Virtual Reality, Pizza & Meteorites
For our final session of our after-school astronomy club, I brought pizza and set up my virtual reality gear. We showed the students a fly-over of Saturn’s rings & one student also took the “tour of the Milky Way” – where you fly through the galaxy’s disk, and through a nebula, ending up outside the Milky Way
We also gave each student a meteorite kit – they were thrilled! My wife and I got the meteorite kits from Vatican Observatory Foundation board member Larry Lebofsky – whom I just cannot thank enough!
My wife has told me that she is not interested in running the club anymore – I’m disappointed, but completely understand. I’m looking into running an aerospace / rocket / space exploration club at the high school featuring Kerbal Space Program – I want the students to run a series of missions like the early U.S. space era: sub-orbital, orbital, lunar transfer, lunar orbit, lunar landing, return home.
More advanced students can do missions like: Mars transfer, Mars orbit, Mars landing, rovers, polar orbital climate satellites, and space station construction via multiple launches and orbital docking.
Even more advanced students can do missions like: asteroid tracking, rendezvous and redirection, resource detection, mining & in-situ processing.
I’ve already got a lot of this curriculum written up – a problem is finding school PCs with graphics hardware capable of running KSP…
Jupiter, Venus, Mars and Saturn continue to appear in the southeastern predawn sky all week – Venus and Jupiter are separating after their close conjunction last week.
By next week, Venus and Jupiter will have pulled away from each other, and Jupiter will get a bit closer to Mars.
The Moon appears near the star Pollux high in the western sky before midnight on May 6th. – this conjunction will be visible from dusk till they set shortly before 2 AM.
The Moon appears near the star Regulus in the western sky after midnight on May 9th.
Just a friendly reminder:
- The Moon is a Waxing Crescent – visible low to the southwest in the early evening.
- The First Quarter Moon occurs on May 8th – visible high in the southern sky in early evening.
- After May 8th, the Moon will be a Waxing Gibbous – visible to the southeast in early evening, and up for most of the night.
If you click on the Moon image above, or click this link, you will go to NASA’s Moon Phase and Libration, 2022 page – it will show you what the Moon looks like right now. If you click the image on that page, you will download a high-rez TIFF image annotated with the names of prominent features – helpful for logging your lunar observations!
Back to the VAB with the SLS.
I think “galore” is going to be the way I describe sunspot numbers for the forseeable future… sunspots galore again this week with five named spots.
Spaceweather.com says: “Earth-orbiting satellites have just detected an X1.1-class solar flare: image. The source is a new unnumbered sunspot emerging over the sun’s southeastern limb.”
The Sun seen in 193 angstroms on May 2nd.
NOTE: The SDO site was down when I was writing this post…
The Sun seen in 304 angstroms on May 2nd.
NOTE: The SDO site was down when I was writing this post…
Videos courtesy of NASA/SDO and the AIA, EVE, and HMI science teams.
You can view the Sun in near real-time, in multiple frequencies here: SDO-The Sun Now.
You can create your own time-lapse movies of the Sun here: AIA/HMI Browse Data.
You can browse all the SDO images of the Sun from 2010 to the present here: Browse SDO archive.
Amateur Solar Astrophotography
Taken using: 80ED Skywatcher, UV/IR filter, ASI174MM, Skywatcher AZEQ5, Daystar Quark chromosphere, ERF.
Solar wind speed is 385.4 km/sec ▼ with a density of 2.65 protons/cm3 ▼ at 0456 UT.
Click here to see a near real-time animation of the corona and solar wind from the Solar & Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO).
- Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) discovered this month: 2, this year: 1061 (+105), all time: 28,984 (+100)
- Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs): 2262 (+2 updated 2022-05-03)
- Total Minor Planets discovered (MPC): 1,194,085 (-76 updated 2022-05-03)
Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
|Asteroid||Date(UT)||Miss Distance||Velocity (km/s)||Diameter (m)|
|2022 HN3||2022-May-03||8.1 LD||20.7||31|
|2022 HW1||2022-May-03||9.9 LD||7.7||19|
|2022 HS3||2022-May-03||14 LD||21.1||34|
|2022 HY3||2022-May-03||1.8 LD||7.2||11|
|2022 HU3||2022-May-03||6 LD||13.7||21|
|2022 HC4||2022-May-03||3.4 LD||11.4||11|
|2022 HO4||2022-May-03||3 LD||9.1||15|
|2022 HR1||2022-May-03||5.1 LD||13.3||23|
|2022 JA||2022-May-04||14.2 LD||8.8||68|
|2017 HG1||2022-May-04||18.2 LD||6||11|
|2022 HL2||2022-May-05||7.7 LD||7||21|
|2022 HA4||2022-May-07||11.1 LD||13||32|
|2022 HF1||2022-May-08||8.8 LD||17.1||59|
|2022 HL3||2022-May-08||11.7 LD||11.7||52|
|2019 JE||2022-May-11||4.9 LD||7.2||21|
|2012 UX68||2022-May-15||2.8 LD||8.2||54|
|2013 UX||2022-May-17||16.8 LD||16.3||141|
|2021 WY||2022-May-18||16.9 LD||9||65|
|2022 HD1||2022-May-20||15.3 LD||6.8||60|
|2021 KO2||2022-May-30||3.1 LD||14.8||9|
|2022 HT2||2022-May-30||11.9 LD||15.7||224|
|2020 DA4||2022-Jun-01||5.5 LD||8.9||26|
|2021 GT2||2022-Jun-06||9.5 LD||7.5||50|
|2018 LU2||2022-Jun-09||14.8 LD||10.7||16|
|2006 XW4||2022-Jun-12||5.9 LD||7.3||49|
|2022 GU6||2022-Jun-12||3.2 LD||8.4||88|
|2015 WP2||2022-Jun-26||18.5 LD||11.4||3|
WGSBN Bulletin Volume 2, #6 (2022 May 2) has 14 newly named asteroids.
