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 >

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Amateur Astronomers See Comet ISON

Anticipation is building as Comet ISON approaches the sun for a close encounter on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 28). No one knows if the blast of solar heating ISON receives will turn it into one of the finest comets in years--or destroy the icy visitor from the outer solar system.

Astronomer Carey Lisse, the head of NASA's Comet ISON Observing Campaign, hopes that "every telescope on Earth will be trained on the comet in October and November."  He may get his wish. As September comes to an end, amateur astronomers around the world are already monitoring the comet.

"Comet ISON is approaching Mars in the pre-dawn sky," explains Lisse. "It is invisible to the naked eye, but within reach of backyard telescopes."

Comet ISON
A new ScienceCast video explores the improving visibility of Comet ISON. Play it

"I photographed Comet ISON on Sept. 15th using my 4-inch refractor," reports astrophotographer Pete Lawrence of Selsey UK.  "The comet's tail is nicely on view even through this relatively small instrument." image

In Aquadilla, Puerto Rico, astronomer Efrain Morales Rivera saw the comet on Sept. 14th "rising above the canopy of the rain forest just minutes before sunrise. I used a 12-inch telescope," he says. image
In mid-September, the approaching comet was glowing like a star of 14th magnitude.  That's dimmer than some forecasters expected.

"Certainly we would love it to be a couple of magnitudes brighter right now," says researcher Karl Battams of the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C.,"but it's doing just fine. I'd say it's still on course to become a very eye-catching object."

More - Link >>> http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2013/24sep_ison2/

Source: NASA Science News.

Related Blog Posts ---

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


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 >

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

New Mission for Crippled Kepler Telescope ?



Illustration of the Kepler space telescope

KEPLER TELESCOPE HUNTS FOR NEW MISSION: NASA's Kepler observatory is in search of a new mission now that its planet-hunting project has been hindered by pair of broken reaction wheels. One possibility for the telescope is to undertake a study of the interior physics of massive OB-type stars.Image: NASA/Ball Aerospace


NASA’s exoplanet-hunting telescope has always had an unsung talent for star physics on the side. Now that Kepler’s primary mission is compromised by broken reaction wheels on the spacecraft, some scientists hope to refocus it on an unprecedented study of the most massive stars in our galaxy, whose inner workings are the least well understood of all star classes.

During the four years since its launch, Kepler has discovered more than 3,000 exoplanet candidates, multiplying many times over the tally of known worlds beyond our solar system. But in July 2012 one of its four stabilizing reaction wheels failed, and then in May 2013 a second one gave up the ghost, leaving the spacecraft without the ability to point itself precisely toward a single spot in the sky.

The loss of the reaction wheels has effectively ended Kepler’s chances of discovering more low-mass planets, especially the golden ring prize of an Earth analogue. But NASA has hardly given up hope that the telescope can still do great things, and on August 2 the agency put out a call for ideas on how to use Kepler in its two-wheeled state. Among the dozens of proposals are plans to use the telescope to detect near-Earth asteroids, find Jupiter-size exoplanets, and monitor Neptune. And some stellar physicists say the change in Kepler’s fortunes has left the telescope in an ideal position to increase what is known about how large stars evolve.

When it was functioning normally, Kepler was unable to observe certain hot, massive stars called OB stars, because their extremely bright light would have washed out the relatively dim signals of planets. It did excel, however, at studying smaller stars using a method called asteroseismology. Akin to probing the internal dynamics of Earth by studying its seismic quakes, asteroseismology monitors starquakes, which show themselves as flickers in a star’s brightness, for hints about its internal structure. During its primary mission, Kepler could do this easily because it was already closely monitoring changes in stars’ brightness over time to search for periodic dimming caused by planets passing in front of the stars from Earth’s point of view.

