Thursday, April 26, 2012

Space Posse


NASA's Spaceflight Awareness site changed their directory structures, and updated their collection of Astronaut crew portraits. Bloggers, this is why it pays to run annual Quality Control checks on all links... especially government ones! ;)

Oddly, all the Space Shuttle posters have disappeared at at time when one might think they were hot products, but they have now almost completely pared down availability of mission portraits to the ISS Expeditions.

NASA Crew Posters
Space Flight Awareness - OLD

The last time I checked these pages, STS-134 had just been featured, and discussions about the possibility about a further Shuttle mission STS-135 were underway! The rest is history.

Some shuttle mission photographs are available on their other links, but I can no longer find the official crew portraits unless I go to each individual "In Depth Mission Coverage" link within NASA's Shuttle Mission Index.

Astronaut Corps Posters
Space Flight Awareness - NEW

Interestingly, one used to have to scroll to the very end of a horrendously long page for high-resolution posters of entire Astronaut Corps in 2002, 2004 & 2007. These have been moved to the top, so I guess they aren't hiding them anymore!

Of course, ISS Expedition Crew photographs will continue onward, but it chokes one up to think the last Space Shuttle posters are off the grid, because they are now part of history.

ISS Pirates of the Caribbean Takeoff
My New Favorite

Anyhow, portraits always include the entire crew, mission insignia and many have a theme associated with their mission. Over the past few years, it's become rather a modern custom to associate some crews with popular movie posters – such as the Rat Pack, Reservoir Dogs, Ocean's 11, Harry Potter, Star Trek, Indiana Jones, etc.

ISS Expedition 16
My All-Time Favorite

Perhaps the most treasured framed poster now in my home is the Expedition 16 poster, which used The Matrix as the crew theme. I'm more of a Trekkie than a Neo-phyte, but I thought this was such a great design, and Peggy Whitson (astronaut in a leather skirt alert!) is SO my hero.

Of course, if you like the irreverent lowbrow stuff, you can also check out Gizmodo's not-so-serious NASA poster gallery... [unsanctioned link, but SFW!]

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

SF Bay Area Geek Flyover!


Discovery had her #SpotTheShuttle trend, and my new pal from SpaceUpSF took me on a #SpotTheGeekStuff trip of our own!

With Pilot Rick!

So it's like this. I met this pilot on Twitter. No, really. We then met at a conference a few months later, whereupon he was kind enough to lend his flying expertise so we could enjoy all the great geek spots the Bay Area has to offer!

Rick @JetForMe had me report for nerd duty at Tradewinds Aviation at Reid-Hillview Airport in San Jose, where I was introduced to my first Cessna. I know all the jaws of my longtime friends just collectively dropped because I agreed to get on a plane, given the lengths I go to in order to avoid ANY type of flying machine.

NASA Ames from the air...
The National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex (NFAC)
(Fancy name for "Heap big wind tunnel where we test aircraft"!)

Let me just say that these planes don't climb high enough for me to experience ear pain or illness from pressure. I'll probably never be "comfortable" in the sky, but as I told Rick, I'm at the age where I've begun to believe that when you fear something, you should run toward it instead of away.

Well worth it! Flying all around NASA Ames and identifying the many historic buildings and test facilities was of particular interest. Of course, Hangar One is visible for miles all around, but on closer approach, I got a whole new appreciation for the Lunar Institute, Wind Tunnels used in aerodynamics research, NASA's newest green building known as Sustainability Base.


Another great feature of our area is the 46-meter Radio Telescope in the Stanford foothills, off the Stanford Dish Hiking Trail, built in 1966 by the Stanford Research Institute. Look at the size of that thing compared to the surrounding buildings!

Called simply "The Dish" by locals, I was reminded I've never actually visited the darned thing on the ground. My next order of business should be seeking out some of these spots either for leggy or brainy exercise in the future.

Largest Linear Accelerator in the World!

Only a few seconds away from The Dish (by plane travel speeds, anyway) is the amazing Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC)... also now called the "National Accelerator Laboratory", the allegedly "straightest object" in the world.

On way back, we also had a view of the University of California's Lick Observatory, on the summit of Mount Hamilton, in the Diablo Range just east of San Jose. Our last nerd monument before landing!

To see the entire set, which also includes San Francisco, Alcatraz, the SF Bay and other angles of NASA Sustainability Base, Hangar One, etc., see my Pillownaut Galleries on Picasa!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Smithsonian Welcomes Shuttle Discovery


A huge crowd welcomed Space Shuttle Discovery to the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA this morning, including a new #NASASocial (formerly the #NASATweetup) and the largest collection of astronauts ever at any single event!

