Thursday, 17 October 2013

Slight Lunar Eclipse Friday Evening

File:Geometry of a Lunar Eclipse.svg

This diagram shows that the Moon enters the very narrow, complete shadow of the Earth (Umbra) during a Total or Partial Eclipse of the Moon, while the Moon enters the much wider, but only partial shadow of the Earth (Penumbra) during a Penumbral Eclipse of the Moon. (Image Source: Wikipedia.org )

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

The last Lunar Eclipse or Eclipse of the Moon for 2013 will be a minor Penumbral Eclipse of the Moon on Friday evening (2013 October 18). Unlike a Total or Partial Eclipse of the Moon, a Penumbral Eclipse of the Moon is more difficult to notice, because only a partial shadow of the Earth falls on the Moon. Unlike a Solar Eclipse or Eclipse of the Sun, an Eclipse of the Moon is safe to view with the naked-eye, binoculars, or a telescope.

Friday's Penumbral Eclipse of the Moon will be visible for most viewers on our planet (except Australia, Japan, Pacific Ocean islands, a large portion of Alaska, most of Siberia, and a small portion of northeastern China.). However, in the Americas it will be visible as the Moon is rising, while in most of Asia it will be visible as the Moon is setting.

Although NASA describes Friday's eclipse as "a relatively deep penumbral eclipse with a magnitude of 0.7659," do not expect a darkened Moon, as might be seen in other Total or Partial Lunar Eclipses. It will simply appear a wee bit darker than a normal Full Moon.

As North American viewers will see this eclipse shortly after sunset, and while the Moon is rising, this will make it even more difficult to notice any shading on the Moon. While the Moon is rising, light from the Moon has to travel through a greater amount of Earth's atmosphere to reach a viewer's eyes. And, at this time, the Earth's atmosphere is not completely dark, as the Sun has just recently set.

The event will probably not be visible to most people until about 66 percent of the Moon's disk is immersed in the Earth's penumbra shadow. This is estimated to occur between 7:30 and 8:10 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (23:30 October 18 to 0:10 October 19 Coordinated Universal Time); the time of greatest eclipse is 7:50:16.9 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (23:50:16.9 Coordinated Universal Time). Then a dusky shading of the southern half of the Moon could be visible, depending on atmospheric conditions and the ability of a viewer to detect minor shading.

All Lunar Eclipses occur at the time of a Full Moon. This month, the Penumbral Eclipse of the Moon comes on the day of the Hunter's Moon: 7:38 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (23:38 Coordinated Universal Time). The Hunter's Moon often occurs when many leaves have fallen off of the trees and the harvesting of most crops has been completed. Hence, with a bright Full Moon appearing shortly after sunset, tree leaves no longer blocking the moonlight, and fields cleared of crops, it created the best time to hunt for meat, to store for the long Winter ahead.

More on this Penumbral Eclipse of the Moon from NASA:
Link >>> http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/OH/OH2013.html#LE2013Oct18N

Information from Wikipedia.org on --
This Penumbral Eclipse of the Moon: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/October_2013_lunar_eclipse
Lunar Eclipses, in General: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_eclipse

Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.

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Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor/Author: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#GAW >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
< http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower>
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Colorful Fall Foliage: Astronomy Affects Nature

http://0.tqn.com/d/pittsburgh/1/0/p/4/moraine2-lg.jpg

The colors of Fall are reflected in Lake Arthur of Moraine State Park,
in north suburban Pittsburgh. Moraine State Park is named for the glacial
moraines that cover its land. The Park marks the approximate, greatest 
southerly extent of travel of the glaciers, during the last glacial period.
(Image Source: Pittsburgh.About.com )

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

The second half of October marks both the end of the growing season, as well as the peak in colorful Fall foliage in the Pittsburgh Quad-State Region: Western Pennsylvania, Northern West Virginia, Eastern Ohio, and Western Maryland. Although these came a few weeks earlier, in the higher elevations of the Allegheny Mountains portion of the region.

The annual change in color of leaves, from the ubiquitous greens of Spring and Summer to the yellows, golds, oranges, reds, crimsons, purples, and browns of many deciduous trees and shrubs in the Autumn, is one of the greatest visible effects of Astronomy on the natural world we live in. The increasing length of darkness, each day in Autumn, is the primary cause of this color change.