Now, the somewhat shakier Kepler can’t point precisely enough to study the flickers of low-mass stars. Oscillations of larger stars, however, should create much stronger signals that should still be within the capabilities of Kepler to detect, says Conny Aerts, director of the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Leuven in Belgium, who is lead author of the proposal. Furthermore, such studies cannot be done well from the ground, because they require watching the same stars continuously for long periods of time in order to spot oscillations with periods of hours or days, and ground-based telescopes have to stop observing every time the sun comes up. “We need less good precision, but longer time scales, and that’s what Kepler with its two reaction wheels can bring,” Aerts says.

More - Link >>> http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=kepler-new-mission-asteroseismology

Source: Scientific American Magazine.

Related Blog Posts ---

Kepler Exoplanet Hunter Spacecraft at Risk  (2013 May 16):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/05/kepler-exoplanet-hunter-spacecraft-at.html

Solar System With Tiniest Planets Found  (2013 Feb. 20):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/02/solar-system-with-tiniest-planets-found.html

Citizen Planet Hunters: Kepler Space Telescope Data Now Available  (2012 Oct. 30):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2012/10/planet-hunters-kepler-space-telescope.html

Kepler Mission: 1st Non-Transiting Planet Candidates  (2012 May 19):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2012/05/kepler-mission-1st-non-transiting.html 


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, 21 September 2013

'Deep Impact' Space Probe's Comet Mission Ends


Artist's concept of NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

After almost 9 years in space that included an unprecedented July 4th impact and subsequent flyby of a comet, an additional comet flyby, and the return of approximately 500,000 images of celestial objects, NASA's Deep Impact mission has ended.

The project team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., has reluctantly pronounced the mission at an end after being unable to communicate with the spacecraft for over a month. The last communication with the probe was Aug. 8. Deep Impact was history's most traveled comet research mission, going about 4.7 billion miles (7.58 billion kilometers).

"Deep Impact has been a fantastic, long-lasting spacecraft that has produced far more data than we had planned," said Mike A'Hearn, the Deep Impact principal investigator at the University of Maryland in College Park. "It has revolutionized our understanding of comets and their activity."

Deep Impact successfully completed its original bold mission of six months in 2005 to investigate both the surface and interior composition of a comet, and a subsequent extended mission of another comet flyby and observations of planets around other stars that lasted from July 2007 to December 2010. Since then, the spacecraft has been continually used as a space-borne planetary observatory to capture images and other scientific data on several targets of opportunity with its telescopes and instrumentation.

More - Link >>> http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130920144217.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Fspace_time+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Space+%26+Time+News%29

Sources: NASA, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, ScienceDaily.com .

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 >

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Cygnus Launched Toward Space Station Wednesday

Image: Launch and sign
Bill Ingalls / NASA

A sign at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia advertises the destination for Orbital Sciences' Cygnus spacecraft as the cargo vessel is launched atop an Antares rocket on Wednesday.


A new kind of commercial spaceship took to the air for the first time, with the launch of Orbital Sciences Corp's Cygnus cargo craft toward the International Space Station from a Virginia launch pad on Wednesday.

Orbital's two-stage Antares rocket lifted off at 10:58 a.m. ET from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, at NASA's seaside Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The ascent could theoretically be seen from a swath of the East Coast stretching from New York to the Carolinas, although partly cloudy skies at the launch pad reduced visibility.

The unmanned Cygnus capsule rode atop the Antares rocket into outer space, bringing about 1,300 pounds (590 kilograms) of supplies to the orbital outpost. But the main objective of this mission is to demonstrate Cygnus' capabilities, clearing the way for Orbital to start resupplying the space station in earnest under the terms of a $1.9 billion, eight-flight contract with NASA.

"This is the way of the future," Frank Culbertson, a former astronaut who now serves as Orbital's executive vice president, told reporters at a post-launch news conference. "This is how we're going to have to operate going forward in order to maintain a robust space program."