Hall of Famer Bo Bobko led the charge, as an impressive line of flight suits followed alongside the charred, flight-worn Discovery... and boy, does she ever look every bit her age and effort. Clean her up? Nah. Why should we? She should look like she's been to space and back 39 times!

Space Shuttle Discovery adn Bo Bobko
Bo! And... um... wow, everyone ;)

The crowd frenzy actually began on Tuesday, when Shuttle Discovery left Kennedy Space Center atop her usual Boeing 747 carrier, setting Twitter afire for HOURS across five states with a #SpotTheShuttle trend! It was gratifying to see that and #Discovery trending for 4+ hours, as people of all ages watch our Grand Dame make her way to the nation's capital.

I nearly blew circuit breakers watching NASA TV, CNN, Facebook and Twitter all on different devices so I could keep up from the west coast! As ever, NASA events are worth it. The pilots satisfied the massive crowds at both their departure and arrival points with multiple flybys, and many circles so everyone could attempt photographs over the Washington monument, White House, Capitol building, and other meaningful landmarks.

Shuttle Discovery Photo by Sean Gallagher
AWESOME photo courtesy of Sean Gallagher
(Imagine this being the view outside your office!)

As bizarre luck or charmed fate would have it, I went to high school in northern California with a chap named Sean Gallagher who works in an office building clearly overlooking the runway at Washington-Dulles International Airport where Discovery and her chauffeur finally touched down! And what a shot!

He allowed me to use this photograph even though I totally bailed on the last reunion. Thanks Sean, you rock!

We could now wall-paper the entire Smithsonian with the photos people have taken during her landing and at today's Welcome Discovery Festival, but it's the ones by my friends and fellow Spacetweeps that mean the most, so as much as I admire the fantastic photographers who work for the NASA archives, I want to point everyone toward the SNAPSHOT capturers, because public turnout has been stunning!

Best bet is to follow the #Discovery or #NASASocial hashtags to see all the spacetweep shuttle avalanches. Official accounts often re-tweeting visitor pictures are @NASASocial, @NASA and @airandspace.

Camilla SDO with Shuttles Enterprise and Discovery
Iz in ur Smithsonian, gettin all kissy-kissy wifs ur spaceships!

Or, if you are lucky enough to be IN one of these crowds, share your pictures with a HUGE rapt audience right now at Air & Space Museum's Discovery Page.

So many images have been coming hard and fast over so many forms of social media, it's been impossible to keep up with the feeds, so at this point I just decided to put my feelings in writing, and will pick up again later on the events.

Enterprise left James S. McDonnell Space Hangar to come nose-to-nose with her younger sister this morning, whereupon the attendees were treated to astronaut introductions (15 of Discovery's 32 commanders were there!), speeches by Charles Bolden and John Glenn, and the final paperwork where Discovery was officially signed over from NASA to the Smithsonian.

Smithsonian Air & Space Museum web cams
I don't anyone who made it through without tearing up a little.

When the sun sets, Discovery will take the empty hangar spot that Enterprise vacated, so tune in for that! Everyone can watch on NASA Television or the many Smithsonian Space Hanger web cams!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Yuri Columbia Titanic


So much going on, it's hard to keep up! As evidenced by the light writing this past month, and concentration on newer social media platforms, I've been exploring new events & new web sites, and making new friends. Of course, however, some annual events are not to be ignored... and over the next few days, we will be celebrating three of the most famous voyages in history!

Today is the anniversary of the first human orbit around planet Earth, completed by Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin on April 12th, 1961 in a craft named Vostok 1. In 1962, the Soviet Union established День Космонавтики, or "Cosmonautics Day," to commemorate this amazing achievement.

Юрий Гагарин
Юрий Гагарин 1934 - 1968

Tonight, people on 7 continents in 50 countries will hold over 200 events to commemorate Yuri, so find the closest one to you at Yuri's Night Net!

You can also follow the @pillownaut twitter feed today for a #TriviaThursday series all about Yuri, his test pilot days, training for space, honors and awards, family and career! I did a lot of research on this one, so come join me! :)

John Young and Bob Crippen in 1981

Today is also the anniversary of the very first launch of the NASA Space Shuttle program, whereby the Orbiter Vehicle (OV-102) Columbia made its maiden flight precisely on the 20th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's first space flight! Coincidence? Actually, yes.

