Friday, 18 September 2009

Scheduled Downtime

Our webcams will be unavailable during Monday 21st September. This is due to the electricity supply to The Silk Mill Museum needing to be disconnected. As a result the Museum itself will also be closed to the public on that day.

Before our webcam pictures can reach your computer, they first go via a radio link to the nearby Silk Mill museum. From there they go via a laser link (shown above) to a corresponding unit on Derby Assembly Rooms. And from there, well lots of other strange and amazing things happen before they reach you. But if one link in the chain is broken - no webcams.

So instead, why not spend the time planning to watch the International Space Station as it flies overhead? I've just used my standard birding telescope to watch the ISS fly over the UK, using a fantastic website to predict when it will be seen from your own location on earth, and from what direction of the night sky it will appear from. I didn't need a 'scope or even binoculars to see it because on some fly-overs it can be as bright or brighter than any star in the night sky. But with a birdwatching scope it was a wondrous sight to watch the ISS zoom past some 400 miles up, then fade away to dull red and disappear into the earth's shadow, and then to turn the telescope onto Jupiter. It's really bright in the night sky and tonight all four of its well-known "Galilean" moons were clearly visible, lined up in an almost perfectly line to the right of the massive planet. The position of the moons change from night to night -even hour to hour - so from now on I shall be using my birdwatching telescope to look for many other things in the sky apart from peregrines!


Karen Anne said...

400 miles up, I hadn't thought of it, but I am surprised it is that low.

That got me looking things up. The diameter of the earth is in round numbers 8000 miles, so this is 1/20 of the diameter away.

I guess it is all those photos of the earth from space taken from the moon trips that made me think of stuff being further out. Or reading too many science fiction stories about space stations midway to the moon.

It turns out that Hubble is about 375 miles out also.

There's a certain incoherence out on the web about how high the atmosphere extends, even discounting the question of defining how thin means ending, but it looks like the space station and Hubble are just outside the atmosphere.

Karen Anne said...

Colin has a new photo of Cathy up on his website. She looks wonderful.

Colin's website

Pax Canada said...

two on the pudding cam