Kidderminster – November 1st.

If you are in Kidderminster on the 1st of November, I am presenting two Apollo 50 events for both Kidderminster Arts and Food Festival (KAFF) and Go Space Watch.

The day starts with the KAFF event with an afternoon of fully-immersive planetarium shows.
These will tell you all about the Apollo 11 landing. Hold your breath as you sit on the Moon watching Neil Armstrong land The Eagle lunar module, with landing fuel running low.

Booking available using Paypal from my Web site:

£4:00 per person.

For more information about KAFF, their Web page is here:

This will be followed by an evening audience-participation presentation bringing the lunar landing missions to life:

Magnificent Destination: The Apollo Moon Missions.

Tickets for this Go Space Watch event are booked via the Eventbright Web site:

£3:00 per person.

The venue for both events is:
Kidderminster Town Hall.
Vicar St, Kidderminster, DY10 1DB.

Comet Borisov C/2019 Q4 (Borizov)

Comet C/2019 Q4 (Borisov) has crashed into astronomical news.

It is the second object known to have originated from outside our solar system, make a dive in towards The Sun and then speed it’s way out once again.

The first known interloper Oumuamua (Formerly 1I/2017 U1) was discovered in 2017, and got people all excited.
Many observations of the object determined that it was a highly elongated object, essentially cigar shaped, prompting many people to propose it may have been artificial and built by aliens (Ha Ha!). It is composed of metal-rich rock and reddened by compounds called tholins laying on it’s surface. These are the same compounds which also give the red colours seen on Pluto, Charon and Ultima Thule (2014 MU69), which the probe New Horizons visited in July 2015 and New Years day 2019 respectively.

Comet Borisov was discovered in August at a distance of 3 Astronomical Units from The Sun.
It appears to have approached our solar system from an area of sky located slightly to one side of the double cluster in Perseus.
The comet was magnitude +18 at discovery.
Unlike Oumuamua, Comet Borisov was found long before perihelion, when it will be at it’s closest to The Sun.
This occurs on the 28th of December.

This very interesting object will be studied intensely during its apparition by lots of professional astronomers.

But as an amateur observer / imager, what are we likely to be able to see or image?

The comet currently lies in the northern part of Cancer, and heading steadily south.
It moves past the Sickle of Leo during October, passing very close to Regulus on the 4th of November.

So some early mornings are required if you want to catch the comet.

The comet continues southwards bound, passing almost directly through the centre of the constellation Crater mid-December.
Perihelion is reached on the 28th of December. The comet will still be quite a long way from Earth at this time, so don’t expect miracles.

It is unlikely to become much brighter than +15th magnitude, so observations are unlikely with very dark skies and a decent sized telescope. Astrophotographers are more likely to be able to capture the comet and I will look forward to seeing some of these images as they are released.

Sounds like a great little project for me to try my hand at over the coming weeks.

Use the map below to work out where the comet is.
Positions shown at 5 day intervals at 0h on the dates shown.
(Please note, the comet’s path may change as the ephemeris is re-defined. I will update if I see any changes).

Click on the map below to see a bigger version.

Click here to download a printable copy.

Nene Valley AS – 16th September 2019

Tonight I will be re-visiting one of my closest astronomy clubs to talk about astrophotography.

It will be good to catch up with my friends at Nene Valley Astronomical Society.

Nene Valley AS meet at the Village Hall in Chelveston.
Caldecott Road, Chelveston. NN9 5AT.

The doors will open at 7:30pm to start at 8pm.
Please use the door at the rear of the building.

£3:00 per person.

FAS Convention – 14th September.

On Saturday the 14th of September the Federation of Astronomical Societies (FAS) are holding their annual convention.

This will be held at The Institute of Astronomy, Madingley Road in Cambridge.

The FAS Convention is a great day of interesting astronomy talks:

  • Dr Mark Clilverd, British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge.
    “Solar storm effects on ground-based infrastructure”.
  • Dr Richard Ghail, Royal Holloway, University of London.
    “New insights from our closest Earth-sized exoplanet: Venus”.
  • Jenny Lister, 2018 RAS Patrick Moore Medal Winner, Wetherby Preparatory School, London.
    “Astronomy for all: its place in education”.
  • Dr Floor van Leeuwen, Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge.
    “Details of the HR diagram as revealed by the second Gaia data release”.
  • Prof Carlos Frenk, University of Durham.
    “Everything from nothing: how our universe was made”.

There is also a chance to tour the historic telescopes and be tempted to buy some nice astro gear from some of the trade stands.

The event starts at 09:45, finishes 18:00.

£8 for FAS members
£10 for non-members
£4 for juniors (members and non-members).

Book tickets from the FAS Web site:

Comet 260P (McNaught)

Another comet that will be good to go out and watch is 260P (McNaught).
It is currently heading northwards in the constellation of Aries.

Images taken of the comet show it sporting a short but very distinct tail.

By the end of September the comet is in Perseus at about 11th magnitude, but still slowly brightening.
But it is not predicted to get very much brighter.

On the 8th and 9th of October the comet passes close to the open cluster M34.

The map below shows the path of the comet during September.

At the end of October and into November, the comet starts to trace out a retrograde loop.

