Category Archives: Space

Finding the ISS

Space Travel Space International Space Station Iss

If you are interested in space, you may have tried to get away from the city lights and look up at the night sky. One of the bright objects in orbit is the International Space Station (ISS).

The ISS is in a fast orbit of the Earth, traveling at over 17,000 mile per hour. This means that the ISS completes an orbit about every 90 minutes. If you are in a spot that is relatively free of light pollution, seeing the ISS is easy.

To plan ahead for such an excursion you can use the “Spot the Station” site from NASA. You can enter where you will be into the site and it will then give you a list of the dates and times the ISS will be visible from that location. The site also gives you directions as to where to look for the ISS in the evening sky.

You can even sign up for alerts for when the ISS will be passing within view of your location. Taking advantage of this would be a great way to involve kids in STEM activities. For me the current closest location with a list of sighting opportunities is for Georgetown, TX, just a few miles north of where I live. The next viewing opportunities will be at:

Date Visible Max Height Appears Disappears
Tue May 2, 5:42 AM 4 min 26° 11° above S 21° above E
Wed May 3, 4:52 AM 2 min 12° 11° above SE 10° above ESE
Thu May 4, 5:35 AM 3 min 88° 30° above SW 28° above NE

“Into the Unknown”- The Story of the James Webb Telescope

Space – This video is a great, 38+ minute story of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWT) which is scheduled for launch in 2018. The video has a good explanation of why the infrared capabilities of the JWT will vastly extend our view into the universe. It is also hoped that by identifying the gasses in exoplanet atmospheres it will be able to discover any exoplanets that support life.

Tourists Visiting the Dark Side of the Moon

Tek22

Elon Musk and SpaceX don’t have a reputation of taking small steps. For the private space company, bigger is better. The next big step? Musk plans to send two private passengers on a one week journey around the moon some time next year.

The passengers have made sizable investments in the company and are “serious” about making the trip. SpaceX’s Dragon capsule will carry the two intrepid travelers. A Falcon Heavy rocket will carry the capsule into Earth orbit. One of the things that makes the journey so ambitious is that the Falcon Heavy has yet to launch on an operational flight. That there will be few successful launches before this moon shot, has to raise the pucker factor of the two passengers up a few notches.

What is the Falcon Heavy?

pad_39_a_falcon_heavy_artist_cropped Artist depiction of the Falcon Heavy (SpaceX)

Previously called the Falcon 9 Heavy, the Falcon Heavy will be…

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Popular Engineering Related Channels on YouTube

EWeek – With this being the first day of Engineers Week 2017 I thought that these videos and YouTube channels might be of interest.

  1. Grant Thompson’s YouTube channel “The King of Random” includes videos with a range of experiments and DIY projects. Some recent titles are : “Making Homemade Missiles That Explode“, “Is It a Good Idea to Make Party Poppers With Hydrogen?” and “Making Glass Vacuum Chambers Implode“.
  2. Bill Hammack’s YouTube channel “engineerguy” where the University of Illinois Chemical Engineering professor gives “the engineering details of all the stuff you wanna know about“. From his web site: Make called Bill a “brilliant science-and-technology documentarian”, whose “videos should be held up as models of how to present complex technical information visually” Wired called them “dazzling.” Scientific American’s blog called him a “smart, easygoing everyman with a firm understanding of the science.”
  3. Jason Fenske’s YouTube channel “Engineering Explained” has a more narrow focus on the subject of “How Cars Work”.
  4. The YouTube channel “Cody’s Lab” includes various experiments and adventures, most science or engineering related.
  5. NASA’s “NASA Goddard” YouTube Channel features views of various NASA technology. Expect to see the latest in NASA’s research into planetary science, astrophysics, Earth observing, and solar science on the channel.
  6. The YouTube channel “SciShow Space“, as the name implies, focuses on space exploration. The hosts, Hank Green, Caitlin Hofmeister, and Reid Reimers, cover topics ranging from what happened after the ‘Big Bang’ to the latest space related news.
  7. The “Numberphile” YouTube channel from the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) covers a variety of mathematic topics.

Some of these may be good to share with K-12 students interested in STEM careers.

Japan’s Kounotori 6 Launches to ISS

Nothing really exciting in the video above, but it is a graphic reminder that there are several countries with very active space efforts. This shows a launch of the Japanese Kounotori 6 spacecraft taking 4.5 tons of supplies to the ISS.

The launch was conducted a few hours ago and will dock with the ISS on December 13. Aboard the craft is food, water, spare parts and experimental hardware. While these supplied are not critical to the ISS crew, the arrival will be timely since the last Russian supply ship failed during the launch.

Art, Music, Space – Visions of Harmony

I came across this video from Apple Music this morning. As it says, it is inspired by Nasa’s Juno Mission and merges music, art and space science. It is less than 9 minutes, but a nice video.

If you are interested in space, you will enjoy it. I am really glad to see that Apple has produced this video. I think it is another way to connect K-12 students with science and technology.