Remembering NEOWISE

It was just last July. If you could see the stars of the Big Dipper, you could find Comet NEOWISE in your evening sky. After sunset denizens of the north could look for the naked-eye comet below the bowl of that famous celestial kitchen utensil and above the northwestern horizon. The comet looked like a fuzzy ‘star’ with a tail, though probably not so long a tail as in this memorable skyview recorded from the Czech Republic on July 23th, 2020, near the comet’s closest approach to planet Earth. Photographs of C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) often did show the comet’s broad dust tail and fainter but separate bluish ion tail extending farther than the eye could follow. Skygazers around the world were delighted to witness Comet NEOWISE, surprise visitor from the outer Solar System. via NASA

Wikipedia article of the day for July 31, 2021

Wikipedia article of the day is White-eyed river martin. Check it out: Article-Link Summary: The white-eyed river martin (Pseudochelidon sirintarae) is a passerine bird in the swallow family. First found in 1968, it is known only from a single wintering site in Thailand, and may be extinct, since there have been no confirmed sightings since 1980 despite targeted surveys in Thailand and Cambodia. The adult has mainly glossy greenish-black plumage, a white rump, and a tail with two long central feathers that widen to a racket-shaped tip. It has a white eye ring and a broad, bright greenish-yellow bill. The juvenile lacks the tail ornaments and is browner. Like other swallows, it feeds on insects caught in flight, and its wide bill suggests that it may take relatively large species. It roosts in reed beds in winter, and may nest in river sandbanks. Its apparent demise may have been hastened by trapping, loss of habitat and dam construction. The martin is one of only two birds endemic to Thailand. The country’s government has featured the bird on a stamp and a commemorative coin. (This article is part of a featured topic: River martin.)

Mimas in Saturnlight

Peering from the shadows, the Saturn-facing hemisphere of Mimas lies in near darkness alongside a dramatic sunlit crescent. The mosaic was captured near the Cassini spacecraft’s final close approach on January 30, 2017. Cassini’s camera was pointed in a nearly sunward direction only 45,000 kilometers from Mimas. The result is one of the highest resolution views of the icy, crater-pocked, 400 kilometer diameter moon. An enhanced version better reveals the Saturn-facing hemisphere of the synchronously rotating moon lit by sunlight reflected from Saturn itself. To see it, slide your cursor over the image (or follow this link). Other Cassini images of Mimas include the small moon’s large and ominous Herschel Crater. via NASA

Wikipedia article of the day for July 30, 2021

Wikipedia article of the day is Apollo 15. Check it out: Article-Link Summary: Apollo 15 (July 26 – August 7, 1971) was the fourth crewed mission to land on the Moon. It was the first J mission, with a longer stay on the Moon (July 30 – August 2) and a greater focus on science, including the first Lunar Roving Vehicle. David Scott and James Irwin landed near Hadley Rille and spent 18+1⁄2 hours on extravehicular activity, collecting 170 pounds (77 kg) of surface material. At the same time, Alfred Worden orbited the Moon, operating the sensors in the SIM bay of the service module. During the return trip, Worden performed the first spacewalk in deep space. The Apollo 15 mission splashed down safely, with all goals accomplished, but was marred when it emerged that the crew had carried unauthorized postal covers to the lunar surface, some of which were sold by a West German stamp dealer. The crew was reprimanded for poor judgment, and did not fly in space again. The mission also saw the collection of the Genesis Rock, thought to be part of the Moon’s early crust, and Scott used a hammer and a feather to demonstrate Galileo’s theory that absent air resistance, objects fall at the same rate regardless of mass.