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Category Archives: Astronomy

Articles, thoughts, and events in our outside the Earth.

Update (July 25th, 2005, 11:15am): Woohoo! Discovery has successfully launched and is currently on route to the International Space Station. Yay NASA!

Discovery RollingCurrently, Cincinnati is sweltering at 95 degrees with a heat index of 107. Even my pup, Storm, doesn’t like to go outside. It’s going to be about the same, tomorrow, for the astronauts blasting off in Discovery.

After a faulty sensor in the fuel tank was examined, they have decided to launch regardless of fixing it. The launch time is set for tomorrow, July 26th, at 10:39am, Eastern Standard Time. All updates and the launch clock can be found at NASA’s Return to Flight website.

Discovery CrewOriginally, the major networks (including ABC, NBC, and CBS) were all going to break from their regular schedules to show the flight. Since the delay, I have not seen any articles stating they will do the same on Tuesday. If they don’t show it, you can watch it on NASA TV, which airs both over the internet and through some cable companies.

Water balloon at zero gravSome very cool eye candy has surfaced lately from those who brought us Apollo 11 and Voyager. NASA recently ran some tests aboard their Glenn DC-9 aircraft to see what would happen if you popped a water balloon in zero-gravity. The videos are really cool and the researchers get soaked as the plane goes from zero-g back to regular-g.

Tempel StruckAlso, by request, here is the movie of deep impact slamming into comet Tempel I. Talk about a bird’s eye view!

Discovery at PadFinally, NASA has set a new launch time for Discovery this Tuesday at 10:39am E.D.T. The countdown has already started. You can see it and all the details at NASA’s website.

Like most geeks did on this year’s fourth of July, I celebrated my independence by staying up late into the early morning watching Nasa TV. As most people know, around 1:52am on the morning of the 4th, our space techies hurled a ginormous hunk of copper at comet Tempel 1 at a speed of about 23,000 miles per hour. At that speed, it could fly from Las Angeles to New York in 6 minutes and around the Earth in an hour. Upon impact, the space vehicle obliterized in a brilliant explosion equal to 4.5 tons of TNT. If that doesn’t beat my old M90’s and ground flowers, I don’t know what will.

It was very exciting watching the whole demonstration live as the pictures of the comet kept getting closer and closer. Knowing that the images were from 130 million kilometers from here and occuring almost real time was incredible. It was also cool to know that the years of effort that the ecstatic NASA and JPL crews put into it paid off.

Living deep in the city, however, prevented me from seeing the resulting light from the explosion personally. I did try, but the magnitude just wasn’t there with Cincinnati’s light pollution. Wild Cherry Pepsi and exploding comets, however, were a good way to start Independence Day.

As most days, the rest of my daytime was spent slaving away my shiny box that sits in front of my keyboard. The evening was much more eventful. The gal, Rachel, and our friends, Shannon and Megan, and I all headed out to ‘Red, White, and Blueash’, the largest 4th of July fireworks in greater Cincinnati (specifically, Blueash. Punny, huh?) While Richard Marx peforming was tempting, it didn’t compare to Styx from last year. Thus, we brought my dog, Storm, which prevented us from actually getting into the gated event.

This turned out awesome, however, because we ‘took a wrong turn’ trying to get to the festival. Like all 4th celebrations, you are required to park a minimum of a mile away from the actual fun. Our ‘wrong turn’, however, led us to a random street that had at least 1oo peeps camped out on it. It was somewhat industrial and had a big field to lay our blankets on. Everyone was incredibly friendly and no one had a problem with me keeping Storm off lead.

As it turns out, this was the prime spot for watching the fireworks. With almost no obstructions, the explosions seemed to appear almost over head. Not only did we have a great spot, the fireworks were some of the best I had ever seen. That mixed with great friends and a gorgeous summer night made it an absolutely wonderful evening. As Shannon pointed out, “Yay for kicking the Brits in the shins every 4th!”

Deep Impact Slamming Into Tempel 1