Yet another month has passed by, and what a month it has been! In my most recent post, on 2019-06-21, I talked about the international space station (ISS) and even made an update later on. But here comes more!
1. More about ISS
Further to my previous facts about the ISS, the following also deserves to be told.
We saw a most spectacular flyover in the early hours of 2019-07-22, about one hour before the sun rise. It came in from the North West and left us in the South East. The whole passing over the American continent took exactly 27 minutes, from the entry close to Oil City, WA, USA until the exit on the shores of the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina by the town of Barra Velha.
Below you can see two instances of its route, first when it was at its highest peak for our viewing, in the town of Inajá, state of Paraná, 35 km away from our location, and then after 5 more seconds, when even our town appears on the Google map below the world chart.
In reference #1 below is a link to the web site from which the above maps were taken, and reference #2 gives extensive background information about the ISS.
And finally, here is a photo taken at the same moment:
2. Walking on the moon
Everybody has of course heard about the historic feat in July 1969 when two American astronauts first set foot on the moon. But do you know the story behind the spacesuit that they wore?
It was made by the International Latex Corporation at their Playtex division, known for producing female garment. Their employees were responsible for manually sewing all the 4 000 pieces that made up each spacesuit. It consisted of 21 layers of synthetics, neoprene rubber and metallized polyester films, which protected Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin from the extreme climate conditions on the moon surface. Each suit cost in the region of US$ 100 000 to US$ 250 000!
Read more about this fantastic story in reference #3 below. And in reference #4 is mentioned a book called ‘The golden thread’ in which the author Kassia Saint Clair gives even more details about the whole process of developing and manufacturing this lunar edition of a spacesuit.
3. Dog years
In my post of 2016-06-14, I wrote about our dog Prins, who has was commemorating his 7th birthday, counted in human years, that day. Thus, last month he completed 10 human years.
However, as I also wrote then, the second year and onward for a dog corresponds to a 7 times longer period of time. That means that last Sunday, 2019-07-28, Prins turned himself into the oldest living creature in our family, at least within his conception!
And here is a photo of Prins in his spacesuit, somewhat cheaper than Neil’s and Buzz’s, but equally well made by his human mother:
Today is the brightest day of the year on the Northern hemisphere, it is the day of the Summer solstice. You may remember that I already wrote about it briefly three years ago, on 2016-03-20, but here are some more interesting facts:
1. Summer solstice
The Summer solstice is the day of the year when one of the Earth’s hemispheres is located as close to the sun as possible. On the Northern hemisphere it happens around June 21 and on the Southern hemisphere around December 21. As a consequence, this is also the longest day of the year, considering the time from sun rise to sun set. But it also means that on the opposite hemisphere, it is the shortest day of the year. Read reference # 1 below for more information about the solstice.
So, which is the difference in duration of daylight in a particular place, if we compare those two dates? Well, the closer you live to the North Pole or the South Pole, the bigger the difference in time. You have probably heard about the expression “Midnight sun”, which is a phenomenon observed by those who live within the Arctic circle. As an example, in Kiruna, the northernmost city in Sweden, this year its habitants are lucky to have days with 24 h daylight from May 28 all through to July 16, a total of 50 days! But at the time around the December equinox, it is of course the opposite. From December 11, 2019 to January 1, 2020, during a total of 22 whole days, the Sun does not appear above the horizon not even a single minute!
And the closer one lives to the Equator, the less difference in time between the longest and the shortest day of the year. As an example, in Manaus, the capital of the Brazilian state of Amazônia, located 2 degrees South of the Equator, the difference is only 22 minutes, and in Macapá, the capital of the Brazilian state of Amapá, located exactly on the Equator, every day in 2019 is 12 h 7 min long. In my town Paranavaí, located slightly North of the tropic of the Capricorn, thus within the tropics, today is only 10 h 43 min long, whereas on December 21 it will be 13 h 34 min, a difference of 2 h 51 min. Reference #2 below has a link to a site that gives such information for any place on Earth, well worth studying.
2. UTC #1
And speaking about time, maybe you have noticed that the old abbreviation GMT (which stands for Greenwich Mean Time) is more often these days exchanged to UTC, how come?
I believe it is a matter of jealousy. Although the time settings for the globe are maintained within a zero meridian passing through the Greenwich observatory in UK, why should the British people have the privilege also to the name? So instead, UTC was introduced. Now, what does UTC stands for, exactly?
The fact is that it is a fabricated “abbreviation” involving English and French. Some centuries ago, the French had their own zero meridian for time, passing through Paris, but they had to succumb to Greenwich in that sense. So, as a compromise, they managed to enforce the denomination UTC. In English it would be similar to “Coordinated Universal Time” (CUT), and in French “Temps Universel Coordonné” (TUC), so UTC is not a bad compromise. Reference #3 has the whole story about it.
3. UTC #2
While I was doing research about UTC #1, I remembered that UTC is also the (real) abbreviation of a technical university in France, where I studied in the 1970s. I already wrote something about it on 2017-11-11, but here comes more. This UTC means Université de Technologie de Compiègne. It is a technical university belonging to the French state, created in 1972, and since 2012 it makes part of the group of Sorbonne Universities. It has a reputation of being more integrated into the society, with frequent trainee periods in the French industry, as well as many interchange programs with other international universities, than the traditional theoretical French technical universities, e.g. École Polytechnique.
I studied there between September, 1978 and June, 1979, exactly 40 years ago. During that year happened an interesting fact, a group of students from China came to study at our university. It was a sensation at that time, because China was extremely closed to external activities. This photo shows the Chinese students, taken in February, 1979. They have since kept the contact and met year after year and update themselves. See also reference # 4 below. At the bottom of that page you can also find the complete magazine edition of April 2019, both in French and English.
4. ISS flies over Paranavaí
The sensation today here in my home town was the passing of the international space station (ISS). I had heard about it before, that it would be possible to see it with the naked eye, but never had the chance to actually see it. See also reference #5 with the announcement.
Update on 2019-07-12
Today we had a chance of viewing the ISS even better and for longer. And it did not hurt at all that the moon was eager to also play a vital part of the scene, being half way between the crescent and full moon phases. See the photo below. Reference #6, which tells the ISS passing date and time for any location on the earth, said the following about this event:
Looking at today’s full moon, I cannot forget that it is exactly 47 years since man first set foot on non-terrestrial ground, on 1969-07-20. Of course everyone remembers Neil Armstrong’s “small step for a man, a giant leap for mankind”. Reference #1 has more about that historical feat.
The historic crew of Apollo 11, from left to right: Neil Armstrong, Mike Collins, and Buzz Aldrin. Photo by NASA, taken in May, 1969.
But did you know that the source code of the program used in the computer of the Eagle, Apollo 11’s moonlander, is now available to the public?
If you are curious about what it looks like, see references # 2 and 3 below.
But of course there are interesting views on Mother Earth, as well. Today’s header photo was taken by my wife, Maria José, in Kokkari, island of Samos, Greece, on 2008-07-11. Enjoy!
First flower grown in space. Photo taken by NASA astronaut Scott Kelly
Today, I learned that:
According to fresh information from NASA, the astronauts on the International Space Station have successfully grown a flower, zinnia, in zero gravity. This is an amazing feat, makes me think about the movie ‘The Martian’ where Matt Damon managed to grow potatoes on Mars.