The map below shows the path of the comet during October and November.


Comet 2018 W2 (Africano)

Comet 2018 W2 (Africano) is visible the next couple of months.

It is fairly high up at the moment in Perseus.
It reaches perihelion tomorrow (6th September). It is currently about 10th magnitude.

So it does require a reasonably sized telescope or imaging to pick it out.

The path of the comet takes it from Perseus and mid-month it moves into Andromeda.
On the 17th & 18th it passes almost directly between the galaxies M31 and M33.

The map below shows the path of the comet during the first half of the month.

On the 22nd of September it passes fairly close to the bright naked eye star Delta Andromedae.
The comet should have started to fade by this time.

The map below shows the comet path at the end of September into early October.

Around the 26th of September the comet passes through the bottom left part of The Square of Pegasus.

It continues heading southwards, fading all the time.

The map below shows the comet path during mid-October.

On the 4th of October Comet 2018 W2 (Africano) passes fairly close to Neptune.
It would be good if these two objects could be captured in a single image.

The last map below shows the comets path at the end of October and into November, where it should have almost faded from view and is starting to trace out a long retrograde loop.

Happy Hunting.



Duston Camera Club – 3rd September 2019

Tonight Duston Camera Club have invited me to present my

Whistle-Stop Tour of the Universe (Hitch-Hiking on a Ray of Light).

So let’s hope that they strap themselves in and brace themselves for a journey that really is out of this world.
Of course, it’s just a really fantastic excuse to show lots of beautiful images of our wonderful universe.

So if you are in the area come along and say “Hello”.

Meeting Venue:
Duston Community Centre
Pendle Rd, Northampton NN5 6DT

Meeting starts at 8:00pm.
(Doors open from 7:45pm).

Sky Diary for September 2019

My free monthly sky diary for September 2019 showing the events of the night sky visible from the UK is now available in a printable pdf version for download.
Click here, or on the image below to download the pdf.

Just to let keep you informed, after 32 years of doing my printable sky diary, I will stop producing my printable sky diary after December. It’s been a sad, and big decision for me to do this, but it is getting difficult to fit it in with my many other commitments.

However, it’s all not bad news.
All my sky diary events are currently and will in future be added to the UK Cloud Magnets online calendar.
I will still keep this as up to date as I can and add new information as I hear about it.
Click here to view the UK Cloud Magnets online calendar.

This and my Blog ( is where I will put any new information on sky events as they become known to me.

Jupiter and Moons August 22nd 2019

As the sky gets dark tonight, a transit of Ganymede’s shadow will be in progress, as will the great red spot.

The first two illustrations in the diagram below show the view at 21:20 UT.

Only 3 of the Galilean satellites are visible.
Io is to the east of Jupiter, but is hidden within Jupiter’s Shadow.

An hour later Io has emerged from the shadow and will be easily visible.
All four Galileans will be visible once again as seen in the lower diagram.

Ganymede’s shadow transit is still in progress and will move off Jupiter’s disk by 21:54 UT.

Far Cotton Library – 19th August 2019

Tomorrow I am once again proud to be supporting the summer Space Chase Reading challenge,
I will be bringing the planetarium to Far Cotton Library in Northampton.

There are 4 shows throughout the day, so make sure that your child is booked into a show for this completely immersive full-dome experience.

It will take them on a journey around the wonderful planets in our solar system. Educational, Inspiring and most of all FUN!
As if this wasn’t enough, at the end of the show, Tim Peake takes you on a guided tour of The International Space Station.

Rugby & District AS – 18th August 2019.

Tonight I will be re-visiting Rugby & District Astronomical Society.

I will be presenting, Magnificent Destination: The Apollo Moon Missions.

This tells the story of the fantastic Apollo missions and the landing of The Eagle, the Apollo 11 lunar module, on the Sea of Tranquillity 50 years ago last month.

It’s a story I am going to enjoy telling again after this presentation first aired on my Apollo 50 celebration day.

Ruby and District AS meet at:
Church Lawford Village Hall,
School Street,
Church Lawford,
CV23 9EE

Meeting starts at 7:30pm.





Apollo 11 Timeline – 10th August 1969

Today’s the day that the Apollo 11 mission finally concluded.

Mike, Neil & Buzz were finally released back out into the world after being in quarantine since landing. They could finally be reunited with their families.

It seems like a crazy notion, because if they had bought any moon bugs back with them, these would have been released into the air and water as soon as the command module hatch was opened in The Pacific Ocean.

Apollo missions 12 and 14 also went through this same ordeal.

More details about the quarantine are on the Sky At Night Web page:

Weston Favell Library – 6th August 2019

The first event supporting the @Library_Plus Space Chase @readingagency  #SpaceForReading challenge this summer was held yesterday.

Alongside other members of Northamptonshire Natural History Society (NNHS), we wowed them with not only astronomy and space, plus some pond life under microscopes as well.

The planetarium only just fitted, and almost swallowed me!

Catch me (and where there is space, the planetarium) in libraries over the #SummerHolidays.

The next outreach event with NNHS is tomorrow (8th August) at Hunsbury Library in Northampton.

