Picacho Peak Panorama

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Image Credit & Copyright: Sean Parker.

Here’s another amazing image from Sean Parker, this time it’s a 12 image mosaic panorama of the Milky Way galaxy reaching across the Arizona sky. The scene is Picacho Peak, about 40 miles north of Tucson. Every time I see images like this I just can’t wait until the day I can get back to the southwest desert and enjoy some of those hot nights, clear skies and wide open horizons.

Picacho Peak is actually an Arizona State Park and its name means, well, “Big Peak” as it rises to a height of 3,374 ft. (1,028 m) above sea level. The entire land area of the park is nearly 4,000 acres so if you have the chance to visit, please do and have some great views hiking in the wide open Arizona desert.

I hope you enjoy this image by Sean (How can you not?) and be sure to check out more of his work!

Sean Parker Photography: http://www.sean-parker.com/

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Ariane 5 Takes to the French Guiana Skies April 24

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Image Credit & Copyright: Arianespace launch of Ariane5 VA-221.  Live streaming links below.

LAUNCH ALERT: Friday, April 24 at 19:38 UTC (15:38 EDT) Arianespace will be launching the massive and beautiful Ariane 5 ECA Rocket (designated Flight VA222) with a dual payload of satellites. The THOR-7 satellite will supply communication services for the maritime sector, broadcast and television for Telenor. SICRAL-2 satellite will supply communication services for the French & Italian Defense Ministries. Launch will take place from Launch Site, Ensemble de Lancement Ariane-3 (ELA-3) at the Arianespace Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. This will be the 78th launch of the Ariane 5 and its 1st launch in 2015.

Arianespace, Ariane 5 Rocket: is a 2-stage expendable launch vehicle that comes in two variants (ECA & ES) and carries payloads weighing more than 10 metric tons to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) and over 20 metric tons into low-Earth orbit (LEO). Closing in on 100 launches (77), its 2 failures have earned it a place in history as an overall reliable heavy lift delivery system.

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ULA Unveils Vulcan; America’s Newest Rocket

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Image & Video Credit & Copyright: United Launch Alliance (ULA).

At the 31st National Space Symposium hosted by The Space Foundation the United Launch Alliance (ULA) unveiled their new rocket to the world and also announced the name of the new rocket which was chosen through public votes. The Vulcan rocket or Next Generation Launch System (NGLS) is America’s next generation launch vehicle which hopes to transform the future of space by making launch services more affordable as well as partially reusable.

The video is cell phone quality at best (360p) but still packed with great information on the new system, enjoy.

ULA Vulcan Rocket: http://www.ulalaunch.com/Products_Vulcan.aspx

ULA homepage: http://www.ulalaunch.com/

ULA Twitter: https://twitter.com/ulalaunch

Twitter for ULA CEO Tory Bruno: https://twitter.com/torybruno

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SpaceX CRS6 Launch & Landing?!

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Images & Videos Credit & Copyright: SpaceX & NASA.

Text via NASA YouTube page for this launch:

The sixth SpaceX cargo mission to the International Space Station under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract launched on Tuesday, April 14, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The company’s Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 4:10:40 p.m. carrying its Dragon cargo spacecraft to the station. Dragon is filled with more than 4,300 pounds of supplies and payloads, including critical materials to directly support about 40 of the more than 250 science and research investigations that will occur during the space station’s Expeditions 43 and 44.   Science investigations aboard Dragon include commercial and academic payloads in myriad disciplines, exploring new ways to possibly counteract the microgravity-induced cell damage seen during spaceflight; studying the effects of microgravity on the most common cells in bones; gathering new insight that could lead to treatments for osteoporosis and muscle wasting conditions; continuing studies into astronaut vision changes; and testing a new material that could one day be used as a synthetic muscle for robotic explorers of the future.  After about five weeks at the space station, Dragon will return to Earth filled with more than 3,000 pounds of cargo including crew supplies, hardware and computer resources, science experiments, and space station hardware.

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Shortly after 1st stage burnout and separation the booster sprouted landing legs, grid fins and made its way to the Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship “Just Read The Instructions” where it made its second attempt at a vertical, at-sea landing. Though the attempt ultimately failed, the result was much closer to success than the first attempt as the booster actually seemed to touch down for a moment before it seemed to skate off the platform doe to what looks like excess thrust at touchdown. All in all a pretty amazing job coming from a technology we are watching mature before our eyes. Can’t wait for the next attempt!