This was the second major space launch from Wallops Island this month. The first, the launch of the LADEE spacecraft mission to the Moon, was launched on the evening of Sept. 6. Although this mission experienced problems immediately after launch, those problems have been resolved, and the LADEE is expected to enter lunar orbit around Oct. 6.

More - Link >>> http://www.nbcnews.com/science/cygnus-cargo-ship-flies-first-time-heading-space-station-4B11190405

Source: NBC News.

More on the Antares rocket: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antares_%28rocket%29

More on the Cygnus spacecraft: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cygnus_spacecraft

Related Blog Posts ---

Japan Launches Telescope; Orbital Sciences Delays Test Launch  (2013 Sept. 14):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/09/japan-launches-telescope-orbital.html

 

Problems After Launch of Moon Probe w/ New Laser-Com System  (2013 Sept. 7):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/09/problems-after-launch-of-moon-probe-w.html


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 >

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Harvest Moon: Thursday 7:13 a.m. EDT


Photograph of the 2012 September 29 Harvest Moon from Lakewood, Colorado, as seen by
Jenn Moon (Image Source: EarthSky.org )

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

For the year 2013, the Harvest Moon will be the Full Moon of Thursday, September 19, at 7:13 a.m. EDT (11:13 Coordinated Universal Time). Interestingly, for viewers in the Pittsburgh region, the precise time of the Harvest Moon occurs one minute before local moonset !

Although for farmers eager to finish harvesting their crops, the bright Full Moon which shines on their farms for the several evenings closest to the Autumnal Equinox (which this year occurs Sunday, September 22 at 4:44 p.m. EDT, 20:44 Coordinated Universal Time) is considered the Harvest Moon.

The Harvest Moon is one of the signature astronomical events near the beginning of the Fall season, one particularly anticipated by farmers of both the past and the present. As many crops reach the time of harvest in late Summer and early Autumn, often the work of the harvest has to continue past sunset, which comes earlier and earlier each evening.

Nature has come to the rescue of these farmers, with a bright Full Moon, which arrives just around the time of sunset, that allows farmers to continue the harvest after the Sun's light has dissipated. Hence, long-age this Full Moon came to be known as the Harvest Moon.

For a similar reason, the Full Moon of October is often known as the Hunter's Moon, which allowed Native Americans to continue the hunt after sunset, to begin to store meat for the Winter. However, every few years the Harvest Moon occurs in October, shortly after the Autumnal Equinox. During those years, the Hunter's Moon occurs in November.

While the Moon rises, on average, about 50 minutes later each day, during the days near the Autumnal Equinox the Moon rises each day only about 25-35 minutes later each day in the U.S.A., and only 10-20 minutes later in much of Canada and Europe. Thus, for several days around the time of the Autumnal Equinox, the Harvest Moon appears to rise around the same time each evening, providing light at the time most needed by farmers.

The reason for this is due to the ecliptic, the apparent path of the Sun, Moon, and planets through Earth's sky, which makes a narrow angle with the horizon this time of year. It is this narrow angle which provides that moonrise occurs around the time of sunset, near the time of the Full Moon of September (or sometimes October). Hence, several days appear to have a rising Full Moon.

Also, at this time of year when farmers need moonlight the most, the Harvest Moon appears larger and more prominent, due to the mysterious but well-known "Moon Illusion" that makes the Moon seem larger when it is near the horizon. And, while near the horizon, the Moon is often reddened by clouds and dust, creating the appearance of a large, rising red ball. Some even liken a rising Harvest Moon to a rising "Great Pumpkin," of "Peanuts" comic-strip fame!

In China and Vietnam, a popular harvest festival is celebrated on the date close to the Autumnal Equinox of the Solar Cycle, as well as close to the Full Moon Phase. This Mid-Autumn Festival /  Moon Festival dates back more than 3,000 years to Moon worship in China's Shang Dynasty.

Native Americans also called the Full Moon of September the Corn Moon, as Corn was one of their main crops. Sometimes the September Full Moon in the Northern Hemisphere is also known as the Fruit Moon.