Unfortunately there isn’t room for the planetarium there, but there’s lots of hands-on things to do, Augmented and Virtual Reality experiences and lots of free goodies to take away.

Come along, say “Hi”, and pick up some freebies.

Summer Reading Challenge – Space Chase.

I am proud to be supporting this summers reading challenge – Space Chase in libraries across Northamptonshire.

Children can sign up at their local library and read six library books of your choice to complete the Challenge.
There are exclusive rewards to collect along the way, and best of all it’s all FREE to take part!

The Summer Reading Challenge website helps you keep track of your reading all year round:
Find new books to read, take part in competitions and mini challenges, and play games.
Click the links above for more details.

Visit the Northamptonshire Libraries events calendar to find an event near you:

You’ll need to book your space as these events are going to be very popular.

There will be lots of hands-on stuff for kids to get involved with, including immersive Virtual Reality tours.
These include an overview of the solar system, a flight in a Soyuz Capsule or exploring the International Space Station.

We will have lots of free leaflets packed full of space information free to take away.

For the really keen children we also have a few posters to give away.

As if that wasn’t enough, as well as helping out in some of the libraries, in libraries that have the space, I will be bringing in the planetarium.
This will give a fully immersive experience as the children and families explore the planets in our solar system.
We will experience the landing of the probe Curiosity onto Mars to begin it’s exploration of the martian surface.
At the end of the show we will then visit the International Space Station with Tim Peake as our guide.

So there’s never been a better time to get interested in space.

I hope to see lots of keen children to educate and enthral them in one of our a local libraries very soon.

Sky Diary for August 2019

My free monthly sky diary for August 2019 showing the events of the night sky visible from the UK is now available in a printable pdf version for download.
Click here, or on the image below to download the pdf.

Just to let keep you informed, after 32 years of doing my printable sky diary, I will stop producing my printable sky diary after December. It’s been sad, and a big decision to do this, but lately it is getting difficult to fit it in with my many other commitments.

However, it’s all not bad news.
All my sky diary events are currently and will in future be added to the UK Cloud Magnets online calendar.
I will still keep this as up to date as I can.
Click here to view the UK Cloud Magnets online calendar.

This and my Blog ( is where I will put any new information on sky events as they become known to me.


Apollo 11 Timeline – 24th July 2019

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Another extremely busy day as re-entry, splashdown and recovery of crew, CM and lunar samples are all happening today.

16:21:12 – Just before re-entry occurs, the CM and SM separate.

16:35:05 – CM re-entry.
During the time the hot plasma from the heat shield surrounding the capsule means that there is no communication between the astronauts and mission control.

So it is a tense wait until contact is re-established once they are safely on the parachutes.

16:39 – Visual contact with CM established by aircraft.

16:40 – Radar contact with CM established by recovery ship Hornet.

16:44:06 – Drogue parachute deployed

16:46 – VHF voice contact and recovery beacon contact established.

16:50:35 – Splashdown (went to apex-down – Floating upside down).

16:58:15 – CM returned to apex-up position (Floating upright).

17:04 – Flotation collar inflated.

17:21 – Hatch opened for crew egress.
The astronauts were thrown containment suits to put on before they were taken off the CM.
Crazy. If there were any lunar germs around, they would have been released as soon as the capsule was opened anyway.

17:29 – Crew egress.

17:53 – Crew aboard recovery ship USS Hornet.
A sign was put up saying “USS Hornet +3”.
This ship also recovered the Apollo 12 astronauts.

17:58 – Crew entered mobile quarantine facility.

President Nixon greets them and speaks to them over a microphone.
See the video here:
Go to 9m 30s in the video for when the National Anthem starts and the crew stand up saluting.
I find it absolutely hilarious. Makes me chuckle every single time.
Such a well planned dignified end to such a fantastic mission.

19:50 – CM lifted from water.

19:58 – CM secured to quarantine facility.

20:05 – CM hatch reopened.

22:00 – Sample return containers 1 and 2 removed from CM.

23:32 – Container 1 removed from mobile quarantine facility.

00:05 – Container 2 removed from mobile quarantine facility.

The mission may be over, but now the real science starts on the samples bought back.

Did you know, the astronauts had to sign a customs document when they landed?
Here a copy of it below. Don’t you just love bureaucracy?

Apollo 11 Timeline – 23rd July 2019

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Scroll down for more of the Apollo 50 timeline.

Not much for the astronauts to do today on our Apollo 11 50th timeline, apart from some housekeeping and three TV transmissions. In these the astronauts thanked the 400,000 people that helped develop the  technology and build everything to get them to The Moon.

The Earth is now getting much bigger in their window as they make their approach.

All this as they travel back towards Earth and prepare for tomorrows action-packed day of re-entry.

01:08 – TV transmission started.

01:26 – TV transmission ended.

22:42 – TV transmission started.

22:45 – TV transmission ended.

23:04 – TV transmission started.

23:16 – TV transmission ended.


Apollo 50th Day

Scroll down the blog if you’re looking for today’s Apollo 11 50th Timeline.

What a great day it was for my Apollo 50th Day.

In the afternoon I did an afternoon of five planetarium shows, bringing the lunar landings to life as an immersive full-dome experience where we witnessed the landing of Eagle onto The Sea of Tranquillity.

