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Today is, of course, the anniversary of the first human landing on the Moon. My parents tell me they put me in front of the tv to watch it, although I have no memory of this. The first spacecraft landing I can remember was on the same day seven years later. Viking 1 touched down on the surface of Mars forty years ago today. I can still remember very clearly my excitement watching a popular science show on tv explaining beforehand how the various instruments and experiments would work, and my sense of wonder at seeing the first images.

Forty years on I'm following the current Mars lander's twitter account. Curiosity's a chatty little robot, or at least the humans behind the account are. Time and technology march on. But still I remember the awe with which I watched that slow scan build up into a panorama of the Martian landscape.
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Coming home at around 6:20 this evening: in a perfect line slanting up from the western horizon, the Old Moon lying in the arms of a bare sliver of a New Moon, Venus, and Jupiter, set in a deep blue sky above the last traces of sunset. Above the south eastern horizon, low clouds gleaming faintly sodium yellow against a sky of blue just this side of black -- and between the two colours, a band of high cloud glowing an electric blue. Given the appearance and timing, I think it must have been a noctilucent cloud.

My timing for walking through the park away from bright street lights was perfect. Alas, by the time I got to the house and got my camera and got back to a light-free area, the noctilucent cloud was gone, and the low clouds had drifted in front of the moon. But still a breath-taking few minutes, and I'm glad I happened to leave work early enough tonight to catch it just when I could get to a relatively dark area with clear sight lines.
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Partial solar eclipse this morning across Europe, northern Africa and western & southern Asia. Maximum eclipse at sunrise in the UK -- worth looking for if you can see anything through the cloud, but don't look directly at the sun even in partial eclipse.

julesjones: (Default)
From my email:

NASA Science News for June 24, 2010

This Saturday morning, June 26th, there's going to be a lunar eclipse—and for many residents of
the USA, it's going to be a big one. The eclipse will occur as the Moon is setting, prompting the
"Moon Illusion" to magnify the event to truly beautiful proportions.




Not visible in Europe, alas. However, I have seen a moonrise eclipse, and the Moon Illusion made it spectacular. Particularly as I watched the Moon rise out of the ocean, for maximum illusion effect.
julesjones: (Default)
From the Space Weather mailing list:

BLUE MOON ECLIPSE: For the first time in almost 20 years, there's going to be a "Blue Moon" on New Year's Eve. In Europe, sky watchers will witness an even rarer event--an eclipse of a Blue Moon on New Year's Eve. What are the odds? Probabilities and observing tips may be found at http://spaceweather.com.
julesjones: (Default)
The Perseid meteor shower peaks tonight, with a rate of 200/hour predicted during passage through a filament at around 0800 UT on 12/08/09. More details at http://spaceweather.com/ including how to hear the live radar feed.

Naturally, it's thick cloud here in sunny Manchester. :-/
julesjones: (Default)
One of the other space news items on my flist this week was the total solar eclipse, which got a lot of news coverage because it was both one of the longest eclipses in centuries, and crossed a lot of large cities. As a result, people have been discussing their experiences of other eclipses. Here's my report on seeing totality in the 1999 solar eclipse. (It's on the part of my website that hasn't been updated to new and shiny CSS yet.) Ten years, and reading that report still puts me back on that moor that day. It's not an experience you easily forget.
julesjones: (Default)
It was forty years ago today...

I don't remember it. But I've just listened to it again, live plus forty years. The eagle has landed.

julesjones: (Default)
From one of the NASA mailing lists, an alert about a particularly good conjunction tonight between a crescent moon and Venus at its brightest -- along with directions on how to spot Venus in broad daylight today and tomorrow.


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