Watch the Skies

Philae probe (The Lander) on Spaceship Rosetta arrived at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Philae probe (The Lander) on Spaceship Rosetta arrived at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Wednesday, Nov. 12, just after 8 a.m. PST/11 a.m. EST in North America (on November 13, 2014 at ESA – European Space Agencies control centers). The lander is expected to send images from its landing site, Agilkia, the first ever taken from a comet’s surface.
Rosetta #CometLanding webcast Separation Confirmation Received on Ground This earlier video stream contained much more information than the actual landing video. That mostly showed all of the participants in
ESA – European Space Agencies control centers congratulating one another.

Here’s why the Rosetta Mission has so many Egyptian names

Agilkia Island is an island in the River Nile and the present site of an Ancient Egyptian temple complex of Philae in southern Egypt. Wikipedia
What’s the betting that Agilkia makes it into the baby name charts in 2015? This romantic, lyrical word is the name of an island in the Egyptian Nile, but it’s also just been given to the patch of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko where the Rosetta mission’s Philae lander is due to touch down.
More than 8,000 people from 135 different countries entered the ESA’s competition to name the landing site. More than 150 of these entrants independently suggested Agilkia. Surprised? You shouldn’t be, because this geographical reference fits beautifully with the overarching Egyptian imagery of the Rosetta mission.
It’s well known that the Rosetta spacecraft was named after the famous Rosetta stone, whose discovery in 1799 enabled historians to unlock the secrets of hieroglyphics. The choice of that name reflected the spacecraft’s role in deciphering the mysteries of the universe, while poetically linking space with time, language with science, archaeology with cosmology.
The connections continue. The Philae lander was christened in 2004 by an Italian high-school student, who made the connection between the lander and an ancient obelisk found on the island of Philae near Aswan. The obelisk was inscribed in both Greek and Egyptian characters and its discovery represented another landmark in the translation of hieroglyphics and the understanding of distant kingdoms.
Other ancient Egyptian references in the space mission include Ptolemy (after Ptolemy V, whose name appears on both the Rosetta stone and the Philae obelisk), and the on-board camera OSIRIS—an acronym for Optical, Spectroscopic, and Infra-red Remote Imaging System but also one of the most intriguing ancient Egyptian deities.
And now we have Agilkia—that enigmatic landscape which silently awaits the arrival of Philae.
Back on earth, Philae and Agilkia aren’t just neighboring islands. In the 1970s, when Philae was at risk of floods after the building of the Aswan Dam, the ancient temple complex on the island was dismantled and then re-built on Agilkia.
The journey of the Philae lander to the Agilkia comet site re-enacts this piece of rescue archaeology on a cosmic scale and sets up an almost perfect analogy between ancient Egypt and modern space travel.
Almost perfect, because the inscribed Philae obelisk wasn’t actually among the monuments dispatched to Agilkia. A British aristocrat named William John Bankes had discovered the obelisk in 1815 and taken it back to his stately home in England. Like many other Egyptian obelisks—including those plundered by “Egyptomaniac” Roman emperors—this one has ended up far from its original place of display, and now stands in impressive isolation in the gardens of a National Trust property in Dorset.
Universal heritage
But although the Rosetta’s web of symbolism becomes complicated on close inspection, the overall Egyptian theme is still an incredibly powerful one.
Using hieroglyphs to frame the mission presents space as an entity that can—and eventually will—be deciphered. And while most of us have trouble grasping the colossal distances involved in space travel (Rosetta has travelled a cumulative distance of over 6.4 billion km), the names of ancient places, pharaohs and gods can help us to mentally reach the physical remoteness of celestial bodies.
Other symbolic resonances include the Ptolemaic system of astronomy and the infamous conspiracy theories about the alien origins of the pyramids.
Sending ancient Egypt into space makes our cosmos alive with history and myth. It makes space seem more tangible, yet simultaneously more distant. The analogy can also enhance our perceptions of the past, influencing how we regard our monumental heritage. Philae and Agilkia are currently trending on Google and Twitter—and it’s clear that the world’s attention has been refocused on these sites thanks to their appropriation by space scientists.
And at a time of increasingly strained debates about cultural patrimony it makes a refreshing change to see ancient monuments used as symbols—not of an individual or nation—but of the whole planet. Rosetta, Philae, Ptolemy and Agilkia now rise far above national or political boundaries. They have become distant representatives of our shared, earthly heritage. And in that cosmic light, they look even more noble.
This post originally appeared at The Conversation. Follow @ConversationUK on Twitter. We welcome your comments at
Hear Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko sing
Rosetta’s Plasma Consortium (RPC) has uncovered a mysterious ‘song’ that Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is singing into space. The comet seems to be emitting a ‘song’ in the form of oscillations in the magnetic field in the comet’s environment. It is being sung at 40-50 millihertz, far below human hearing. To make the music audible to the human ear, the frequencies have been increased in this recording:
Many of you are familiar with NASA. Few of you may be familiar with (a few) other space programs (those that have an English Language version):
Canadian Space Agency (CSA) (French: Agence spatiale canadienne (ASC)) From Wikipedia
China National Space Agency
ESA – European Space Agencies
ISRO – Indian Space Research Organisation – Mars Orbiter Mission is India’s first interplanetary mission to planet Mars, with an orbiter craft designed to orbit Mars in an elliptical orbit . It successfully entered into an orbit around planet Mars today morning (September 24, 2014). One of the most extraordinary things that I noticed about India’s Space Research Organization was that the total costs to date is only $85 millions US dollar equivalents. Video Mars Orbiter Insertion Simulation; Launch Video PSLV-C25/Mars Orbiter Mission. – Indian Space Research Organisation – Wikipedia
Russian Federal Space Agency (From English Russia News Website) also, From Wikipedia
Russian Space Research Institute From Wikipedia
This year’s Leonids meteor shower peaks on the morning of Nov. 18.. If forecasters are correct, the shower should produce a mild but pretty sprinkling of meteors. The waning crescent moon will not substantially interfere with viewing the Leonid shower.
Category: Space


