Space & Astronomy

I've never really figured out why I love the space shuttle, but I do. I've been to two launches, four landings, and a rollout from the factory when Discovery was delivered to NASA in 1983. During shuttle missions, I tend to stay up 'way too late watching the cargo-bay cameras send back live video of Earth.

Challenger on the launch pad the night before the STS-7 mission in June, 1983.

The STS-9 launch of Columbia in November, 1983. I took this from the Kennedy Space Center press area.

Discovery leaving its hangar in Palmdale, California, ready for delivery from Rockwell to NASA. My fellow space journalists and I spent the predawn hours crawling all around the hangar taking photos of the just-completed Discovery and its still-under-construction sister ship, Atlantis. At one point, I was hanging over a railing looking straight down onto one of Discovery's wings, praying fervently that my camera lens wouldn't drop off onto the shuttle.... (It didn't!)

Me with Discovery as it was being towed through the Mojave Desert to Edwards Air Force Base during its delivery to NASA. I got to follow (or mostly, lead) the shuttle all day during the slow progress of its 30-mile trip. (On orbit, the shuttle makes several orbits of the earth in that amount of time. :-) ) My article about the rollout was the cover story in an issue of Odyssey magazine.

Related links

NASA's Human Spaceflight page
The place for information about the space shuttle and the International Space Station. You can view real-time tracking maps, view live feeds of NASA TV, and find out about sighting opportunities from your area.

A superb website for information about when you can see ISS, the Hubble Space Telescope, and thousands of other Earth-orbiting objects.

I'm not very active in amateur astronomy these days, but I do keep up with important astronomical events. I've been to four total solar eclipses and one annular.

The sun's outer corona during the 1980 total solar eclipse. I took this from Voi, Kenya.

A different exposure of that eclipse, this one showing the prominences and inner corona.

The diamond ring effect during the 1979 total solar eclipse, which I photographed from Hecla, Manitoba.

The friendly people of La Paz, Mexico put up this special arch to welcome visitors for the 1991 eclipse. There was also a delightful parade along the main street of the town on the night before the eclipse.

One of the great things about chasing eclipses is that you end up traveling all over the world. Here's a photo of me on the equator in Kenya.

Related links

Earth & Sky
Website of the popular daily science radio program.
An excellent online source for astronomy and space news.

Sky & Telescope
News and resources from this highly regarded magazine.

The other leading astronomy magazine in the U.S. More oriented toward beginners.

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Text and photos (c) 1997-2008 Patricia F. Winter, except as noted.
Last updated 7/25/08

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