Endeavour Space Academy: No Agenda Survives Contact with the Students
Once again, I had a list of topics… but this time only a couple of them got covered… student questions and the discussions they spawned took me on tangents I was not expecting, and required me to retrieve a lot of images.
One student asked “What is the Sun made of?” I quickly described the Sun, and showed a comparison of the Sun and the Earth – which got a “WOW!” Apparently, I really need to give my Sun lecture!
I showed this “Life Cycle of Stars” video:
I showed the “Cosmic Eye” video – an updated version of the 1977 “Powers of Ten” video…
This video got us into a discussion about galaxies: their structure, and where our Sun is in the Milky way. I showed the students a portion of “Hubble’s UItra Deep Field in 3D” video; I said “You see all those galaxies in that tiny little portion of the sky? Spread that out over the entire sky!” Eyes got wide.
I discussed Citizen Science projects, and had the students sign-up for a Zooniverse account, and encouraged them to look at the plethora of projects and choose one to participate in. I mentioned that I’ve heard of several students like them having been credited with discovering things like exoplanets!
Students that had smartphones were asked to install Celestron Skyportal – a free app that has that cool “window on the sky” feature. Skyportal is a custom version of the very popular SkySafari, and is free to use; if you have a Celestron telescope, you can control it with this app too!
This week, we discussed the Big and Little Dipper, asterisms, and star-hopping. We showed the students how to star-hop to Polaris and Arcturus from the Big Dipper. We asked them to see if they could resolve Mizar as a double star.
Broken record time: Jupiter and Saturn are excellent viewing targets in the southeastern sky after sunset; the Moon appears near the two planets from Oct. 13-15th.
Broken record time – the flip side: Venus continues to appear low above the southwestern horizon after sunset, moving slightly southward towards the star Antares each evening. Venus will remain close to the star Antares until Oct. 18th – it will be closest to Antares on the 15th and 16th. Venus oddly maintains its height above the horizon, while Antares gets lower with each evening.
- The First Quarter Moon occurs on Oct. 12th – visible high in the southern sky in early evening.
- After Oct. 12th the Moon will be a Waxing Gibbous – visible to the southeast in early evening, and up for most of the night.
- The Full Moon occurs on Oct. 20th – rising at sunset, visible high in the sky around midnight, and visible all night.
If you click on the Moon image above, or click this link, you will go to NASA’s Moon Phase and Libration, 2021 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!
Moon News – International Observe the Moon Night is Oct. 16th!
The Sun has 3 spots – one large and two smaller; one is rotating out of view. SpaceWeather.com says: “The magnetic field of sunspot AR2882 is decaying, reducing the chance of another strong flare”
The Sun seen in 193 angstroms on October 11th.
Intense coronal loop activity on top of AR2882 – something very active is rotating into view in the northern hemisphere. The north pole coronal hole is open and large, the south pole coronal hole is still pretty much closed up. Three large coronal holes pepper the Sun’s face.
The Sun seen in 304 angstroms on October 11th.
LOTS of prominence activity again – that thing rotating into view seems very active. AR2882 is flashing with flares.
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
Solar wind speed is 454.8 km/sec ▲ with a density of 17.9 protons/cm3 ▲ at 1316 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: 133, this year: 2286 (+123), all time: 27,117 (+248)
- Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs): 2218 (+5 updated 2021-10-12)
- Total Minor Planets discovered (NASA): 1,113,527 (updated 2021-08-17) – not been updated for many weeks.
