07/19/2019 – Ephemeris – 50 years ago tomorrow humankind set foot on the Moon

July 19, 2019 Leave a comment

Ephemeris for Friday, July 19th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 7 minutes, setting at 9:22, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:16. The Moon, 3 days past full, will rise at 11:14 this evening.

On this day, 50 years ago the combined Apollo 11 spacecraft Command and Service module with attached Lunar Module dropped into orbit of the Moon. The crew spotted a glow coming from the Aristarchus region, still on the night side of the Moon. Armstrong and Aldrin entered the LM to power it up and to get it ready for landing. The next day they undocked from the Command Module and began their 2 hour 33 minute descent to the Moon’s surface. As they neared the surface The astronauts found out they were going to miss the planned landing area and would land in a more boulder strewn area. Armstrong took control and guided the LM to a safe landing with less than 30 seconds of fuel remaining. The Eagle had landed.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Crew of Apollo 11

Left to right Neil Armstrong, Mission Commander; Michael Collins, Command Module Pilot; and Buzz Aldrin, Lunar Module Pilot. Credit: NASA.

Apollo 11 launch

The Saturn V for the Apollo 11 mission lifts of from Pad 39A. Credit: NASA.

Aldrin with the PSEP instrument looking back at the LM. Credit NASA/Neil Armstrong.

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter image of the Apollo 11 landing area. Compare the location od the objects in the picture above with this image.  The flag was blown down by the lift off of the Ascent module when the Astronauts left the Moon. Credit NASA/LRO.

07/18/2019 – Ephemeris – Two Universe of Stories events today with the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society

July 18, 2019 Leave a comment

Ephemeris for Thursday, July 18th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 9 minutes, setting at 9:23, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:15. The Moon, 2 days past full, will rise at 10:45 this evening.

The Traverse Area District Library system is hosting two events in their summer reading program: A Universe of Stories. They both run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. One is at the Northwestern Michigan College’s Rogers Observatory hosted by Dr. Jerry Dobek.

The second will be hosted at the Kingsley Library branch at Brownson Memorial Park, just south of the library, with the other members of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society. Both locations will feature safe views of the Sun, if it’s clear, plus hands on activities and stories. This the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Mission and the landing of the first humans on the Moon, a feat we want to repeat to stay and are also looking to land the first crews on Mars.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

A Universe of Stories

07/17/2019 – Ephemeris – Only two bright planets are visible

July 17, 2019 Leave a comment

Ephemeris for Wednesday, July 17th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 11 minutes, setting at 9:24, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:14. The Moon, 1 day past full, will rise at 10:10 this evening.

Let’s look at the planets for this Apollo 11 anniversary week. Both Mercury and Mars are too close to the Sun to be seen. They’re still on the evening or east side of the Sun. Venus is on the west or morning side of the Sun and also too close to it to be visible. Bright Jupiter will be in the south-southeastern as it gets dark. It will pass the meridian, due south at 10:57 p.m. With steadily held binoculars a few of the 4 largest satellites of Jupiter can be seen. All four of Jupiter’s largest satellites can be spotted in telescopes. Jupiter will set at 3:29 a.m. Saturn will be lower down in the southeast in the evening, the brightest star-like object in that direction, but significantly dimmer than Jupiter.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Evening planets

The evening planets and the Moon at 10:30 p.m. July 17, 2019. Click on the image to enlarge.  Created using Stellarium.

Binocular Moon

The Moon as it might appear in binoculars or a small telescope at 11 p.m. July Created using Stellarium.Stellarium.

Telescopic planets

Jupiter and Saturn with the same magnification at 11p.m. July 17, 2019. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Planets and the Moon on a single night

Planets and the Moon at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on July 17, 2019. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 18th. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.

Mercury is not visible on the above chart.  It will pass inferior conjunction of the Sun on the 21st, and is too far south of the Sun to be above the horizon at either sunrise or sunset.

07/16/2019 – Ephemeris – 50 years ago today the Apollo mission left for the Moon

July 16, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, July 16th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 12 minutes, setting at 9:25, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:13. The Moon, at full today, will rise at 9:30 this evening.

50 years ago today at 11:32 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time the most powerful rocket ever built roared into life. The Saturn V, a three stage rocket, 363 feet tall, which in turn launched two spacecraft, the Command and Service modules, and the Lunar Module, and three astronauts on their journey to destiny, Neil Armstrong, Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin, and Michael Collins. It was the start of the Apollo 11 mission. It happens that tonight the namesake of the rocket, the planet Saturn is to the right of the Moon. At launch the Moon was two days old, a thin crescent in the west that evening. Four days later they would be orbiting the Moon, and Armstrong and Aldrin would be descending to the Moon’s surface.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addenda

Apollo 11

Crew of Apollo 11

Left to right Neil Armstrong, Mission Commander; Michael Collins, Command Module Pilot; and Buzz Aldrin, Lunar Module Pilot. Credit: NASA.

