Closest look at Ceres’ spots yet

There seem to be more than five spots now.  They’re clearly reflecting sunlight, and so are probably ice or something similarly reflective against the dark background of Ceres itself.  But they remain too brilliant to make out details.  This latest image was taken at a distance of 4,500 km on May 16.

PIA19559

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42 years ago today: our first space station crew

42 years ago today, on May 25, 1973, the first Saturn 1B to launch from LC39 lifted off.  To adapt it to the structures built for the larger Saturn V rocket, the Saturn 1B stood atop a framework nicknamed the “milkstool”.  The crew of Commander Pete Conrad, Joseph Kerwin, and Paul Weitz successfully lifted off and rendezvoused with Skylab, which had suffered damage during launch.  Their first priority was to fix the damage, and erect a “parasol” of reflective film to reduce solar heating, as it had lost one of its radiators during launch.  Their mission was completely successful, and Skylab would host two more crews before ultimately returning to Earth.

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Dragon’s-Eye View of SpaceX Pad Abort Test

SpaceX has just released this awesome video cut together from two cameras on the sides of the Dragon spacecraft prototype.  It cuts out just before the vehicle gets dunked, but it’s still pretty cool.  It gives you an appreciation for how wild the ride would be in the event of an emergency.

And, just for fun, here’s the view from the ground once again:

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LEGO, shut up and take my money!

Alas, this is a fan production and not a real trailer . . . but with the announcement that the upcoming LEGO Dimensions will include a Doctor Who component, might something like this become real?  Because I totally, completely, and absolutely would buy this and play it.

Seriously, LEGO Group, are you listening?  This is what you need to be doing!

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Waiting for Series 9: Zygons on location!

Doctor Who TV reports that indeed Zygons and UNIT are appearing in a massive two-parter.  And apparently it involves children as well; a scene was filmed at a playground, with area schoolchildren having the time of their lives being roped in as extras.  Whatever the Doctor’s getting into, it seems exciting, and there are pictures at the link at the start of this post.

But as an Osgood fan, I was delighted to see that she’s sporting yet another cosplay: she’s got a bit of Seven going on now.  I suspect the lady in the background, with the question-mark lapels, is her stunt double, but that’s just guessing.  Subtext: she must have some action scenes if she’s got a stunt double!  AWESOME!

osgood-block-4-filming-sweater

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Stargazing with the kids

My daughter has an assignment to watch the Moon over the new four night and see how it changes.  Which, unfortunately, may be difficult given the weather forecast, but maybe we’ll watch it on a webcam if it’s raining.  So tonight we went out to see the Moon.  She observed that it was a thin, waxing crescent, and Venus was nearby.  Then I got my telescope out, and we looked at it through that.  Both of my daughters loved it; it’s amazing — the Moon is the most familiar object in the night sky, and yet seeing it through a telescope is astonishing.  Transformative, the first time, but it never loses its charm.  Tonight, it was difficult to see Earthshine with the naked eye, but through the telescope it was quite obvious.  Then we looked at Venus (too bright to make out the crescent shape) and Jupiter.  Jupiter’s quite nice right now.  The seeing was good tonight as well, and I was able to go all the way up to my most powerful lens without any difficulty.  The cloud bands were clearly visible, and we could see all four Galilean satellites.  That’s another thing that tends to be transformative, the first time you see it, because the moons are something you can’t see with your naked eye — and yet clearly, there they are.  I only wish Saturn were also up, because that’s always a winner as well.  But it is bedtime, and we can’t stay up long enough for the darker sky targets.  Little ones need rest, before they go to school tomorrow.  ;-)

Oh, and the CRS-6 Dragon capsule has returned safely to Earth.  So that’s your space news for today.  ;-)

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X-37B is off on its fourth flight!

The USAF did not disclose which of their two vehicles is making this flight (OTV-4), but presumably it’s the the one that did not fly on the last one, which means both of the vehicles will now have demonstrated reusability.  Payloads include a USAF ion drive experiment and a NASA materials science experiment.  There’s also a CubeSat riding shotgun on the Atlas V for the Planetary Society, carrying a solar sail experiment.

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