Monday, May 31, 2010

Seattle needs a shuttle

We have the best museum here in the west coast for a retired space shuttle don't we?  The Museum of Flight is taking an on-line petition to collect names in support of getting a shuttle to Seattle.  Easy to do and less annoying than those people on 3rd Avenue with clip boards attacking you with a friendly handshake while you are running to the bus after work. Grr.....I hate that, if you work in Seattle, you know these people.
I wonder if McMinville has dropped out of the museum competition since they are now building a 747 water-slide?  Their runway is short, and BFI has 10,000 feet next to the museum.  I think chances are pretty good, and hopefully Dr. Bonnie Dunbar can get us one.  Asking Dr. Dunbar once about getting a shuttle she said to just keep visiting the museum, bring friends, family and keep the number or visitors growing.  More visitors better chance of getting a shuttle.
I was playing with Photoshop and put together an image that I hope will become a reality in a year or so when NASA delivers the treasures.  I'll skip work that day for sure and camp out near the runway to see the shuttle come here.
(click image to admire my artwork in full size)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sneaking behind the rings....

Just another one of those photos that you should click on to enlarge, move closer to your monitor, and just stare at it for a few minutes.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

No meals served during launch.

Ok, this isn't real space stuff, but it was just so stupid it's kind of funny!  I guess this shows why astronauts have to eat a big breakfast before launch....and no launch meals provided.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Planetary imaging then and now....

In my monthly search for new images to show at our astronomy club meetings, I've been looking at images of Jupiter without it's belt.  I came across a link to a fun web page through that you can select the date, planet and observatory from different years.  You can see the images taken of the object at that time.
It's kind of fun to see how far we have come with technology since then.  For example, here is Jupiter taken from Mt. Palomar back in 1952:
....the compared with our 12 inch Meade in my backyard with a $30 webcam attached:
Pretty amazing what we can do now in our backyards!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Rhea and the rings....

Click on images for full size.
...the just stare at it for a while!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

My pants fall down if I don't wear a belt.

Anthony Wesley who is the same Australian astronomer who discovered the impact on Jupiter a while back.  He recently photographed Jupiter and found that it's missing it's lower cloud belt.  This is the belt that goes around the Great Red Spot (maybe that's Jupiter's belt buckle?).  With Jupiter's waistline, I think he (I always thought of Jupiter as a "he" for some reason) is probably holding his pants up with one hand.  Not sure if the planet is following the strange fad of those boys in downtown Seattle with the low pants, but I never understand the attraction of that style.

It does happen now and then, when the Pioneer 10 spacecraft passed it in 1973, it was also beltless as seen in this photo.  Interesting to compare Wesley's photo with the Pioneer's his is much better!

| NASA Science News |

Three minutes to process and launch a shuttle.

A fun video showing several weeks of work required to process a shuttle in the OPF, then roll it over to the VAB for stacking. The video shows pretty nicely how high the orbiter needs to be lifted up into the rafters to bee stacked with the tank and booster rockets. This is from the last mission of STS-131 from a few months back.

The part where the shuttle is pulled between the buildings reminds me of a bunch of ants dragging a dead bird to the nest to please the queen!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

30 years ago today.

The news is full of that icelandic volcano with the name we can't say that has been erupting constantly for about the last month or so.  But that thing is just fizzling along compared to what happened 30 years ago this morning.  I feel old when I realize that a lot of people I know and work with weren't even around when this happened, but I was 12 years old at the time.  Of  course I'm talking about the blast of Mt. St. Helens that let loose at 8:32am on May 18, 1980.  I was out finishing up a camping trip at the Boy Scout "Camporee".  We were riding back in the van with the radio on and they were talking about rivers flooding.  I remember I just thought "poor suckers on the east coast just got hit with a flash flood", but they kept talking about it. Then I realized it was in Washington, and the volcano had caused it!  Got home and watched TV and after that day, I've had a pretty good interest in volcanoes.  You may notice the volcano blog entries here.
Here is the actual 30 year old TV coverage that I watched (after the commercial):

....and today NASA released this short clip showing the view from space:

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Lego Space Shutte - ages 16 +

You never get too old for Lego.  There is a time in your life when you are over 16 years old and you are then called "+" (plus!).  That is your excuse to not stop buying this fine toy just because you are an "adult".
I just saw my next Lego kit for my collection that I'll get this summer.  Lego is coming out with another space shuttle kit just in time for the retirement of the space shuttle.   A lot of times kits like this the proportions just don't look quite right, but it looks like they designed this one pretty well. Sure, the scale of the astronauts is a little off and there is just a little room for them in the cockpit, but they do fit in there!
That was one of my gripes when I was a kid.  I would get a Lego kit with figures and vehicles, but the crew was just decorative rather than fully functional and have a place to sit in the car, truck, airplane....etc.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

See Alan Shepard's full flight from the cockpit.

It was 49 years ago on May 5th that Alan Shepard became the first American in space.  It was a shock to have Gagarin up there first, so the US had to to something quick.  Gagarin was still ahead since he did orbit, and Shepard was just kind of tossed up there, got a quick peek at space, and fell down again on a 15 minute trip.  But that's all it took to get the race to the moon going.  Russia lost that race, but gave it a very good try with their N1 exploding monster, but had to give up.  
This is a newly releases clip from  If you like this kind of stuff, this is the place to go spend money on DVDs.  I have several sets of different missions myself!
Alan Shepard's 15-minute suborbital flight marked the first American space flight. On the left is the pilot observation camera. On the right is the instrument panel camera. Both cameras are visible in the footage.
The instrument panel camera is the small lens in the upper right hand corner of the pilot footage, just over Shepard's left shoulder. The pilot observation camera is the little lens in the lower left hand corner of the instrument panel.
This footage is from a new digital transfer made by Spacecraft Films with the National Archives, who is now the holder of the original film.
The track covers his entire flight. Footage contained as separate angles on the Spacecraft Films Project Mercury DVD set.

Freedom 7 - May 5, 1961 from Mark Gray on Vimeo.

Everybody likes volcanoes!

Just came across a really cool volcano photo site on one of the many science forums I monitor.   Volcano Picture of the Week.
It seems to be fairly new, since there aren't a huge amount of photos there yet, but the ones that are there are pretty nice.   Looks like another site to add to the list of good photo sites.