- Total Minor Planets discovered (MPC): 1,130,259 (-162, updated 2021-10-12)
Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
|Asteroid||Date(UT)||Miss Distance||Velocity (km/s)||Diameter (m)|
|2021 SF1||2021-Oct-12||6.2 LD||3.4||13|
|2021 TN1||2021-Oct-12||7.5 LD||3.6||19|
|2021 TN9||2021-Oct-12||10.4 LD||8.6||15|
|2021 TP8||2021-Oct-14||4.4 LD||12.2||10|
|2021 TS3||2021-Oct-14||10.9 LD||4.2||13|
|2021 TC1||2021-Oct-14||14.6 LD||6.6||31|
|2021 SM1||2021-Oct-14||6.9 LD||7.2||27|
|2021 TT4||2021-Oct-14||5.1 LD||3.1||9|
|2021 TN6||2021-Oct-14||10 LD||19.8||33|
|2021 SM3||2021-Oct-15||13 LD||15.8||96|
|2021 TU9||2021-Oct-15||15 LD||8.8||25|
|2021 TK10||2021-Oct-15||5.9 LD||9.8||12|
|2020 TH6||2021-Oct-19||7.3 LD||5.9||6|
|2021 TX2||2021-Oct-19||9 LD||10.7||33|
|1996 VB3||2021-Oct-20||8.8 LD||15.3||135|
|2021 TV3||2021-Oct-21||13.3 LD||12.8||47|
|2021 TE4||2021-Oct-21||8.3 LD||6||15|
|2021 SG2||2021-Oct-21||15.9 LD||5.9||25|
|2021 RE10||2021-Oct-21||15.5 LD||5.1||56|
|2021 TE1||2021-Oct-23||9.5 LD||12.5||47|
|2017 SJ20||2021-Oct-25||18.7 LD||15.7||120|
|2019 UW6||2021-Oct-26||8 LD||11.1||17|
|2009 WY7||2021-Nov-02||19.2 LD||14.7||54|
|2017 TS3||2021-Nov-02||13.9 LD||9.9||131|
|2005 VL1||2021-Nov-04||17 LD||5.2||18|
|2020 KA||2021-Nov-06||14.9 LD||4.8||11|
|2021 SP3||2021-Nov-08||15.6 LD||9.3||70|
|2019 XS||2021-Nov-09||1.5 LD||10.7||65|
|2017 WG14||2021-Nov-10||18.6 LD||11.6||45|
|2007 VD138||2021-Nov-12||16 LD||7.7||44|
|2004 UE||2021-Nov-13||11.1 LD||13.2||224|
|2016 VR||2021-Nov-15||8 LD||8.7||20|
|2010 VK139||2021-Nov-15||6.4 LD||13.9||65|
|2019 VL5||2021-Nov-15||8.6 LD||8||23|
|2016 JG12||2021-Nov-20||14.4 LD||7.5||112|
|2021 KH2||2021-Nov-21||19.3 LD||6.5||31|
|2014 WF201||2021-Nov-24||13.2 LD||5.5||27|
|2009 WB105||2021-Nov-25||15.1 LD||18.9||71|
|2019 BB5||2021-Nov-25||18.8 LD||8.3||16|
|1994 WR12||2021-Nov-29||16.1 LD||8.8||123|
We have asteroid shapes!!!
This is VERY cool!
Discussion of the Hera Mission
On October 11, 2021, the NASA All Sky Fireball Network reported 14 fireballs!
Position of the planets & several spacecraft in the inner solar system on October 12th:
Position of the planets in the middle solar system:
Position of the planets in the outer solar system:
Solar System News
The Lucy mission was ALL OVER Social Media!
Parker Solar Probe will Fly-by Venus on Oct. 15, 2021
International Space Station
HiRISE - Beautiful Mars
Climate change mission control
Interactives app allows you to explore Earth science and climate change
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.
Data from the NASA Exoplanet Archive
* 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.
SpaceWeather.com Realtime Aurora Gallery: https://spaceweathergallery.com/aurora_gallery.html
Stark Parks in Ohio designated as an Urban Night Sky Place!
- 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/
Education and STEM
Moon Phase and Libration
LEGO and NASA #BuildToLaunch episode 5
Our Solar System
The image above is an artist’s rendering shows the eight major planets of our solar system lined up as if they were transiting the Sun. The graphic is intended to show the accurate scale of the planets, relative to each other and the Sun. Credit: NASA.
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.
SpaceEngine: a free 3D Universe Simulator for Windows. Steam version with VR support available.
Stellarium: a free open source planetarium app for PC/MAC/Linux. It’s a great tool for planning observing sessions. A web-based version of Stellarium is also available.