Hey Space Placers!


NASA and Intuitive Machines will host a televised news conference at 5 p.m. EST Friday, Feb. 23, to detail the Odysseus lander’s historic soft Moon landing.


With the last-minute assistance of a NASA precision landing technology, the first CLPS, or Commercial Lunar Payload Services, mission carrying the agency’s science and technology demonstrations successfully landed on the Moon at 6:23 p.m. on Feb. 22.


This mission is the first U.S. soft landing on the Moon in more than 50 years. Flight controllers are communicating and commanding the lander, which is solar charging and has good telemetry.


The news conference will air on NASA+, NASA Television, and the agency’s website. Learn how to stream NASA TV on a variety of platforms including social media.

Well, the last Full Moon of Winter, the Full Snow Moon   https://earthsky.org/tonight/february-full-moon/?mc_cid=b6a54a89a5&mc_eid=9aeb2a4318  , occurs tomorrow, February 24th, at 7:30 a.m. EST. This will also be 2024’s farthest – and only – full micromoon this year. Furthest from the Earth on Sunday at 10:00 a.m. EST, its distance will be 252,225 miles (405,917 km) as compared to the average distance between the Earth and moon of 238,900 miles (384,472 km).

Fortunately our weather is forecast to be partly cloudy tonight with Saturday clearing https://wtop.com/weather/ .

The Moon will still be very close to Full phase on Friday night so it will be worth taking a look in the East at sunset. Notice how the days are getting longer – we are now getting sunset at 6:00 p.m.! The Moon will rise shortly after sunset on Friday and be easy and beautiful to see along the horizon and during the night.

The Moon will be high and bright in the sky amongst the coming stars of Spring and if you have any snow left on the ground it will be a pretty sight in the moonlight. The Moon will be very close to the bright star Regulus, the heart of Leo the Lion. If you are out at 10 p.m. look to the Northeast to see a beautiful bright star called Arcturus https://www.space.com/22842-arcturus.html   . It is the 4th brightest star in the whole night sky and is prominent in the night skies of Spring and Fall.

If the sky is clear take in the view and look for the “Winter Circle” https://earthsky.org/favorite-star-patterns/winter-hexagon-highlights-brightest-winter-stars/?mc_cid=4e4142ddaa&mc_eid=9aeb2a4318 . With the bright Moon only the brightest stars will be visible but that can help identify them easier. When the Moon rises later in a couple of days take a look again at the Winter Circle to see all the beautiful sky sights it contains.

Each month’s Full Moon is given a name that corresponds to the characteristics of the month https://www.farmersalmanac.com/full-moon-names-traditional-and-alternative . You may have snow where you live so the Full Snow Moon will live up to its name.

When you look at the Moon this weekend consider this. There is an American lunar lander near the Moon’s South Pole called Odysseus – Odie for short –  https://wtop.com/the-space-place/2024/02/spacecraft-to-attempt-first-us-moon-landing-in-more-than-50-years/    that successfully touched down on Thursday at 6:11 p.m. EST  https://wtop.com/national/2024/02/private-lunar-lander-is-closing-in-on-the-first-us-touchdown-on-the-moon-in-a-half-century/ .

It was quite a thrill as the minutes ticked by during the 11 minutes from Powered Descent Initiation (PDI) to the predicted touchdown time of 6:23 p.m. EST.  It took awhile to get confirmation that Odie had indeed landed safely and upright as the initial radio signals from the lunar lander were weak. But the sheer elation I and countless others felt when that confirmation came through was exhilarating and harkened back to the days of Apollo https://www.nasa.gov/the-apollo-program/ .

Yes, this was an uncrewed lunar lander, but it landed in the area of the Moon, Malapert A https://science.nasa.gov/resource/malapert-massif/ which is where NASA is looking to land astronauts in 2026 during the Artemis III mission https://www.nasa.gov/missions/artemis/artemis-iii/ . NASA and other countries are going to the Moon to stay this time and initiate a lunar economy and outposts.

In a Friday post on ‘X’, Intuitive Machines said https://twitter.com/Int_Machines/status/1761032731729739804 , “Lunar Surface Day One Update  (23FEB2024 0818 CST)

Odysseus is alive and well. Flight controllers are communicating and commanding the vehicle to download science data. The lander has good telemetry and solar charging.

We continue to learn more about the vehicle’s specific information (Lat/Lon), overall health, and attitude (orientation). Intuitive Machines CEO Steve Altemus will participate in a press conference later today to discuss this historic moment. Press conference information will be coordinated with NASA and published shortly.”

WTOP will keep you updated on Odie.

Oh, and we are 46 days from the very deep partial solar eclipse that will be visible over the entire DMV https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/in/usa/washington-dc?iso=20240408 .  Have you got your solar eclipse glasses https://eclipse.aas.org/resources/solar-filters  ? You will need them to SAFELY see the partial solar eclipse so order now. 

Sky Guy in VA

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