Archive for the moon Category

LRO Sees Bouncing, Rolling Boulders on the Moon | Universe Today

Posted in astro blogs, Lunar Exploration, moon, NASA, observing, robotic astronomy, space, Student Astronomy with tags , , on September 5, 2009 by bellaireastro

I saw a really cool post over on Universe Today about the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and yet another close-up of the moon.

This time there is evidence that really big boulders rolled down the slopes of the Tsiolkovskiy Crater

Closeup of LROC image showing boulders that have rolled down the slope of Tsiolkovskiy Crater.  Credit: NASA

You can see the path the boulders took and the tracks they left behind them.

Tsiolkovskiy Crater from LROC. Click for larger "Zoomifiable" version. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

The crater rim in stark relief in this image. Dark and deep it looks!

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LRO Images of Apollo Landing Sites

Posted in astronomical history, IYA, Lunar Exploration, moon, NASA, observing, robotic astronomy, space, Student Astronomy with tags , , on July 18, 2009 by bellaireastro

Amateur astronomers are often asked if one can see the Apollo landing sites with their telescope and the answer is no. Even with Hubble we can’t get the needed resolution for such small scale structures. But the NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is in a high orbit around the Moon as part of a series of new lunar missions and on July 17th the LRO team released a series of images of the Apollo landing sites. You can clearly see the spacecraft and the shadows they cast but the LRO is still a long way from the lowest orbit which happens in August so I suspect better resolution images will come later in the year.

Labeled LROC image of Apollo 11 landing siteLabeled LROC image of Apollo 16 landing site

Notice the proximity of the HUGE craters! Too close for comfort!

There is a lot of talk about the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing which is coming up on July 20th, 2009. Of course there are those that still believe NASA faked the entire thing. I wonder if these images will change anyone’s mind.

The image showing the Apollo 14 landing site shows what the LRO team claims are the tracks of the astronauts as they set up scientific equipment on the lunar surface. That is just incredible stuff.

Labeled LROC image of Apollo 14 landing site

Seriously… astronaut tracks. COOL!

40 Years Ago Today Apollo 11 Launched

Posted in astronomical history, IYA, Lunar Exploration, moon, NASA, space, The Big Picture with tags on July 16, 2009 by bellaireastro

Apollo 11 launched was 40 years ago today. The great photo blogging site “The Big Picture” posted a fantastic set of images documenting the entire trip.

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the Moon July 20th 1969.

There is a flash driven and quite cool site dedicated to remembering the Apollo 11 Moon landing called WeChooseTheMoon.org so check it out.

Galileoscope

Posted in astronomical history, IYA, moon, observing, space, Student Astronomy, urban skies with tags on July 15, 2009 by bellaireastro

So a few months ago I ordered a Galileoscope so I could have a new toy and also to see if the simple scope is good for my astronomy classes.

Today it showed up on my doorstep and I put it together.

First off the unboxing.

I set out all the pieces. The lenses are glass and the rest is plastic and rubber. Note the tissue paper included to avoid getting fingerprints on the lenses.

The instructions for assembling the scope were clear and simple. Note the lens needs to be inserted in a specific direction.

Putting the tube together and getting the focuser in place and installing the telescope ends was all very simple.

The eyepieces were a tad more difficult. The small lenses are hard to work with. Getting the lenses in the correct configuration and in the right spot took some fiddling and here the directions weren’t as clear. For example there is a second eyepiece that barely gets a mention in the directions and I found myself trying to remember lens optics stuff from introductory physics. Still it wasn’t too bad.

The eyepieces fit neatly into the completed tube and the simple focus-by-sliding worked very well. I got a couple of shots through the scope with my digital camera.

This is a GREAT project for families or schools. The work doesn’t really require an adult to supervise although it may make the process easier. I say go buy one now. I plan to get a classroom set if I can. The scope seems easily enough to disassemble so you can show how the thing works and how to put it together.

Completed Galileoscope

Gibbous July Moon

Posted in Lunar Exploration, moon, NASA, observing, robotic astronomy, space, Student Astronomy, urban skies with tags , , , on July 5, 2009 by bellaireastro

The moon goes through a 28-day cycle with each phase lasting 7 days. Recently I set out to catch the moon during the waxing gibbous phase just a few days before full moon. Gibbous means that more than half the surface of the Moon as seen from Earth is lit up and waxing means a bit more is lit up last night than the night before.

Waxing gibbous July Moon

Waxing gibbous July Moon

Crater Tycho

Crater Tycho

The moon is one of my favorite photographic subjects. Soon I hope to take some late-night/early-morning waning crescent images.

NASA has sent the Lunar Reconnaissance Observer with the another mission in-tow designed to smash into the Moon to aid the search for possible water-ice in lunar craters. This is one of the first images from the spacecraft showing an area near Mare Nubium (sea of clouds).

Near Mare Nubium

Near Mare Nubium

Sidewalk Astronomy at Houston Downtown Library 6-29-09

Posted in moon, observing, sidewalk astronomy, space, Student Astronomy, sun, urban skies with tags , , on June 28, 2009 by bellaireastro
Kirby S checks out the view at a local star party

Kirby checks out the view through the scope

Come out on Monday June 29th to the downtown Houston Public Library Central location for some sidewalk astronomy from 6pm – 8pm.

by Flickr user Fatty Tuna

Photo by Flickr user Fatty Tuna

The location is the plaza outside the downtown Houston public library. The library has an underground parking garage on Lamar and there is street parking on Lamar and McKinney  and on nearby Smith Street. There is also a handy Google Map.

There will be telescopes and solar scopes on hand for observations of the sun and moon which will be at first quarter. Come on out and help create a tradition of sidewalk astronomy in downtown Houston.

Sidewalk Astronomy at HPL Central

Posted in astronomical history, IYA, moon, observing, space, Student Astronomy, sun, urban skies with tags , on June 15, 2009 by bellaireastro
Kirby S checks out the view at a local star party

Come on out June 29th to the downtown Houston Public Library Central branch for some sidewalk astronomy from 6 pm – 8 pm. The moon and sun will be our targets as well as anything else worth taking a look at. Check out the Google Maps view of the area to figure out how to get there.

During the summer months night comes very late to the Houston area but there is still plenty of astronomy to be done. Most people assume urban environments prevent any astronomy at all but that isn’t true by a long shot. Besides if we don’t try to educate people about the joys of astronomy they are less likely to help prevent light pollution in our cities.

Sidewalk astronomy in the big city has been an ongoing effort ever since John Dobson set up his home-made scope in the 1960’s in San Francisco.

Come out and see the sky from downtown Houston!