Friday, July 17, 2009

The Excitement of July

July has always been a very special month for me. I look forward to it every year but at the same time I wish it wouldn't come around too fast. You see, July is my mum's birth month - the 23rd to be exact - and we always make it a point to celebrate it. Though usually it's always only specifically a family affair. But this month however, it's going to be a little extra exciting. We are in for a rather busy month. That is if you are also an avid amateur astronomer like myself. To get things rolling, space shuttle Endeavour blasted off into space on the 15th. Their mission, to dock with the International Space Station and deliver the last piece of a Japanese laboratory called Kibo. They should be docking some time later today. They're scheduled to stay on the ISS for 11 days. You can track the Endeavour and the ISS at Tracking Endeavour and The ISS. Remember, this IS in real time! So if at the right time of the night they pass over your region, do step outside and try to have a look. They aren't that difficult to detect, especially the ISS. You can spot it with your naked eye. It looks like a very bright star but it doesn't blink (twinkle) though it tends to wobble. And it moves pretty fast. The International Space Station image You should also try out Here you just need to click your current observation location on a map and you'd immediately be given a listings of the satellites that would be visible to you then! Cool Huh? Another really great event taking place would be on the 22nd. That's when the longest total solar eclipse of the 21st century will take place. That's right, if you miss this one, you better wish you are alive on the 13 th of June 2132! THAT is NOT a typo! image Of course there will be other total eclipses, but non will last as long as this till 2132. This will last for about 6 minutes and 39 seconds. There are various websites that would be showing this live if you are not on this side of the planet. If you are , it's between 8.40 a.m to about 9.44 a.m. local time. The maximum eclipse at 9.11 a.m. The next show in store for this month would be 2 meteorite showers. The first, Delta Aquarids would be between the 28th and 29th. You should be able to see about 20 bright yellow meteorites per hour. The 2nd is called Capricornids and that would be on the 29th till the 30th. Amazing, 2 shows overlapping each other! Here's what a fireball might look like. I have personally seen a few like this myself. image Arne Danielsen/ The Capricornids is of a slightly lesser frequency. About only 15 meteorites per hour. And you'd need a really dark night, but for those with patience, this is well rewarding for they are known to produce brilliant fireballs in the night sky. Anyhoo, if you can't see them, you can still hear them at So there you have it. A really amazing month ahead. Do find the time to enjoy these great events in the sky. Think about it, it's free! And God designed it.

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