It’s been quite a week of highs and lows for space watchers.
Monday saw NASA landing Mars rover Curiosity on the surface of Mars and the information it sends back will be invaluable. Three days into its mission it is already sending a treasure trove of photographs of the red planet including 360 degree images of the Gale Crater, its current home. (take a look at www.nasa.gov/msl/ to find out more)
Tuesday was a sad day for Astronomers with the death of pioneering astronomer and physicist Sir Bernard Lovell founder of the Jodrell Bank Observatory, and after whom the 250ft Lovell telescope, the worlds largest steerable radio telescope is named. Completed in 1957 it was used to track the Soviet’s secret launch of the Sputnik satellite, caught the first glimpse of quasars and was used to search for the Beagle 2 lander on Mars.
Tuesday was also the day that saw me and my family visit the National Space Museum in Leicester. If like me you are a bit of a space geek then a visit to this fabulous attraction is a must as there is plenty to keep the young and the young at heart entertained especially on a wet summers day in England!
This week has also seen the return over the UK of bright visible passes of the ISS (International Space Station) constantly circling the Earth the ISS can only be seen at dawn and dusk as light is reflected on its surface making it visible from below. Looking like a very bright star but without the “twinkling” it moves across the sky at the speed you would expect if watching an aeroplane, usually in a West to East direction. If you want to find out when you can see ISS then take a look at www.heavens-above.com or follow @twisst on Twitter.
We are now looking forward to the weekend which sees the peak of the annual Perseid meteor shower. To view this spectacle you don’t need any specialist equipment, just your eyes and a bit of patience! (find out more at www.meteorwatch.org) so with the weather predicted to be fine this weekend I can think of nothing better than settling down in the garden and gazing towards the heavens!