STS-1 was scrubbed on the first launch attempt, then lifted off on the second attempt on April 12, 1981. Pilot Bob Crippen and commander John Young performed thorough checks of all the shuttle systems, recorded the orbiters "stresses" and overall performance, and returned to Earth safely, proving the space-worthiness of a craft that would take us to low Earth-orbit (LEO) for the next three decades.

RMS Titanic 1912
Of course, these are the 51st and 31st anniversaries, probably seeming somewhat anti-climatic considering the 100th anniversary of the Titanic voyage is this weekend. We had some pretty good blowouts last year, so we won't impinge upon their commemorative solemnity. Take it, Titanic passengers. RIP.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Science Comedian!


You know how, every now and then, you just stumble across something smothered in EPIC AWESOME and you think, wow... this has been around awhile -- how did I miss it? It just happened to me this past weekend.

A new pal from Twitter sent me the link to a hilarious video featuring a "science comedian" ... what, what? How did this fly under my radar for so long? How did I miss this bandwagon? And why don't we have MORE science comedians?

Brian Malow Science Comedian
And now that I am in the San Francisco Bay area, where he is also based, here's hoping I get a chance to see him perform live sometime soon! We should have booked him for SpaceUpSF!

After getting stuck on Malow's YouTube Channel for over an hour, I decided to order his Comedy CD and read some of his past blog posts, which are pretty entertaining! Would you believe this guy even makes Pluto's demotion sound funny? Of course, it's not funny. But it is.

He riffs on (seriously), neutrino definitions, Thomas Edison, evolution, karma, space exploration and totally won me over straight into groupie status with his spots on one of my favorite writers, Philip K. Dick! His comedy contains a huge amount of educational information, so for a nerd like me, it's win-win. Funny AND Informative. I want him to do a rock star tour of elementary schools in the south.

Poor Science in Sci-Fi Movies

Brian has also been featured on (or in), Slashdot, the San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, New York Times, Nature, Chemical & Engineering News (I'm thinking he's the only comedian there!) and Comedy Central.

Given how many of these I read regularly, I was just continually stunned as I poked around his press page, that I simply never saw him before. (Then again, I've also never seen "Titanic", so maybe this will be magic week for that, too.)

I freely admit, however, that I had never been to, and may never have seen his bug photographs there.

Brian Malow Science Comedian
Progression: Mothers nagging their children up the evolutionary ladder.
"Stand Up Straight! Don't drag your knuckles!"

For other great moments in comedic science, you can join Brian's Facebook Page, see his new videos on or follow his @sciencecomedian Twitter feed.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Space and Astronomy Mobile Apps


Update! And we now have fully 140 space-related mobile applications for hand-held devices. Wow. I honestly might have re-thought this little exercise in casual research if I had known what a monster it would become.

The most notable new addition is "Venus Transit". Make sure you check into that one! The next transit of Venus in June will be the last of your lifetime!

Most are designed for iPhones, though many are compatible with iPad/iTouch. Those with pink text and asterisks* are specifically for Android. Click on each to see their creators, platforms, full descriptions and reviews... and note that a more formally tabled version of this guide is also available on

FREE! Aquarius (NASA)
Aquarius/SAC-D observatory mission by NASA and space agency of Argentina to study ocean salinity, freshwater paths and other factors affecting Earth's climate.

FREE! Ascent: Shuttle (NASA)
Commemorative video of STS-114, 117, and 124 Shuttle missions, including entire Ascent production with commentary, images, etc.

FREE! AstroApp: Space Shuttle Crew (NASA)
Every space traveler who flew on every Space Shuttle in the 30-year program, 1981 - 2011, sorted by name or by mission.

FREE! AstroApp: Space Station Crew (NASA)
17 partner countries support science in low Earth orbit aboard the ISS; every space traveler who flew on every expedition, sorted by name or mission.

$1.99 Astrock
Astronomical Clock: real-time sky map, daylight awareness, planet positions.

$0.99 AstroGizmo
88 modern constellations, planets, moon and all stars visible to the naked eye.

$14.99 Astromist
The largest pocket astronomer, available on multiple platforms, with nearly 20,000 images in huge libraries! Telescope control, Moon calendar, and Earth satellites simulator. Also: Mars, Jupiter, Comet & Asteroid assistants.

$9.99 Astromo
Orrery, Armillary, Ephemeris: see where in the zodiac the Sun, Moon and visible planets are, sunrise/sunset times.

$2.99 Astronomy Picture of the Day Viewer
POTD facts and wallpapers.

$2.99 Astronomy Picture of the Day Viewer *
POTD facts and wallpapers.

