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Elon Musk’s Starlink is having a pernicious effect on astronomy – AlterNet



As Elon Musk’s SpaceXlaunches yet another batch of 60 Starlink internet satellitesinto low-Earth orbit this weekend, astronomers on the ground are becoming increasingly worried about the mega-constellation’s affect on our ability to observe the universe.The upcoming launch, scheduled for 5:35 am Eastern on March 14 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is just the sixth batch of Starlink satellites, bringing their number to 300. It is just one of a number of launches planned for 2020 — ultimately, SpaceX wants to add 180 more satellites to its growing constellation by the end of the year.T…


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Rare comet graces skies – Alaska Highway News



A recently discovered comet will grace the night skies over the Peace for the next couple of weeks, before disappearing again for thousands of years.

The Neowise comet, discovered in March by NASA’s Neowise infrared space telescope, reached its closest point to the sun on July 3, which caused the “frozen ice ball” to heat up and burn gas and dust off its surface.

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NASA explains that, “This very close passage by the Sun is cooking the comet’s outermost layers, causing gas and dust to erupt off the icy surface and creating a large tail of debris. And yet the comet has managed to survive this intense roasting.”

What’s more, the astronauts aboard the International Space Station spotted it from their vantage point high above Earth’s atmosphere. 

The Neowise comet seen from the International Space Station. Twiter/AstroBehnken

The comet will be visible for a few weeks, and it can be seen with the naked eye. However, binoculars will make for better visuals. 

The comet is getting brighter as it nears Earth, and it will reach its closest point on July 23, when it will be about 103 million kilometres away.

“It’s a rare delight to see,” said James Di Francesco, the director of Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Saanich. “I don’t think we’ve had a comet as nice as this for the last 20 years or so.”

In the coming week, the comet will be visible in the northeast — to the left of the bright light of Venus — just before dawn. Around July 14, it will become visible close to the horizon looking northwest around dusk.

Di Francesco said the best way to see the comet is to find a dark place with an unobstructed view of the horizon.

Once the comet heads back to the outer solar system, it will take about 7,000 years to complete its path and return to Earth’s proximity, “so enjoy it while you can,” Di Francesco said.

Scientists involved in the NASA mission that discovered the comet said it’s about five kilometres across. Its nucleus is covered with sooty material dating back to the origin of our solar system 4.6 billion years ago.

—with files from Roxanne Egan-Elliott, Elana Shepert

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at

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Top Russian space official dismisses NASA's moon plans, considering a lunar base with China instead – CNBC



Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin visits the control centre for a launch pad for the Soyuz-2 carrier rockets at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia.

Yegor AleyevTASS via Getty Images

The head of Russia’s space organization criticized the current United States plan to return astronauts to the moon as “a big political project,” saying his country is instead speaking with China about establishing a lunar base of operations.

NASA last year announced its Artemis program, the agency’s plan to fulfill President Donald Trump’s order in 2017 to return Americans to the surface of the moon by 2024. Additionally, NASA in May unveiled the “Artemis Accords” — a set of principles it seeks to use as the basis of international agreements with other countries about using and operating in space, especially as the U.S. returns to the moon.

But Dmitry Rogozin, the leader of state-backed space corporation Roscosmos, said Russia does not intend to join any such U.S. partnership. CNBC translated Rogozin’s comments from an interview with Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda, published on Monday. 

“For the United States, this right now is a big political project. With the lunar project, we are observing our American partners retreat from principles of cooperation and mutual support, which formed in collaboration with the [International Space Station]. They are perceiving their program not as an international one, but one resembling NATO,” Rogozin said.

NASA and the White House did not respond to CNBC’s requests for comment on Rogozin’s remarks.

Rogozin declared that Russia is not interested in participating in NASA’s Artemis, but hinted that “there are other projects that interest us.” One such possibility for Roscosmos: Joining China in building a base on the moon’s south pole. Rogozin emphasized that he recently spoke with the leadership of China’s space agency about shaping such a partnership. 

“We agreed to begin the first steps toward meeting each other halfway, namely by determining the contours and value of a lunar scientific base,” Rogozin said.

The moon seen from the International Space Station on July 9, 2018. 

Alexander Gerst | NASA

While he did not rule out partnering with other countries, “including Americans,” Rogozin said that Russia and China intend to lead the development of a lunar base. That effort would in essence compete with NASA’s Artemis plan, which aims to establish a continued presence on the surface of the Moon within the next decade. Despite the recent track record of U.S.-Russia cooperation in space, Rogozin declared China “a deserving partner” for his country.

“Today the relationship between Russia and China is very good. That’s why China, yes, is certainly our partner,” Rogozin said. “The Chinese have grown tremendously in the last few years.”

