Moon and moon rocket

October 26, 2009

2009-10-26 moon and Jupiter 009

The solar system is a big disk, and most everything in it orbits in or nearly in the same plane, called the ecliptic. Projected on the sky, the ecliptic forms the track along which the sun, moon, and planets all appear to move. One nice consequence of this is that we get pretty alignments of the moon and planets fairly regularly. The moon has to pass each of the planets every month, but the passings happen in the daytime about half the time (as you’d expect), and sometimes after the moon rises or sets from a particular spot. Still, these conjunctions come along several times a year and they’re always worth watching for.

Right now as I type the moon is getting close to Jupiter; the two are separated by only about three degrees. Unfortunately, the moon is also getting close to the horizon, and the closest approach of the two bodies as seen from Earth will be visible to some lucky folks about halfway around the planet, I reckon. Still, I got out this evening with my Astroscan (about which more later) and digital camera and took a stab at capturing the event in pixels. Moon and Jupiter at top, moon by itself right here.

2009-10-26 moon and Jupiter 018Tip o’ the hat to Doug at Revolving Rock for reminding me about the conjunction!

In other news, the folks at NASA finally got a photo up showing Atlantis on pad 39A with Ares 1-X on pad 39B. If the weather is good, Ares 1-x will be blasting off in just a few hours. Between the possible weather and NASA being, well, NASA, there will probably be a delay or two, so keep an eye on NASA’s Ares 1-X page this morning.

389937main_2009-5728Finally, this 360-degree panorama of the Ares 1-X in Highbay 3 of the Vehicle Assembly Building may take a while to load, but it is definitely worth the wait. If you ever wondered what it would be like to stand in a 500-foot-tall room in front of a 327-foot-tall rocket, here’s your chance to find out.

And yes, I know that the Ares 1-X is not a moon rocket in the sense of a vehicle that will actually send people to the moon. But Ares 1 will be part of the system that does…hopefully.

I want to go there. Don’t you?

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