FREE! Astronomy Picture of the Day Lite
Slightly fewer POTD facts and wallpapers.

FREE! Astronomy Picture of the Day Lite *
Slightly fewer POTD facts and wallpapers.

$0.99 Astronomy WhereIsIt *
Celestial objects, star refs, messier objects, horizon coordinates, etc.

Space apps for handheld devices
FREE! Astro Planner Lite
Astronomical deep sky objects like galaxies, nebulas and star clusters, plus link to NASA's Sky View servers.

FREE! AstroTools *
Hand-held Planetarium for the amateur astronomer, nice one for beginners.

FREE! Best of Astronomy *
Scientific information, videos and books on any astronomy topic with features to make and share reports on origin of universe, solar system, galaxies, black holes, big bang theory, famous scientists, etc.

FREE! Cassini (NASA)
Mission launched in 1997 exploring Planet Saturn and its moons; orbits, flybys, study data, news updates, maneuver.

FREE! CometQuest (NASA)
Land the Rosetta spacecraft on the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and record surface craters and cracks, water or gas jets erupting, rock and ice of the bright tail, etc.

FREE! CosmoCalc
Set a reference cosmology and redshift to calculate astronomical distances and size scales.

FREE! CraterSizeXL
Calculates predicted results of asteroid impact event on various planets.
Yeah, gee, that's not morbid at all.

FREE! Daily Astronomy *
Displays NASA's astronomy photo of the day except when there's a video.

$5.49 Deep Sky Browser
Access to the Digital Sky Survey with 45,000+ celestial objects.

$9.99 Distant Suns
Night Sky Network Star-gazing, star data, constellation labels, etc.

FREE! DLR - German Aerospace Center
Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V's online magazine, missions and activities.

Astronomy Mobile ApplicationsFREE! Earth Now (NASA)
3D models of global climate data from Earth Science satellites: air temps, carbon dioxide & monoxide, ozone, water vapor, gravity and sea level variations.

$0.99 Emerald Observatory
Astronomical clocks, orrery, star charts, moon phases, eclipse simulator, etc.

European Space Agency Online Showcase of Herschel Images; Hershel Space Observatory carries the most powerful infrared telescope ever flown in space.

European Southern Observatory images, music and descriptions from the world's most advanced ground telescopes in Chile.

FREE! Exoplanet
Database of all extrasolar planets discovered by the NASA Kepler mission.

FREE Fermi Sky
Fermi gamma-ray space telescope images, supermassive black holes, merging neutron stars, etc.

$0.99 Galaxy Collider
Graphical simulator for physics of interacting and/or colliding galaxies.

FREE! Galaxy Zoo
Help astronomers classify galaxies from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey according to shape and other properties.

FREE! Galaxy Wire Space News *
NASA and ESA agency news, videos, alerts, etc.

FREE! Google Sky Map *
Android window on the night sky, showing constellations, planets and stars.

iTunes and Android Astronomy Apps
$9.99 GoSatWatch
Real-time earth-orbit satellite tracking, including the International Space Station (ISS).

$3.99 GoSkyWatch Planetarium
Point to the sky with your device to use as a personal telescope to locate stars, planets, constellations, galaxies.

FREE! Go StarGaze
Astronomical Society of the Pacific, the largest general astronomy society in the world, helps find stargazing events and astronomy clubs.

Gravity And Interior Laboratory twin probes now circling Earth's moon.

FREE! GravLens
Gravitational lensing astrophysical phenomenon, where light of a distant galaxy is bent by a massive foreground galaxy.

FREE! HubbleSite
Space Telescope Science Institute presents a gallery of Hubble Space Telescope wallpapers and descriptions.

FREE! Hubble Space Telescope *
Planets, stars, nebulae, galaxies as catalogued by Edwin Hubble's namesake.

FREE! Hubble Top 100
European Southern Observatory Hubble gallery, set to music, with descriptions.

mobile space apps
$0.99 iMoonU
Moon phases calendars for any date, past, present or future; also, countdown clock for full moons.

FREE! Invisible Universe *
Point your device at the sky and see the non-visible ranges as opposed to visible! Rare!

$0.99 ISolarScape
Location-based observatory for sun, moon, planets, asteroids and NASA missions.

FREE! iSpaceNews
NASA and ESA history, media, news and images.

International Space Station on-orbit status, tasks, news, arrivals, and departures.

FREE! ISS Detector *
Visibility of the International Space Station, weather conditions for sightings, detection of iridium flares, notifications, etc.

