Low Earth Orbit is in SERIOUS need of International Space Traffic Control
I saw a lot of posts today about the Orbital Reef space station, and I had a myriad of thoughts cross my mind:
- Blue Origin does not have orbital capabilities at this time… so this is kind of like putting the cart before the horse, or the space station before the rocket…
- I wonder what the insurance policy will look like for accidental injury or death during a completely voluntary trip to a space hotel?
- Space junk is becoming a serious issue.
- We’ve already had satellite collisions, and numerous instances of satellites having to maneuver out of the way to avoid incoming projectiles.
That final point got me to thinking about what kind of agency could act as “traffic control” for Low Earth Orbit? Can you imagine air traffic today without any form of coordination? But I can hardly see every country on the planet with spacefaring capabilities allowing some third party to direct or control their spacecraft – good luck with that!
The number of space launches has grown enormously over the years, and it seems likely that more and more humans will be occupying Low Earth Orbit in the near future. I’m pretty sure few people will want to be the first to die in an accidental collision between space hotel ferries from different countries.
Jupiter and Saturn continue to be visible southern sky after sunset; every time I go outside at night, I find myself looking south and instantly spotting Jupiter, and scanning right until I find Saturn.
Venus appears low above the southwestern horizon after sunset, continuing to move slightly southward each evening.
The Moon appears in the Winter Hexagon in the south-southwestern predawn sky on Oct. 26th.
The Moon appears near the star Pollux, high in the southern predawn sky on Oct. 27th and 28th.
The Moon appears near the star Regulus high in the southeastern predawn sky on Oct. 30th.
- The Moon is a Waning Gibbous – rising after sunset, visible high in the sky after midnight, and visible to the southwest after sunrise.
- The Third Quarter Moon occurs on Oct. 28th – rising around midnight, an visible to the south after sunrise.
- After Oct. 28th, the Moon will be a Waning Crescent – visible low to the east before sunrise.
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!
I thought the terminator on Oct. 29th in the image above looked interesting, so I cropped-out a portion of it.
The Sun has 5 spots! One of the spots is very large, and something spitting out a lot of flares is rotating into view! SpaceWeather.com says: “Growing sunspot AR2887 has a ‘beta-gamma’ magnetic field that harbors energy for M-class solar flares.”
The Sun seen in 193 angstroms on October 25th.
Several areas of coronal loop in the southern hemisphere – whatever is rotating into view is seriously active! The coronal hole at the north pole is gigantic, while it appears that the south pole’s hole has closed up.
The Sun seen in 304 angstroms on October 25th.
Prominence activity all over the sun’s limb!
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 354.8 km/sec ▼ with a density of 6.4 protons/cm3 ▲ at 1355 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: 217, this year: 2373 (+87), all time: 27,205 (+88)
- Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs): 2219 (+1 updated 2021-10-26)
- Total Minor Planets discovered (NASA): 1,113,527 (updated 2021-08-17) – not been updated for many weeks.
- Total Minor Planets discovered (MPC): 1,130,210 (-49, updated 2021-10-26)
Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
|Asteroid||Date(UT)||Miss Distance||Velocity (km/s)||Diameter (m)|
|2019 UW6||2021-Oct-26||8 LD||11.1||17|
|2009 WY7||2021-Nov-02||19.2 LD||14.7||54|
|2021 TJ14||2021-Nov-02||19 LD||9.6||40|
|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|
|2021 TR15||2021-Nov-19||11.8 LD||7||39|
|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|
|2019 XQ1||2021-Dec-13||14.1 LD||9.1||30|
|2004 YC||2021-Dec-15||18.4 LD||8.1||27|
|2021 LX3||2021-Dec-18||19.7 LD||6.5||124|
|2016 YY10||2021-Dec-21||11.3 LD||9.2||23|
|2017 XQ60||2021-Dec-21||13.7 LD||15.7||47|
I LOVE being the first one to tell students about Tunguska!
Ingrid Van Houten is the woman who has discovered the greatest number of asteroids in all of history
On October 25, 2021, the NASA All Sky Fireball Network reported 17 fireballs!
(8 sporadics, 5 Orionids, 2 Leonis Minorids, 1 epsilon Geminid, 1 chi Taurid)
Position of the planets & several spacecraft in the inner solar system on October 26th:
Position of the planets in the middle solar system:
Position of the planets in the outer solar system:
Position of the planets in the extreme outer solar system:
Solar System News
Mars Helicopter flight 14
International Space Station
HiRISE - Beautiful Mars
Sea Level animations and the datasets
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
Watoga State Park in West Virginia, USA, has been designated an Intl Dark Sky Park!
- 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
K-4 Students - Learn about the #Artemis missions to the Moon
A new Sally Ride EarthKAM mission is coming up Nov. 3-8! Teachers can register now!
Hubble – Beautiful Universe: Cat’s Eye Nebula
The Cat’s Eye Nebula (also known as NGC 6543 and Caldwell 6) is a planetary nebula in the northern constellation of Draco, discovered by William Herschel on February 15, 1786. It was the first planetary nebula whose spectrum was investigated by the English amateur astronomer William Huggins, demonstrating that planetary nebulae were gaseous and not stellar in nature.
Structurally, the object has had high-resolution images by the Hubble Space Telescope revealing knots, jets, bubbles and complex arcs, being illuminated by the central hot planetary nebula nucleus (PNN). It is a well-studied object that has been observed from radio to X-ray wavelengths. – Wikipedia
Observations suggest the star ejected its mass in a series of pulses at 1,500-year intervals. These convulsions created dust shells, each of which contain as much mass as all of the planets in our solar system combined (still only one percent of the Sun’s mass). These concentric shells make a layered, onion-skin structure around the dying star. The view from Hubble is like seeing an onion cut in half, where each skin layer is discernible.
The bull’s-eye patterns seen around planetary nebulae come as a surprise to astronomers because they had no expectation that episodes of mass loss at the end of stellar lives would repeat every 1,500 years. – 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.