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We’re Going to Florida

Photo Credit: NASA/Tony Gray and Tom Farrar (Edited with Picnik)

On June 1st, I applied for the #NASATweetup with for #STS135. It was a long shot. I’m not the only space geek in the world jonesin’ for a spot next to the big countdown clock to see the final space shuttle launch with my own eyes. 5,500 applied. June 10th came around. Rejection. I didn’t lose hope. There were hundreds, maybe thousands of NASA groupies out there who were in my boat. We wanted another option. I got wind of the #EndlessBBQ and #SVPTweetup. Hope was not loss. I wanted to go. Even if I wasn’t a part of the official tweetup, there were still options.

I needed a travel buddy. I turned to this guy… His name is Mike… He’s kind of cool… I asked him if he wanted to go to a bbq. He said yes. I asked him if he wanted to go to Florida for the final shuttle launch. He said yes. Then we made a blog. This is what happens when two nerds get together. He does the code, I do the content. It’s a beautiful thing. We’ve got our plane tickets and we’re now finalizing our housing situation.

We have a travel blog specifically for this adventure. Please add it to your RSS reader or however you keep up with your morning readings. We’ll be posting space shuttle and travel related information. It’s hosted on Tumblr, but comments are available. I don’t know what else to say, except that… I’m stoked. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and after years of making up excuses, I’m finally doing it.

Cross your fingers that they don’t scrap the launch.

#Spokane #STS132 Tweetup

Ever since my attendance to the @NASA‘s #ISSTweetup, it’s been my dream to share the same experience to my local neighbors here in Spokane. I’m attempting to pull another “big event” this time I have 2 1/2 more days longer than my last event, “Hey Google, Pick Spokane“.

This Friday, I’m organizing a shuttle launch viewing party. I want the chance to watch one of the last launch together with my online neighbors so we can interact in a very transparent and community oriented fashion.

I invite all of you to attend. Bring your phones and laptops and enjoy one of our nation’s most transparent and epic programs ever.

Hashtags: #Spokane & #STS132

RSVP via Facebook

RSVP via Tweetvite

View Discovery’s Descent: Take 2!

Some of you might have rolled out of bed this morning, exposed to the elements, to witness quite possibly the last fly over of a space shuttle over North America. 5:24 a.m. rolled around and what did you see? Nothing. NASA scrapped the descent due to poor weather conditions at Kennedy Space Center.
They’re going to make another attempt Tuesday morning using Orbit 237 (attempt #1) to land the beastie of a shuttle, Discovery.
For those in North America, you may have an opportunity to view the shuttle as it makes its descent. The importance of this descent is that it may be the last time you ever have the opportunity to see an American space shuttle (of these models) fly over your very own backyard. Let me walk you through the process of knowing where and how to view the shutttle descent.
Using NASA’S SkyWatch, follow these instructions:
1. Click on INPUT
2. Select Satellite: KSC237 (Entry)
3. U.S. States: Washington (or your state of choice)
4. Click on SPOKANE (or your city of choice)
5. Click on NEXT SIGHTING
6. Next, a table appears showing you times. Here’s what the information means:
Satellite Rise: 4:09 a.m. (from the north)
Satellite Set: 4:13 a.m. (to the south east)
Closest Approach: 4:11 a.m.

7. Click on SKYTRACK to view the flight path including constellations, planets and stars.
Flight path looking up
Flight path looking down
Here’s the deal though. SkyWatch says, “A sighting is possible on this pass.” It’s not certain. The projected flight path shows the shuttle crossing from Canada into North Idaho, so it may not even be possible to see it from Spokane. If we did, it would be low in the horizon so the higher in elevation you can get, the better your chances.
I asked our morning meteorolgist about cloud coverage for tomorrow morning, and there is a chance we won’t see anything due to cloud cover. This morning would have been the perfect day for this. *shakes fist at the sky*

I’ll be awake starting at 3:00 a.m. so I plan to get out to my TV station early to see if I can see anything from the roof. I’ll keep everybody informed via Twitter (@BlushResponse). It’s always a good idea during these situations to double check your local weather reports as well as NASA.gov since anything could happen. Cancellations happen last minute all the time.

View Discovery’s Descent!

We have the opportunity to view the space shuttle’s descent to Kennedy Space Center from our very own backyards! I’ve entered the location information for Spokane to print out  a table of viewing times. Here’s a copy and paste of the results from NASA’s handy dandy SkyWatch.

Spokane, Washington

Closet Approach: 5:26 a.m.

Satellite Rise: 5:24 a.m.

Satellite Set: 5:28 a.m.

My father was totally helpful and walked me through the numbers to figure out its path. The best way to view the shuttle during its descent (if you’re in Spokane) is to watch it very low in the horizon and follow it from North to South East. There’s a chance that you won’t see it because of the hills. The higher the elevation the better. You only have a three minute window of opportunity so get out there early to catch this rare occasion (and maybe the last).