Timelapse shot from the ISS International Space Station.

Timelapses are cool. Timelapses shot from the International Space Station might be cooler.

The World Outside My Window – Time Lapse of Earth from the ISS (4K)

Published on Dec 3, 2013

Serving Suggestion: 1080p (for high-speed internet connection ~ if not click on the “Gear” icon below to reduce resolution ~ to say 480p), lights off, volume up. Even better, go ‘Original’ for 4K.
Click “Show more” for details about the sequence.
Music: ‘Fill My Heart’ by Two Steps from Hell
Editor: David Peterson
Optional Extras: View in 4K by selecting ‘Original HD’ in settings.
This montage of time-lapse photography from the International Space Station is collected from many taken in Expeditions 29, 30 and 31.
The previous sequence, ‘All Alone In The Night’ (, highlighted night sequences and spectacular aurora light shows and intended to give a feeling of flying through space.
The goal with this sequence was to bring a bit more attention to the station itself, including the humans aboard it, particularly Don Pettit (appearing in the final shot) who took many of the sequences in this montage.

ernational space station, earth, earth from iss, earth from International Space Station, video, iss Timelapse shot of earth


English: Bridge Studios, movie studios in Vanc...

English: Bridge Studios, movie studios in Vancouver, BC, Canada Français : Studios Bridge de Vancouver au Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every once in a while I find it interesting to look back at all of the sci-fi starships that I have observed for the last 50+ years. Now that space technology in the United States is increasingly transferred to the private sector for development, recently the US made a small extraordinary funding grant to begin preliminary research in a Interstellar Srarship that is is expected to take 100 years to develop – the 100 Year Starship program. Here is a list of government agencies worldwide that are engaged in activities related to outer space and space exploration (from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia).

Starships – a multifandom (science fiction) space video by bironic

Published on Apr 6, 2013

A celebration of pilots, captains, engineers, crew members, and the spacecraft they love to fly. (And race, and crash, and fix, and play in, and fight in, and…) Premiered at Vividcon 2012. Music by Nicki Minaj.

Sources included: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Alien/Aliens, Apollo 13, Archer, Battlestar Galactica (2004-8), Cocoon, Community, Doctor Who (2005-), Dune, Farscape, The Fifth Element, Firefly/Serenity, Forbidden Planet, Futurama, Galaxy Quest, Independence Day, The Muppet Show, Odyssey 5, Planet of the Apes (1968), Spaceballs, Star Trek (TOS, Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager; movies II, IV, VII, VIII and XI/Reboot), Star Wars IV & V, Stargate: Atlantis, Stargate SG-1, Sunshine, Superman (1978), Toy Story 2, Virtuality, WALL-E.