FREE! ISS Live *
Live streaming data from the ISS, crew timelines, virtual 3-D tours of Mission Control Center (MCC) Houston with console displays, orbital science experiments, etc.

$8.99 iStellar
HUGE Planisphere 1900-2099 with planets, stars that twinkle, constellations, eclipse sims, meteor showers, comet paths, Milky Way map, etc.

$2.99 Jupiter Atlas
3-D Globe images of planet Jupiter and the four Galilean Moons: Ganymede, Callisto, Europa, and Io.

$2.99 Kepler
Professional astronomer-updated exoplanet database from NASA's Kepler mission, plus Milky Way map and correlation diagrams.

mobile astronomy appsFREE! L-Clock *
Launch Clock fetches data from and to create a formatted list of upcoming rocket launches.

$0.99 Living Earth HD
3-D Earth globe with weather satellite updates, world clock, sunrise/sunset times, etc. GORGEOUS IMAGERY!!

$0.99 Lúan
Lúan is an Old Irish Gaelic name for the moon; app shows Lunation tables per time zone, animated lunar transitions, moon and sun rising and setting times, etc.

$3.99 Luminous
Planisphere and simulator, with data on celestial objects. Can be set up to match your sky or to show you the sky from any date or location.

FREE! Lunar Electric Rover Simulator (NASA)
Drive on the moon! Support the activities of a functioning Lunar Outpost, using multiple difficulty levels in the most recently developed LER.

$5.99 Mars Atlas
3-D globe of planet Mars with zoomable terrain and labels.

FREE! Mars Globe
High-resolution satellite maps of Mars with labels; aerial terrain, and also views from various Rovers.

$2.99 Mercury Atlas
3-D globe of planet Mercury with zoomable terrain and labels.

FREE! Messier List
Images, data and positions of French Astronomer / Comet-Hunter Charles Messier's famed list of nebulae, clusters, galaxies, etc.

FREE! Meteor Shower Calendar *
Reminder system to automatically notify users about upcoming meteor showers, and approximate dates in which they will peak.

list of space apps for iPhone
$3.99 Mobile Observatory *
Planisphere with point & view function for any location or date/time; solar system views, eclipses, sun rise & set times, moon phases, constellations, etc.

FREE! Moon
Lunar phases, moonrises and sets, azimuth and altitude, and distance for current or or any other date.

$5.99 Moon Atlas
3-D globe of Earth's Moon satellite with zoomable terrain and labels.

FREE! Moon Globe
3-D views of the moon with labels and surface features from satellite imagery.

$1.99 MoonLight
Lunar phases for any date, views of the moon from any location on Earth.

$0.99 Moon Phase Pro *
Lunar phases on a 3-D globe for any date, plus moon-phases calendar, syzygies, rises & sets, etc.

FREE! NASA For Android *
Official NASA space agency App for Android.

FREE! NASA For iPhone
Official NASA space agency App for iPhone (and iPod Touch).

FREE! NASA Be A Martian
Mars maps, images, news, missions, Q&A for learning, alien avatars, etc. Open source project based on

list of space apps for AndroidFREE! NASA Desert Rats *
The Desert Research And Technology Studies virtual test site 3-D models with topography and satellite imagery to bring the Arizona analog environment to your device. Navigate avatars around base camp to see field tests of NASA hardware!

FREE! NASA Image Archive for Android *
60k+ space agency images in five categories: Universe, Solar System, Earth, Aeronautics, Astronauts.

RSS NASA news-feed and headlines with links to information, NASA websites, etc.

Regularly updated NASA news-feed the NASA Image Of The Day, and the latest from various NASA missions.

Regularly updated NASA news-feed the NASA Image Of The Day, and the latest from various NASA missions.

FREE! NASA Patches *
200+ Hi-Res mission patches, one for every mission in NASA's 50-year history; also, database of info for every manned space trip from USA, Russia & China.

FREE! NASA SpaceCraft: Space Shuttle *
Photo gallery of NASA's Space Shuttle orbiter or Space Transportation System (STS).

FREE! NASA Space Weather *
Near real-time imagery from NASA missions, scientist interviews about space phenomena, and NASA-created space visualizations.

FREE! NASA Space Weather Media Viewer
Near real-time imagery from NASA missions, scientist interviews about space phenomena, and NASA-created space visualizations.

FREE! NASA Television *
Live or on-demand TV programming from The NASA channel.

FREE! NASA Television
Live or on-demand TV programming from The NASA channel.

$1.99 Night Sketch
Basic planisphere showing the sky above your device, where you can connect stars to create and share constellations.

