Wallpaper Wednesday

23 05 2012

Dragon Fire. Image Credit: NASA/Alan Ault

You know how to tell you’re getting old? If you wake up at 3 a.m., realize a Falcon 9 rocket will be going up in 44 minutes, but don’t reach for the iPhone next to the bed because you’re too tired to watch a livestream of the launch, you might as well check yourself into the old folks home ’cause life is all downhill from there.

In my defense, I did stay up all night to watch SpaceX’s first launch attempt at 04:55 a.m. EDT on May 19, 2012. The launch scrubbed at T-0.5 because of a high combustion pressure reading (faulty check valve) on Engine 5. Lift off didn’t happen and I instantly fell asleep. Because the launch window was only one second long, SpaceX was forced to wait until May 22, 2012 for the next attempt. Remind me never to get involved in an operation that depends on a one-second launch window. That’s insane, really.

Today’s wallpaper shows the successful SpaceX launch from LC-40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 03:44 EDT yesterday (Tuesday, May 22, 2012). If you’re lucky and don’t need much sleep, you may be able to catch a glimpse of the Dragon capsule orbiting together with the International Space Station. Just pop over to the Heavens Above site, configure it for your current location, and follow the SpaceX/Dragon and ISS links in the “Satellites” category. The site will provide you with everything you need to know for a successful observation of an ISS/Dragon pass over: date, time, altitude-azimuth, and magnitude. We’re setting an alarm for tomorrow’s 03:59:59 EDT pass, when the Dragon capsule and the ISS will be only one degree apart.

Click on the image above to download standard sizes of wallpaper.

ETA: As Danny Sussman (@TheSuss) points out, if the times on Heavens Above seem wrong (the site isn’t recognizing Daylight Saving Time for my current location, for some reason), you can bring up flyover times on the NASA app if you have an iPhone or Android. NASA updated the iPhone version earlier this week. The update stalled out on my phone for a frighteningly long time, but once it went through, all was good and accurate.



Observatories and Instruments