Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Look closely and you might see the 1201 alarm on the DSKY!

People that scratch-build models are totally insane if you ask me.  I have enough trouble just keeping my glued covered fingerprints off the clear plastic windows of models that I build.  You can always seem the seam where the two fuselage halves were glued together, and if you really want to see a sticky disaster that looks like I was a loser in a paintball fight, watch me try to use an airbrush!
...and this is just with pre-formed plastic Monogram or Revell models where most of the shaping and work is done for me.  No way could I ever start from scratch and make something that didn't look like a toilet paper tube with a cone on top of it and call it a "rocket".
The Columbia shuttle on the right is one of my best.  It hangs above my head in the dining room.
So when I say scratch-builders are insane, that is a compliment of the highest admiration for their skills, steady hands and patience.
So take a look at this amazing example of a very fine model by Vincent Meens.  This is a 1/24 scale LM ascent stage. This is just the cockpit, so be sure to look at the link with more details of this one.  Amazing work!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Close calls and near disasters of space flight.

I posted an earlier version of this chart a long time ago, but just saw there is a new updated chart out.  The chart shows incidents, accidents and near disasters of the manned space program.  Lunar, orbital, and near orbital flights are listed.  Most of the problems were minor, but the yellow items are where the crews were lost.  Fascinating chart to study closely.   Reminds me of quote:
 "If we die, we want people to accept it. We're in a risky business, and we hope that if anything happens to us it will not delay the program. The conquest of space is worth the risk of life. -- Gus Grissom (Commander of Apollo 1, died in fire January 27, 1967)

(Thanks to Robert Perlman for posting this on Collectspace.com)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Total geek's fantasy airshow.

Thanks to Phil on Bad Astromomy blog for posting this link.  I think a lot of blog sites seem to steal things from each other, but this is so cool I just had to add this to my blog also!  Anyway, if you grew up watching Space: 1999 on TV every Monday night at 8pm like me, you'll have fun with this site.
I like how they have the pilot of the spacecraft there also, just like at real airshows.  Kids always swarm around the unknown pilots asking for autographs thinking these guys are someone famous.  This was just some Air Force guy that got the lucky job of flying his A-10 to Abbotsford to stand next to his plane all weekend in the hot sun sweating in his flight suit.
Although, if Starbuck was standing there with her Viper or Alan Carter with Eagle,  I'd be tempted to push my way through the pale, chubby, basement sci-fi groupies!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Summer starts tomorrow?

This has to be the ugliest June day ever in Seattle.  This is the NOAA data from today down the hill from my house at Renton airport.  Summer starts tomorrow morning at 4:28am (yay!), but when will it be spring?
(click image if you dare!)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

BP meets Eyjafjallajokull

Summer skies - sort of...

Seattle spring continues with a month that some are calling "Juneuary" since we are now at about 260+ days since our last 75 degree day sometime last fall.  We are stuck in a cloudy cool pattern that just won't let go.  Summer officially starts this weekend, but in Seattle we know that the summer weather won't start until at least July 5 - if it does start.
Astronomy is pretty much put on hold until further notice since the skies are still missing.  When we do get a hazy clearing, it's time to run out and peek at our late spring objects in the sky.  Here is a shot of the M57 Ring Nebula from last weekend.  It's 15 exposures at ISO 1600. Taken with the Meade 12" LX200 at f/10 and modified Canon 350D.
One of my astronomer friends showed me some of his processing tricks last night, so I gave it a try on my image and was able to tighten my stars up a little more.  (Click for full size)

Friday, June 18, 2010

The future of US manned space flight.

Like it or not, this is probably the view US astronauts will see of their ride when the shuttle is retired.  Probably sometime in 2011 from the looks of the mission shuffling.  This photo is from the recent launch to the ISS with Doug Wheelock, Shannon Walker and Fyodor Yurchikhin on board. 
Note: The photo I had up here showed a view from the bottom of the Soyuz rocket looking up.  The link vanished from Twitpics, but if I find it again, I'll re-post.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

What happens in the shuttle after landing?

...a bunch of guys get to go in there, shut things down, reset switches and ride in the shuttle while it's towed back to it's nest.  Lucky!
I'd be happy just to sit in there for a few minutes, drool a bit, then probably have to be pulled out the door by my toes as my fingers were grasping the Velcro and crying "nooooo.....I'm not done looking!"

Seems that now the shuttle is retiring, we are seeing all the close up and never seen stuff we never saw for 30 years.
Double-click the video and see it in full screen HD.

Bright comet in the skies for June.

Comet McNaught (C/2009 R1) is in the morning skies these days.  This is comet #54 named after Robert H. McNaught in Australia. He's famous for the bright comet a few years ago that we could see here in Seattle at sunset, but them moved south and put on the amazing display for the southern hemisphere.
The current comet is about magnitude 5 and brightening, we never know what these things will do, so just watch it if you can get out.  It should be at its best around mid-June.
(Photo on right by John Chumack of Yellow Springs, Ohio.  Galaxy is NGC891)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Nothing seen on Jupiter after the imapact

Seems that so far nobody has seen any smoke cloud, stirred up clouds or anything interesting on the cloud tops of Jupiter after the latest impact.
Here is a color photo of the "Wesley/Go" impact event. (I have give them both credit for this discovery).

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Anthony Wesley catches a live one this time.

Last year amateur astronomer Anthony Wesley of Australia captured the first view of the result of an asteroid hitting Jupiter.  This was again in the news just today with some new Hubble images.
Now just as those shots are released, he seems to have captured a live one hitting Jupiter and exploding! 
Christopher Go (a well known planetary imager) in the Philippines confirmed it also.  Not a lot of info just yet on this, we'll have to see what is seen when the planet rotates and shows it latest pock on it's face.
There are videos on the sites listed below, but be patient, they seem to be getting a lot of hits for obvious reasons - and are a little slow to download.