Planet Earth has a 23.44-degree tilt in its north-south axis to the plane of its orbit around the Sun. Consequently, as the Earth revolves around the Sun, a different portion of the planet each season of the year receives the most direct sunlight. The Northern Hemisphere receives the most direct sunlight in the Spring and Summer months, while the intensity of sunlight diminishes during the Autumn until the beginning of Winter, when the length and intensity of sunlight is at a minimum.

It is the long nights and the lower intensity of energy coming from the Sun, due to the Sun's lower angle in the sky, during the Autumn and Winter months, that prevents the leaves from producing the nutrients needed by the plant. Hence, the leaves do not keep their green color and eventually fall-off. When the length and intensity of sunlight increases in the Spring months, trees and shrubs grow new, green leaves to harvest the sunlight into energy for the plant's needs.

After the Summer Solstice in June, each day the Earth's Northern Hemisphere receives less direct sunlight causing nighttime to become longer. However, as the most direct sunlight hits the Northern Hemisphere on the day of the Summer Solstice, and due to seasonal lag caused by large bodies of water on the Earth, the green leaves continue to flourish on most plants, except in areas of great drought. As the Earth reaches the point in its orbit around the Sun marking the Autumnal Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, the less direct sunlight and longer nights become significant.

The production of chlorophyll in plants, during the Spring and Summer months when sunlight is more abundant, is used to manufacture food-sugars from sunlight through a chemical process known as photosynthesis. The chlorophyll pigment overwhelms other pigments in a plant's leaves; hence, the plant's leaves reflect a green color.

Plants prepare for the days when less sunlight will be available for food production by beginning to close-off the veins which carry fluids to and from their leaves. This a protective measure, to reduce the energy needs of the plant for the long Winter. Also, the tender leaves, in which the leave's fluids could easily freeze in sub-freezing temperatures, could hurt the plant and must be disposed-of. Hence, after the leaves change color, they fall off of the plant.

As days go by in the Fall with less intense sunlight available each day, chlorophyll production begins to slow down, stops, and eventually all chlorophyll is destroyed. Different species of trees and plants contain and produce different pigments, other than chlorophyll. Hence, when the chlorophyll is destroyed, the different pigments determine what colors will be unveiled in the leaves. The carotenoid pigment, which is always present in leaves, is then unmasked to show the yellow and gold colors of leaves, which remains pretty-much the same each year.

Weather, also influenced by the Earth's tilt on its axis and the amount of energy from the Sun received on different parts of the planet, has some additional effect on the intensity of pigment color in a leaf, each year, with temperature and moisture being the main influences.

Often the most brilliant displays of Fall color come when days are warm and sunny and nights are cool, but not below the freezing-point. In such days, chlorophyll continues producing sugars, but the closing of a leaf's veins traps these additional sugars in the leaves. This spurs the production of anthocyanin pigments, which results in leaves of dazzling red, purple, and crimson colors.

Although, if Autumn days are too warm, as we in the Pittsburgh region experienced in September, the leaves' veins may not close-off soon enough, and Fall colors will be slightly delayed or be less intense. A severe drought can also delay Fall colors. and, in some cases, result in leaves falling off branches prematurely.

Many areas of western and northern Pennsylvania, particularly in the Allegheny Mountains, have vivid displays of Fall color at this time of year. This is thanks to the astronomical effects of Earth, with the 23.44-degree tilt on its axis, revolving around the Sun..

More on Earth Seasons:
Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Season

More on the season of Autumn or Fall:
Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autumn

More on Why Leaves Change Color:
Link >>> http://www.dnr.state.md.us/outdoors/fallfoliage/why_leaves_changecolor.asp

Autumn Foliage Reports --
Foliage Network Reports
Weather Ch. Viewing Maps
National & State Parks
National Forests
PA * WV * OH * MD

 

Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.  

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Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >..

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor/Author: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#GAW >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
< http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower>
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Mystery Rocket Launch Seen From Space Station Explained



Last night, ESA/Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano posted some bizarre photos via his Twitter account from the International Space Station. A mystery rocket contrail could be seen rising above the Earth’s twilight horizon.

A missile launch seen from space: an unexpected surprise! pic.twitter.com/mbWI209ELv — Luca Parmitano (@astro_luca) October 11, 2013
This oddity was all the more strange as there were no scheduled launches by NASA (due to the government shutdown) or from any U.S. commercial spaceflight company. Russia and Europe also had no scheduled launches at that time. Still, something had been fired into space.

