Comet Meets Moon and Morning Star : A crescent Moon and brilliant Venus met in predawn skies on December 7, a beautiful conjunction of planet Earths two brightest celestial beacons after the Sun. Harder to see but also on the scene was Comet Catalina . The fainter comet clearly sporting two tails, lunar night side, bright sunlit lunar crescent, and brilliant morning star, are all recorded here by combining short and long exposures of the same field of view. Pointing down and right, Catalinas dust tail tends to trail behind the comets orbit. Its ion tail, angled toward the top left of the frame, is blowing away from the Sun. Discovered in 2013, the new visitor from the Oort cloud was closest to the Sun on November 15 and is now outbound, headed for its closest approach to Earth in mid-January. via NASA

js
3

ASTROTALE

an AU @olimarina and I came up with, Sans basically becomes obsessed with travelling to space and ends up working for NASA some time in the future in a post-pacifist ending.  He’s just amazed with the idea of space travel and dreams of becoming the first monster in space. He starts quoting famous NASA phrases every time something happens and owns a bunch of clothes with the NASA logo on it.


Here’s a better description of this AU

2

Apollo Astronaut Edgar Mitchell Dies at Age 85

Astronaut Edgar Mitchell, lunar module pilot on Apollo 14, passed away Thursday in West Palm Beach, Fla., on the eve of the 45th anniversary of his lunar landing. Mitchell was the sixth man to walk on the Moon.

“To me, that (spaceflight) was the culmination of my being, and what can I learn from this? What is it we are learning? That’s important, because I think what we’re trying to do is discover ourselves and our place in the cosmos, and we don’t know. We’re still looking for that.” - Edgar Mitchell in 1997 interview for NASA’s oral history program. 

Source: NASA

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 2016 February 6 

Five Planets at Castell de Burriac 

February’s five planet line-up stretches across a clear sky in this predawn scene. A hilltop Castell de Burriac looms in the foreground, overlooking the town of Cabrera de Mar near Barcelona, Spain, planet Earth. The mosaicked, panoramic image looks south. It merges three different exposure times to record a bright Last Quarter Moon, planets, seaside city lights, and dark castle ruins. Seen on February 1st the Moon was near Mars on the sky. But this week early morning risers have watched it move on, passing near Saturn and finally Venus and Mercury, sliding along near the ecliptic toward the dawn, approaching the February 7 New Moon.

2

Edgar “Ed” Mitchell, Apollo 14 moonwalker, 1930-2016

In the middle of the week celebrating the anniversary of his historic spaceflight, Apollo 14 Lunar Module pilot Edgar Mitchell, who was the sixth human to walk on the Moon, died February 4, 2016, at the age of 85.

Along with Alan Shepard and Stuart Roosa, Mitchell took part in the nine-day Apollo 14 mission, which launched January 31, 1971 and returned February 9. Mitchell and Shepard spent a total of 9 hours and 22 minutes in EVA on the surface of the Moon.

He was born in Hereford, Texas, on Sept. 17, 1930, and attended the Carnegie Institute of Technology, the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, and MIT.

Mitchell’s passing marks the first time an entire Apollo mission crew is deceased. Other missions have at least one crew member still alive as of early 2016. It also leaves seven of the 12 men who walked on the surface of another world alive.

Black folks they didn’t teach us about in school, day 5

In the last year or so I’ve learned an awful lot about just how much I never learned. My plan is to write up a short piece each day this month on an important or influential black figure from history beyond the whitewashed MLK/Rosa/Malcolm/G.W. Carver bits that we always got in school, because I think it’s important for white kids to know about things beyond themselves and it’s important for black kids to know things about themselves.

Ronald McNair

Plenty of little kids have astronauts as heroes. Neil Armstrong, John Glenn, and Sally Ride come to mind. My older brother, who is a huge nerd, once tried to fistfight me in a bar because he thought I had insulted Buzz Aldrin. Space is such a mystifying thing that it’s hard not to be enthralled by tales of the men and women who breach our atmosphere and explore it.

One name I had never heard until recently was that of Ronald McNair. McNair was one of the astronauts on the doomed Challenger launch 30 years ago, so when his name is mentioned, it’s usually in that context: as a tragic figure. But man, was he so much more than that.

McNair was the second African-American to go into space. On his first trip, he played his saxophone on board, making him quite possibly the coolest person to ever board a space shuttle. 

NPR’s profile of McNair from the 25th anniversary of his death goes into great detail about his refusal to let the odds dictate what he would and would not try. Perhaps no story about McNair says it better than this:

“When he was 9 years old, Ron, without my parents or myself knowing his whereabouts, decided to take a mile walk from our home down to the library,” Carl tells his friend Vernon Skipper.

The library was public, Carl says — “but not so public for black folks, when you’re talking about 1959.”

“So, as he was walking in there, all these folks were staring at him — because they were white folk only — and they were looking at him and saying, you know, ‘Who is this Negro?’

"So, he politely positioned himself in line to check out his books.

"Well, this old librarian, she says, 'This library is not for coloreds.’ He said, 'Well, I would like to check out these books.’

"She says, 'Young man, if you don’t leave this library right now, I’m gonna call the police.’

"So he just propped himself up on the counter, and sat there, and said, 'I’ll wait.’ ”

There’s now a children’s book about that incident, by the way. 

McNair graduated from North Carolina A&T and went on to MIT, where he earned his Ph.D. in physics. He applied and was accepted into the astronaut program. He had planned to teach physics at the University of South Carolina, one of the schools that had turned him down for undergrad because of his race, when he returned from the Challenger mission. 

That dream was never realized, but in its place, his family established the McNair Scholars Program, which has helped more than 60,000 disadvantaged students attend college since that tragic day. A ridiculously brave man with a ridiculously strong legacy. 

Filed under Black History Month.