Castle Point Astronomy Club
1969-2019 - 50th Anniversary Year
Castle Point Astronomy Club Diary
July 2019 by Dave Stratton

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Wednesday 3rd July 2019

Andrew said that next week we have a review of Astro Websites and the week after (our last in this session) Moon Landing Hoaxes. He also reminded that the Fete is on 13th July helpers should be there from 10.30.

Ed said the recent Wallasea Island visit was good.

Peter said that unfortunately the Perseid meteor shower would be adversely affected by the moon. However there are smaller showers later this month. For exanple the Delta Aquarid shower is visible in the predawn on 30th July.

He will put something out nearer the time for a trip to the Dengie Dark Site.

Mike said he was giving the talk tonight: The Space Race on the Front Page

Mike started with The legend of "Wan Hu" was widely disseminated by an unreferenced account in Rockets and Jets by American author Herbert S. Zim in 1945. Another book from the same year, by George Edward Pendray, describes it as an "oft repeated tale of those early days.” Most authorities consider the story apocryphal.

"Early in the sixteenth century, Wan decided to take advantage of China's advanced rocket and fireworks technology to launch himself into outer space. He supposedly had a chair built with forty-seven rockets attached. On the day of lift-off, Wan, splendidly attired, climbed into his rocket chair and forty seven servants lit the fuses and then hastily ran for cover. There was a huge explosion. When the smoke cleared, Wan and the chair were gone, and was said never to have been seen again."

Mike said that the first actual modern rocket was the V-2 the brainchild of Wernher von Braun WE saw clips of several launches both successful and not so good.

Mike had a splendid portfolio of actual newspapers for us to see on many of the topics he mentioned.

Aggregat 4 (A4), was the world's first long-range guided ballistic missile. The missile, powered by a liquid-propellant rocket engine, was developed during the Second World War in Germany as a "vengeance weapon", assigned to attack Allied cities as retaliation for the Allied bombings against German cities. The V-2 rocket also became the first man-made object to travel into space by crossing the Kármán line with the vertical launch of MW 18014 on 20 June 1944.

Von Braun made his way to America with his team of scientists. Thus helping them get into the Space Race.

Sputnik 1 was the first artificial Earth satellite. The Soviet Union launched it into an elliptical low Earth orbit on 4th October 1957, orbiting for three weeks before its batteries died, then silently for two more months before falling back into the atmosphere.

Sputnik 2 or Prosteyshiy Sputnik 2 was the second spacecraft launched into Earth orbit, on 3rd November 1957, and the first to carry a living animal, a Soviet space dog named Laika. Laika survived for several orbits, but died a few hours after the launch

Explorer 1 31 January 1958 was the first satellite launched by the United States, and was part of the U.S. participation in the International Geophysical Year. The mission followed the first two satellites the previous year; the Soviet Union's Sputnik 1 and 2, beginning the Cold War Space Race between the two nations.

Vanguard 1 March 17, 1958, (ID: 1958-Beta 2) is an American satellite that was the fourth artificial Earth orbital satellite to be successfully launched (following Sputnik 1, Sputnik 2, and Explorer 1). Vanguard 1 was the first satellite to have solar electric power. Although communication with the satellite was lost in 1964, it remains the oldest man-made object still in orbit.

Luna 2 was launched on 12th September 1959, originally named the Second Soviet Cosmic Rocket and nicknamed Lunik 2 in contemporaneous media, was the sixth of the Soviet Union's Luna programme spacecraft launched to the Moon. It was the first spacecraft to reach the surface of the Moon, and the first human-made object to make contact with another celestial body. On 13th September 1959, it hit the Moon's surface east of Mare Imbrium near the craters Aristides, Archimedes, and Autolycus.

Luna 3, 4 October 1959or E-2A No.1 was a Soviet spacecraft launched in 1959 as part of the Luna programme. It was the first-ever mission to photograph the far side of the Moon and the third Soviet space probe to be sent to the neighbourhood of the Moon.

Mike showed us a video of the launch and the front page of the Daily Mail. Also we saw the first ever pic of the far side of the Moon.

Korabl-Sputnik 2 (meaning Ship-Satellite 2), also known incorrectly as Sputnik 5 in the West was a Soviet artificial satellite, and the third test flight of the Vostok spacecraft. It was the first spaceflight to send animals (two dogs) into orbit and return them safely back to Earth. Launched on 19th August 1960, it paved the way for the first human orbital flight.

Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin was a Soviet Air Forces pilot and cosmonaut who became the first human to journey into outer space, achieving a major milestone in the Space Race; his capsule Vostok 1 completed one orbit of Earth on 12th April 1961. We saw his simple ‘control panel’ – such as it was.