Elon Musk Twitter: https://twitter.com/elonmusk

SpaceX Twitter: https://twitter.com/SpaceX

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La Silla Nights

La Silla Shown in UHD

Image Credit & Copyright: Babak Tafreshi.

European Southern Observatory (ESO) ambassador Babak Tafreshi is at it again making us envious with this gem of an image of the ESO 3.6 meter telescope atop the La Silla Observatory. This observatory is not only the original ESO observatory complex; it’s still one of the major astronomy complexes in the world today. It sits 2,400 m (7,874 ft.) above sea level in the Atacama Desert of Chile with more than 15 telescope positions (though not all in use anymore).

Just to touch on a little more detail (as I like to do), the telescope at the top of this image is the ESO 3.6 meter telescope and just next to it to the left is the smaller 1.4 meter Coude Auxiliary Telescope (CAT) which I believe isn’t in use anymore. Down the hill and just in front of us to the left is the Swiss 1.2 meter Leonard Euler Telescope and associated building.

Oh ya, and then there’s that night sky! The Milky Way streams across one of the darkest, driest night skies on Earth. The result is a brilliant downtown view of our home star city in beautiful color and clarity.

European Southern Observatory (ESO) page for this image: http://www.eso.org/public/images/uhd_img4262p_bt_cc/

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The View From Afar

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Image Credit & Copyright: Tassanee Angiolillo.

Check out this fantastic image of the Milky Way over Monument Valley, Arizona by Tassanee Angiolillo.  This beautiful panorama stretches across the wide open landscape of the southwest desert.  One of the aspects to this desert that I miss the most is that horizon.  Sunrise or sunset it doesn’t matter, you have some of the greatest horizons around you on all sides.  There’s not much that compares to parking out in the middle of nowhere on a hot night after the Sun has gone down behind the mountains and kicking back waiting for darkness.

Monument Valley is a place that I would certainly recommend to anyone for a getaway, road trip or vacation. It’s a fantastic vacation stop and a top points of interest on the bucket list. The valley is part of the Colorado Plateau and resides on the Arizona/Utah state line in close proximity to the four corners. It’s a collection of buttes that stretch up to 1000 ft. high and take on many different amazing shapes.

I really hope you enjoy this image and video and if you do, go check out more of Tassanee’s work as they are just amazing.

Tassanee Photography: http://tassanee.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TassaneePhotography

Instagram: https://instagram.com/tassanee28/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Tassanee28

Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/+Tassanee/posts

500px: https://500px.com/tassanee

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tassanee28/

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April’s Lyrids Kick Off the 2015 Meteor Shower Season

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Image Credit & Copyright: Jeff Berkes.

The 2015 meteor shower season kicks off this month with the oldest known meteor shower; the Lyrids.  Peak viewing will be on the night of Wednesday the 22nd and the morning of Thursday the 23rd before sunrise.  Peak rate this year will be a modest 20-ish per hour but the 15% waxing crescent Moon will have little to no impact so with patience, the show could be promising.  With the name Lyrids, you will obviously want to look in the general direction of the constellation Lyra and the parent body of this event is caused by Comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher.  As always, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.  Peak might be 22/23 but active dates range from the 16th to the 25th so if it’s clear, have a look!

Peak night is usually a given night and next morning with the “next morning” being the absolute best time to watch. In fact the closer to morning twilight you can get, the better…..here’s why. If you view the solar system from the top, planets orbit the Sun in a counter clockwise motion, we also rotate in a counter clockwise motion. That means just before sunrise the Earth is pointed in the direction of travel of the Earth itself and meteors are mere “bugs (Or if you prefer; “snowflakes”) hitting the windshield” of Spaceship Earth. For more info on this shower hit the link: http://danspace77.com/2015-meteor-showers/

NAME: Lyrids.

RADIANT POINT: Constellation Lyra.

ACTIVE DATES: Active dates will range from Thursday the 16th to Saturday the 25th so if it’s clear, have a look!

PEAK DATES: Peak night falls on Wednesday the 22nd and the morning of Thursday the 23rd before sunrise.

PEAK HOURLY RATE: 20-30 per hour.

MOON IMPACT: Minimal and in its waxing crescent phase.

PARENT BODY: Comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher.

HEMISPHERE FAVORED: Northern hemisphere.

Jeff Berkes Photography: http://www.jeffberkes.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BerkesPhotography

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JeffBerkesPhoto

Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/111119890853857782095/posts

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffberkes/

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