ORLANDO, Fla. – In ordinary times, the beaches and roads along Florida’s Space Coast would be packed with hundreds of thousands of spectators, eager to witness the first astronaut launch from Florida in nine years.
In the age of coronavirus, local officials and NASA are split on whether that’s a good idea.
NASA and SpaceX are urging spectators to stay at home next Wednesday for safety reasons. Officials in Brevard County, home to the Kennedy Space Center, are rolling out the welcome mat in an effort to jump-start a tourism industry hit hard this spring by coronavirus-related lockdowns.
If people are comfortable coming and watching the launch, “by all means, come. If they aren’t, I respect that too,” said Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey.
“I’m not going to tell Americans they can’t watch a great piece of history. I’m just not going to do it,” he said.
The sheriff said he is asking visitors to practice social distancing as they watch the launch of astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken on a test flight of SpaceX’s Dragon crew capsule.
Around 85 reserve deputies will be on hand to monitor crowds and ask people to comply with social distancing if they are in groups. A local chain of beach shops is distributing 20,000 masks to spectators in co-ordination with the sheriff’s office, Ivey said.
The sheriff, who grew up in Florida watching launches, wants a new generation to be able to experience the energy, excitement and feelings of patriotism that comes from watching a U.S. launch with astronauts.
“NASA is a true part of our history in Brevard County,” Ivey said.
After a two-day safety review, NASA and SpaceX on Friday cleared the rocket for flight next Wednesday. Liftoff time is 4:33 p.m. EDT.
Earlier this month, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine asked potential spectators to watch the launch online or on TV from home. The space agency is also offering a “virtual launch experience.”
NASA is doing its best to facilitate social distancing inside the Kennedy Space Center by limiting access, although it may be hosting two VIPS. Vice-President Mike Pence says he plans to be there, and President Donald Trump said he’s thinking of attending.
The visitor centre at Kennedy, usually a prime spot for viewing launches, is closed to the public.
NASA astronauts have not launched from the U.S. since the space shuttle program ended in 2011. It will be the first attempt by a private company to fly astronauts to orbit for the space agency.
“The challenge that we’re up against right now is we want to keep everybody safe,” Bridenstine said. “And so we’re asking people not to travel to the Kennedy Space Center, and I will tell you that makes me sad to even say it. Boy, I wish we could make this into something really spectacular.”.
Although crowd sizes varied, a high-profile space shuttle launch could attract a half million visitors to the Space Coast. Local tourism officials think next week’s launch will bring in no more than 200,000 spectators.
With airline passenger traffic drastically down and nearby Orlando theme parks closed because of the pandemic, “we’re not going to be getting the out-of-state traffic we may have gotten during the shuttle era,” said Peter Cranis, executive director of the Space Coast Office of Tourism.
“The environment is different with COVID and people now reemerging from stay-at-home orders,” Cranis said. “There are going to be a number of people who are hesitant.”
The Space Coast’s tourism business is down by about 40% for the year, and that could cost the area $1 billion, he said.
“A launch like this after a big long weekend could really give us a shot in the arm,” Cranis said.
Local hoteliers are looking forward to the influx of visitors after two bad months. Tom Williamson, who is general manager of two hotels on the Space Coast, each with 150 rooms or more, said one hotel was closed and the other only had 15% occupancy in April. He expects both hotels to be at or near capacity on the night of the launch.
“We’re glad to seem some signs of life,” Williamson said.
Steven Giraldo works as a technical consultant for a software company in St. Petersburg, Florida, but he has a side gig with some space-buff friends offering charter boat tours for watching launches. For next week’s SpaceX launch, he had booked around 150 people from as far away as Australia for $75 a head on a fleet of boats. He ended up scrapping those plans.
“It would take too much logistical effort to see if everyone is wearing a mask, making sure no one has a fever, and how to you social distance on a boat?” Giraldo said.
Instead, he plans to watch the launch with seven other friends, some from Arizona and Indiana, in a boat on the Banana River.
“This was going to be our biggest event. The historical significance of it created a lot of buzz,” Giraldo said. “But I just don’t know how we could have done it.”
The Strawberry Moon Eclipse May Be Visible Over Metro Vancouver This Week – 604 Now
Metro Vancouver is in for a treat this week, as we’ll be able to see the Strawberry Moon eclipse shine over the city this Friday.