Apollo 11 launch

The Saturn V for the Apollo 11 mission lifts of from Pad 39A. Credit: NASA.

The Moon and Saturn tonight

The Moon and Saturn tonight, 11 p.m. July 16, 2019. In reality the Moon will be so bright that Saturn will be almost overwhelmed. Created using Stellarium.

Here’s an excellent podcast series from the BBC:  13 Minutes to the Moon.

Partial Lunar Eclipse

The partial lunar eclipse today is not mentioned in the program because it is not visible locally.

Partial Lunar Eclipse of July 16, 2019. Click on image to enlarge. Credit NASA/GSFC/F. Espenak.

07/15/2019 – Ephemeris – The Apollo 1 tragedy

July 15, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, July 15th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 14 minutes, setting at 9:25, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:12. The Moon, 1 day before full, will set at 5:48 tomorrow morning.

On January 27th, 1967 the crew of Apollo 1 were running a dress rehearsal of their upcoming launch. On board were Gus Grissom, veteran of the Mercury and Gemini programs, Ed White the first American to walk in space on Gemini 4, and rookie astronaut Roger Chaffee from my home town of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Five and a half hours after the test started one of the crew called out “Fire in the cockpit”. In a very few minutes the astronauts were dead. They were running in a pure oxygen atmosphere at a bit above atmospheric pressure and a spark may have ignited the flammable materials in the spacecraft. The accident delayed the program nearly 2 years as the capsule was redesigned.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Apollo 1 crew

Left to right: Virgil I. (Gus) Grissom, veteran of the second Mercury flight and Gemini 3, the first manned Gemini flight; Edward H. White first American space walker on Gemini 4, and rookie Roger B. Chaffee. Credit: NASA.

Apollo 1 spacecraft after the fire

The outside of the Apollo 1 capsule after thr fire that took the three astronaut’s lives. Credit: NASA.

07/12/2019 – Ephemeris – Traverse Area District Library Family Night tonight

July 12, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, July 12th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 19 minutes, setting at 9:27, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:09. The Moon, 3 days past first quarter, will set at 3:32 tomorrow morning.

The Traverse Area District Library (TADL) Summer Reading Club will have Family Night at the Northwestern Michigan College’s Joseph Rogers Observatory tonight starting at 8 p.m. This is part of their “A Universe of Stories” theme for this summer. It will be a grand night with the Moon and Jupiter. Speaking of Jupiter and the Moon, The Moon will be passing Jupiter tomorrow afternoon. So tonight the Moon will be to the right of Jupiter, and tomorrow night it will be just to the left of Jupiter. The Moon is in its waxing gibbous phase now, between first quarter and full. The word gibbous to describe the shape of the Moon means hump backed. The library will have a story time at the observatory next Thursday at 11 a.m.

Addendum

A Universe of Stories Poster

A Univrese of Stories Poster. There’s an event next Thursday at the Observatory during the day. There is another event at the Kingsley branch of TADL at the same time next Thursday.

07/11/2019 – Ephemeris – Road to the Moon: Project Gemini

July 11, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, July 11th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 20 minutes, setting at 9:28, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:08. The Moon, 2 days past first quarter, will set at 2:57 tomorrow morning.

In the steps to the Moon in the 1960’s The United States proved that humans could work in space for at least a day and a half with Project Mercury. Following that was Project Gemini to prove that humans could work and survive in space for the time it takes to get to the Moon and back, up to two weeks; to practice the techniques of rendezvous and docking of two spacecraft; and to learn how to work in space outside the spacecraft: Extravehicular Activities (EVAs), better known as space walks. Each took multiple flights to perfect. One of the hardest to perfect was working with Newton’s third law: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, especially when trying to tighten a bolt with a wrench.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Rendezvous and docking practice.

Rendezvous and docking practice. Atlas launches an Agena target vehicle first then one orbit later the Titan II launches the Gemini spacecraft. Credit NASA.

Gemini 6 rendezvous with Gemini 7

Gemini 6 rendezvous with Gemini 7 after the Agena for Gemini 6 failed to orbit. Gemini 7 was a two week endurance flight. Then Gemini 6 was sent up to meet it. Credit NASA.

Ed White in America's first space walk

Ed White in America’s first space walk on Gemini 4. Floating around was easy. but performing work was hard. Credit NASA.