Yuri was feted all over the world – we saw newspaper reports and video clips of his visits meeting world leaders including Harold MacMillan.

Very sadly on 27 March 1968, while on a routine training flight from Chkalovsky Air Base, Gagarin and flight instructor Vladimir Seryogin died when their MiG-15UTI crashed near the town of Kirzhach. The bodies of Gagarin and Seryogin were cremated and their ashes interred in the walls of the Kremlin. The circumstances of his death have not been fully explained.

Rear Admiral Alan Bartlett Sheppard Jr. was an American astronaut, naval aviator, test pilot, and businessman. In 1961 he became the first American to travel into space on 29th November.

John Herschel Glenn Jr. was a United States Marine Corps aviator, engineer, astronaut, businessman, and politician. He was the first American to orbit the Earth, circling it three times in 1962.

Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova is a member of the Russian State Duma, engineer, and former cosmonaut. She is the first and youngest woman to have flown in space with a solo mission on the Vostok 6 on 16th June 1963.

The Cuban Missile Crisis, October 1962. The Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 was a direct and dangerous confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War and was the moment when the two superpowers came closest to nuclear conflict.

A cosmonaut remembers the exhilaration — and terror — of his first space mission. In March 1965, at the age of 30, Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov made the first spacewalk in history, beating out American rival Ed White on Gemini 4 by almost three months. Mike said that Alexei experienced a terrifying problem as while he was outside his suit expanded and he could not get back in! He had to partially deflate his suit to get into the airlock.

Apollo 1, initially designated AS-204, was the first crewed mission of the United States Apollo program, the program to land the first men on the Moon. Planned as the first low Earth orbital test of the Apollo command and service module with a crew, to launch on February 21th 1967, the mission never flew; a cabin fire during a launch rehearsal test at Cape Kennedy Air Force Station Launch Complex 34 on January 27th killed all three crew members. The cause was faulty wiring and the oxygen rich atmosphere being used in the capsule.

Apollo 8, the second manned spaceflight mission flown in the United States Apollo space program, was launched on December 21th 1968, and became the first manned spacecraft to leave low Earth orbit, reach the Moon, orbit it, and return. It was during this trip that the incredible photograph showing the Earth Rising was taken – perhaps the most important/exciting image ever taken. The launch vehicle was a Saturn 5 designed by von Braun. Excellent video clip.

Apollo 11 on 16th July 1969 was the spaceflight that landed the first two humans on the Moon. Commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin, both American, landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on July 20th, 1969, at 20:17 UTC. Lots of video of the trip including of course Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the lunar surface. We also saw the Lander take off heading back to Mike Collins to return to Earth.

On January 28th 1986, the NASA shuttle orbiter undertaking mission STS-51-L and the tenth flight of Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, killing all seven crew members, which consisted of five NASA astronauts, one payload specialist, and a civilian school teacher. Mike explained that this disaster was basically put down to poor management and not the engineers. There were weaknesses in the design of the seals on the booster rockets at low temperature which were well documented but still it launched!

The Space Shuttle was never a great idea – designed as a reusable craft. But at least it allowed the ISS to be built.

Absolutely excellent.

Wednesday 10th July 2019

Mike reminded us that the Fete was this Saturday – helpers should be there for 10.30.

He mentioned that he had given some thought to a club trip to Greenwich perhaps in November.

Andrew said that next week’s talk is Did they go? Moon Landing Hoax claims discussed and it was our last meeting at the club until 4th September. Details of summertime activities to be circulated.

Peter said we should have a look at the Moon to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Lunar Landings. He showed a picture of the moon and pointed out the Tranquillity Base. There are three craters, Armstrong (4.5Km), Aldrin (3.4Km) and Collins (2.4Km), that make a good guide. He said its best to look when the sun angle maximises the crater shadows – the next few days are good then again on 22nd late afternoon.

Mike introduced Andrew for his talk: Astro Websites

Andrew had his phone set up to provide a link to the internet.

He started with the club website which we had a good look at.

Peter suggested the BAA website He is a full member of this association but the site works for normal folk too.

Other sites he uses are: for learning about comets. this shows a list of asteroids coming close – there is one tonight at 0.833 LD – closer than the Moon.' He explained how to use this site to understand what you will see in your instrument’s field of view.

Jack recommended he said it was very good.

Also which was great if you wanted to make a scope we even found our ex member Matt Stanko’s efforts.

Jim said he liked which he used for buying and selling.

Rob said he used which included a camera so you could see for yourself.

There is also an excellent one in Shetland

Jack said he used which was the Lunar and Planetary site.

Andrew said he liked Also which had some great images of unusual stuff.

Trevor said he liked which was an observatory on Skiathos.