One photograph shows the wiggly trail of a white contrail — exhaust and water vapor created by a rocket’s passage through the atmosphere; odd pattern forming after being buffeted by high altitude winds. Then, in another dramatic snapshot, Parmitano posted a weird-looking cloud dominating the photograph caused by the rocket disintegrating over the Earth .

After doing some digging, Nancy Atkinson over at Universe Today found the answer, courtesy of the Russian Forces blog:

The Strategic Rocket Forces carried out a successful test launch of a Topol/SS-25 missile on October 10, 2013. The missile was launched at 17:39 MSK (13:39 UTC) from Kapustin Yar to the Sary Shagan test site in Kazakhstan. According to a representative of the Rocket Forces, the test was used to confirm characteristics of the Topol missile, to test the systems of the Sary Shagan test site, and “to test new combat payload for intercontinental ballistic missiles.”

More - Link >>> http://news.discovery.com/space/mysterious-missile-launch-seen-from-space-station-131011.htm

Sources: The Discovery Channel, Universe Today.

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gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor/Author: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#GAW >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
< http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower>
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Should We Worry About Comet ISON ?

Images of Comet ISON obtained using the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph at Gemini North on February 4, March 4, April 3, and May 4, 2013 (left to right, respectively; Comet ISON at center in all images). Color composite produced by Travis Rector, University of Alaska Anchorage. Credit: Gemini Observatory/AURA
Images of Comet ISON obtained using the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph at Gemini North on February 4, March 4, April 3, and May 4, 2013 (left to right, respectively; Comet ISON at center in all images). Color composite produced by Travis Rector, University of Alaska Anchorage. Credit: Gemini Observatory/AURA

Should We Worry About Comet ISON ?


By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower 

Friends of the Zeiss, a non-profit organization which provides news and information to the public regarding Astronomy, Space, and related sciences, as well as promoting the history and preservation of Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, also provides a service whereby the public can send electronic mail inquiries regarding questions they have on Astronomy, Space, and related sciences, as well as seeking possible answers to an unknown object seen in the sky:

A recent public inquiry regarded the safety of Comet ISON, which is approaching the Sun and expected to arrive around Thanksgiving Day. The following is the response given to this question, by Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director of Friends of the Zeiss.

----- Forwarded Message -----

To: FAQ@planetarium.cc
Sent: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 8:40 AM
Subject: Comet ISON



Should we worry about Comet ISON?

Do comets bring about solar storms when they come in near orbit with the sun?

Reply ---

From: Glenn A. Walsh

In 1910, thousands of people were scared because the newspapers reported that the comet tail of Halley's Comet, which was partially composed of cyanide gas, would brush along the Earth's atmosphere. The fear was that, somehow, the comet's tail would poison our atmosphere. Consequently, hucksters made money selling "comet pills" that were supposedly an antidote to the poisons from the comet's tail.

It was all bogus. Even the scientists of the day knew that there was no danger from the tail of Halley's Comet. And, the scientists did try to publicize that fact in the newspapers. But scare-mongering news reports always receive more attention from the public than a scientific news article.

The same is true regarding Comet ISON. Today, viral YouTube and other social media and Internet posts are drowning-out the scientific news articles debunking the fear-mongering reports about Comet ISON.

Astronomers have been watching Comet ISON for many months. The only question is whether Comet ISON will become a bright, naked-eye comet when it comes close to the Sun, or whether it will fizzle-out as spectacle in the sky. They are still not sure, so time will tell.

Comets do not create solar storms. Indeed, if Comet ISON was completely swallowed-up by the Sun (which is still one possiblity), the Sun would hardly notice it. Comets are balls of ice, dust, and perhaps some small rocky pieces which are much smaller than the Earth.

Solar storms can occur at any time, but are usually more frequent during the peak of the 11-year sunspot cycle. The Sun is nearing the peak of the current sunspot cycle, so it would not be unusual for a solar storm to break-out at this time. However, if a solar storm does break-out at the time Comet ISON encounters the Sun, around Thanksgiving Day, that would simply be a coincidence.

