Astrophotography: Moon and Venus, Jan. 31, 2017

Astrophotography: Moon and Venus, Jan. 31, 2017
HIROSHIMA, JAPAN — OK, I’m not really in Japan now, but I was when I took the picture. I’m just now trying to curate the hundreds of photos I took during my month in Japan, and thought I’d share this. It’s not super-sharp, because I had no tripod and tried to brace the camera against a window frame to steady it. The Chinese tune, “The Moon Represents My Heart,” (月亮代表我的心 Yuèliàng Dàibiǎo Wǒ de Xīn) most famously sung by Teresa Teng (邓丽君 Dèng Lìjūn) has been playing in my head lately. So, for me at least, a picture of the Moon seems suitable for the occasion. Camera geek details: Nikon D3300, Tamron 70-300 mm zoom lens @ 135 mm, f/4 1/500 sec, ISO 12,800. Teresa Teng was from Taiwan, and became one of the first non-mainland singers to become very popular in China. Nearly everyone in China knows this song, especially those who came of age during the Opening Up of the 1970s. Sadly, she died young from asthma complications at age 42. Now, for your listening pleasure, Miss Teng. (Scroll down past the photo.)

(Almost) every SF spaceship in one giant image

JISHOU, HUNAN — Here’s a project every science fiction fan should appreciate. An artist has created a digital poster depicting hundreds of space ships from TV, movies and games — to scale! The creator of this mammoth project is DeviantARTist Dirk Loechel, who did a lot of research to scale the ships as accurately as possible. Since these are all fictional spacecraft, here are some real-life craft to give you an idea of the size of these things. The International Space Station is about 109 m wide, about 13 m shorter than the USS Defiant from the Star Trek universe. (Find the Defiant-class near the right edge of the poster, about halfway down.) Star Trek’s USS Enterprise is about three times longer, roughly the size of the US Navy supercarrier, the USS Nimitz. The Saturn V rocket used to launch the Apollo spacecraft in the 1960s and ’70s is about as tall as the ISS is wide. As an aside, the Enterprise is pretty puny compared to an Imperial Destroyer of the Star Wars universe.

Chinese TV news steals from Hollywood astronaut movie for news report 1

Chinese TV news steals from Hollywood astronaut movie for news report
JISHOU, HUNAN — Well, I started by writing a straight update on the latest Chinese space mission, now humming along nicely, thank you, when I stumbled upon yet another video copypasta by the state TV service, CCTV. In the midst of a CCTV news report, I caught a glimpse of scenes from what I think is a Hollywood movie. Here’s a couple of screencaps to show what I mean. Those two astronauts are not Chinese, and anyway, Shenzhou 9 has three astronauts, including China’s first woman in space. And the switches are in … English? CCTV News has done this kind of shameless uncredited cribbing (a national pastime here) before. Last year, eagle-eyed viewers realized a video clip of a fighter jet being blown up by a Chinese plane had actually come from the movie, Top Gun. Watch this report and see if you can identify the movie. It looks familiar, but I can’t place it. OK, now on with my report, now in progress… JISHOU, HUNAN — China is mighty proud of its three astronauts, two men and one woman, now orbiting 220 miles around Earth. CCTV International devoted nearly 40 minutes to a live feed of the automated ...

Cool pic from space: Those southern lights 1

A crewmember aboard the International Space Station caught this view of the aurora australis (the Southern Lights) during a geomagnetic storm last month. Auroras happen when electrically charged particles from the Sun smack into Earth’s atmosphere and ionize the oxygen and nitrogen there. Since the high speed particles follow the Earth’s magnetic field, they primarily end up over the magnetic poles. B ut, when the Sun is especially active (or when it burps out a solar flare, as it did on May 24), the auroral displays can be seen at lower latitudes. Ionized gases emit light of particular frequencies — colors. Neon, for example, glows a bright red color. Oxygen in the atmosphere typically emits green light, as we can see in the photo.

It’s like Grand Central Station lately

JISHOU, HUNAN — It’s been busy in space lately. First the Chinese succeed in their first orbital spacewalk, then businessman Elon Musk sends the Falcon 1 into orbit. The Falcon 1 is the first privately developed and financed rocket to reach orbit. Three previous attempts failed. Musk’s company, SpaceX, hopes to slash costs to low-earth orbit by a third, to approximately US$10 million. It also plans to develop heavier launch vehicles to ferry supplies to the International Space Station, and launch the company’s own astronauts into orbit. Musk is the founder of PayPal, the Internet payment system. He sold it to eBay in 2002 for $1.5 billion, founding SpaceX the same year. He’s also the chairman of Tesla, an electric-car manufacturer in San Jose, California. (The car is pretty cool: a fast, sleek sports car. Jay Leno took it on a test drive and was impressed.) Here’s a picture of the Falcon 1 rocket nozzle from orbit. The private exploitation of space has so far been all talk and no show. SpaceX has a contract with NASA to supply the ISS once the venerable Space Shuttle fleet is mothballed in 2010, so it will have income — a necessary part ...

Chinese astronauts land safely in Upper Mongolia

They made in back in one piece. Details here.
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