Saturday 28 January 2006

Beautiful Stardust re-entry movie!

Stardust Capsule Reentry Movie filmed from NASA DC-8 aircraft (requires Quicktime)

This is a stunning movie of the Stardust capsule re-entry, taken from aboard the NASA Airborne Mission's DC-8 aircraft. Watch the capsule become visible and rapidly brightening amidst the starry sky, and develop a beautiful plasma tail.

For me personally also fun to hear the voice of mission PI Dr Peter Jenniskens, who's a long standing friend of mine (he's the one a.o. saying: "Plasma lines detected"). We used to observe meteors together when he was still in Hollland.

Friday 20 January 2006

SatTrackCam is going to move!!!

SatTrackCam is going to move! I am moving to a new home here in Leiden in mid-February. The move will be less than 1 kilometer in distance, but it will greatly benefit my observing capabilities.

In my current location, I don't have a balcony or garden. So I observe from my window opening, which is looking south, and therefore can only target objects that pass south of the zenith. This greatly limits the number of targettable passes for me currently, especially during the winter. This is one of the reasons for my inactivity the past few months.

I will be moving now to a small appartment located in one of the typical former "almshouses" (Dutch: "Hofje"). An "almshouse" consists of a series of small homes surrounding a secluded courtyard. These almshouses were usually founded in the 17th to early 19th century by a rich maecenas, usually intended for a specific goal: e.g. housing impoverished Preacher's widows. They are very secluded, and form little oasis of tranquility in the town.

The courtyard of the almshouse I will move to, will permit me access to the full zenith, down to at least 40 degrees in the north, east and south, and about 15-20 degrees towards west. This will certainly increase the number of passes I will be able to target. And as the courtyard is accessible only to the inhabitants of the almshouse, its a safe environment too.

I'll get the key to the new appartment on February 1st, and plan to move mid-February. Its not too far from the historic old Leiden Observatory.