Astronomy blog

Star Party Pics, Updates, And Circumhorizon Arcs

By travel
6/06/2008, 3:55:29 AM

Good morning, astro-nuts!

Today I'm going to post a few pictures from last weekend's star party in Roxbury, NY. Hopefully I will be able to get a few up in the gallery, including the hail! I'm also going to write about Discovery and Phoenix, and some neat things to look out for this weekend!

Heads Up!

Hopefully some of you will be blessed with nice weather tonight, there's a neat sight to behold just after sunset. Saturn, Mars and the lovely, young crescent moon will be in a line in the western Sky. Don't forget, Saturn is currently residing by Leo's foot, and Mars is hanging around Cancer. Coming up on Saturday you have the chance to see Mars and the Moon almost right next to each other. On Sunday, the Moon makes a pretty triangle with Regulus and Saturn in Leo. Now that the shuttle is docked to the ISS, you can catch the bright pair passing overhead this weekend, too. Check out heavens-above.com to see when this will occur.

Be on the look out for what are known as circumhorizon arcs this summer. They are most common when the sun is highest in the sky; in other words, during the summer around noon. Circumhorizon arcs look like horizontal rainbows and would be located well below the sun when cirrus clouds made of thick, plate-shaped crystals are present. Light moves through the nearly vertical side of the crystals and exit by way of the bottom horizontal side of the crystals. This refraction of light is close to what happens when light moves through a prism, with basically the same results; a gorgeous spectrum of colors, often more vivid than you would see in a rainbow.

Astronews!

The second of three spacewalks was completed yesterday by Discovery astronauts Mike Fossum and Ron Garan around 6:15 pm, after more than 7 hours outside the shuttle and International Space Station. The two completed the goals of the spacewalk, which were to attach the new Kibo laboratory to the ISS and to inspect a solar array joint. The Kibo Laboratory is about 37 feet long and 14.4 feet wide; the largest room ever launched for the ISS. The purpose of the lab is performing experience in fluid physics and astronomy. Preparations were also made to the equipment needed for the third spacewalk, which is scheduled for Sunday at around 10:32am. Crew members aboard the space station, meanwhile, had to deal with a busted toilet; I'm sure fixing that was just as fun in outer space as it is down here on Earth. The important thing was that it was fixed.

Meanwhile, on Mars, there has been some additional delays in getting the sample of Martian soil to Phoenix's Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer because of a communication problem with the Mars Odyssey Orbiter. Odyssey had been the backup for communication since the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter became disabled last week. Now Phoenix is back to communicating with the MRO while the issue with Odyssey is addressed. There is also concern about whether or not Phoenix was able to scoop up enough of a soil sample to deliver to TEGA. This is because Phoenix ran a backup command involving taking more pictures of the landing site when it stopped receiving instructions to dig for more soil. Scientists hope to have the sample to TEGA sometime today.

Last but not least, here are some pics from the star party....enjoy!


dob2

25-inch Obsession Dobsonian- L. Beightol


rob

Speaker Rob Teeter- L. Beightol


hail

Hail!- L. Beightol


hail1

More Hail!- L. Beightol

Keep your eyes to the sky and enjoy the view! ~Lisa C.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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