Welcome to my new home on all things that interest me 'above our house', this used to reside on my name site
Drakes Equation Andromeda Space Images & Video ISS Aristarchus Moon Mars Earth Solar System
Manned Spaceflight Carl Sagan Comets Asteroid Belt
Two of the most memorable experiences I had were firstly, in Dorset UK, in 1983. I took my young son out at midnight to go satellite tracking and we looked at a heavens unspoiled by city lights and pollution - hundreds of thousands or millions of stars glistened in a clear sky. It was breathtaking. Secondly, in 1998, my wife and I stayed at my sisters in Cornwall. Her bungalow is on top of a hill overlooking St Ives on the right and Penzance on the left. I went out to look at the night sky and was struck by a scene of infinite beauty - the whole sky was pitch black, no lights, no clouds, no moon, no pollution, nothing except a blanket of millions of stars! The entire Milky Way was spread out over my head - what a sight! As if that wasn't enough, I had some fairly powerful binoculars with me, so the sky became full of stars even in the "dark" patches. I looked to the east and saw a particularly bright object, it was Jupiter in all her glory, through the bino's I could see three moons clearly. Now I know how Galileo must have felt, astounded and bewildered. When I got home to the sprawling metropolis of NE Birmingham, the same sky, yielded hardly a glimmer due to artificial light - how horrible! City people are missing such a spectacle. My first lunar eclipse was observed in the dark skies of Devon, in Tiverton to be exact. Much better than the cities! 2014 - Since I wrote that, Birmingham (UK) Council have been replacing all its city and suburb lights with LED lighting which is sky friendly. Only last night I stood on my front porch and looked at the sky, and took images of the moon, with the street lights on! The problem with living in the UK is the weather. Much of our weather is generated by the seas that surround us. I have only ever been able to see one comet in my life, and that was in my teens on The Wirral.
Ever since I was a child, I have fantasized about the night sky. Dreamt about flying to the stars, about alien life forms coming here. Even then, before all the current UFO hysteria in films etc, I used to wonder what would happen if one landed. I have spent a lifetime watching meteors hurtle to destruction in our atmosphere. I have seen a UFO too! During the "Cold War" I observed hundreds of satellites pass over my head, now I have to really search for them, the best are the polar satellites. Regularly the International Space Station passes overhead. Stephen Hawking, physicist and cosmologist, reasons that it is impossible for there NOT to be other life, intelligent life, in the Universe.
As a youngster I would avidly watch all those programmes on TV showing the Mercury space shots, and then Gemini. Cheering the Americans and booing the Soviet successes, brainwashed by the propaganda I suppose. The US propaganda, even in space programmes ,were quite obviously anti soviet! I would devour anything in the media, cutting out all those newspaper pictures of newly discovered terrain in our solar system. Those first pics of Mercury, the cloud cover on Venus, the "canals" of Mars. What an age - so many discoveries - such spectacular successes. The tragedies too - that awful day when I saw the news about the death of those three astronauts, Grissom, Chaffee & White. The feeling of dismay. Then the same feelings when I sat in my living room watching Challenger as it rose to its funeral pyre. Watching live on TV seven explorers disintegrate before my eyes. They did reach the final frontier. I watched every footage of TV on Apollo missions, including all those beautiful moon walks and "rover" drives across the lunar landscape! Oh I wish! And that lunar astronaut doing the Galileo gravity test - it worked!
The spectacular success of the Voyager spacecrafts opened still further the boundaries of human knowledge. Those never to be forgotten pictures of Jupiter, its moons, its rings. Of Saturn and its moons and spectacular rings (who does not know what the Cassini division is now!). Onwards to Uranus and Neptune and into the realms of interstellar space. Will a Klingon Bird of Prey, eons from now, spot an old piece of space debris, voyager 2, and blast it into millions of bits for target practise, just as in the Star Trek film? Who knows what is in the future? (Do we humans have a future?).
Surpass 10,000 Days Of Operation
Those damn shadows get everywhere! (Babylon 5) One of the best ever sci-fi TV series
About Sally Ride
Following that historic flight, Ride returned to
space on another shuttle mission, STS-41G in 1984. The 8-day mission
deployed the Earth Radiation Budget Satellite, conducted scientific
observations of Earth, and demonstrated potential satellite refueling
techniques. She was assigned to a third flight, but transitioned to a role
on the Rogers Commission that investigated the Challenger accident after
that shuttle was lost in January 1986. When the investigation was
completed, she accepted a job as a special assistant to the NASA
administrator for long range and strategic planning.
Thanks to NASA, JPL and others for some great pictures! Visit NASA at www.nasa.gov
Images - NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
http://nmp.jpl.nasa.gov/ds1/ Deep Space 1
http://ulysses-ops.jpl.esa.int/ Ulysses Mission
http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/odyssey/ Odyssey Mission
http://liftoff.msfc.nasa.gov/realtime/jtrack/spacecraft.html "Live" Spacecraft Tracker
http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/realdata/nasatv/index.html NASA TV
http://www.nasa.gov/ntv/ntvweb.html - NASA webtv
http://www.sciforum.com - recommended forum site
http://setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/ - You too can help! Click Here
http://www.windows.ucar.edu/ - Window on the Universe
- IO Factsheet
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/galileo/europa/ - Europa Factsheet
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/galileo/europa/ - Callisto Factsheet
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/galileo/news/missionnews.html - Mission Updates