Astro Bob blog: The hunter heads for the hillsTimes for viewing the space station this week, Orion's descent and a recent photo of the oil slick
By: Bob King, Duluth News Tribune
The hunter heads for the hills
There's a new sound in the neighborhood. While walking my dog Sammy this morning, my ears were drawn to the flutter-swish of wind blowing through the new leaves on the trees. Before those leaves grow large enough to hide small birds I hope to find a warbler or two.
A unmanned Russian Progress cargo ship. Credit: NASA
The 37th in a line of unpiloted Progress cargo ships docked with the International Space Station (ISS) yesterday bringing 2.6 tons of fuel, food, oxygen, propellant and supplies to the six-person crew. One of my favorite astronauts, Soichi Noguchi of Japan, is aboard and he's been busy as always taking lots of wonderful pictures. I've included one below but to see many more, just click over to his Twitter page. We'll be watching Soichi as he trains his telephoto on us the coming week with numerous evening passes of the space station.
A super wide angle photo of planet Earth seen through the new cupola observing station in the ISS. It was taken this past Friday. Credit: Soichi Noguchi/NASA
Here are viewing times for the Duluth region. As always, please go HERE if you want time and path information for your town. The ISS travels in a general west to east direction across the sky and a typical pass lasts from three to five minutes. All passes in the coming week will be across the northern sky.
* Tonight (Sun.) beginning at 9:26 p.m. A fine, brilliant pass! Comes back for a second, somewhat fainter round at 11:02 p.m.
* Monday May 3 at 9:52 p.m.
* Tuesday May 4 at 8:41 p.m. and again at 10:17 p.m.
*Wednesday May 5 at 9:07 p.m. and 10:42 p.m.
* Thursday May 6 at 9:32 p.m.
* Friday May 7 at 9:57 p.m.
* Saturday May 8 at 8:47 p.m. and 10:22 p.m.
* Sunday May 9 at 9:12 p.m. and 10:48 p.m. The latter pass will be the brightest of the week but of brief duration. The ISS will rise in the northwest and climb to the top of the sky where it quickly disappears into Earth's shadow. As the sun sets for the craft 215 miles above you, binoculars will show it turning from its typical yellowish color to red. Can you follow it past sunset and into the shadow?
Orion's Belt is two outstretched fists to the left of Venus in the western sky as seen about 45 minutes to an hour after sunset. Created with Stellarium
Now that it's May, Orion the Hunter is on his way out. Some of you may have already lost it because of trees and buildings in the way, but this week may be the last time to see the belt of the mighty hunter before it sets in the west. Brilliant Venus will be your guide.
The oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico has been in the news all week. Its growth is rapid and its potential to damage the Mississippi River delta ecosystem is great. Let's hope it doesn't get picked up by the Gulf Stream current which would expand it range even more rapidly to Florida and up the East Coast. Here's a current photo showing its size and location taken by NASA's Terra satellite.
Satellite view of the southern coast of Louisiana and the oil slick, which covered about 10,000 square kilometers by late Friday. Credit: NASA