Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Solar System Missions Update 02/2017

Here's my map of all active and future Solar System Missions as of February 1st 2017.

New destinations aplenty this month. There's metal asteroid 16 Psyche, target of the (drum roll) Psyche mission, and 52246 DonaldJohanson for the Lucy mission (no twitter yet) The outer Solar System got quite a bit more populated with all the Jupiter Trojans also targeted by Lucy. See the map for all their names.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Elongation chart: learnination applied

When I recently printed an ecliptic-longitude version of the elongation chart to accompany a celestial wall map, I found it not quite ideal for the task. So I made some changes to the chart for better visibility in printed form on a wall, and now I'm propagating these changes to the elongation charts: Larger fonts, lines, symbols and the colors of the planet lines darker and easier to distinguish. So Venus is now green and Mercury pink, but that's a small price to pay for better visibility, I hope.

As a bonus, the 10-year ecliptic longitude chart is also linked at the elongation page.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Holiday project: Celestial wall map

Things to do with the D3-Celestial star map: Wall poster.

Detail 1: Orion

Detail 2: Sagittarius

Source image for the map:

Bonus features, glue the to the poster or copy&paste them onto the image if you prefer planning ahead (ahem):

Planet positions charted by ecliptic longitude over a 5 year period (based on my elongation chart Same chart, 10 year period

Major asterisms (interactive version)

Grid/planes/brightest stars (<3.5mag)

Lessons learned: For 100x50cm, 4000 pixels width is sufficient. Configuration settings different from default:

var config = { 
  width: 4000,    
  projection: "aitoff",  //Map projection used
  transform: "equatorial",   //Coordinate transformation equatorial
  center: [180,0,0],
  stars: {
    show: true,    //Show stars
    limit: 8,      //up to maximum stellar magnitude
    colors: true,  //Show stars spectral colors, if not use "color"
    namestyle: { fill: "#ddddbb", font: "12px Georgia, Times, 'Times Roman', serif", 
                 align: "left", baseline: "top" },
    proper: false, //Show proper names (if none shows designation)
    desig: false,   //Show designation 
    namelimit: 5,   //Maximum magnitude with name
    size: 10,
    data: "stars.8.json" // Data source for stellar data  
  },
  dsos: {
    show: true,    //Show Deep Space Objects
    limit: 16,      //up to maximum magnitude
    names: true,   //Show DSO names
    namestyle: { fill: "#cccccc", font: "12px Trebuchet, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif", 
                 align: "left", baseline: "bottom" },
    desig: true,   //Show short DSO names
    namelimit: 16,   //Maximum magnitude with name
    size: null,    
    data: "dsos.bright.json"
  },
  constellations: {
    show: true,    //Show constellations 
    names: true,   //Show constellation names 
    namestyle: { fill: "#cccccc", font: "18px Trebuchet, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif", 
                 align: "left", baseline: "top" },
    desig: true,   //Show short constellation names (3 letter designations)
    lines: true,   //Show constellation lines 
    linestyle: { stroke: "#cccccc", width: 1.5, opacity: 0.6 },
    bounds: true,  //Show constellation boundaries 
    boundstyle: { stroke: "#ccff00", width: 1.5, opacity: 0.8, dash: [4, 8] }
  },
  mw: {
    show: true,    //Show Milky Way outlines
    style: { fill:"#ffffff", opacity:"0.12" }
  },
  lines: {
    graticule: { show: true, stroke:"#cccccc", width:1, opacity:.6 },   
    equatorial: { show: true, stroke:"#aaaaaa", width:1.5, opacity:.7 }, 
    ecliptic: { show: true, stroke:"#66cc66", width:1.5, opacity:.7 },  
    galactic: { show: true, stroke:"#cc6666", width:1.5, opacity:.7 },  
    supergalactic: { show: true, stroke:"#cc66cc", width:1.5, opacity:.7 } 
  }
};

[Update] Here is the image of the complete map with all the above options
Next up: grid coordinate references on the map

See some more examples here, play with it here or check out the documentation and/or fork/download the source from the GitHub repository.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Solar System Missions Update 01/2017

Here's my map of all active and future Solar System Missions as of January 1st 2017.

Almost the same one Emily Lakdawalla uses for her preview of robots beyond Earth orbit 2017 on the Planetary Society blog. Can you spot the difference 🤔

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Elongation Chart Update 2017

Another year-end update, the planetary elongation chart for the year 2017. It shows the angular distance from the sun for each body over the year and many other celestial events, like solar or lunar eclipses, full moons and planetary solar transits, such as they occur this year. There will only be one penumbral, one partial lunar eclipse and an annular solar eclipse visible across the South Atlantic and a total one straight across the USA in August. So there is that. For a 10 year version see this page.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Space Observatories Update 01/2017

The first 2017 update for the Space Observatories page, not a lot of new missions or defunct old mission this time, save for the Chinese missions Quantum Science Satellite, or Mozi ( 墨子, Chinese philosopher), and Dark Matter Particle Explorer, or Wukong (悟空, Monkey King) 🐒😎. So, thanks Chinese Space Program for being on it!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Solar System Missions Update 12/2016

Here's my map of all active and future Solar System Missions as of December 1st 2016.

So here's the last one for this year, were the exiting final phase for Cassini has now begun with the F-Ring orbits, which will be followed by the Grand Finale Orbits in April 2017 and then in September - the END.

What is definitely not exiting is the scarcity of events for 2017... let's not lose hope and Keep Exploring!