No binoculars or telescope needed.
Only clear skies.
Xinhua News Agency reporter Li Xinshe:
|Chang-e III, Dec. 15, 2013. Credit: photo.sina.com.cn|
China now joins Russia and the United States with a lunar touchdown.
“The six-wheeled, 260-lb rover is equipped with a Chinese-made nuclear battery expected to last for more than 30 years. The rover also has expandable solar arrays to absorb the sun’s energy during the day and retract at night to cover and protect equipment from temperatures of minus 170 degrees Celsius. Onboard sensors include a ground-probing radar, cameras, and a soil sampler.”
Luna 24 made the former USSR’s last soft moon landing in 1976.
America’s final soft landing?
Go back to 1972, when Apollo 17 astronauts Gene Cernan and Jack Schmitt landed on the Taurus-Littrow valley:
|Personal Family Note: Harrison “Jack” Schmitt|
America should go back.
We should’ve never stopped.
I always wanted to be a space tourist.
Would you “go”?
Forty years now since the Apollo 17 mission photographed the “blue marble.” TIME:
“…no other photograph ever made of planet Earth has ever felt at-once so momentous and somehow so manageable, so companionable, as ‘Blue Marble’ — the famous picture taken Dec. 7, 1972, by the crew of Apollo 17 as they sped toward the moon on NASA’s last manned lunar mission.”
A photograph for the ages:
|Source: NASA/Apollo 17 crew: “Blue Marble.”|
TIME on the image’s lasting impact:
“A large part of Blue Marble’s lasting appeal surely has something to do with the fact that the proportions and the features on display in the photo are so familiar. In a roughly square frame sits the almost perfectly round Earth (seen from a distance of about 28,000 miles). We not only see Africa: we recognize Africa. We recognize the Arabian Peninsula. We see Antarctica’s polar ice cap; in fact, we can almost discern its texture. And maybe it’s an illusion created by the gorgeous, swirling clouds against the deep blue of the Atlantic and Indian oceans, but it almost seems that we can make out tiny crests of waves far below, on the sea.”
But which astronaut took it? Per Wikipedia:
“The photographer used a 70-millimeter Hasselblad camera with an 80-millimeter Zeiss lens. NASA officially credits the image to the entire Apollo 17 crew – Eugene Cernan, Ronald Evans and Jack Schmitt – all of whom took photographs during the mission with the on-board Hasselblad. Although evidence examined after the mission suggests that it was likely Jack Schmitt.”
Disclosure: Jack is a family friend.
I’ve never asked him about the photo.
Just continue to admire, ponder it.
The image moved the world so.
We must explore space.
Exploration is perspective.
Three days of cometary cool.
One timelapse. Here.
This is Comet ISON’s first solar visit.
In 2007, a coronal mass ejection, a CME, ripped Comet Encke’s tail off.
The two celestial bodies face an uncertain week.
A close encounter with the sun, after all.
|Comet ISON (Source: NASA)|
For now, they bake.
Quite the Thanksgiving cooking.
+NASA STEREO-A spacecraft via @spaceweather
“Old” space, Joel Achenbach, The Washington Post:
“Old Space (and this is still the dreamers talking) is slow, bureaucratic, government-directed, completely top-down. Old Space is NASA, cautious and halting, supervising every project down to the last thousand-dollar widget. Old Space is Boeing, Lockheed, Northrop Grumman. Old Space coasts on the glory of the Apollo era and isn’t entirely sure what to do next.”
“New” space, quoting reporter Achenbach:
“New Space is the opposite of all that. It’s wild. It’s commercial, bootstrapping, imaginative, right up to the point of being (and this is no longer the dreamers talking) delusional.”
|Photo Credit: SpaceX, Sept. 29, 2013|
Quoting +Elon Musk:
“We’re either going to be on Earth forever until some extinction event claims us, or we’re going to be a multi-planet species, out there exploring the stars.”
Honor old space.
Chase new space.
Technology leadership invigorates.
As does the promise of new exploration.
Sky & Telescope:
“Despite being closer than usual, supermoons are rather ordinary … take place several times a year. But the media won’t hype that up — can you imagine headlines publicizing, ‘Come out and see the Moon that’s a little bigger than normal!’ or ‘Look out for this amazing event that happens several times a year!’ — yeah, me neither.”
|Supermoon Rise: Boulder, Co., Colo.|
|Crossing Night Sky|
|Setting Just Before Dawn|
“And despite the fact that the supermoon isn’t as extraordinary as some might have you think, any full Moon is still a spectacular sight to behold.”
Approaching, and not alone, says NASA:
Approaching asteroid 1998 QE2 has a moon. Researchers found it in a sequence of radar images obtained by the 70-meter Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, Calif.
Neither objects expected to hit earth.