The evening I gave two presentations about The Space Race and The Apollo Missions.

Everyone enjoyed both of the shows and it was a brilliant atmosphere.
Thank you to my willing volunteers building a scale model of the Earth-Moon system.

Well done to Corrine for winning a signed copy of Tim Peake’s book
Ask An Astronaut. (Signed by Tim, not me!).

It was the best way I could have spent to celebrate this historic moment in history.








Apollo 11 Timeline – 22nd July 1969

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A much easier day on the Apollo 11 timeline for the astronauts today as they separate from the Lunar Module, break out of lunar orbit and begin their journey back towards Earth.

00:02:01 – Command-Service_Module (CSM)/ Lunar Module (LM) final separation ignition.

00:02:08 – CSM/LM final separation cutoff.

The astronauts do two more orbits of The Moon.

04:55:42 – Trans-earth injection ignition.

04:58:13 – Trans-earth injection cutoff.

The CSM is now coasting back towards Earth.

20:01:57 – Mid-course correction ignition.

20:02:07 – Mid-course correction cutoff.

The intrepid crew are now safely on their way home.

They can now watch The Moon getting smaller and the Earth getting bigger.

Apollo 11 Timeline – 21st July 2019

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In the early hours of this morning Neil & Buzz got to explore the surface.
The surface of the frigging Moon for goodness sake.
How absolutely flipping amazing was that?

So, our Apollo 11 50th anniversary timeline continues with another busy day for Neil and Buzz.

They get to perform a two and half hour extra-vehicular activity (EVA) exploration of the lunar surface and collect rock and dust samples.

As if that wasn’t enough action for one day, after a rest period they will finish the day by taking off from The Moon and re-joining Michael Collins in orbit in the Command Module (CM).

02:39:33 – EVA started (hatch open).

02:51:16 – Neil completely outside Lunar Module (LM) on porch.

02:53:18 – Modular equipment stowage assembly deployed by Neil.

02:54:00 – First clear TV picture received. Pictures were upside down at first, before they were rotated the right way round on Earth.

02:55:28 – Neil is at the foot of ladder (starts to report, then pauses to listen).

02:55:38 – Neil still at the foot of ladder, described surface as “Almost like a powder.”

02:56:15 – 1st step is taken onto the lunar surface by Neil.
“That’s one small step for a man…one giant leap for mankind.”

02:56:48 – Neil started surface examination and description, assessed mobility and described effects of LM descent engine.

02:58:54 – Neil ended surface examination. Buzz starts to send down camera.

03:02:23 – Camera installed on RCU bracket, LEC stored on secondary strut of LM landing gear.

03:02:53 – Surface photography by Neil.

03:05:58 – Contingency sample collection started by Neil. Just in case they had to leave in a hurry before collecting more rocks.

03:09:08 – Contingency sample collection ended by Neil.

03:11:57 – Buzz started egress from LM to join Neil on the surface.

03:13:56 – Buzz at top of ladder. Buzz’s descent was photographed by Neil.

03:15:16 – Buzz is now on lunar surface. He describes the view as  “Magnificent Desolation”

03:15:47 – Surface examination and examination of landing effects on surface and on LM started.

03:21:06 – Insulation removed from modular equipment stowage assembly by Neil.

03:23:35 – Neil adjusts TV camera focal distance, so Earth would get the first TV images from the surface of them working on The Moon.

03:24:19 – Plaque unveiled by Neil.

03:24:40 – Plaque read by Neil.
“Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon July 1969, A.D.
We came in peace for all mankind”

03:31:28 – TV camera redeployed. Panoramic TV view started by Neil.

03:34:53 – TV camera placed in final deployment position by Neil.

03:35:20 – Solar wind composition experiment deployed by Buzz. This collected solar wind particles in the airless environment of The Moon.

03:41:43 – The US flag was deployed.

03:45:15 – Evaluation of surface mobility (How easy, or not, it was to move about on The Moon’s surface) started by Buzz.

03:48:02 – Evaluation of surface mobility end by Buzz.

03:48:30 – Presidential message from White House and response from Neil. This was a much publicised telephone call from President Nixon from the Oval Office in The White House.

03:50:21– Presidential message and Neil’s response ended.

03:52:06 – Evaluation of trajectory of lunar soil when kicked by Buzz. Bulk sample collection started by Neil.

Many people think that the photograph of the footprint was of Neil’s. But it was Buzz that took the famous image below of the footprint on The Moon. This was his footprint purposely positioned and photographed while evaluating the lunar soil and how far it went down into the surface, to take back to Earth for people to examine later.

03:42:24 – Evaluation of visibility in lunar sunlight by Buzz.

03:57:09 – Evaluation of thermal effects of sun and shadow inside the suit by Buzz.

04:00:22 – Evaluation of surface shadows and colours by Buzz.

04:06:13 – LM landing gear inspection and photography by Buzz.
This was to check the height of the rocket motor above the surface and how the surface had been disturbed by the engine.


04:07:36 – Bulk sample completed by Neil.
Those precious Moon rocks were collected to take back to Earth to find out about the origin of The Moon.

