A Day of Two Halves. – 11th November 2019

Well today could be a great day (or not). But it could be a day of two halves.

If the rain clouds flooding the country relent, we could hopefully view the transit of Mercury which starts just after 12:35 today until Sunset. That’s good, as long as the clouds part so we can view it.

See my details of that event here:
https://www.star-gazing.co.uk/WebPage/mercurytran-20191111

However, there is another event taking place today which doesn’t appear to be getting a lot of attention at the moment.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX is launching another Starlink cluster today.
This might not be as good.

The launch is scheduled for 14:56 UT, while the transit is in progress.
A backup launch windows is scheduled for 14:34 UT tomorrow (12th).

The launch of the Falcon 9 rocket can be viewed live here: spacex.com/webcast.

60 new Starlink satellites will be put into Earth orbit.

Once the satellites are in orbit, you may want to produce predictions for visibility from your location at:
https://n2yo.com/passes/?s=74001

It could look spectacular as the cluster catch the sunlight if the last launch is anything to go by.
But is the launch of these satellites going to be a really bad thing for us observers / imagers going forward?

See my previous blog entry about what this new constellation of satellites could mean for our night sky:
https://www.star-gazing.co.uk/WebPage/starlink-spectacle

Dave

 

 

Walsall Astronomical Society – Solar Astronomy

On the evening of the 7th of November I will be re-visiting Walsall Astronomical Society.

http://www.walsallastronomy.co.uk

Nicely timed just before the Mercury Transit next Monday (11th November) I will be talking about Solar Astronomy.

This will show what an amateur can achieve these days with the correct and safe solar equipment.
It will also give lots of details about the upcoming transit event and what we are likely to see from the UK (Probably clouds!).

Walsall Astronomical Society meet every Thursday at:

Rushall Olympic Football Club,
Dales Lane (off Bosty Lane),
Rushall,
Walsall.
WS4 1LJ

Cost: 
Members £2:00
Visitors £1:00

 

 

Sky Diary for November 2019

My penultimate free monthly sky diary for November 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.

After 32 years of doing my sky diary, I will stop producing this 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.

I will also be updating my blog (www.star-gazing.co.uk/Blog.html) with any new information on sky events as appropriate.

Abington Camera Club – 28th October 2019

On Monday the 28th of October I will be visiting Abington Camera Club https://wpsite.clubabington.org.uk to present:

A 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”.

Abington Camera Club meet at:
The Community Centre,

Wheatfield Road South,
Abington,
Northampton

Meeting Starts at 7:30pm.

Sky Diary for October 2019

My free monthly sky diary for October 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 (www.star-gazing.co.uk/Blog.html) is where I will put any new information on sky events as they become known to me.

Open University Astronomy Club – 1st October

Tonight, I will be visiting the Open University Astronomy Club in Milton Keynes to present my:

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

HitchHiking

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.
Unfortunately, Flat Tim won’t be attending this time!

So if you are in the area, come along and say “Hello”.
They meet at The Open University in The Robert Hooke Room.

Meeting starts at 7:30pm.

Details on how to find the venue are on their Web Page:
http://www.shindles.co.uk/ouastro/Where.htm

Kelling Weekend

This weekend is the main Kelling Equinox Starcamp weekend organised by Loughton Astronomical Society.

Hundreds of like-minded astronomers meet up at Kelling Heath Holiday Park.

Some of them stay for more than a week to make the most of clear skies and a companionable weekend.

I can’t make it this year, so sending everybody attending fine weather for the event.

If you have been unable to get a pitch for this starcamp, there are many other across the UK.

Visit my Web page here for a list.
http://www.star-gazing.co.uk/WebPage/resources/list-uk-star-parties

If I have missed any out, please let me know.

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:
http://www.star-gazing.co.uk/WebPage/planetarium/kaff-planetarium-shows

£4:00 per person.

For more information about KAFF, their Web page is here:
http://www.kidderminsterartsfestival.org.uk

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:
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/magnificent-destination-a-presentation-about-the-apollo-moon-missions-tickets-73700533279?aff=ebdssbdestsearch

£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:
http://fedastro.org.uk/fas/convention/convention-2019

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 (www.star-gazing.co.uk/Blog.html) 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,
Warwickshire.
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:
https://www.skyatnightmagazine.com/space-missions/why-were-apollo-11-astronauts-put-in-quarantine/

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:
https://www3.northamptonshire.gov.uk/councilservices/library-service/Pages/library-events.aspx

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 (www.star-gazing.co.uk/Blog.html) is where I will put any new information on sky events as they become known to me.

 

Apollo 11 Timeline – 24th July 2019

Follow my blog here:
www.star-gazing.co.uk/blog.html

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:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjXskFHQPp0&t=585s
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

Follow my blog here:
www.star-gazing.co.uk/blog.html

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

Follow my blog here:
www.star-gazing.co.uk/blog.html

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

Follow my blog here:
www.star-gazing.co.uk/blog.html

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.

Follow my blog here:
www.star-gazing.co.uk/blog.html

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.
“PICKING UP SOME DUST” – Buzz

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

CONTACT LIGHT!
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.

“TRANQUILLITY BASE HERE. THE EAGLE HAS LANDED” Neil

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:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w13xttx2/episodes/downloads
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.