NASA SKYWATCH TABLE OUTPUT
Local Time Azimuth Elevation Range Solar alt Solar Sep SRSS
dow/mm/dd/hh:mm:ss Deg E of N Deg Miles Deg Deg Deg
Mon-Apr-19@05:24:30
Mon-Apr-19@05:24:30
Mon-Apr-19@05:25:00
Mon-Apr-19@05:25:16
Mon-Apr-19@05:25:31
Mon-Apr-19@05:25:47
Mon-Apr-19@05:26:02
Mon-Apr-19@05:26:17
Mon-Apr-19@05:26:33
Mon-Apr-19@05:26:48
Mon-Apr-19@05:27:03
Mon-Apr-19@05:27:19
Mon-Apr-19@05:27:34
Mon-Apr-19@05:27:49
Mon-Apr-19@05:28:05
Mon-Apr-19@05:28:20
Mon-Apr-19@05:28:36
Mon-Apr-19@05:28:51
302.0
304.4
307.4
311.3
316.4
323.5
333.6
348.1
007.5
029.0
047.6
061.2
070.7
077.4
082.3
086.0
088.9
091.3
000.2
001.2
002.3
003.6
005.1
006.9
009.0
011.3
012.9
012.7
010.9
008.6
006.6
004.8
003.4
002.2
001.1
000.2
00593
00528
00465
00403
00344
00289
00240
00202
00181
00183
00206
00244
00292
00344
00399
00456
00513
00571
-002.2
-001.3
-000.5
000.2
001.0
001.8
002.6
003.4
004.1
004.9
005.7
006.4
007.1
007.8
008.6
009.3
010.0
010.6
164.5
164.3
164.1
163.8
163.5
163.2
162.9
162.5
162.1
161.6
161.2
160.6
160.1
159.5
158.9
158.3
157.6
156.9
-005.2
-005.2
-005.1
-005.0
-005.0
-005.0
-004.9
-004.9
-004.8
-004.8
-004.8
-004.7
-004.7
-004.6
-004.6
-004.6
-004.5
-004.5

Learn more about NASA’s Latest Space Shuttle News

Nature Is Its Own Secretary

Coverage of the Haiti earthquake from January 12th is everywhere. My weekly morning is spent creating the news for Spokane’s local CBS affiliate. I receive a daily dosage of news at an average of two to three hours a day. An interesting question sparked in the control room during the newscast concerning the history of Haiti’s seismic activty. The Haiti earthquake is the biggest seismic occurance in that region in over 200 years. How do we know this?

Today we’ll talk about the possibilities of technology created over the years by the human race and what exactly it can do for us. Not modern technology, but instead, let’s begin to the days of Aristotle, the original reinassance man (during the classical period).

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, “It was recognized as early as 350 BC by the Greek scientist Aristotle that soft ground shakes more than hard rock in an earthquake.”. Later descriptions sprouted over time, but his was the first scientific description besides the idea that angry animals were pounding on their earth with all their might.

Biological creatures since the dawn of time have felt the earth move under their feet. The first recorded mention of this natural phenomenon was from China in 1831 BC. From there, crude contraptions to record and document the events were devised, mostly from Chinese minds. It’s not truly known if the Chang Heng’s seismoscope truly existed. Myth busters of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries debated this device and no conclusion was ever drawn. If the original Chinese seismoscope did exist it would have determined the direction of the earthquake within a 400 mile radius.

Over the years, more ingenious devices were invented becoming more scientific to factually detail the seismic activity. The recording of this date is nothing new to history and is something that has been suggested and around for almost 2,000 years. More advanced seismic instruments started popping up around Europe in the 18th century and from there we now have our modern seismograph stations all around the world and based off of the Wiechert inverted-pendulum seismometer. In most cases, these devices are digital and are available in real time. You can read about the history of seismic recorders at the U.S. Geological Survey’s website which provides a treasure trove of knowledge. My way of spending a Wednesday night.

Even though our ability to record history is impressive, we must not forget an original and rather unorthodox method. The natural method. For this, we turn to nature.

Dendrochronology, is the study of tree-rings coined in the early 1900s by A. E. Douglass, an astronomer. From the stories imprinted in the life of a tree, you can learn its experiences. Everything from droughts, fires, sun-spots and most important to today’s conversation: earthquakes. Evidence of this can be found by studying dead red-cedars of the Pacific Northwest and discovering evidence of the Cascadia Earthquake of 1700.

How does this tie to Haiti? The one thing Haiti lacks currently is old growth forest. Or at least growth old enough to demostrate evidence of 200 year old earthquake. 1954 marked a major deforestation effort in order to sustain the need for resources. By 1988, only 2% of the island of Haiti had forest coverage. The trick is finding a tree or at least a remanant of a tree old enough to show evidence of these events. Once this is accomplished, you can determine the event type and the stress on the tree.

To manually record seismic activity 200-years ago, a common instrument used during that time period might have been somewhere between Duca della Torre’s sismografo and James Forbes’s seismometer.

I personally can’t truly determine the capacity of these methods nor the full impact of the earthquake 200 years ago. What I can provide is simple research to deduce the how to the question. How did we know that this is the biggest earthquake in that region in 200 years? Easy. Science!

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