04:18:36 – LM landing gear inspection and photography.
This is to check how the legs were affected by the impact of landing.
Eagle’s landing was so gentle, Neil and Buzz hardly felt it as they dropped the final inches onto the surface.

04:25:38 – Scientific equipment bay doors opened.

04:27:42 – Passive seizmometer deployed.

04:35:57 – Lunar ranging retro-reflector deployed by Neil.
This was used to measure the distance of The Moon.
A very powerful laser could be fired from Earth. It reflected off the instrument (a much hi-tech version of a road’s cats eye) and bounced back to Earth. By timing the amount of time the light  took to do the round trip, and exact distance can be measured.
As a result of these experiments we now know that The Moon is receding from Earth at a rate of 3.8 cm per year. Due to this, in a few hundred million years or so time, The Moon will be so far away from Earth that it will no longer appear big enough in our sky to produce total solar eclipses.

04:40:39 – 1st passive seismic experiment data received on Earth

04:43 – Collection of documented samples started.

04:52 – Solar wind composition experiment retrieved by Buzz.

05:01:39 – Buzz re-enters LM and transfer of all the samples into LM starts.

05:07:51 – Transfer of sample containers reported complete.

05:09:32 – Neil now back inside LM, assisted and monitored by Buzz.

05:11:13 – EVA ended (hatch closed).
The Apollo 11 EVA lasted just two and a half hours.

There are very few pictures of Neil on the EVA. The iconic pictures captured are of Buzz.
I think they missed a real publicity boost there.
This is because Neil had the camera most of the time and took most of the pictures.
It was also hard to tell which astronaut was which.
For following Apollo missions the LM Commander had red stripes around the elbows and knees on his suit, so the two astronauts could be easily identified.

07:37 – LM equipment jettisoned.
They effectively threw out everything that wasn’t needed to save weight.
Including bags of Poo!
The passive seizmic experiment set up earlier in the missing recorded these objects hitting the Moons surface. I wonder how powerful the vibrations were from the poo?

The two astronauts then had a much needed rest.
See just how tired they look in the pictures below taken just after they went back into the LM.

After their rest, they prepared to leave the lunar surface and bring about an end to this fantastic accomplishment and begin their journey home to Earth.

As a 7-year old boy, I just could not believe that when I looked up into the sky that evening, there were actually people actually sitting on the surface of that bright almost half Moon floating in the sky. Even at my age now, the Apollo missions still massively inspire me and as a boy they helped forge my passion for astronomy and spaceflight and to keep looking upwards at the stars. In fact this 50th anniversary has made me feel very emotional about the whole endeavour, even after all these years.
What a great big softie I am!

Anyway, let’s get on with our timeline to get these plucky astronauts back on their way home.

17:54:00 – LM lunar liftoff ignition (LM APS).

18:01:15 – LM orbit insertion cutoff.

18:51:35 – Coelliptic sequence initiation ignition.

18:52:22 – Coelliptic sequence initiation cutoff.

19:49:49 – Constant differential height manoeuvre ignition.

19:50:29 – Constant differential height manoeuvre cutoff.

20:35:51 – Terminal phase initiation ignition.

20:36:14 – Terminal phase initiation cutoff.

20:50:30 – LM 1st midcourse correction.

21:05:30 – LM 2nd midcourse correction.

21:08:57 – Braking started.

21:18:09 – Terminal phase finalise ignition.

21:18:38 – Terminal phase finalise cutoff.

21:24:05 – Station keeping started.

Did you know that everyone who has ever existed, except one, is in the picture below?
The only person that’s not within the frame of the image is the person who took it.
That of course is Michael Collins. He was the Command Module Pilot who stayed in orbit while Neil and Buzz explored the surface.

It is estimated that 550 million people watched The Moon Landing.
Michael Collins, despite being an integral part of the mission, missed the whole show.
Had Neil and Buzz crashed onto The Moon, or they were left stranded on the surface, he would not have been able to save them. In case this happened he would have had to start the long lonely journey back to Earth on his own, forever a marked man.
President Nixon even had a speech prepared just in case.
Thankfully, that didn’t happen.

Michael must have been very relieved to see this view of Eagle heading back towards him.
This picture contains everyone who has ever existed. 3.61 billion on Earth and two in the lunar module.
The only person not in the picture is Michael Collins, who took it from the Command Module Columbia.
Although he didn’t land with Neil & Buzz, and stayed in lunar orbit, he was crucial in getting them there and bringing them home safely.

21:35 – Command / Service Module (CSM) /LM docked.

22:52 – Neil entered CM.

23:17 – Buzz entered CM.

23:41 – LM ascent stage jettisoned.
The ascent stage of Eagle stayed in orbit around The Moon for a few months before crashing into the lunar surface.

Apollo 11 Timeline – 20th July 2019

Today’s that amazing day on our Apollo 50th Anniversary Timeline.
The long awaited and anticipated day when the lunar module Eagle is landed by Neil and Buzz onto the surface of The Moon in The Sea of Tranquillity.

Here’s my image of that area of The Moon, showing the landing sites of Apollo 11 (Tranquillity Base – Statio Tranquillitatis) and Rangers 5 and 8.
It also shows the three craters named after the Apollo 11 astronauts.