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Full August Moon – August 20, 2013

Last night we had a beautiful, full August Moon, in Vancouver, BC, Canada [in the Pacific Time Zone], with moonrise starting at 6:45 P.M. We had clear blue skies, and only a few clouds. I went on a photographic shoot to the top of Grouse Mountain from 5:00-10:30 P.M [I have an Annual pass that also allows me to take up four other guests at 1/2 price?]….Glad I took an extra sweater; forgot about all of the mosquitoes and no-see-ums that would be waiting to eat me alive…forgot my Muskol. Took lots of photographs and videographs that I will get around to posting, in a while.

>> Sound On – This best viewed in FULL SCREEN (the small icon at the bottom right of this video). If you only have a slow speed Internet connection you may want to wait until you have access to a high speed connection (IE: WiFi Hotspot – at a nearby restaurant or library).

Full moon rising over the Burrard Bridge in Vancouver, BC, Canada

This is not my work. This previous full moonrise video was taken through the Burrard Bridge from Vancouver’s West End.

After the full moon, but before it reaches the last (third) quarter moon, the Moon is also called a waning gibbous moon.

Phases of the moon 1. New Moon 2. Waxing quart...

Phases of the moon 1. New Moon 2. Waxing quarter, first quarter 3. Waxing half, first half 4. Waxing three quarters 5. Full moon 6. Waning three quarters 7. Waning half, last half 8. Waning quarter, last quarter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  1. From the perspective of the Northern Hemisphere this will show on the left side of the moon between 51–99% lit disc.
  2. From the perspective of the Southern Hemisphere this will show on the right side of the moon between 51–99% lit disc.

Of course there are many, many resources on the Internet to help us get a better understanding of most any topic.

  1. One of the newest and best, in my opinion, comes from one of the oldest references. It is an online calculator of The Old Farmer’s Almanac now with an online Moon Phase Calender (just enter your own location – I had set my location as Vancouver, BC, Canada, – only as an example). It even provides, to the minute, the phase changes. Just enter your location and the rest seems pure magic: IE: Moon Phases and Lunar Calendar for Thorsby, Alberta (T0C 2P0), 100 Mile House, BC (V0K 2E0) and Quesnel, BC.
  2. LiveScience is a science news website run by TechMediaNetwork. It has a great graphic showing the relative elevation of the ISS – The International Space Stations – Down to the tops of the Tallest Mountains – and then down to the bottom of the Deepest Oceans. At the very bottom of the graphic you are also given the opportunity to purchase the graphic Online.
  3. NASA has an Eclipse website for Eclipse links [give the date and time (Universal Time)] of all phases of the Moon for the six thousand year period -1999 to +4000 (2000 BCE to 4000 CE).
  4. has some articles about August’s Blue Moon: Lunar Oddity of Night Sky Explained
  5. UniverseToday has a website for Phases of the Moon, showing 8 Phases of the Moon.
  6. Wikipedia: Lunar phase – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Hubble Orbiting Space Telescope and replacement (planned for 2018 lauch) – The James Webb Space Telescope (sometimes called JWST)

Hubble, with an 8 foot mirror, launched April 24, 1990, orbits at 375 miles above the earth. Following is a 3 year old tribute to the Hubble Space Telescope on its 20th anniversary in space. This beautiful video surveys the incredible accomplishments of this revolutionary instrument: everybody’s favorite telescope. (See also, Hubble Space Telescope – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia).

(15:54 min)

Next Up and even more exciting: in early 2018 – The James Webb Space Telescope (sometimes called JWST) is a large, infrared-optimized space telescope. The project is working to a 2018 launch date. Webb will have a larger mirror, 6.5 meters (21.3 feet) in diameter and a sunshield the size of a tennis court. Both the mirror and sunshade won’t fit onto a rocket fully open, so both will fold up and open once Webb is in outer space. Webb will reside in an orbit about 1.5 million km (1 million miles) from the Earth. The James Webb Space Telescope will soar through space at the Second Sun-Earth Lagrange Point, an orbit far beyond Earth’s Moon. Webb’s giant sunshield will protect it from stray heat and light, while its large mirror enables it to effectively capture infrared light, bringing us the clearest picture ever of objects that emit this invisible radiation — early galaxies, just-forming stars, clouds of gas and dust, and much more.

Webb has an ambitious design that tackles the two main challenges for an infrared telescope: it has to have a large mirror, in order to best capture the long infrared wavelength; and it has to be kept cold, in order to keep unwanted sources of infrared from interfering with the emissions it attempts to detect. (See also: James Webb Space Telescope – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia).

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