This video has been making the rounds lately. It is a view of the sun, the camera moving back at the speed of light – illustrating in realtime, the journey of a photon of light emitted from the surface of the sun and traveling across a portion of the solar system – from a human perspective.
The animation ends at Jupiter Even so, it certainly illustrated to me that interplanetary travel is going to get extremely boring without lots of things to occupy the travellers. They won’t be travelling this fast.
Riding Light on Vimeo
Credit: Thanks to RT: Seeing stars: Traverse Solar System at speed of light
Phil Plait gave another perspective of distances in space in his article Can You Really Fit All the Planets Between the Earth and Moon?
He answers the question with a Yes – sometimes!
At most times the planets just do not fit.
At apogee, when the Moon is farthest from the Earth, the center-to-center distance is more like 406,000 km, so about 398,000 km surface-to-surface. Aha!
At lunar apogee, the planets do fit, rather comfortably. And there’s more: I used the average diameters of the planets. Most of the planets are not spherical, but due to their rotation they’re oblate, or squashed; smaller in diameter through their poles than across their equators. We can make them fit better if we align them through their polar axes. That total distance is 364,799 km. That’s still too much if the Moon is at perigee, but gives us a little more breathing room when the Moon’s at apogee.
Finally, we can look at the average distance of the Earth to the Moon, which is 384,400 km, or 376,000 km surface-to-surface. In that case the planets fit if we align them pole to pole, but not using their average diameters.
Here’s a photo of the earth you don’t often see. Nor is the view of the moon familiar.
The Chinese test vehicle Change’5 took this photo as it swung around the moon before returning to earth. So we see the unfamiliar far side of the moon, with the earth in the distance.
AS Phil Plait commented:
“For just a fleeting moment I could have been convinced someone had added a photo of the planet Mercury here; the Moon’s obverse half is so strikingly different than the near side. The lack of dark maria (except for Mare Moscoviense to the upper left) makes the Moon look like every bit the alien world that it really is.”
Emily Lakdawalla displays this and some other photos taken by Change’5 in a recent blog article Chang’e 5 T1 rounds the lunar farside, returns lovely photo of Earth and the Moon together.
After an 8-day mission Change-5 landed safely in Siziwang Banner of China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
China is only the third nation to demonstrate lunar return technology following the former Soviet Union and the United States. The Soviet Union conducted the last lunar return mission in the 1970s.
Researchers retrieve the return capsule of China’s unmanned lunar orbiter in the central region of north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Nov. 1, 2014. Return capsule of China’s test lunar orbiter landed successfully early Saturday morning in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, according to the Beijing Aerospace Control Center. Credit: Xinhua/Ren Junchuan
It’s enough to make one homesick. This view of Earth from Mars.
Taken by the Mars rover Curiosity 80 minutes after sunset during the rover’s 529th Martian day (Jan. 31, 2014).
This image includes the moon and this is obvious in the zoomed in view (right).
According to the caption:
“This image combines information from three separate exposures taken by Mastcam’s right-eye camera, which has a telephoto lens. The body in the upper half of the image is Earth, shining brighter than any star in the Martian night sky. In the lower half of the image is Earth’s moon, with its brightness enhanced to aid visibility. To a viewer on Mars, even the moon would appear as bright as a very bright star.”
Thanks to Jet Propulsion Laboratory | News.
Well, this is pretty historic!
China has successfully soft landed its probe on the moon and the rover is now on the surface.
The Planetary society’s Emily Lakdawalla has posted TV video of the unloading of the Rover – see Six wheels on soil for Yutu!
These are 3 animated gifs from Emily’s article
For those wanting to follow the process in real-time this is the video from the TV coverage.
Here’s another great photo including the International Space Station. Look closely at the top right.
Thanks to @physicus (see That dot top right is the ISS. Oh yes it is. on Twitpic).
There’s been a few eclipses lately. Here’s some photos showing a different perspective of eclipses.
This one was one of 1999 August 11 solar eclipse was one of the last ever taken from the Mir space station. The two bright spots that appear on the upper left are thought to be Jupiter and Saturn. Mir was deorbited in a controlled re-entry in 2001.
And another one by Thierry Legault of the partial eclipse seen in Europe a few days ago. With a silhouette of the International Space Station. As Astronomy Picture of the Day says this photo captured “planet Earth’s two largest satellites against the bright solar disk”
Thanks to Astronomy Picture of the Day
Posted in SciBlogs, science, Science and Society
Tagged astronomy, Earth, Eclipse, International Space Station, ISSS, moon, Saturn, SciBlogs, Solar eclipse, Sun, Thierry Legault
Earth and Moon from MESSENGER
Credit: NASA/JHU APL/CIW
Another one of those amazing phoitographs of the earth taken by a spacecraft. This time from Messenger. The earth and the moon as seen from Mercury.
From APOD: 2010 September 1 – Earth and Moon from MESSENGER.
Explanation: What does Earth look like from the planet Mercury? The robotic spacecraft MESSENGER found out as it looked toward the Earth during its closest approach to the Sun about three months ago. The Earth and Moon are visible as the double spot on the lower left of the above image. Now MESSENGER was not at Mercury when it took the above image, but at a location from which the view would be similar. From Mercury, both the Earth and its comparatively large moon will always appear as small circles of reflected sunlight and will never show a crescent phase. MESSENGER has zipped right by Mercury three times since being launched in 2004, and is scheduled to enter orbit around the innermost planet in March of 2011.
Here’s an animation showing the accumulation of debris in near earth orbit due to human activity since 1957. It does look very cluttered but remember the articles aren’t to scale.
YouTube – Space debris over time.
And where is all the junk coming from (click on image to get more detail – thanks to Michæl Paukner’s photostream): Continue reading
Posted in SciBlogs, science, Science and Society
Tagged astronomy, Earth, International Space Station, Low Earth orbit, moon, space, Space debris, space station, Sun
Just imagine yourself as a photographer on the International Space Station (ISS). Constantly changing scenery – and most of it beautiful.
One of the astronauts, Jose Hernandez, has been sending back some lovely photos. Here are a couple below. Click on them to go to the originals – the one with the space station can be enlarged.
You can follow Jose on twitter – Astro_Jose
Thanks to Sin palabras…Simplemente asombroso! Without words! Simply breathtaking!
This 40th anniversary brings back memories. My family had no TV then – a lot of New Zealanders didn’t. And anyway with a young family we had built-in entertainment.
But the sixties were a heady time for space exploration. Of course the moon landings were horribly tinged with the cold war “space race”. National prestige and military/political motives were foremost. However, one cannot deny the important scientific advances made by these landings and the other space exploration occurring that decade. As Neil deGrass Tyson points out science has often had to piggyback on exploration made for seemingly mercenary interests.
I have clear memories of the Sputnik launch, Gagarin‘s flight and the first detailed photos from the first soft-landing on the moon by a Soviet craft. I can also remember those in the early sixties who wrote books and newspaper articles claiming that their was a civilisation of the other, so far unseen, side of the moon. Seems incredibly stupid – but we seem to have just as many cranks these days.