In the Southern Hemisphere, where Winter is about to turn to Spring, the September Full Moon is known as the Worm Moon, Crow Moon, Sugar Moon, Chaste Moon, or Sap Moon. The Harvest Moon in the Southern Hemisphere occurs in March or April, with the same advantages to Southern Hemisphere farmers as our Harvest Moon.

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

More on the Harvest Moon:
Link >>> http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2013/16sep_harvestmoon/

More on Full Moon names:
Link http://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/full-moon-names

More on the Mid-Autumn Festival / Moon Festival:
Link >>>  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mid-Autumn_Festival

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, 14 September 2013

Japan Launches Telescope; Orbital Sciences Delays Test Launch

Japan launches new, cheaper rocket

Japan launches the SPRINT-A satellite, the first space telescope designed to observe other planets.
(Image Source: AP Photo/Kyodo News)

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

Saturday, Japan successfully launched a space telescope into orbit, while Orbital Sciences Corp. delayed launch of a demonstration mission to the International Space Station.

The Japanese Hisaki satellite, also known as the Spectroscopic Planet Observatory for Recognition of Integration of Atmosphere (SPRINT-A), includes an extreme ultraviolet spectrometer which will be used to study atmospheres and magnetospheres surrounding the planets of our solar system.

Launched from Japan's southern main island of Kyushu, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) used a new three-stage Epsilon rocket, instead of the space agency's standard H2A rocket. The Epsilon rocket was designed to be a cheaper and more efficient means to send satellites into orbit. With a lower cost launch system, Japan hopes to be more competitive in the international business of launching satellites.

In a NASA news release, it was announced that the Orbital Sciences Corp.launch of its Antares rocket, with a Cygnus spacecraft, in a demonstration mission to the International Space Station (ISS), would be delayed at least 24 hours to Sept. 18.  Cygnus' rendezvous with ISS remains planned for Sept. 22.

Cygnus is an unmanned resupply space capsule designed by Orbital Sciences Corp., as one of several space vehicles destined to resupply the International Space Station with provisions and materials in the future.

Antares and Cygnus will be launched from NASA's Wallops Island Flight Facility on the Atlantic Coast of Virginia.

This will be the second major space launch from Wallops Island this month. The first, the launch of the LADEE spacecraft mission to the Moon, was launched on the evening of Sept. 6. Although this mission experienced problems immediately after launch, those problems have been resolved, and the LADEE is expected to enter lunar orbit around Oct. 6.

More on the Japanese Hisaki satellite launch:
Link >>> http://finance.yahoo.com/news/japan-launches-cheaper-rocket-050618566.html

More on the Japanese Hisaki satellite: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SPRINT-A

NASA News Release, regarding delay in launch of Antares and Cygnus:
Link >>> http://www.nasa.gov/press/2013/september/updated-launch-date-nasa-tv-coverage-for-orbital-sciences-demonstration-mission/#.UjStnEoZR-0

More on the Antares rocket: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antares_%28rocket%29

More on the Cygnus spacecraft: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cygnus_spacecraft

Sources: Associated Press; NASA; Wikipedia.org ; Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.

Related Blog Post ---

Problems After Launch of Moon Probe w/ New Laser-Com System  (2013 Sept. 7):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/09/problems-after-launch-of-moon-probe-w.html


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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:
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* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
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Thursday, 12 September 2013

It's Official: Voyager 1 Has Left Solar System !

Voyager 1 Entering Interstellar Space The Space Between: This artist's concept shows the Voyager 1 spacecraft entering the space between stars. Interstellar space is dominated by plasma, ionized gas (illustrated here as brownish haze), that was thrown off by giant stars millions of years ago. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
› Full image and caption


PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft officially is the first human-made object to venture into interstellar space. The 36-year-old probe is about 12 billion miles (19 billion kilometers) from our sun.