$9.99 Observer Pro - Astronomy Planner
Quality catalog of 14,000 deep sky objects, unique charts, locator app that factors in horizon, weather forecasts, and nearby obstructions to predict optimal visibility of your preferred profile of celestial bodies.

FREE! Orbit Architect
Change parameters of satellite orbits and then see animation of results; also, real-time ground tracking of sats.

$14.99 Oxford Astronomy
The entire massive Oxford Dictionary of Astronomy: 4000+ entries on all aspects of galaxies compiled by 20+ experts.

$1.99 PlanetFacts Plus
Catalog of images and information about the bodies in the solar system, including dwarf planets, with maps to show scale.

NASA Mobile applications
$0.99 Planet New
All planets of the solar system (including Pluto) moving around the sun, and also moon moving around Earth. Choose any date to see locations.

FREE! Planets
Planishere Sky 2-D and 3-D switchable program which shows the location and orbital paths of planets, Sun & Moon with visibility information for your location. Constellations in the backdrop.

$0.99 Planisphere
Shows zoomable sky above the phone or for any location; shows rise & set times, and star constellations.

$2.99 Pocket Universe: Virtual Sky Astronomy
Planisphere with constellation outlines, lunar phases, planets in the solar system, moons of Jupiter and Saturn, with Q&A function.

FREE! Portal To The Universe
Magazine style consolidator web site organized by ESO/IAU/ESA, showing scientific breakthroughs, news and space blog posts from the worlds observatories, agencies and educational institutions.

FREE! PrediSat *
Tracking of satellites (including the ISS), and iridium flares by device location and pointing. Alerts can be enabled when a particular sat passes.

$11.99 Redshift-Astronomy
Most sophisticated planisphere available, showing the sky above your device, 3-D solar system, massive catalog of stars and celestial objects; also, deep space objects and scale flights to / around them.

FREE! Satellite Insight (NASA)
Critical real-time weather data from the GOES-R weather satellite in a game.

FREE! SatelliteAR *
Track satellites flying overhead by pointing device; augmented reality graphics will show orbital paths.

$2.99 Satellite FlyBys *
Satellites of all kinds, ISS, Hubble, agency space crafts, astronauts and cosmonauts on EVA in orbit; countdown clock to when items appear or events are scheduled.

$2.99 Satellite FlyBys
Satellites of all kinds, ISS, Hubble, agency space crafts, astronauts and cosmonauts on EVA in orbit; countdown clock to when items appear or events are scheduled.

$0.99 Satellites
NORAD and NASA tracking of the International Space Station (ISS) and other orbiting hardware.

FREE! SatTrack *
Tracking of commercial satellites, the ISS, amateur radio satellites and iridium flares by device location and pointing. Alerts can be enabled when a particular sat passes.

$2.99 Saturn Atlas
3-D globe of planet Saturn and its 7 largest moons, with surface features.

FREE! Shuttle Carrier AirCraft *
USAF and NASA photos of NASA's Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), the modified Boeing 747s used to transport the Space Shuttle Orbiters.

FREE! SkEye Planetarium *
Real time Alt-Azimuth and Equatorial coordinates, Messier objects, mini-NGC catalog, Alt-Azimuth, Equatorial grid, astronomy search function.

NASA mobile apps for smartphones
FREE! Sky Map *
Open source astronomy pointable app to find stars, planets, constellations, etc. for any date from any location.

$0.99 Sky Master
Solar System simulator and planetarium of the sky at any time/date, based on your Earth location; planets, stars, constellations and galaxies.

$4.99 SkyQ
Planisphere and multimedia sky guide from telescope manufacturer; audio tours, moon phases, planet & satellite positions, etc.

FREE! SkyOrb
3-D star map, 3D planetarium, ephemeris, search engine, solar clock, etc.

FREE! Sky Safari *
Planisphere showing sky above your device, catalog of thousands of celestial objects and renderings.

FREE! Sky Safari Plus *
Planisphere showing 2.5 million stars, 31k deep sky objects, entire NGC/IC catalog, over 4,000 asteroids, comets, & satellites with updateable orbits.

$1.99 SkyView - Explore the Universe
Planisphere showing objects and descriptions based on device point; artificial satellite paths, 3D graphics, etc.

$1.99 SkyWeek
Sky & Telescope Magazine app for viewing constellations, eclipses, conjunctions, meteor showers and other major astronomical events based on location.

FREE! Solar Dynamics Observatory (NASA) *
Video and high-resolution images of the Sun, solar atmosphere, and its affect on near-Earth objects from the NASA SDO satellite.

