very high in the sky as the spacecraft move more northward. Therfore, make sure your view of the Northwest is unobstructed! Fortunately for me, my viewing from here in Houston - two orbits earlier - will be better with a pass almost overhead.

But that's not all! Right now a Russian Progress resupply vessel (unmanned) is chasing the Space Station from behind, to dock tomorrow. People with sharp eyes should be able to spot the Progress following approximately the same orbital track 5-7 minutes after ISS is no longer visible. The Progress is significantly smaller than the space shuttle, and thus will be dimmer. Don't be surprised if it is very hard to pick out!

You can go to Heavens Above to get this kind of prediction information by making a free account and entering your Lat/Long coordinates (however, heavens-above does not have predictions for the Progress vessel).

The NASA website SkyWatch is easy to navigate and can help you find out when to view vehicles passing over your area. I believe it includes the Progress:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

TMT & an Eclipse glimpsed

Yesterday was a red letter day for astronomy in Hawaii!
Two events brought much joy:

Mauna Kea has been selected as the site for the Thirty Meter Telescope. The TMT project is an international partnership of the California Institute of Technology, the University of California, ACURA (an organization of Canadian universities), and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ).

Even though yesterday's eclipse track covered only about 10% of the Sun's surface as seen in Hawaii nei, a sidewalk astronomy outreach event, staged by Institute for Astronomy (IfA) Manoa's faculty and grads, drew interested crowds at Magic Island. Check out the Honolulu-Advertiser write up & photos of the event.

A team of solar researchers from IfA traveled to the Marshall Islands to study the eclipse. We hope they had good seeing and look forward to their photos & reports.

Monday, July 20, 2009

July 20, 1969: 40th anniversary of Apollo 11 Moonwalk

July 20, 1969:
the day human first set foot on another world, our Earth's own Moon.

Honoring this 40th anniversary, NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day features an image of that event. Click on the image to see the NASA archives original and compare it to this 2009 digital restoration.

And, there's a link to a series of Apollo 11 Partial Restoration HD Video Streams. NASA has posted the first of these "One Small Step" on YouTube, as a sample.

Guinness World Records lists the audience for the first Apollo walk on the moon as the largest ever for a space event, noting it "...was watched on TV by an estimated 600 million people, a fifth of the world's population at the time."

Can you remember that event? Where were you when it occurred?

Enjoy this anniversary as we celebrate the second half of this International Year of Astronomy!