The following are recent articles, from the Friends of the Zeiss' SpaceWatchtower Blog, regarding Comet ISON and the current sunspot cycle:

Related Blog Posts ---

Comet ISON -

Amateur Astronomers See Comet ISON  (2013 Sept. 26):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/09/amateur-astronomers-see-comet-ison.html

 

Comet ISON to Fly by Mars  (2013 Aug. 24):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/08/comet-ison-to-fly-by-mars.html

 

Comet ISON: Unique Meteor Shower Mid-January  (2013 April 20):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/04/comet-ison-unique-meteor-shower-mid.html

 

Astronomers Begin Study of Comet ISON  (2013 April 1):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/04/astronomers-begin-study-of-comet-ison.html

 

Comet of the Century? (2013 Jan. 19):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/01/comet-of-century.html


Sunspot Cycle -


Sun's Magnetic Field About to Flip  (2013 Aug. 6):


New Sunspot Could Launch Strong Solar Flares  (2013 July 6):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/07/new-sunspot-could-launch-strong-solar.html

NASA: Strong Solar Flare Earth Impacts Manageable  (2013 May 17):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/05/nasa-strong-solar-flare-earth-impacts.html

Solar Cycle Update: Twin Peaks?  (2013 March 2):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/03/solar-cycle-update-twin-peaks.html

Sunspot AR1654 Getting Bigger w/ Solar Flare  (2013 Jan. 12):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/01/sunspot-ar1654-getting-bigger-w-solar.html

2013 Sunspot Peak to Hit Century Low (2013 Jan. 4):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/01/2013-sunspot-peak-to-hit-century-low.html

Editor’s Note: This Astronomy-related question was answered by Glenn A. Walsh,
who served as Astronomical Observatory Coordinator and a Planetarium Lecturer
at Pittsburgh’s original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science 
in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Mr. Walsh also served as a Life Trustee,
on the Board of Trustees, of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall 
in Carnegie, Pennsylvania in the late 1990s, including one year as the
Library’s Treasurer.
Today, Mr. Walsh is Project Director of a not-for-profit organization,
Friends of the Zeiss, which works for the preservation and continued
functionality of the historic equipment and artifacts of a pioneer
in the history of the development of planetaria and museums of the
physical sciences, Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium
and Institute of Popular Science, including the Zeiss II Planetarium Projector, 
which, until its dismantling in 2002, was the
oldest operable major planetarium projector in the world !

Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.

Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your inbox ?
Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >..

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor/Author: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#GAW >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
< http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower>
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Monday, 7 October 2013

Time Travel by Computer: The 'Wayback Machine'

File:Waybackmachine3.png

Sherman and Mr. Peabody, of the popular 1960s, children's television
cartoon series, "Rocky and Bullwinkle," enter the WABAC (pronounced
way-back) machine, which allowed them to travel back in time.
Today's "Wayback Machine" allows people to view old web pages
no longer available on the Internet. (Image Source: Wikipedia.org )

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

With the Federal Government shutdown has also come the shutdown of most Government web sites, including the Internet web sites of NASA and other science-related agencies. However, some of the older Internet content of the web sites of these agencies may still be available, free-of-charge, through a unique Internet archive known as the "Wayback Machine."

The Wayback Machine is a digital archive of the World Wide Web and other information from the Internet, dating from 1996 to a few months ago. It is managed by the Internet Archive, a non-profit organization in San Francisco. Currently, there are about 240 billion pages archived.

Presently, it is necessary to know the actual Internet address of the web site or web pages of interest. Keyword-search is not available. However, in the case of shutdown Government web sites as well as other web searches of interest, a Google search can often give you the needed web address, or a web address close to the desired address for the web page of interest.

The Wayback Machine is named after the WABAC (pronounced way-back) machine, a time travel machine used by Mr. Peabody, a dog scientist with a bow-tie and eyeglasses, in the popular 1960s, children's television cartoon series Rocky and Bullwinkle.

More on the Wayback Machine:
Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wayback_Machine

Link to official site of the Wayback Machine, for searching past Internet web pages:
Link >>> http://archive.org/web/web.php

More on the WABAC machine in the cartoon series Rocky and Bullwinkle:
Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WABAC_machine 

Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.

Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your inbox ?
Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >..

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor/Author: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#GAW >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
< http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower>
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Saturday, 5 October 2013

New Mars Probe Launch Escapes Govt. Shut-Down

Mars MAVEN mission

NASA's next Mars-bound spacecraft was cleared for launch in spite of the federal government shutdown. (John Raoux / Associated Press / September 27, 2013)







MAVEN, set for launch between Nov. 18 and Dec. 7, will play a crucial role as a communications relay between Earth and the rovers Curiosity and Opportunity, Jakosky said. That’s a function currently carried out by two aging satellites, Mars Odyssey (launched in 2001) and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (launched in 2005).

