So, as a few of your may have noticed blogger has been an annoyance, being down most of the past two days. I can understand that, updates need to be done, but something seems to have gone terribly wrong with the entire thing.
As it stands now, I lost my Endeavour Launch Update article, I hope that it may be returned... If not, know that Space Shuttle Endeavour is set to have it's final launch at 8:56 a.m. EDT on Monday, May 16. Everything is on course and repairs to the Shuttle's heater system that caused the initial delay have been fixed. After this flight it will go into retirement and be displayed at the California Science Center.
The launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis has been pushed back to mid-July.
The argument can be made of why retire the shuttles and so forth. Their need for retirement is made obvious by this delay and the previous delays and the all but certain delay of Atlantis. These shuttles are falling apart, they are old, they need replacement. This process was started under the Bush administration, but even in the Clinton administration doubts were beginning to be raised.
As for why there isn't a replacement on hand, it is an unfortunate bureaucratic side effect. There was a plan, the Constellation program that was to design and build new Ares rockets and the Orion space capsule (akin to the Apollo capsule, but larger and more up to date). The program was severely over budget and bogged down by bureaucratic red tape and political pressure. One of the first things the Obama administration pushed was a complete overhaul which rightly cancelled the Constellation program. But rather than throw the baby out with the bath water, the Orion capsule is still being developed and the work on the Ares rockets is being used in further rocket developments. All in all, it's sad that things got off track, but we are hopefully on the right track right now.
So with that cleared up, I have been busy with blogger being down. First, I have been elected to the Board of Directors for the Harford Country Astronomical Society. After only a short year of being with them I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience with them, as I am sure they appreciate my help. Now I get to have some input on the direction of the club as far as outreach events and observing and astrophotography. I am pretty excited and hope to do good for the club, even though every organization has its internal issues and debates.
Next, earlier this week I finally got the piece for my telescope that allowed my camera to be in a position so that it would take focused shots. You may remember about a month ago, I published my first set of (blurry) pictures along with a video of the Moon. Well, I got a new video (below) and a new moon shot(above), as well as a shot of Saturn. Thinks look a lot better being able to focus correctly. Plus I figured some things out with Windows Live Movie Maker that made the video better.
I still have some things to learn. The moon is a fairly easy target, but Saturn was tricky. My telescope doesn't track to well either. I pretty much had to take a video of Saturn and pluck out the best frame for the image I have below. I also need to find the right camera settings for taking images of planets, as it was hard to just get Saturn to resolve an image. (The blue has is from atmosphere, it was slightly cloudy.)
I think that about wraps things up. I am hoping to get better and this and share more of my own images with you in future. The HCAS observatory is off limits due to construction of the next few months, so I probably won't have much in the way of deep sky objects to share, so hopefully this will do.
With my schedule out of whack from Blogger issues, I am trying to consider what I am going to be doing over the next week. Monday will most definitely be devoted to the hopeful shuttle launch, Tuesday another Astro-Lesson, and Wednesday or Thursday will hopefully see my 100th blog post!