$0.99 Solar Max *
Latest Hi-Res images from the NASA/ESA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SoHO) satellite.

$2.99 Solar Walk
3D Dynamic Solar System model you can fly through at any date, with movie mode and music (3-D TV option if you have 3-D glasses).

FREE! Space Images for Android (NASA) *
Hundreds of images taken by NASA spacecraft studying planets, stars, galaxies, weather on Earth and more.

FREE! Space Images for iPhone (NASA)
Hundreds of images taken by NASA spacecraft studying planets, stars, galaxies, weather on Earth and more.

$4.99 Space Junk *
Based on your location, shows Earth view, planets, constellations and will track the Hubble Space Telescope, International Space Station, hundreds of satellites, etc.

Space Junk Lite *
Based on location, shows Earth view, planets, constellations and will track the Hubble, ISS, certain satellites, etc.

download space apps$1.61 Space News *
News items from NASA, ESA and other space agencies.

FREE! Space Sounds *
Sounds from NASA missions in space, for use as ringtones or notifications.

FREE! Star & Planet Finder
Select a celestial object such as a star or planet, and app will help you find it using a pointer.

$2.99 Star Chart *
Based on your location, Planisphere app shows constellations, Moon, planets, etc.

Star Chart Free *
Beginner location-based app showing stars, constellations, planets, etc.

$3.99 Star Charts
Not for beginners! 18 extremely detailed charts based on atlas by famed celestial cartographer Wil Tirion.

$1.99 StarMap 3D
Star atlas program for that shows the sky for your location and gives information for selected planets, stars, constellations, star clusters, galaxies, and nebulae.

$11.99 Star Map
High-quality Planisphere show sky above device at any time; 350k+ catalogued stars, and advice for astronomers on best viewing locations, landscapes + horizon profiles, and observation conditions, such as weather, moonlight and possible sources of city light pollution; also calendars, animation, night vision mode, etc.

FREE! Star Odyssey *
Google Sky Map major stars with pronunciation guide, origin of star name, brightness and distance from Earth; also, integration with SkEye Planetarium.

$0.99 Star Rover
Planisphere app with point & view function for stars, moon phases, planets, etc.

$2.99 Star Walk
Point and view planesphere which also includes satellite tracking, calendar, moon phases, plus the Astronomy Picture of the Day.

FREE! Stellarium
Mobile version of the popular open-source planisphere program with constellation views and detailed professional data.

mobile space apps guide
$2.99 SunDroid Pro *
Calculates path of Sun & Moon, all rises and sets, twilights, golden hours, etc.for any date, anywhere in the world.

FREE! Swift Explorer
Swift Mission Operations Center at Penn State University shows NASA's search for gamma-ray bursts.

$2.99 Terra Time *
Real-time interactive Earth globe, showing day/night, weather via satellite data, seasons, lunar phases, twilight times, etc.

FREE! Three-D (3D) Sun *
Sun model based on NASA's STEREO spacecraft images with alerts for major updates or events such as solar flares.

FREE! Three-D (3D) Sun
Sun model based on NASA's STEREO spacecraft images with alerts for major updates or events such as solar flares.

$2.99 Venus Atlas
3-D globe of Venus with 2000+ surface features; also shows the phase of Venus from your location.

FREE! Venus Transit
A transit of Venus occurs THIS YEAR on June 5–6, and it will be the last of your lifetime.

$0.99 What's Up
Basic beginner app that shows location of Sun, Moon, and planets in the sky.

FREE! Where Is Io *
Current positions of the Galilean moons, rise and set times for planets, and information about solar system objects.

FREE! Where The ISS At?
Current positions of the International Space Station, and passes over your refreshable location for the next 10 days. Set Twitter-friendly notifications to be alerted when the ISS is about to cross.

$4.99 Wolfram Astronomy Course Assistant
Facts, formulas, and tools for helping with introductory astronomy;includes high-res diagrams with 100k stars, sky phenomena, Drake equation data, etc.

$4.33 Zenith Mobile Telescope *
Watch hundreds of stars, constellations, and solar system planets. Also, images of galaxies and nebulae from the Hubble Space Telescope.

This list is also on the Pillownaut domain in a more structured format than I am able to accomplish on, and when printed, will generally yield about 14 pages. So for heaven's sake, don't print it. ;)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

SpaceUp San Francisco!


I finally attended my first SpaceUp, and on my own home turf! Snoopy Dance!