Follow the hectic Apollo 11 timeline on this fantastic day.

It’s too late to book tickets for my Apollo 50th celebration day today in Raunds:
Click here for more details.
You can still turn up on the day and buy a ticket.

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It’s an extremely busy day for Neil and Buzz as they leave Michael Collins in The Command/Service Modules (CSM) and take to the Lunar Module (LM) Eagle to take it down to land onto The Sea of Tranquillity.

12:52 – Neil and Buzz entered LM for final preparations for descent.

15:17 – LM system checks started.

17:32 – LM system checks ended.

17:44 – SM/LM undocked.

18:11 – CSM/LM separation manoeuvre ignition.

18:12 – CSM/LM separation manoeuvre cutoff.

19:08 – LM descent orbit insertion ignition (LM SPS).

19:08 – LM descent orbit insertion cutoff.

Seconds of time now being shown as time events come thick and fast during the exciting landing phase.

19:49:17 -LM acquisition of data.

19:52:53 – LM landing radar on.

19:56:40 – LM abort guidance aligned to primary guidance.

19:59:32 – LM yaw manoeuvre to obtain improved communications.

20:04:55 – LM altitude 50,000 feet.

The descent of Eagle is just about to commence.
It will take just under 13 minutes to reach the surface from 50,000 feet.

20:04:58 – LM propellant settling firing started.

20:05:05 – LM powered descent engine ignition.

The lunar module was travelling slightly too fast and was reaching landmarks a bit too early.
It seems that this was caused by them not evacuating all the air out of the tunnel between the CM and the LM before un-docking. This gave the LM a little bit of an extra push. As a result Eagle overshot the original target area.

20:05:31 – LM fixed throttle position.

20:09:59 – LM face-up manoeuvre completed.

20:10:22LM 1202 alarm.

This alarm type (and the 1201 alarm which followed) was never encountered in any of the training simulations. It was caused by the computer receiving too much information. The computer was designed to prioritise essential tasks, so the decision was made to ignore the alarm and continue the descent as the computer was still handling all the landing tasks really well.

20:10:45 – LM radar updates enabled.

20:10:50 – LM altitude less than 30,000 feet and velocity less than 2,000 feet per second (landing radar velocity update started).

20:11:02LM 1202 alarm.

20:11:31 – LM throttle recovery.

20:13:32 – LM approach phase entered.

20:13:37 – LM landing radar antenna to position 2.

20:13:53 – LM attitude hold mode selected (check of LM handling qualities).

20:14:03 – LM automatic guidance enabled.

20:14:18LM 1201 alarm.

20:14:19 – LM landing radar switched to low scale.

20:14:43LM 1202 alarm.

20:14:58LM 1202 alarm.

20:15:09 – LM landing point re-designation.

It is around this time that Neil decided to take a more manual control approach to the landing of the LM as the area where the LM was taking them down to was scattered with large boulders.

20:15:13 – LM altitude hold.

20:15:20 – LM abort guidance attitude updated.

20:15:22 – LM rate of descent landing phase entered.

20:16:11 – LM landing radar data not good.

20:16:21 – LM landing data good.

20:16:28 – LM fuel low-level quantity light.

20:16:59 – LM landing radar data not good.

20:16:35 – First evidence of surface dust disturbed by descent engine.

20:17:03 – LM landing radar data good.

These were the first words uttered from the lunar surface by Buzz, as one of the contacts below three of the LM foot-pads touched the lunar surface.

20:17:39 – LM lunar landing.

20:17:41 – LM powered descent engine cutoff.


Roger. Twank… Tranquillity, we copy on the ground. We got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We`re breathing again. Thanks a lot. Charlie Duke – Capcom at Mission Control.

To listen to the complete landing and a fantastic explanation of exactly what went on during the landing, visit 13 minutes to The Moon, by Kevin Fong:
13 minutes to The Moon, by Kevin Fong.

As soon as they landed, they prepared everything to take off immediately.
This was in case of an emergency that may have given them any reason to escape quickly.
Astronauts and Mission Control were happy everything was go for Neil and Buzz to perform the Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA).

22:12:00 – The decision was made to proceed with the EVA before their first rest period.
Instead of the astronauts sleeping before the EVA, as planned, they will start the EVA early.
Well, could you have slept? I couldn’t have.

23:43:00 – Preparation for the EVA started.

Neil will take his “small step” onto the moon early tomorrow morning.

Apollo 11 Timeline – 19th July 1969

On our 50 year Apollo 11 Timeline, it’s today that the Command and Service Module (CSM) with the attached Lunar Module (LM) arrive at The Moon and achieve lunar orbit.
So it’s a very busy day for our intrepid astronauts.
They also got their first glimpse of The Moon since leaving Earth.

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If you look at the second image carefully, in Mare Fecunditatis you can see the craters Messier and Messier A with their distinctive comet-shaped double ray streaking away from the spacecraft.


03:11 – CSM/LM enter Equigravisphere, where Earth’s and Lunar gravity are equal.
As the spacecraft moves closer to The Moon its gravitational pull will gradually increase, become more dominant and will start to speed up the spacecraft as it attracts them towards it.

Most of the day spent cruising and housekeeping, then they arrive.

