ISS TOOLBAG: When Endeavour astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper dropped her toolbag during a spacewalk on Nov. 18th and it floated away, mission controllers probably figured they'd seen the last of it. Think again. Last night, Nov. 22nd, veteran satellite observer Kevin Fetter video-recorded the backpack-sized bag gliding over his backyard observatory in Brockville, Ontario: 900 kB video. "It was easily 8th magnitude or brighter as it passed by the 4th magnitude star eta Pisces," he says. Spaceweather's satellite tracker is monitoring the toolbag; click here for flybys.
CORONAL HOLE: Japan's Hinode spacecraft is monitoring a dark hole on the sun--a coronal hole:
Coronal holes are places in the sun's atmosphere where the magnetic field opens up and allows solar wind to escape. In images taken by X-ray telescopes, such as the one Hinode uses, coronal holes appear dark because the hot glowing gas which would otherwise fill them has spilled out in the solar wind. A stream of gas flowing from this particular hole is heading for Earth. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras when it arrives on Nov. 25th or 26th.
Nov. 2008 Aurora Gallery
[Previous Novembers: 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2001, 2000]
3D BEHEMOTH: It masses 300,214 kg, has wings almost as wide as a football field, occupies 12,626 cubic feet of living space--and now it's jumping out of your computer screen. Put on your 3D glasses and behold in the International Space Station:
Click to view the full-sized 3D image
Graphic artist Patrick Vantuyne of Belgium created the anaglyph using photos taken from space shuttle Endeavour on Nov. 16th. Endeavour was hovering near the ISS for a mutual inspection prior to docking hours later. When Endeavour did link up, it added about 110,000 kg of mass and 23 meters of wingspan to the complex. If only a third spacecraft had been present to take photos of that....
Docked together, Endeavour and the ISS are circling Earth and flying over many towns and cities after dark. They're bright, eye-catching, and if you look at them through a telescope, genuinely 3D. Check the Simple Satellite Tracker for flybys of your hometown.