In addition to the above there is a wealth of members’ recommendations via our club email site.

So there is much to look at.

Wednesday 17th July 2019

Mike reminded us that this was the last meeting until 4th September. Activities during the break will be notified via our email group.

He thanked Ed for organising the observing of the partial lunar eclipse.

Peter said there were to be four passes of the ISS tonight at 22.50, 12.30, 02.08 and 03.45.

Ed said he would be putting some Dark Site events around the group shortly.

Paul expressed his thanks for the clubs support for the fete £1850 was raised with £600 coming from refreshments.

Mike introduced Andrew for his talk: Did they go? Moon Landing Hoax claims discussed

Andrew began by summarising the missions – there were five manned missions with a total of twelve astronauts going there – OR DID THEY?

He discussed the options:

Did they go at all? Was it an unmanned probe? Perhaps they just went into orbit and faked the photos.

We had an absurd discussion about the probability that Australia existed. There is a lot of evidence that it is there, but we have to take some things on trust. Just because lots of people say something does not prove it is so.

With the lunar conspiracies it is more difficult to be certain. It would be very embarrassing for the US.

We saw Neil Armstrong going down a ladde,r but who filmed it? A prepositioned camera that Neil flipped out before he descended the ladder.

Why was a pic of Buzz showing the top of his helmet when Neil is of similar height? Buzz was standing is a depression and so lower.

Why do some shots look as if they are floodlit? Backscattered light.

Why are some shadows in different directions? The ground is not flat.

Why did the flag flutter? They hammered the post in and it was vibrating.

A cross hair was apparently behind the object in the image. This was caused by the image being overexposed and the white bleeding over the black cross.

Why no stars? It’s day time with the lunar day two weeks long.

Why does the Lander take off look weird with no flames? The fuel mix was one with low smoke and there is no air to provide O2.

How was the take off filmed? Remote automatic camera.

The pictures are too good – Why? They took 17,000 pics most were rubbish.

Why was the camera film not ‘cooked by the high temperature in sunlight? Items were designed to reflect sunlight and the camera was in shadow when in use.

Why were TV pics so poor? The technology was in its infancy.

Why do some video images appear to have ghosts? Some earlier images were burnt into the video camera so it is a double image.

Why is there no crater under Lander from the engine thrust? The engine was stopped before touchdown and craft was moving across surface.

Why do the same background hills appear in many different photos? They are very large and a long way off.

How do we know the mMon rocks are real? The isotopic ratio checks out it cannot be replicated on Earth. Subsequent Russian rocks matched the American ones.

Why is there no dust on Lander feet? There is no wind to move dust.

Why is there no floating dust? There’s no air.

Why do foot prints remain? Sand is very sharp – no erosion.

How were the computers of the time good enough? They used the very latest technology available. Newtonian maths was entirely good enough to get there.

Why no radio lag? The lag was edited out for TV coverage it is actually 2.4seconds.

How did they survive in the heat of the lunar day? The sits were cooled but still uncomfortable.

Was the door on the Lander too small? No.

How was the lunar rock carried? It was stowed on the outside of craft.

How were lunar rover tyres inflated? They weren't. They were made of metal as rubber tyres would have exploded to to their being no atmosphere.

How can some pictures show tyre tracks at right angles? The vehicle had rear wheel steering.

Why were astronauts not harmed by radiation? They were not exposed for long enough.

Was the radiation too high? No but it will be for missions to Mars which is not yet resolved.

Why can’t the HST see the sites? Not powerful enough>

Clementine Moon satellite was a joint space project between the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization and NASA. Launched on January 25, 1994, the objective of the mission was to test sensors and spacecraft components. This has imaged Apollo 15 sites before and after mission to see changes.

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. The LRO Mission. At 5:32 p.m. EDT, June 18th, 2009. It has imaged the Lander base shadows of Apollos 11, 15, 16, 17 and 24. On Apollo 14 they also imaged footprints and rover tracks.

On 21st July 1969 at 03.51 UTC Larry Bassinger, a ham radio amateur call sign W4EJA from Louisville, recorded a transmission coming from the moon!!! Andrew played a recording of it to us in the hall.

Why was NASA so careless if it were not real?

But perhaps the greatest proof that it happened is that the Russians did not contest it.

Why have we not been back? Too expensive and no need.

Spin Offs from the Lunar Missions include:-CAT Scanner, Computer microchip, Cordless tools, Ear thermometer, Freeze dried food, Insulation, Invisible teeth braces, Computer joystick, Memory foam, Satellite TV, Scratch resistant lens, Shoe insoles, Smoke detectors, Low drag swimsuits and water filters.


Wednesday 24th July 2019

Summer break - No meeting.

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