17:21 – Lunar Orbit Insertion Ignition burn starts.

17:27 – Lunar Orbit Insertion Ignition burn cutoff.

19:52 – TV transmission started.

20:32 – TV transmission ended.

21:43 – Lunar Circular Orbital burn to get Stack into lunar orbit.

The three astronauts are now in lunar orbit and preparing to land tomorrow.

Apollo 11 Timeline – 18th July 1969

On our 50 year Apollo 11 Timeline, it’s coasting to The Moon with general housekeeping and TV transmissions. Neil and Buzz pop into the Lunar Module (LM) Eagle to start checking it out, ready for the upcoming landing.

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00:07 – TV transmission ends.

20:40 – TV transmission starts.

21:02 – Neil & Buzz enter LM for inspection.

22:16 – TV Transmission ends.

23:27 – Neil and Buzz enter LM.

Apollo 11 Timeline – 17th July 1969

It is a much quieter second day for the Apollo astronauts today on our 50 year Apollo 11 timeline as the Command / Service / Lunar Modules stack head towards The Moon.
Below is their view of The Earth as they race away from it.

There were just some general housekeeping and TV transmissions to do.

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00:04 – 00:20 – TV transmission.
16:16 – Mid-course correction.
20:00 – 20:50 – TV transmission .
23:31 – TV Transmission started.

Apollo 11 Timeline – 16th July 1969

This is the Apollo 11 timeline of the flight which was launched 50 years ago today.
I will be posting each days events as it happened until the splashdown occurs on the 24th of July.

Book tickets for my Apollo 50th celebration day on the 20th of July here:

Today was very busy day for the the astronauts and the mighty Saturn V is launched, and they prepare everything and start their journey towards The Moon.

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The astronauts awoke and had their traditional steak and egg breakfast.
(It binds everything up to delay things coming out the other end so quickly).

Once suited up and sealed in by the technicians, they started to breath pure oxygen to get rid of any nitrogen in the body. This would help prevent them developing the dreaded bends as nitrogen bubbles out into the blood and tissues once the pressure in the capsule is reduced.

They then rode the astronaut bus out to the launch pad 39A at Cape Canaveral and were placed into the Command Module.

10:02 – Countdown resumed. T-3 hours 30 minutes.

13:32 – Launch of Saturn V rocket from Cape Canaveral.

13:33 – Speed of Mach 1 achieved.

13:34 – First stage (S-IC) is now jettisoned as the fuel within it has been expended.
The first stage contained 1,204,000 litres of Liquid Oxygen and 770,00 litres of Kerosene at launch.
This fuel was consumed by the five F-1 engines at 13 tonnes per second and used up in just 2 minutes and 40 seconds.

Stack has reached an altitude of 66 km and is 93 km downrange from the launch pad and is now travelling at 6,000 miles per hour.

13:34 – Second (S-II) stage ignition.

13:35 – SII aft interstage jettisoned.

13:35 – Launch escape tower jettisoned.

13:41 – S-IC should have impacted into the Atlantic Ocean 357 miles from the launch pad.

984,000 litres of Liquid Hydrogen and 303,000 litres of liquid Oxygen have been burnt in the second S-II stage by the five J-2 Engines.
Speed of remaining stack is now up to 15,000 miles per hour.

13:41 – Second Stage S-II and third stage (S-IVB) separate.
S-IVB burn starts.
This single J-2 engine can be re-started and will be used three times.
It will initially be fired 2 separate times to achieve Earth orbit.

13:43 – S-IVB burn cutoff.

13:43 – Earth orbital insertion.
This means that the remaining stack has now had it’s trajectory changed to obtain a stable Earth orbit.

13:52 – S-II second stage should have impacted into the Atlantic Ocean 3,815 km from the launch pad.

16:16 – S-IVB starts a second burn to modify the orbit around the Earth.

16:22 – S-IVB second burn ends.

16:22 – Third burn of the J-2 engine occurs.
Speed is now up to 25,000 miles per hour, enough to escape Earth’s gravity and send it away from Earth.
This is the Trans Lunar Injection (TLI) burn to send the stack towards The Moon.

252,750 litres of liquid Hydrogen and 73,280 litres of liquid oxygen were consumed by the S-IVB third stage.

16:47 – Command/Service Module stack (CSM) un-docks from the S-IVB.

The CSM then performs a manoeuvre to rotate round to face the now exposed Lunar Module (LM).

16:56 – Command/Service Module docks with LM / S-IVB.

17:49 – LM extracted from S-IVB.

18:12 – CSM/LM evasive manoeuvre from S-IVB.

19:09 – Lunar Slingshot manoeuvre ignition.

19:14 – Lunar Slingshot manoeuvre cutoff.

The empty S-IVB stage is destined to go into a heliocentric (Sun-centred) orbit.

Apollo 50th Anniversary Celebration Day

Join me for a family orientated event to showcase the outstanding achievement of the Apollo 11 lunar landings on the 20th of July for my 50th Anniversary Celebration Day.

If you attend the evening presentation, you could win a copy of Tim Peake’s book
Ask An Astronaut. Signed by Tim.

20th of July 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of that historic landing.

This day of celebration  will be held in The Saxon Hall in Raunds, Northamptonshire.
Postcode: NN9 6LT.

