The Present, Unwrapped = Now

November 19, 2008

Catch the Space Shuttle and ISS Zipping by Tonight

Filed under: Uncategorized — 8goodfood @ 2:17 pm

The weather here in Texas has been perfect lately, gorgeous days and clear, cool evenings. The skies should be crystal clear tonight, perfect to catch sight of the Space Shuttle and International Space Station as they pass overhead.

For those of us in Austin, the best view this week is tonight at 6:17, according to a local news station, or 6:19, according to a NASA website (link below). Our orbiting spacecrafts are to pass between Jupiter and Venus, I think, in the southwestern sky.

Venus and Jupiter have been spectacular lately, quite prominent in the southwestern sky as dusk descends into darkness. You can’t miss ’em! They are the brightest objects in the sky after sunset.

This link goes to a NASA site that will tell you when the best viewing is according to where you are on the planet. It’s especially easy to see these craft in orbit when they’re docked together, as they are now, but they go by pretty fast so you need to be in position ahead of time to catch them.

Here are the specifics from the NASA site on tonight’s viewing from Austin:

ISS Wed Nov 19, 6:19 PM – 3 min. duration – 69 degrees max. elevation

Approach: 34 degrees above West Southwest; Departure: 15 degrees above Northeast

Thursday and Saturday also offer opportunities for viewing, but they will appear so low on the horizon it might be hard for most folks to see.

Every time I’ve seen the space shuttle and ISS scoot across the heavens, I’ve been impressed. It gave me a unique feeling, a sense of a certain kind of connection I get from nothing else. It puts things in perspective like nothing else. How would you describe it? Well, it’s ā€¦ kinda cosmic!

Fascinating Election Maps

On another subject entirely, yet still having to do with perspective, here’s a link to some cool election maps. I found this site after the 2004 presidential election, and I was glad to see it was updated after the recent election. Whoever created these maps extrapolated voter information with computer technology to offer great views on how people voted. It morphs maps in all kinds of ways to show that this country is not just made up of red and blue states. This serves well to dispel any “us against them” notion, a perspective that most simple election maps seem to offer.

I think that simplistic view is deceiving, in many respects. These maps offer a more realistic perspective on the citizens of the good old USA. You can easily see how most states are more purple than red or blue, how this country is more of a mixed up melting pot rather than divided up into sectors of opposing views.

Remember what a big issue the so called “culture wars” were back in the 2004 election? Seems to me partisan politics played a big role in spawning that rabid divisiveness. The strategy is one of the oldest on earth: How do you win a war? Divide and conquer!

I know I’m not alone when I cheer the notion of us leaving such divisive tactics buried in the past!

(This site still has maps of the 2004 election too)


Comments (1)

1 Comment »

  1. I think you can go to the top of RLM building at UT (Speedway & Dean Keaton) tonight & they’ll have a bunch of astronomy students watching the shuttle go by. Everybody’s welcome.

    Comment by Kenneth — November 19, 2008 @ 4:24 pm

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