50th anniversary of first human flight into space

On 12 April 1961 Yuri Gagarin made the first human flight in space. Here you can find the web site dedicated to this event. 

These are Gagarin’s words as he saw the Earth from Space:

“Through the window I see the Earth

The ground is clearly discernable

I see rivers and folds in the terrain

Everything is so clear ……”

Other useful links:

Stunning Saturn movie

 

Credits:

  • Compositing and animation: Stephen Van Vuuren
  • Images: NASA/JPL/SSI

More info: here

Earth Hour 2011: Saturday 26 March, 8:30 pm

This Earth Hour 2011: 8.30pm, Saturday 26 March, celebrate your action for the planet with the people of world, and add more to your Earth Hour.

From its inception as a single-city initiative — Sydney, Australia – in 2007, Earth Hour has grown into a global symbol of hope and movement for change. Earth Hour 2010 created history as the world’s largest ever voluntary action with people, businesses and governments in 128 countries across every continent coming together to celebrate an unambiguous commitment to the one thing that unites us all — the planet.

Sign up to earthhour.org, switch off your lights for Earth Hour 2011, and share the positive actions you will sustain for earth beyond the hour.

Discovery launch as seen from an airplane window and a freefall

Wow :-)

Spectacular Hi-Res Full Moon from LRO

Presented above is a mosaic of about 1300 separate images taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter’s Wide-Angle Camera, producing a resolution of about 145 meters/pixel. The images were taken over the course of two weeks in December 2010.

Useful links:

Image credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

Huge solar flare – Alert for possible mid-latitude auroras in the next days

On 15 Feb 2011, active region 1158 let loose the largest flare since Dec. 2006 and the biggest flare so far in Solar Cycle 24.  Since the active region was facing Earth, there is a good chance that Earth will receive some effects from these events, with some possibility of mid-latitude aurora Feb. 16 – 18.

credit: SDO / NASA

February 2011 night sky highlights

Credits: JPL news (NASA)

Don’t miss:

Observing/photo op – Solar sail spacecraft NanoSail (image credit: NASA) is passing over our skies.  Skygazers are urged to participate in an ongoing contest to capture images of NanoSail-D. The images will help NASA monitor the satellite before it reenters the atmosphere in April or May. Visible passes are avaible on Heavens-above website.

Related Links (in Italian):

Kepler discovers its first rocky planet

NASA’s Kepler spacecraft has discovered Kepler-10b, its first confirmed rocky planet and the smallest transiting exoplanet discovered to date. Kepler-10b is only 1.4 times the size of Earth and has an average density of 8.8 grams per cubic centimeter, similar to that of an iron dumbbell.

The planet orbits its star in only 0.84 days and is not in the habitable zone, where liquid water could exist.

(credits: NASA)

Solar and Lunar eclispes of the decade

–Video: the Solar Physics Satellite “HINODE”, which flies at an altitude of 680 km above the Earth, observed an annular solar eclipse on January 4, 2011. Credits: NAOJ/JAXA–

With still in the eyes the incredible show put on by the Sun and the Moon during the 4 Jan partial eclipse, I wanted to summarise (in chronological order) next eclipses (Solar and Lunar) that will be visible during this decade in Europe. 

And if you don’t want to miss totalities, mark these days on your agenda:  Continue reading

Partial solar eclipse – the “Crescent Sun”!

This morning Marco and I moved to a site close to Turin where the meteo forecast were not so bad (as in our city) to try to observe and photograph the partial solar eclipse. Unfortunately, when we arrived it was cloudy and foggy and so decided to go back home. Suddenly, as I was sadly driving on the motorway, close to the city of Alessandria, noticed a little break on the clouds from my rearview mirror: I stopped the car and, after a quick set up, we managed to capture the crescent Sun!

Technical details: Canon Eos 1000d, F/22; 150-500mm lens @ 500mm; ISO. 1/1600 sec

#1

#2

#3

#4

#5

Related Links – Other “Crescent Suns” from around the world: