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12/26/2014 – Ephemeris – Tragedies and triumphs of 2014

December 26, 2014

Ephemeris for Friday, December 26th.  The sun will rise at 8:18.  It’ll be up for 8 hours and 49 minutes, setting at 5:08.   The moon, 2 days before first quarter, will set at 11:02 this evening.

2014 was a year of personal tragedy and also tragedy and triumph in space.  The Space tragedies came in October with the destruction and loss of Orbital Science’s third supply mission to the International Space Station when the their Antares rocket blew up right after launch.  A few days later Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo disintegrated on a test flight killing a pilot.  In the Triumph department the European Space Agency’s Rosetta caught up and orbited its comet 67P, for short, in August and bounced down its lander Philae in November.  It wasn’t supposed to bounce, but stick the landing.  Bruised and battered Philae delivered its science before its batteries died.  And this month an unmanned Orion capsule made its maiden voyage into space.

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


Orbital Sciences Antares rocket explodes

Orbital Sciences Antares rocket explodes seconds after liftoff on October 28, 2014. Credit NASA.

SpaceShipTwo disintegrates

SpaceShipTwo disintegrates October 31, 2014 killing a pilot. Credit USA Today.

Between a rock and a hard place

After a second bounce on the Comet 67P the Philae lander ended up sideways apparently on the base of a cliff. Researchers were able to get data from just about all the instruments before the battery discharged. The team hopes and the comet gets closer to the sun and the sun angle changes they can revive Philae. Credit: ESA.

Delta IV Heavy rocket liftoff  carrying the Orion test article

Screen capture of Delta IV Heavy rocket liftoff carrying the Orion test article into orbit on December 4, 2014. Credit .NASA via BBC

Ride back to the earth with Orion via a camera mounted in a window.  The window is facing aft as the capsule re-enters the atmosphere heat shield first at 20,000 miles per hour.  You’ll experience everything except the G forces.  It comes with appropriate spacey music.  It’s as close as I’ll ever get to ride in one of these things.

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