Sunday, July 26, 2009

Noctilucent Clouds

A beautiful display of Noctilucent Clouds last week from my back garden.

Noctilucent Clouds are rare and only happens in certain conditions.

'Noctilucent clouds are the highest clouds in the sky at a height of about 50 miles, which puts them at the top of the mesosphere. These can only be seen during the summer between about 50 and 65 degrees north and south. At any higher latitude it doesn't get sufficiently dark enough to see them.
These clouds look very similar to high cirrus but are bluish or silver in colour and, like the nacreous clouds, are illuminated when the sun is below the horizon, in this case some 6 to 12 degrees.
...most scientists now believe that they are made of water ice.There has been a lot of speculation on what they are made up of and how they are formed, but most scientists now believe that they are made of water ice. But how do these ice particles exist in what should be the warmest part of our atmosphere, and how do they get there in the first place? The answer is probably gravity waves.'

They are certainly wonderful to see from my garden!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Man on the Moon 40 Years ago!

Fourteen years old, four days before my birthday. I had watched the Lunar Landing live on television at about Nine O'Clock last night. I stayed up late to watch Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the Moon. I seem to remember going to bed about 2.00am and then getting up later to watch the live pictures. I was truely amazed with it all!

I stayed up all night until I had to start my morning paper round. The papers were full of news of the Lunar Landing and loads of pictures. I managed to get copies of some of the papers and took them home to read. I still don't remember what happened to them!

Last week I bought a copy of 'The Daily Mirror' dated Monday, July 21st 1969 from WH Smiths. Brought back many memories!

I can't remember what happened after during the rest of the day...I can't have been at school as it finished last week (I think!)

The image above is the only photo taken by Buzz Aldrin of Neil Armstrong on the surface of the Moon. He forgot to take pictures of Neil! It is part of a panorama of the Lunar surface taken by Buzz.

President Barack Obama chats with Apollo 11 astronauts, from left, Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins and Neil Armstrong, Monday, July 20, 2009, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, on the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing.

I've now got quite a collection of stuff to celebrate the 40th Aniversary:

The Sky at Night 'A Night to Remember' DVD

NASA's Greatest Missions 'Landing the Eagle' DVD

The Daily Mirror edition 21st July 1969

Man on the Moon, Sky at Night magazine Special Edition

Moon 3D

Haynes Workshop Manual of Apollo 11

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Apollo 11 landing site from the LRO

Great images coming from the LRO!
Now mapped nearly all the Apollo landing sites. the one above is the landing site of Apollo 11, if you look in the centre you will see an object with a large shadow to the right. That is the lower part of the LEM left there 40 years ago!

The Apollo 14 site is even better, you can actually see footprints on the surface ... incredible!
'A US spacecraft has captured images of Apollo landing sites on the Moon, revealing hardware and a trail of footprints left on the lunar surface.
The release of the images coincides with the 40th anniversary of the first manned mission to land on the Moon.
The descent stages from the lunar modules which carried astronauts to and from the Moon can clearly be seen.
The image of the Apollo 14 landing site shows scientific instruments and an astronaut footpath in the lunar dust.
It is the first time hardware left on the Moon by the Apollo missions has been seen from lunar orbit.
The pictures were taken by Nasa's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft, which launched on 18 June.'

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Space Shuttle...amazing!

Well, tonight I watched the launch of the Space Shuttle on NASA TV then waited about 18 minutes to see it come right over our heads here in my back garden!!
What an amazing sight!!
I watched with my wife Kathleen as the Shuttle and orange fuel tank passed overhead and took some photos.
OK, they are just spots of light, but above is the Space Shuttle and below is the orange coloured fuel tank. An hour earlier I watched the ISS pass over on almost the same!!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO)

The US space agency's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft has returned its first images since reaching the Moon on 23 June.

CRaTER - will characterise the global lunar radiation environment
Diviner - is to measure lunar surface temperatures
LAMP - will map the Moon's permanently shadowed regions
LEND - measures the flux of neutrons from the Moon
LOLA - will provide a global lunar topographic model
LROC - LRO's camera will help select future landing sites
Mini-RF - uses radar to search for evidence of water ice

This month marks the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing. LRO will start flying over the Apollo landing sites in mid-July.
However, the spacecraft will still be in its checkout phase at this time. If LRO does manage to take images of any Apollo sites in July, the pictures will not be at the best possible resolution.
When the orbiter flies over the Apollo 11 site it is likely to be at an altitude of 100km - allowing the camera to capture images at a resolution of 100cm per pixel.

I really hope that NASA manage to capture an image of the Apollo 11 landing site, it would be great to celebrate the 4oth anniversary with a photo!

Friday, July 03, 2009

Apollo 11 landing site

In my quest to image the Apollo 11 landing site to celebrate the 40th anniversary this is my first attempt. I'm really pleased with this image, if you click the image it will zoom in closer. The image was taken on 30th June with the Moon quite low in the Southern sky. It shows the Sea of Tranquility and the approximate place of the Lunar Landing. Image take with my Canon 350D fitted to the Skywatcher 80ED Pro and 3x Barlow lens.
Counting down now to first Moon landing 20th July. I have already bought some great books and copy of the Daily Mirror on that day.

Watched 'Sky at Night...A night to remember' superb programme showing the whole of story lasting 2 hours introduced by Sir Patrick.
I hope they release this on DVD!