Archive for December, 2012


Watch the ISS fly by today!

iss2_sts114Friday afternoon, December 14th, the ISS will fly high above the National Capital (DC) area, likely becoming the brightest object in the sky. The space station should be easily seen with the naked eye, even if there’s light cloud cover. ISS will appear as a bright moving point, perhaps similar in appearance to a distant airliner. Very distant, as she will come no closer than 318 miles, and will be moving 5 miles per second.

ISS will rise in the W/SW sky about 5:43 pm EST, moving up and to the right. About a minute later, she will pass about 11 degrees right of the very thin Moon at a low altitude. About two minutes later, she will be due West at an altitude of 35 degrees. A minute later, she will culminate fairly high in the northwest. Two minutes after culminating, ISS will disappear into the shadow of the Earth low in the northeastern sky.

It is not possible to give exact times of the passage, but these times should be plus/minus just a few minutes of the actual flyover. If you’re outside no later than 5:40pm and hang out for 10 minutes, you likely can’t miss it.

On a personal note, I’ve witnessed this flyover a couple of times. She looks like a bright sphere, kinda like a UFO. It is awe-inspiring to see for ourselves that we’re up there!

If you want to see the schedule for upcoming flyovers, you can enter your zip code here and get the local times to eye the sky.

Source: Internal email from NASA (not confidential)
Image from Astronomy Picture of the Day by NASA

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Time to break out the hot chocolate and bundle up for a long night. Tonight is the peak of the annual Geminid meteor shower (BBC News). This year should be even better since it coincides with the new moon. This is definitely worth braving the cold!

Take a look at UniverseToday’s map (below)…the red X marks the spot where the meteors will originate. Even if you can’t find the spot, keep your eyes on the east/northeast sky and you’re likely to catch the action. You might have 10 minutes without anything, but you might have 10 minutes with 30 meteors. Keep in mind a lot of your visibility can be affected by air and light pollution. Here’s Visual Astronomy’s tips on getting around that.

geminids-580x397Best times to be watching the sky is from twilight until the wee hours. 2pm is predicted (EarthSky) to be the best local time (anywhere you live) since it marks the point where Gemini is directly overhead of your location.

If you’d rather stay inside, NASA will be airing the shower live on their Ustream channel from Marshall Spaceflight Center (starting at dusk) as well as answering questions LIVE (starting 11pm EST) via NASA chat.

And if you’re a stargazing buff, check out the International Meteor Organization for all the boring data like vectors and radiants.

Flying Pot?

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This is a whole new take on getting high. According to Popular Science, Arizona border patrol found 33 canisters of marijuana about 500 feet away from the Mexican border. Apparently, a pneumatic cannon was used to launch the pot over the fence. Evil Knievel dope, anyone?

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At least it beats carrier pigeons. Though really, if they’re going to launch weed over the border, they oughta be trying the Canadian border @ Washington.

Win big with Momma!

mommabadge20122red1-e1353169194691Today launches Momma Be Thy Name‘s 12 Days of Christmas countdown. Momma’s been featured on everything from Fox News to Freshly Pressed. This month, she’ll have a new holiday tale posted each day from her guest writers, including my own story to kick it off! Tweet more at #mommas12days12.

I’m so honored to be part of such a talented line-up. Be sure to follow her to enjoy the daily posts. Momma and her guest writers won’t fail to amuse and inspire.

On top of all that holiday cheer, Momma is offering prize packs to one author and one reader. If you comment to my guest post, you’re automatically entered to win the following!

Elf Pack:

  • $100 mpix Gift Certificate
  • $25 Macy’s Gift Card
  • $15  iTunes Gift Card
  • Arthur Christmas on DVD
  • iHome Portable Rechargeable Mini Speakers (If you’re extra nice, you could get the Glow Tunes LED Color-Changing speakers!)
  • Godiva Chocolatier Ultimate Dessert Truffles 
  • Hallmark Keepsake 2012 Snowflake Ornament
  • Yankee Candle Sparkling Snow 14.5 oz. Jar Candle

Grand Prize:

  • A Keurig Platinum Plus Series Brewer
  • 64 K-Cups variety
  • Filter
  • My K-Cup (for any type of ground coffee you’d like)

~
Good Luck!

Cancer, meet AIDS

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Leave it to medical science to push the envelope. According to the New York Times, doctors at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia have been testing out a new cancer treatment: infecting a patient’s T-cells with a disabled form of H.I.V. In a nutshell, the T-cells are extracted from the patient and genetically modified to attack cancer cells. H.I.V. virus is added to the mix since it helps carry the new genetic material to those T-cells.

Emma Whitehead was six years old when the hospital tried their AIDS treatment on her. Her acute lymphoblastic leukemia is now seven months in remission. Another three adult patients have experienced the same full remission. There have, of course, been stumbles and failures along the way (as with any new medical treatment).

But for the Whiteheads, and for who knows how many future cancer patients, AIDS is a cure.

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