The now infamous form of "SpaceUp Unconference" in the space enthusiast community, founded in San Diego by Chris Radcliffe, has blasted off in six cities. SpaceUp events are now planned in six more cities in both the US and Canada... and there are rumblings of planning a SpacepUp gathering in Europe, though a precise location has yet to be determined.

Find a SpaceUp Near You
I ran into some old friends, met some new friends, and mingled with pilots, astronomers, software engineers, inventors, writers, reporters, various other NASA worker bees, and all the eclectic fruit salad that *is* the joy of Silicon Valley! I continually cannot believe what stuff costs in California after such a long absence, but sometimes it truly is great to be home again.

Amazing local and national sponsors contributed to SpaceUp, including ThinkGeek, the SpaceFrontier Foundation (now hoping to attend their next conference in July, too!), Moon And Back, the American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics (AIAA) ... and of course, the NASA Kepler group at nearby Ames was good for some nifty swag bags.

Session Grid
There are no spectators at SpaceUp, only participants.
Put a topic on the Session Grid!

The large turnout was well-fed, well-read, and well-spread out into four "pods" or discussion rooms, where our lively talks were each broadcast live compliments of SpaceVidCast.

The Session Grid setup worked well for the large turnout, and in between bouts of enjoying the amazing catering services, we debated STEM concerns, CubeSats, planetary science, Mars research, Space Tourism, the NASA budget, space agencies of other nations, space payloads, Bloons, and the anticipated NASA Socials, which will take over for what was previously known as NASA Tweetups.

T minus 5 Talks
One of my favorite parts was the round of "T Minus 5" talks. These whirlwind presentations, conducted by many brave speakers, have a particular Ignite format used at all SpaceUps:
- 5 Minute Limit
- 20 Slides
- Rotating automatically every 15 seconds

After seeing the format, and the supportive nature of the crowd, I really want to create my own T-5 Talk for the next UNconference I attend!


When we had enough of intellectual pursuits and it was time to party -- well, all I can say is, it's great to have engineers around to build cocktail robots! Enter the CosmoBot...

Monday, April 2, 2012

Redwood Astronaut


I always love it when I can check off another place on my World Map of Space Museums, and this past month I visited two! The amazing Heureka Planetarium in Helsinki, Finland is a bit too dark for photographs, but pictures are much easier at the Chabot Space & Science Center, nestled among the redwood trees of the Oakland hills!

Astronaut Rex Walheim
Rex Walheim with Flat Stanely...
hey, I saw that guy take-off!

Lucky me, I got to hear an STS-135 astronaut speak about the final Shuttle mission, and he just happens to be our California homeboy from Redwood City. Well, just about every city in my area of California is packed with redwoods, and I love that Rex J. Walheim grew up only a short drive from where I myself did.

The Beyond Blastoff exhibit at Chabot is definitely worth a visit, to learn about exercising in space, working in weightlessness, and space food, including menus and samples of current space station fare. Unlike other American museums that showcase NASA items, Chabot also features many comparative technologies of the Russian Soviet space program.

Soyuz Module Flown in the 1980s

I had only ever seen a Vostok capsule once in Texas, and of course the Soyuz mock-up in the SVMF at Johnson Space Center –- but this was my first look at a space-flown Soyuz Descent Module, the model in use since the 1960s. I've always found these to be quite fascinating, given their differences to American capsules.

Parachutes (sadly not present in this display) slow the module fall when it returns to Earth from space, but unlike the Apollo crafts which landed in water, small rockets fire to soften the impact just prior to landing, and the Soyuz bumps down on hard ground, usually in remote areas of Kazakhstan.

Sokol Spacesuit
Sokol suit of Léopold Eyhart from his 1998 mission to Mir

Of course, one Soyuz module is always attached to the ISS these days for "escape hatch" purposes, though thankfully a bit more upgraded than the museum pieces!

Chabot also features a replica of the Sputnik 2 "dog cabin" which housed little Laika on her trip to space in 1957, a complete Orlan DMA Extra-Vehicular Activity space suit manufactured in 1996, and a Russian Sokol KV-2 space suit, which all cosmonauts still wear on each mission, to protect them from cabin pressure changes during launches and landings.

Mercury Capsule at Chabot Space and Science Center
Mercury Capsule (1961-1963)

Last but not least, and the most fun for little me -– and it does help to be LITTLE in this case – is the Mercury Capsule mock-up! I've seen many of those that have flown, but never a mockup that one could sit inside! And I see now why John Glenn(?) quipped that "you don't ride in the Mercury spacecraft, you WEAR it."

The complete picture set is in my Chabot Album in the Pillownaut Gallery on Google Picasa!