Astro Bob: We can all aim for the moon – Duluth News Tribune

“You don’t want to light the candle until it’s ready to go,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said on NASA television Monday morning Aug. 29, after aborting the spacecraft’s liftoff. ‘Artemis 1 towards the moon. The agency canceled the launch after identifying a problem with one of the four liquid-fueled engines less than two hours before the rocket lifted off.

The Orion capsule, which will carry astronauts to lunar orbit in 2024, will fly over the Moon and return to Earth during Artemis 1.

Contribution / NASA

It’s unclear when NASA will schedule the next attempt, but assuming all issues are resolved, it could happen on Friday, September 2. The new moonshot, the first in 50 years, will be unmanned and serve as a test for a crewed mission to lunar orbit in 2024, followed in 2025 by the real thing – astronauts landing on the moon.

Engineers will test all systems, including checking rocket performance and ensuring the heat shield can protect a crew from the 5,000 degree temperatures experienced during re-entry.

Artemis – named after the Greek moon goddess and twin sister of Apollo – has a larger mission than Apollo. Instead of making a few landings and saying it’s fine, we’re going back to the Moon to learn how to live there and establish a permanent presence. They will take the next giant leap: landing on Mars.

1.5 day old moon
Layers of air of different temperatures distort the outline of a 2-day crescent moon in September 2020.

Contributed / Bob King

While NASA gets its ducks in a row, you can launch your own more modest lunar mission. No liquid oxygen is required, just a slice of clear sky. On Monday evening August 29, the young crescent returns to the evening sky. From a location with a clear view to the west-southwest, look a short distance above the horizon beginning about half an hour after sunset for the 2-day moon. It will be much easier to see than the sub-24 moon we talked about just a few days ago.

With the naked eye and with binoculars, you should be able to see the entire lunar outline. Light from the Earth, called Earthshine, dimly illuminates the part of the moon where it is still dark. The crescent itself is illuminated by the sun.

Moon Aug 29.jpg
Watch for the thin crescent to appear tonight (August 29) starting about half an hour after sunset low in the west-southwest sky. You should also be able to see the earth lit portion.

Contribution / Stellarium

Binoculars will reveal that the inner edge of the bright moon adjacent to the nighttime portion appears bumpy or jagged. The sun hits this part of the moon at a very low angle, brushing the tops of the high crater walls and leaving the craters themselves in shadow. This creates a hard black and white contrast that is visible with just a little magnification.

The moon is setting soon, so be sure to catch it within an hour of sunset. You can check your sunset time here and plan accordingly. Enjoy your lunar mission and let us know if you were successful by posting on my Facebook page.

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