Had MAVEN not escaped the funding freeze, the team could have pushed a launch to Dec. 15 at the latest, about a week after the end of its official launch window, Jakosky said. But beyond that, Earth and Mars would have fallen out of ideal alignment.

More - Link >>> http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-mars-maven-nasa-launch-government-shutdown-released-20131003,0,217304.story

Source: Los Angeles Times.

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gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor/Author: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#GAW >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
< http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower>
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Sat. Memorial Service for John McCarter, Buhl Planetarium Supporter

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

A memorial service for a long-time supporter of Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, John W. McCarter who passed-away August 8 at age 81, will be held this Saturday (2013 October 5) at 10:30 a.m. EDT at the First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh, which is located at 605 Morewood Avenue in the Oakland section of the City of Pittsburgh. A reception at the church follows the memorial service.

John, who lived most of his life in Pittsburgh and Dormont, was a music teacher in the Pittsburgh Public Schools, teaching in several city schools including Thadeus Stephens and John Morrow schools. He graduated from Oliver High School and studied music education at Indiana University at Bloomington.

John was born in Pittsburgh on 1931 October 24. Exactly eight years later, on 1939 October 24, came the dedication of Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, where he gained a life-long interest in Astronomy and the sciences during his youth. He eventually built his own telescope and used it to share his interest in stargazing with others.

John was a member of Friends of the Zeiss, a non-profit organization which provides informal Astronomy and Science education to the public, as well as promoting the history of Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science.

John brought his 4-inch refractor telescope to the Mount Lebanon Public Library, on the evening of 2012 June 5, to assist with safe public viewing of the very rare Transit of the Planet Venus across the image of the Sun. Unfortunately, this public observing session, co-sponsored by Friends of the Zeiss and the Mount Lebanon Public Library, was preempted by clouds. However, the public was still able to observe the event via a NASA web-cast in a library meeting room.

In 2004, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh shut-down their very successful Three Rivers Free-Net (TRFN), which had provided free Internet web sites to Pittsburgh-area non-profit organizations. Anticipating this shut-down, immediately after the last day of operation of TRFN, David Tessitor and John McCarter co-founded the PittsburghFree.net. The PittsburghFree.net, which provides a very similar service as did TRFN, was completely financed by John McCarter.

The new free-of-charge, non-profit organization web site hosting service began with 40 web sites from TRFN. Today, the PittsburghFree.net hosts approximately 150 web sites of community-oriented groups and individuals.

More detailed obituary:
Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/bio/mccarterjw.html

Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.

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Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >..

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor/Author: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#GAW >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
< http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower>
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Astronomical Calendar: 2013 October


One of the greatest natural effects of Astronomy on the Earth, caused by the revolution of our planet around the Sun combined with the 23.44-degree tilt of the Earth's axis, is the annual multi-color foliage in Autumn. This photograph shows the brilliant Fall foliage in Pennsylvania's Allegheny National Forest. (Image Source: Pittsburgh.about.com )
For more information on Why Leaves Change Color:
Link >>> http://www.dnr.state.md.us/outdoors/fallfoliage/why_leaves_changecolor.asp

Astronomical Calendar for 2013 October:

Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium4.tripod.com/astrocalendar/2013.html#oct


The current month's Astronomical Calendar can also be found on the cover page of the History of The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, Pittsburgh web site at this link:

Link >>>
http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#astrocal


Source: Friends of the Zeiss.

Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your inbox ?
Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >..

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor/Author: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#GAW >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
< http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower>
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Saturday, 28 September 2013

1st Meeting of Reconstituted PAT Board



Two trains in the recently constructed North Side Subway Station of Pittsburgh's Port Authority of Allegheny County transit system, located a few blocks southwest of Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science. (Image Source: PittsburghTransit.info )

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

 On Friday morning, the newly reconstituted Board of Directors of the Port Authority of Allegheny County (PAT), Pittsburgh's public transit system, met for the first time.

