Space, meet Space #amacrojot #ISS


Space is awesome.

I mean awesome in the original meaning of the word ‘awesome’, in that it fills us with awe. In the new meaning of the word awesome (i.e., cool)  we, as humans, are gradually learning how to live in space by spending time on the International Space Station. In this amazing footage from the international space station, an astronaut Scott Kelly, captures footage of the Northern lights (particles from the Sun hitting the Earth) just as the Sun begins to rise. Flying over the Earth, looking down at the Sun’s affects in both the light and energy it provides, and how it bombards us with particles, makes us see how fragile the planet is. And maybe fills us with awe again.

You can see the ISS in the sky quite often. You just have to know when and where to look.

Just to and select your location. The next good chance from Las Cruces is Thursday August 20, 2015, at 9pm.

Just look up.



The dark side of the force, #iss #darkmatter

As Yoda tells us “the dark side of the force is strong in this one.”

Add up all the mass in the stars, planets, asteroids, dust – anything that we can call an object. Then compare that total to the amount of mass expected from other sources of data (specifically look at how things move and then figure how how much stuff must be around to make it move). It turns out that there is a lot of missing mass in the universe – 95% is unaccounted for. One postulated source of this missing mass is a form of stuff that we cannot see, matter that does not interact with light in the usual way. Dark Matter

Now a new discovery from the international space station may shed some light on this dark subject. As reported on

“One of the great discoveries of the coming century will be the direct detection of dark matter. This mysterious substance, thought to compose some 23% of the mass of our universe, is currently one of the most-sought substances in existence, the source of thousands of scientific papers and endless hours of speculation over the last half of the last century, despite the fact that it has not yet been directly detected. Now an analysis of 41 billion cosmic rays striking a state-of-the-art instrument called the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) particle detector aboard the International Space Station (ISS) may have come close to detecting dark matter. It shows:

… an unexpected excess of cosmic-ray antielectrons (positrons) relative to electrons.

One possible explanation is that:

…the positrons are being created in annihilations of dark matter particles.

MIT physicist Sam Ting, who leads the experiment, said in a news release from Europe’s CERN particle physics center:”

In other words, this this excess of one type of particle may be the signature of the illusion dark matter.

Your space flight is cancelled

You’ve been there before. Ready to get on a plane and it gets cancelled due to bad weather. The polar vortex cancelled hundreds of flights. The same thing has now happened to space flights.

A strong solar storm has resulted in canceling the latest supply run to the International Space Station. An unmanned rocket, the Antares, was set to blast off from Wallops Island, Virginia, with a capsule full of supplies and science experiments, including ants for an educational project. But several hours before Wednesday afternoon’s planned flight, company officials took the unusual step of postponing the launch for fear solar radiation could doom the rocket.

Although the solar storm barely rated moderate, some passenger jets were being diverted from the poles to avoid potential communication and health issues. GPS devices also were at risk.
But the six men aboard the space station were safe from the solar fallout

On the bright side, the orbiting lab has won a four-year extension, And the solar storm will also push the colorful northern lights further south than usual to the northern US. A nice respite from the polar vortex.

The funky star trails

star trails on you tube

A very cool way of seeing the universe. 200 miles above the Earth, the international space station zooms around the Earth once every 90 minutes or so. From any spot on Earth it only takes a few minutes to move across the white sky. But what would it look like to be in it, and looking down? Few people will ever experience this, but this great you tube footage does a great job of putting you in the ISS. I use this trick in my classes all the time – what would you see if you stood _____ and looked in direction _____ for a long time ( “if you could see in the infared” is a great add on). It is a great opportunity to give students a chance to show off their knowledge, as opposed to just learning facts. So try to predict what you think you should see in a movie looking out the ISS window and then test yourself.

If you would like to see the ISS the Heavens Above website shows when when you can see it from your location.