New and unexpected data indicate Voyager 1 has been traveling for about one year through plasma, or ionized gas, present in the space between stars. Voyager is in a transitional region immediately outside the solar bubble, where some effects from our sun are still evident. A report on the analysis of this new data, an effort led by Don Gurnett and the plasma wave science team at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, is published in Thursday's edition of the journal Science.

"Now that we have new, key data, we believe this is mankind's historic leap into interstellar space," said Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist based at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena. "The Voyager team needed time to analyze those observations and make sense of them. But we can now answer the question we've all been asking -- 'Are we there yet?' Yes, we are."

Voyager 1 first detected the increased pressure of interstellar space on the heliosphere, the bubble of charged particles surrounding the sun that reaches far beyond the outer planets, in 2004. Scientists then ramped up their search for evidence of the spacecraft's interstellar arrival, knowing the data analysis and interpretation could take months or years.

Voyager 1 does not have a working plasma sensor, so scientists needed a different way to measure the spacecraft's plasma environment to make a definitive determination of its location. A coronal mass ejection, or a massive burst of solar wind and magnetic fields, that erupted from the sun in March 2012 provided scientists the data they needed. When this unexpected gift from the sun eventually arrived at Voyager 1's location 13 months later, in April 2013, the plasma around the spacecraft began to vibrate like a violin string. On April 9, Voyager 1's plasma wave instrument detected the movement. The pitch of the oscillations helped scientists determine the density of the plasma. The particular oscillations meant the spacecraft was bathed in plasma more than 40 times denser than what they had encountered in the outer layer of the heliosphere. Density of this sort is to be expected in interstellar space.

The plasma wave science team reviewed its data and found an earlier, fainter set of oscillations in October and November 2012. Through extrapolation of measured plasma densities from both events, the team determined Voyager 1 first entered interstellar space in August 2012.

More - Link >>> http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2013-277&cid=release_2013-277

NASA Science News -

Voyager 1 Has Left the Solar System 

Link >>> http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2013/12sep_voyager1/



Sources: NASA, Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Institute of Technology.

More on Voyager 1:
Link 1 >>> http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/details.php?id=5986
Link 2 >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voyager_1

Related Blog Posts ---



Voyager 1 Approaches Interstellar Space  (2013 June 29):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/06/voyager-1-approaches-interstellar-space.html



Has Voyager 1 Left Solar System? (2013 March 21):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/03/has-voyager-1-left-solar-system.html

 

NASA Voyager 1 Enters Far Region of Solar System  (2012 Dec. 3):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2012/12/nasa-voyager-1-enters-far-region-of.html

 

Voyager 1 Really Leaving Solar System?  (2012 Sept. 7):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2012/09/voyager-1-really-leaving-solar-system.html

 

Voyager 1 Reaches Edge of Solar System  (2012 Aug. 5):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2012/08/voyager-1-reaches-edge-of-solar-system.html


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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:
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* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
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Tuesday, 10 September 2013

NASA Selling Apollo/Space Shuttle Launch Pads

Rolling back the years... <i>(Image: NASA)</i>

Rolling back the years... (Image: NASA)

NASA announced that it is seeking bidders for its three mobile launcher platforms. The 3700-ton hunks of steel were used at Kennedy Space Center in Florida to ferry large rockets to the launch zone and serve as launch pads.

The two-story structures contain a maze of pathways, plumbing and electrical cabling used to assist launches and safely vent rocket exhaust. They carried Saturn V rockets during the Apollo era, then were modified for the space shuttles.

With the shuttles now museum artifacts, NASA is out of uses for the platforms. Its next big rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), is due to fly in 2017 and will use a newer platform built for the Ares rocket, a large launch vehicle that was part of a now-cancelled program to send humans back to the moon.

More - Link >>> http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn24104-nasa-seeks-takers-for-moonmission-launch-pads.html#.Ui5c6EqyKHt

Source: New Scientist Magazine.

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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 >