Named after the red summer fruit, this phenomenon is June’s full moon – or otherwise called the Hot Moon or Rose moon.
This particular moon, however, kicks off 2020’s “eclipse season,” and will be visible during the moonrise and moonset.
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You’ll just have to be ready at either 5:30 am or 8 pm, Friday, to see the eclipse over Metro Vancouver.
So, will you be checking it out this week?
Friday, June 5th is also the day of the second George Floyd protest, happening downtown.
For more Vancouver stories, head to our News section.
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How To Watch The Mesmerising Penumbral Lunar Eclipse This Week – Tyla
A penumbral lunar eclipse is taking place this Friday 5th June – and you may be able to catch a glimpse of the mesmerising spectacle if conditions are good.
A penumbral eclipse is more subtle than a total eclipse but just as fascinating, according to the Royal Observatory Greenwich, explaining that the phenomenon occurs “when the Moon travels only through the outer, fainter part of the Earth’s shadow, or ‘penumbra’.”
They add: “This happens when the Earth moves between the Sun and Moon but the three do not form a perfectly straight line.
“The penumbra causes only a slight darkening of the Moon’s surface, with the Moon still exposed to some direct sunlight, so this type of eclipse is easy to miss.”
This process of passing through the Earth’s shadow not only means that the moon’s surface appears darker, but that it may appear to take on a reddish or tea-coloured tinge.
The Strawberry Moon is the nickname given to the full moon in June. It is said that Native Americans and European tribes would give names to the moon because they used it to map out their yearly calendar and times of harvest.
This Friday’s penumbral eclipse will be visible from most of Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and the East coast of South America.
It’s worth noting that a penumbral eclipse can be more difficult to see with the naked eye – this is because only a portion of the sun’s light is blocked from reaching the moon.
According to NASA, the eclipse starts at 18.46 BST and ends at 22.04 BST. If you want to try to catch from your window, it will be at its clearest at 20.25 BST.
The moon will be 230,000 miles from the Earth – quite a close point in its orbit – which means that it should appear quite big.
This year’s penumbral eclipse will pass close pass to the giant red star, Antares, which is around 12 times the size of our own sun.
Happy gazing, earthlings.
The June 2020 Night Sky – Portugal Resident
Welcome to the June night sky. This is the month of the summer Solstice in the northern hemisphere. It happens on the 20th this year and, after that date, the Sun will appear to move slightly lower each day in the mid-day sky. June 20 is, therefore, the longest day of the year and the first day of summer.
Although June also has the shortest nights of the year, it’s not short on meteor showers with more than a dozen of them visible during the month. This means that on any dark night in June, you will have a better-than-average chance of seeing a shooting star.
On the 21st, there is an annular eclipse of the Sun. These types of eclipses occur because, at that time, the Moon is slightly further away from the Earth than usual and, therefore, does not cover the solar disc fully and the ring of fire effect will be seen. Unfortunately, this event is not visible from Europe. The eclipse track is mainly over the Middle East and central China, with the famous city of Wuhan just missing out on the ring of fire but seeing an 86% eclipse at 4pm local time.
The gas giant planets Jupiter and Saturn are now rising just after midnight over in the south-eastern sky. They are both in the far southern constellation of Sagittarius.
Jupiter is the brightest of the pair, and this year Jupiter can be used to help find Pluto. This close encounter between the largest and the smallest planets in the solar system will happen three times this year and is called a triple conjunction. This is quite rare and the last time that it occurred was 65 years ago.
Pluto is seven times further away from the Sun than Jupiter and much smaller, so it is more than a million times fainter and can only be seen in a large telescope and a dark sky.
The ringed planet Saturn is always a fine sight through any small telescope with its rings and multiple faint Moons visible.
Jupiter has four major moons, and these are quite easy to see with any small telescope. Jupiter’s Moons were discovered by Galileo using a tiny homemade telescope magnifying about 20 times and this was more than 400 years ago.
The Moon is full on the 5th, last quarter on the 13th, new on the 21st and first quarter on June 28, 2020.
Clive Jackson is the Director of the Camera Obscura (next to the Castle in Tavira), specialising in education and public outreach.
281 322 527 | email@example.com www.torredetavira.com
To see the June Sky Map click on the pdf link below
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