On May 3, 2022, the NASA All Sky Fireball Network reported 14 fireballs!
(11 sporadics, 2 eta Aquariids)
Position of the planets & several spacecraft in the inner solar system on May 3rd:
Position of the planets in the middle solar system – May 2022:
Position of the planets in the outer solar system first half of 2022:
Solar System News
James Webb Space Telescope is fully aligned!
JWST US Postal Stamps!
Mars Helicopter - 28th flight animation
HiRISE - Beautiful Mars
Rocket Booster Recover via Helicopter!
International Space Station
420.19 ppm #CO2
See a list of current NASA missions here: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/missions?mission_status=current
ex·o·plan·et /ˈeksōˌplanət/, noun: a planet orbiting a star other than the Sun.
* Confirmed Planets Discovered by TESS refers to the number planets that have been published in the refereed astronomical literature.
* TESS Project Candidates refers to the total number of transit-like events that appear to be astrophysical in origin, including false positives as identified by the TESS Project.
* TESS Project Candidates Yet To Be Confirmed refers to the number of TESS Project Candidates that have not yet been dispositioned as a Confirmed Planet or False Positive.
April 21, 2022
Three New Planets and 10 New K2 Candidates
We’ve added two more circumbinary planets found in the Kepler-451 system, and GJ 514 b, a super-Earth that moves in and out of the habitable zone in an eccentric orbit. Find their data in the Planetary Systems Table and its companion table, Planetary Systems Composite Parameters.
There are also 10 new K2 candidates in the K2 Planets and Candidates Table. Pro Tip: To display only this week’s new candidates and parameter sets, scroll horizontally to the Release Date column (the last one) and enter 2022-04-21 to filter the results. – exoplanetarchive.ipac.caltech.edu
SpaceWeather.com Realtime Aurora Gallery: https://spaceweathergallery.com/aurora_gallery.html
Latest Aurora Oval Forecast
- Visit an International Dark Sky Park: https://www.darksky.org/our-work/conservation/idsp/parks/
- If you live in Michigan, visit the Michigan Dark Skies site: https://sites.lsa.umich.edu/darkskies/
The “stuff of life” is everywhere!
Messier Tour: M14
Messier 14 (M14), is a globular cluster located in the southern constellation Ophiuchus. The cluster lies at a distance of 30,300 light years from Earth and has an apparent magnitude of 7.6. It has the designation NGC 6402 in the New General Catalogue.
Messier 14 is elongated in shape and contains about 150,000 stars. It occupies an area about 100 light years across in size. M14 can easily be seen in binoculars, but is not visible to the naked eye. The brightest star in the cluster has a visual magnitude of 14 and the average apparent magnitude of the cluster’s 25 brightest stars is 15.44.The cluster has only about 5 percent of the Sun’s heavy elements. Its estimated age is about 13 billion years. – messier-objects.com
Astronomers have discovered about 70 variable stars in M14. Many of these are classified as W Virginis variables, a subclass of Type II Cepheids commonly found in globular clusters. M14 also contains a considerable number of RR Lyrae variable stars, which are used to calibrate distances to objects within the Milky Way.
A nova occurred in M14 in 1938 and reached a visual magnitude of +9.2, but was not discovered until 1964, when astronomers surveyed a series of photographic plates from that period. The photographs were taken by the American astronomer Helen Sawyer Hogg between 1932 and 1963 with a 72-inch reflector at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in British Columbia. This was the first nova ever photographed and the second to be discovered in a globular cluster, after the 1860 nova observed in Messier 80.
A carbon star was discovered in the M14 cluster in 1997. The star’s carbon-enriched core likely reached up to the surface after the star had lost its outer layers in close encounters with other stars in the cluster. – messier-objects.com
Cover Image: Messier 14. Credit: Hewholooks at wikipedia.org
Messier Object List: [Link]
Software Apps used for this post:
NASA Eyes on the Solar System: an immersive 3D solar system and space mission simulator – free for the PC /MAC.
Stellarium: a free web-based planetarium app. It’s a great tool for planning observing sessions.
SpaceEngine – Explore the universe in 3D and VR!
Worldwide Telescope – operated by the American Astronomical Society (AAS).