From the ABC 7 Weather team

Archive for category Astronomy July 2014

45th Anniversary of Landing on the Moon

July 20, 2014 - 05:00 AM
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"One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind".  These are the words Neil Armstrong said 45 years ago today after he stepped onto the surface of the moon.

Astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins were all aboard the infamous Apollo 11 flight to the moon.

NASA

The three launched into space aboard Apollo 11 on July 16, 1969 via the Saturn V rocket at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.  Armstrong and Aldrin then climbed into the lunar module Eagle (below) that would descend onto the moon, while Collins orbited in command module Columbia.

NASA

At 4:18pm EDT, Armstrong connected with mission control in Houston saying "Houston, Tranquility base here.  The Eagle has landed". 

At 10:56 pm EST, Armstrong set foot onto the surface of the moon.  You can see in the image below the American flag the astronauts planted on the lunar surface.

NASA

Buzz Aldrin then joined Armstrong on the moon and the two spent time deploying instruments that would be used for experiments, gathering samples of lunar soil, and taking pictures. 

Here's a great "Moonwalk Montage" that takes us back to that day:

 

The three astronauts accomplished something the Russians had not.  NASA states they did not want to focus on the "victory" of the mission, but rather emphasized the "peaceful lunar landing by the United States. 

The patch designed for the mission was created by Michael Collins.  On the patch, the American Bald Eagle is depicted landing on the lunar surface, delivering an olive branch of peace.   The words "Apollo 11" were chosen for the top of the patch above a distance crescent shaped Earth.

NASA

The United State's determination in exploration through the Space program has taken us to the point where we now have a rover on Mars.  The mission 45 years ago today reemphasizes the spirit of our country and the desire to explore and discover outer space.

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Full "Supermoon" Tonight

July 11, 2014 - 09:42 AM
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It's that time of the lunar calendar where we approach full moon status.  The moon will be full tomorrow morning at 7:25am.  But even tonight, expect a 14% bigger and 30% brighter full moon than full moons of 2013.  The reason?

The moon is in perigee.  The terms perigee and apogee refer to the distance of the moon from the earth.  During perigee the moon is closest to Earth.  The opposite is true when the moon is at apogee. 

NASA

Tonight's full moon will be the first of three supermoons this year.  The next will occur on August 10th and the final on September 9th.  The full moon tonight will be less than 224,851 miles away from Earth.  To put that in perspective, at apogee the moon is roughly 252,000 miles away from Earth.  Here's a photograph of the two full moons overlayed on one another. 

NASA

The July full moon is referred to as the "Buck" or "Thunder" moon.  The buck moon came from deer's antlers pushing out of their forehead.  The moon is also referred to as the thunder moon because July is the most common month for thunderstorms.

NASA

Weather conditions for supermoon-viewing will fairly good. Aside from a few scattered clouds, the sky should feature the bright moon rising at 6:46pm tonight and setting at 5:02am tomorrow morning. If you take some moon pictures, we'd love to see and share them! Happy moon viewing!

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Rocket Launch from Wallops on Saturday

July 10, 2014 - 07:04 AM
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First it was engine trouble and then thunderstorms delaying the launch of an unmanned commercial rocket that will resupply the International Space Station.  As of today, all signs point to a "go" for the Cygnus Rocket launch at 1:14p.m. on Saturday at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The rocket was rolled out onto the pad this morning at Wallops as shown here in a tweet by NASA.


Antares Rocket on the Launch Pad at Wallops Flight Facility

 The rocket will be carrying 3,300 pounds of supplies for the ISS, including food, science experiments to expand the research capability of the space station's Expedition 40 crew members, and tools.  Many student experiments will be on board as well.  This is the second of eight scheduled rocket launches for Orbital Sciences, a private company based in Virginia that has a contract with NASA for the resupply  missions.


Orbital Sciences

 Although the launch will take place in the daylight hours, the burn off from the rocket may still be bright enough to see, even here in Washington, D.C.  Weather looks cooperative with partly cloudy skies forecast. You need to look at about 5 degrees above the  horizon in the southeastern sky about a minute or two after the launch.  Here is a map where it would be visible.

 


visibility of launch expected from Orbital Sciences

 You can also watch it live on NASA TV starting at 12:30p.m. ET.  If the launch happens on time, it will reach the International Space Station on Tuesday, July 15th. 

 

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