Thankful for light and life

The setting sun sets ice-coated trees afire earlier this week. We all have much to be thankful for, including the joy of light in all of its guises. Photo: Bob King

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you’re happily tucked away out of the cold with family close by and a tasty meal in the offing. Because of today’s packed schedule, the six International Space Station astronauts celebrated Thanksgiving early with a meal yesterday. The three Americans  on board prepared a traditional feast for their Russian comrades that included precooked, irradiated smoked turkey, turkey stuffing, candied yams and a fruit cobbler dessert.

If you’re interested in what astronauts eat, how they eat it and favorite space food recipes, check out The Astronaut’s Cookbook. In it you’ll learn the Russians must have their borscht and turn their noses up at American peanut butter. You’ll also learn how to prepare foods just like the ones the astronauts eat.

Astronauts face a full day of work today, followed by the departure of three of their team members. Two Americans and one Russian will climb into the Soyuz craft docked to the space station and take off at 7:22 p.m. CST this evening, landing in the grasslands of Kazakhstan just before 11 o’clock.
After a hiatus of a couple weeks, the space station is back in view for dawn sky watchers. I’ve listed Central times below when it will be visible over the Duluth, Minn. region. For times for your town click HERE and type in your zip code or login to Heavens Above. The station travels from west to east across the sky, appearing as a very bright star. Typical passes last between two to five minutes.

* Tomorrow (Friday) morning beginning at 5:59 a.m. very low across the south-southeast.
* Saturday Nov. 27 at 6:24 p.m. A nice bright pass across the southern sky.
* Sunday Nov. 28 at 6:50 a.m. in bright twilight. Brilliant pass straight across the top of the sky.
* Monday Nov. 29 at 5:43 a.m. This one could be worth using a telescope for, because the station passes directly in front of the moon at about 5:43:20. Check it out!
* Tuesday Nov. 30 at 6:08 a.m. Brilliant pass near the top of the sky.

The South Equatorial Belt is returning to life! This photo, taken Nov. 24, shows a short segment of the belt in place. Credit: Christopher Go

As promised, here are Central Standard times when the darkest, easiest-to-see portion of Jupiter’s South Equatorial Belt, called the SEB Revival, is squarely lined up on the planet’s central meridian and in best view. Observers should use a magnification of 100x or higher. A half hour before the listed times and up to an hour after will still give an adequate view. Remember to add an hour if you’re in the Eastern time zone, subtract an hour for Mountain and two hours if you’re on the West Coast. If you see it, please drop me a note, and I’ll share your observations with our readers.

* Tonight around 9 p.m.
* Friday Nov. 26 around 5:30 p.m.
* Saturday Nov. 27 around 10:30 p.m.
* Sunday Nov. 28 around 6:30 p.m.
* Monday Nov. 29 around 11:30 p.m.

I’m headed to work now, but  looking forward to a nice dinner with my family this afternoon. Enjoy your day!

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About astrobob

My name is Bob King and I work at the Duluth News Tribune in Duluth, Minn. as a photographer and photo editor. I'm also an amateur astronomer and have been keen on the sky since age 11. My modest credentials include membership in the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) where I'm a regular contributor, International Meteorite Collectors Assn. and Arrowhead Astronomical Society. I also teach community education astronomy classes at our local planetarium.

2 thoughts on “Thankful for light and life

  1. Dear Astro Bob, Just found your website via Harmony’s Dark Sky. I’m very excited about this find. Great info for a gal that sets her clock for all hours in the morning just to observe the heavens.

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