Planetarium Shows.
This family day starts in the afternoon with a number of full-dome interactive planetarium shows.
All shows are suitable for children of all ages, 8 – 108.

Under a full dome state-of-the-art projection system, in a fully immersive experience, stand on the surface of the Sea of Tranquillity and experience first-hand, the historic Apollo 11 landing of The Eagle Lunar Module..
You’ll be holding your breath as the spidery lunar module softly touches down on The Moon’s surface, with less than 20 seconds of landing fuel remaining in the tank.
At the end of the show, we’ll bring you almost up to date. Tim Peake will be your guide on a trip up to The International Space Station and out to Pluto, a truly awesome immersive full-dome experience.

Five 30-minute planetarium shows will be performed during the afternoon.

Click on the show time below that you would like to attend to book your space.
£5:00 on the day, so save £1:00 all tickets if booked in advance.

Planetarium show number 1 – 12:45 pm.
Single Ticket £4:00.
£5:00 if bought on the day.

Planetarium show number 2 – 13:30 pm.
Single Ticket £4:00.
£5:00 if bought on the day.

Planetarium show number 3 – 14:15 pm.
Single Ticket £4:00.
£5:00 if bought on the day.

Planetarium show number 4 – 15:00 pm.
Single Ticket £4:00.
£5:00 if bought on the day.

Planetarium show number 5 – 15:45 pm.
Single Ticket £4:00.
£5:00 if bought on the day.
Spaces for this last planetarium show now very limited.

Click on a ticket type above to book your space using my secure online Shop.

If you would like to book more than 4 or more tickets for any planetarium show or the evening presentation, E Mail me and I will give you a code for discounts on the tickets.

You can try and turn up on the day, but the planetarium can only accommodate 20 people at a time.
Spaces will fill fast, so book using the links to avoid disappointment.

Evening Multi-media Presentation. – 19:00 pm – 21:00 pm.

Book your ticket by clicking the link below:
Book a single ticket for the evening. – £4:00.
£5:00 if bought on the day. Save £1:00 by booking in advance.

All evening visitors will be entered into a free raffle for a chance to win a signed copy of Tim Peake’s book “Ask an Astronaut“.

If you would like to book 4 or more tickets for any of these events, E Mail me and I will give you a discount.

The evening’s multi-media presentation, suitable for ages aged 10 – 110, overviews the space race with the Soviet’s in the 60’s.
This resulted in the Apollo 11 moon landing in The Sea of Tranquillity on the 20th of July 1969,a nd looks at the future of crewed space exploration.

Why not bring your family down for a special night to celebrate the amazing achievements and experience the events that led up to this fantastic human endeavour.

Booking for this 50th Anniversary Event is now available on my secure Web Site.

Click on the image below to download the flyer in pdf form:

Apollo 11 Fact 1.

Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin’s maternal grandmother had the surname Moon.

Amongst other people gathered with Buzz’s wife Helen in their house on the day of the landing was his Uncle Bob Moon.

Book your places for my Apollo 50th celebration planetarium shows or evening presentation here:

If you attend the evening presentation, you will be put into a free draw to win a signed copy of Time Peake’s book “Ask An Astronaut”.




Apollo 11 Fact 1.

Partial Lunar Eclipse – 16th July 2019

On Tuesday the 16th of July there is a partial lunar eclipse.
This takes place on the 50th anniversary of the launch of the Saturn V rocket which sent the Apollo 11 astronauts to The Moon.

I will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing in Raunds on Saturday the 20th. See my Web Page for more details:

For the duration of their mission I will also be posting a daily diary of what the astronauts got up to:
Catch up with their exploits by following my blog:

A lunar eclipse occurs when The Moon passes through the Earth’s shadow.
Unlike a solar eclipse, a lunar eclipse can be seen across a wide region of The Earth’s surface as long as The Moon is above the horizon at the time of the event.

All timings given for UT, so don’t forget to add 1 hour for BST.

The Penumbral phase starts at 18:43:53.
The umbral phase of the eclipse starts at 20:01:43.
IN the UK at this time The Moon will still be below our horizon.

It does not rise until about 21:12.

As a result we will miss the start of the eclipse.

By the time The Moon does rise, a large umbral shadow bite has already been taken out of The Moon.
This could make a great partially eclipsed Moon-rise shot if you have a low south-eastern horizon to catch The Moon as it rises.

This image shows how much of The Moon’s face will be eclipsed at Moon-rise.

Maximum eclipse occurs about 18 minutes after moonrise at 21:31:54.
There should be some red colouration visible at this time, but it is not going to look as red a total lunar eclipse as part of the lunar disk will always be reflecting strong sunlight.

The image below shows the phase at maximum eclipse.

The umbral eclipse phase ends at 22:59:39, when it leaves the much darker umbral shadow.

At this stage you may be able to see a slight darkening on the side of The Moon’s disk towards the umbral shadow, but it is very subtle.
If you take a photograph and slightly under-expose the image, it brings out the difference in brightness very easily.

The Penumbral phase of the eclipse will last until 00:17:36 when The Moon finally leaves the Earth’s penumbral shadow, and the show is all over.