Archive for January, 2016

Get up early this weekend to see five planets in the sky

January 23, 2016 Leave a comment
five planets in sky, 2016 - courtesy

This image shows the five planets as they will appear in the sky. Courtesy

This weekend offers a big payoff if you can drag yourself out of bed before dawn. For the first time in more than a decade it will be possible to see five planets in the sky.

It is best to go outside to see the planets between 30-60 minutes before sunrise.

Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Mars, and Jupiter are visible in the eastern sky. Venus and Jupiter are the brightest of the five planets.

The moon will join the five planets in the sky on Jan. 28.

Mercury is closest to Earth, about 80 million miles away, while Saturn is more than one billion miles distant from our planet.

You do not need either a telescope or binoculars to see the celestial spectacle, which will remain available for your viewing pleasure until Feb. 10.

Categories: astronomy Tags: ,

Blue Origin again lands sub-orbital rocket

January 23, 2016 Leave a comment

The race to develop a rocket that can land itself after traveling to Earth orbit continued Friday as Blue Origin successfully returned a vehicle to the planet’s surface for the second time.

Blue Origin’s feat marks the first time that re-use of a rocket has been demonstrated to be feasible.

The launch of the Jeff Bezos-owned company’s New Shepard rocket occurred in west Texas. After traveling 101.7 kilometers into the atmosphere, the rocket landed vertically at spot near its launch location.

“The very same New Shepard booster that flew above the Karman line and then landed vertically at its launch site last November has now flown and landed again, demonstrating reuse,” Bezos said in a statement posted on the Blue Origin website.

Bezos was referring to an altitude generally regarded as the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and space.

Blue Origin had previously launched and landed the same rocket in November 2015.

The company has not yet matched the altitude achievement of rival SpaceX. On Dec. 21 that firm  returned a rocket that had traveled to orbit to a safe landing on Earth’s surface.

More recently SpaceX experienced a setback when an attempt to land a rocket at sea failed. One of the legs on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket collapsed when the vehicle touched down Jan. 17 on a floating barge, causing the rocket to tip over and explode.

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