Something Shiny

ISS and SpaceX Dragon Sighting

SpaceX Dragon

One of our regular activities in retirement in our desert place is to watch for overflights of The International Space Station when they are visible. Tonight’s flyover was the last in the current series of visible passes in our area and included a special treat of which we were unaware until after the pass.

As the ISS soared across the sky, Damsel noticed a fainter speck of light following in trail of the brighter space station. We both saw it and wondered what it could be. I suggested that it might be a cargo resupply or something of the sort. We continued to watch the pair as they swooped out of sight towards the southern horizon.

I came back in the house and got on the computer to see if I could find out what we were seeing. It turns out that the fainter dot of light was a SpaceX Dragon CRS-12 resupply ship with 6400 pounds of “stuff” on board to deliver to the ISS on Wednesday morning.

This is from the NASA blog about the SpaceX Dragon Launch:

Crew members aboard the International Space Station can expect a special delivery Wednesday morning. A SpaceX Dragon spacecraft loaded with more than 6,400 pounds of supplies, equipment and science materials is heading their way after the successful liftoff of SpaceX CRS-12 at 12:31 p.m. EDT from NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A.

The on-time liftoff marked a spectacular conclusion to a countdown that proceeded like clockwork throughout the morning, aided by cooperative weather conditions across the launch site. With a sonic boom sounding across Florida’s Space Coast, the first stage returned to SpaceX’s Landing Zone 1 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station while the rocket’s second stage finished the task of propelling Dragon to orbit.

Read more at the link above the quote. Damsel and I feel very fortunate to have witnessed this extraordinary extra-terrestrial event.

Damsel remarked earlier this evening regarding that she’s glad to see SpaceX, rather than Russians, supplying the ISS these days. I wholeheartedly agree with that.

Announcing a Blessed Arrival

Baby Maci

Announcing our second great grandchild and our first great granddaughter. Meet little Maci – Born last night (4/12) at around 10:30, 7.3 lbs, 19¼ inches. Perfection!

We will formally meet the little one early next month when we take our spring excursion to Northern California to visit family. After that, we will take the long, scenic way home.

The other granddaughter, mother of our great grandson has also announced a new arrival due in November of this year. We’re going to be busy doting for a while. 😉

Fireball over Wickenburg

fireball.jpgDamsel and I were out in the courtyard to watch the overflight of the International Space Station this evening. It was still pretty light out and I wanted to see if I could see Sirius in Canis Major as a gauge for the predicted magnitude of the ISS at -1.9. Sirius is magnitude -1.46, a little less bright than the satellite.

Image: Similar fireball photographed over Russia.

When I turned my attention eastward to look at Sirius, a bright meteor streaked across the sky, bright white initially and turning to orange and breaking into fragments as I watched. It was gone by the time I called to Damsel to come and look. This is the first fireball meteor we have seen in Arizona and the first one I, personally, have seen in over 20 years of looking up. The image in this post is not of the event we witnessed tonight, but a stock image of a fireball seen over Russia in the past.

In scanning local news reports, I have not seen any mention of this event. The good news is that Damsel and I both saw a nice ISS pass which makes three out of four in this recent series of evening passes. One was rained out earlier in the week.

We like to keep looking up. The stars here are usually spectacular and we see the Milky Way most clear nights.

Wickenburg Weekend Bike Invasions

Bikers in Town

We don’t normally go out on the weekends, but today we had occasion to drive to the post office and then to deposit a check that came in the mail at the bank. We also did some shopping while we were in that end of town (Old Wickenburg).

As we drove through the old section, we noticed a lot of two-wheelers parked at the cafes downtown. We hear the bikes on the weekends from home, but rarely get to see some of the nice motorcycles in person. This bunch of bikers were enjoying some of the great Mexican food available at the only Mexican restaurant in old downtown. Click on the image to enlarge.

Interim Accessorizing the Truck

Heavy duty Truck Bed MatEventually, we’re going to get the blown-in liner recommended by friends and the dealer, but, in the interim, we needed something to line the bed for our upcoming trip to K-stan. I bought this relatively inexpensive custom liner through Amazon; they have a feature that evaluates whether products they sell will fit my particular vehicle. Thus far, everything we bought using Amazon’s fit utility fits as advertized.

The reason we haven’t put in the blown-in liner is one of logistics. The folks that do that are down in the west valley and the job takes 2 to 2½ hours. We can’t just drop off the truck and do something else unless we BOTH drive the 43 mile round trip. We’re trying to be creative and figure a way to do it without sitting around for the duration of the installation.

In the meantime, the bed liner will spare the wear and tear to the bed of the truck when we load up the stuff to make the trip. Click on the image to enlarge.

Observing ISS Passes Overhead


For the last couple of days, we have been getting overhead passes of the International Space Station suitable for observing at dusk or a little after. The satellite tracker from allows us to input a zip code and it will return a listing of satellite passes observable from the location selected. The tracker has the option of selecting a subset of satellites and in our case, we selected passes from the ISS since they are usually more dramatic and bright as compared to most other orbiting objects.

Last night and tonight, we had very good passes and, weather permitting, we should have two more, tomorrow and Monday evening observable overflights. In the image above, I halfheartedly snapped a photo of Friday night’s pass of the ISS and damned if it didn’t show up when I downloaded it to the computer. Click on the image to enlarge.

UPDATE (08/24/2014): Damsel and I went out again this evening to see the overflight of the ISS. We saw it, alright, but the display of stars and the Milky Way dominated the night sky. As the ISS flew from west-northwest toward the southeast, it encountered Arcturus, the constellation Scorpio and then winked out across the terminator as it entered the Milky Way. What a spectacle! We love our dark desert skies!