China has been steadily accelerating its space program in recent years, such as successfully landing a lunar rover on the far side of the moon in a historic first last year.

Despite the shift in Russia’s intentions, Rogozin said existing agreements with the U.S. continue “to be a valuable bridge for cooperation.” He emphasized his good relationship with NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine, which he hopes continues.

“I trust that this collaboration will persist and will be to a less degree subject to the impact of a dumb political environment, which, unfortunately, is what comes out of Washington today,” Rogozin said.

NASA published comments from Bridenstine about the Artemis program’s goals of international collaboration on Tuesday, a day after Rogozin’s interview. Bridenstine highlighted that Japan, Canada and the European Space Agency are each partnering with NASA. Bridenstine addressed Rogozin’s comments in a statement to CNBC on Wednesday, emphasizing “the overwhelming support NASA has received from both emerging and traditional international space agencies” for Artemis.

“Building on our solid relationship with Roscosmos aboard the International Space Station in low-Earth orbit, I’m hopeful there are opportunities for NASA and Roscosmos to expand our collaboration farther into the solar system, including the Moon,” Bridenstine said in the statement.

SpaceX is ‘just at the beginning’

The launch of SpaceX’s first mission with NASA astronauts in May marked historic firsts for both the company and space agency. But for Russia, the SpaceX mission is the beginning of the end of nearly a decade of U.S. dependence on Russian Soyuz spacecraft to send astronauts to the International Space Station. Those Russian flights have come at a steadily increasing cost for the U.S. since the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011, recently rising to more than $86 million per NASA astronaut.

Rogozin downplayed the SpaceX accomplishment, instead pointing to the track record of the Soyuz spacecraft.

“No matter what is said by the media or our American colleagues, they are only just at the beginning of the challenge of their new manned spacecraft,” Rogozin said. “Right now there is only one space transportation system that has monumental statistics of successful launches, with a proven emergency rescue system — this is Soyuz MS.”

The Crew Dragon capsule sits on top of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at Launch Complex 39-A at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., Friday, May 29, 2020.

Joe Burbank | Orlando Sentinel | Getty Images

In comments more pointedly directed at Elon Musk’s space company, Rogozin emphasized that he believes space is more about function than sleek design.

“In space, one must run not after beautiful goods with wonderful labels, under the music of Bowie, but one must lean, first and foremost, on well-functioning systems. Especially there where it comes to people’s lives,” Rogozin said.

Subscribe to CNBC PRO for exclusive insights and analysis, and live business day programming from around the world.

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iN PHOTOS: Comet Neowise captured by Okanagan photographers – iNFOnews



The comet Neowise over Okanagan skies this week.
Image Credit: Facebook / Andrea Rafuse

July 15, 2020 – 7:20 AM

Residents in the Okanagan able to wake up early enough have been rewarded with some great views of the comet Neowise, which can now be viewed in the early evening as well as during pre-dawn hours.

The comet Neowise is turning out to be one of the best opportunities to see a comet with the naked eye since 1997’s Hale-Bopp, considered by many to be the “last great comet,” according to a CNN report.

Neowise wil be visible in both after dusk and pre-dawn skies in the Thompson and Okanagan this week.

Neowise wil be visible in both after dusk and pre-dawn skies in the Thompson and Okanagan this week.
Image Credit: Facebook / Micaela Wong

Skynews reports this week the comet is heading in a northwesterly direction from our point of view on Earth, making it easily visible during the post-sunset and pre-dawn periods.

From today onward, the best chance of seeing the comet will be in the evening sky, about an hour after sunset. It can be seen just over the northwestern horizon, about three fists below the Big Dipper, according to Sky & Telescope.

The comet Neowise is capturing people's imagination as it is one of the more visible comets in recent memory.

The comet Neowise is capturing people’s imagination as it is one of the more visible comets in recent memory.
Image Credit: Facebook / Ezekiel Deshenes

The comet should be even easier to view this week as it continues to climb a little higher in the sky every night.

CNN says the three-mile wide comet has been wowing people around the globe, calling the opportunity to view the comet a once in a lifetime event.

That’s probably true, as it isn’t expected to pass Earth again for 6,800 years.

Thompson-Okanagan residents are in luck with some good viewing weather for a change this week as well, as Environment Canada’s forecast for the next two nights is for partly cloudy or clear conditions.

Comet Neowise isn't expected to return to Earth view for 6,800 years.

Comet Neowise isn’t expected to return to Earth view for 6,800 years.
Image Credit: Facebook/Danielle Anderson

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News from © iNFOnews, 2020


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