Created nearly 50 years ago, in March of 1964, PAT's Board of Directors was originally composed of 12 members, all appointed by the County of Allegheny. Originally, these appointments were made by the Allegheny County Commissioners. However, with the approval of a home-rule charter, which took effect 2000 January 1, appointments to all authorities and other agencies are now made by a County Executive with the advice and consent of the County Council.

About 25 years ago, the Pennsylvania General Assembly changed the Second Class County Port Authority Act, reducing the PAT Board membership from 12 to 9 members, all still appointed by the County of Allegheny.

This year, the Pennsylvania General Assembly made another change in PAT Board composition. As the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provides a large subsidy to Port Authority Transit, members of the General Assembly felt that they should have some representation on the PAT Board. So effective this month, the PAT Board now has 11 members, with the following appointments to the Board:

* The County Executive appoints 6 members, with the advice and consent of County Council.
* Appontiment by the Governor of Pennsylvania (Republican Party) (this seat is currently vacant)
* Appointment by the leadership of the majority caucus in the State Senate (Republican Party)
* Appointment by the leadership of the minority caucus in the State Senate (Democratic Party)
* Appointment by the leadership of the majority caucus in the State House of Representatives (Republican Party)
* Appointment by the leadership of the minority caucus in the State House of Representatives (Democratic Party)

The Friday morning meeting was short, with the election of new Board officers being the primary agenda item.

Robert Hurley, who is the Senior Deputy Director of the County's Department of Economic Development, was elected Chairman of the PAT Board. He succeeds Jeffrey Letwin as Chairman who, like Mr. Hurley, was also reappointed to the Board as a County appointee.

Tom Donatelli, from the Town of McCandless, was elected Vice-Chairman. State Senator Jim Brewster, who had previously been Mayor of the City of McKeesport, was elected Board Secretary. And, Connie Parker, who is President of the Pittsburgh branch of the NAACP was elected Treasurer.

Long-time public transit advocate Glenn A. Walsh addressed the new PAT Board, during the public comments section, at the beginning of the meeting:



Statement before                                    Glenn A. Walsh
Board of Directors,                                P.O. Box 1041
Port Authority of                                   Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230-1041 U.S.A.
Allegheny County:                                 Telephone: 412-561-7876
Welcome New and                                  Electronic Mail: < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
Returning Board Members                     Web Site: < http://www.planetarium.cc>
2013 September 27                                  Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com >

Good morning. I am Glenn A. Walsh, 633 Royce Avenue, Mt. Lebanon, a regular Light Rail and bus rider who has chosen not to drive a highway motor vehicle since 1985, to help save energy, protect the environment, and reduce city traffic congestion. I have been an active transit advocate for more than 35 years, including 3 terms on the Allegheny County Transit Council as a Charter Member. Today, the views expressed by me are my own and do not reflect those of any organization. 

I want to welcome each new and returning member of the Board of Directors of the Port Authority of Allegheny County. As I am sure you are aware, your new position comes with difficulties, and very possibly future controversies. Thank you for your willingness to spend your time and energy for the benefit of the future of public transportation in Allegheny County. 

Unlike perhaps a century ago, today most people do not use public transit. Most of these non-transit users do not understand that they still derive benefits from a good public transit system. These benefits include less traffic congestion and an overall more efficient transportation system, greater opportunities for economic development, as well as more efficient use of our energy resources and a less polluted environment. And, with the continuing development of the Port Authority’s Light Rail Transit system, the shorter commute times by rail may be a benefit that even non-riders could find of value.

I ask that you use your new position to explain to the general public the many benefits everyone receives having a good public transit system in Allegheny County.

Of course, the first order of business is to work towards passage of a long-overdue statewide, transportation funding bill, one which appreciates the importance of public transportation in the urban and suburban regions of Pennsylvania.

I wish you the best of luck in your work on behalf of the Port Authority of Allegheny County. Please let me know if there is any way I can help you in these important efforts.

gaw


An anecdote: The last sentence of Mr. Walsh's public statement said:

"Please let me know if there is any way I can help you in these important efforts."

Well, immediately following his election as PAT Board Chairman, Robert Hurley jokingly exclaimed, "Where's Glenn? I need your help !"

Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.

News Stories on the Friday meeting ---

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
Link >>> http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/4778157-74/board-hurley-county#axzz2gDDoHgom

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Link >>> http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/transportation/revised-port-authority-board-of-directors-elects-new-chairman-705149/

Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your inbox ?
Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >..

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor/Author: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#GAW >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
< http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower>
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >