Category Archives: Just for Fun

The Force is Strong With This ISS Crew!

The Expedition 45 team poster has astronauts and cosmonauts trading flight suits for Jedi robes.

The Expedition 45 team poster has astronauts and cosmonauts trading flight suits for Jedi robes.

The Expedition 45 crew has gone full Jedi for their team poster! (The mission patch is kinda shaped like a Star Destroyer…)

Entitled “International Space Station Expedition XLV: The Science Continues,” the poster features Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko (first and second on the right), NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren (left, front), Russian cosmonauts Sergei Volkov and Oleg Kononenko (top right and top left) and Kimiya Yui with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

On March 27 Kelly and Kornienko will launch to the ISS (along with Exp. 44 commander Gennady Padalka) to begin the first year-long residence aboard the Station.

Just remember guys: fly casual! (And watch out with those lightsabers up there.)

Read more on collectSPACE here.

The Galaxy’s First Glimpse at Star Wars: The Force Awakens

So if you haven’t seen it yet, here it is – the first official trailer and the world’s first look at actual scenes from J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens, coming to theaters next December. Some really interesting stuff here, including what looks to be exceptional aerial footage of X-wings and the Millennium Falcon, some new droid designs, and a curiously claymore-ish fiery lightsaber. Will the Force finally be strong with this one? Let’s “a new hope” so! (No really, I couldn’t take another let-down like “The Phantom Menace.”)

What do you think?

The Desert Dishes of Apollo Valley

Panorama of the Deep Space Network's Apollo Valley in Goldstone, CA (© Jason Major) CLICK FOR FULL SIZE

Panorama of the Deep Space Network’s Apollo Valley in Goldstone, CA (© Jason Major) CLICK FOR FULL SIZE

Deep in the Mojave desert of central California, scattered among the scrub-covered hills and rugged, rock-strewn fields, are enormous white radar dishes pointed at the sky — NASA’s “ears” for listening to the faint calls coming from its many spacecraft out exploring our solar system. I recently had the opportunity to pay a visit to the Deep Space Network complex in Goldstone (read my full account here) and while there took some photos of one of DSN’s most impressive sites: “Apollo Valley,” the home of DSS-24, -25, and -26, three giant 34-meter high-gain “Beam Waveguide” antennas (the first two of which are seen above) as well as the original Apollo dish that once received messages from Apollo 11 as it made its historic Moon landing.

With the spring desert flowers in bloom and the antennas gleaming white against the blue sky, it was an impressive sight! Click the image above for a full-sized version.

Learn more about Apollo Valley here.

“It’s Like The Universe Was Talkin’ To Me” – Neil Tyson’s First Visit To The Hayden Planetarium

“It’s as though you were locked in a room your whole life and then somebody opens a window.”
– Neil deGrasse Tyson

11-year-old Neil deGrasse Tyson with his first telescope (NOVA)

11-year-old Neil deGrasse Tyson with his first telescope (NOVA)

Do you remember your first telescope? Your first trip to a planetarium or observatory? Astrophysicist and Cosmos: a Spacetime Odyssey host Neil deGrasse Tyson does, and in this installment of NOVA’s Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers he shares his memories of seeing the Universe on the Hayden Planetarium’s big screens for the first time, and then receiving his own first telescope a couple of years later.

Obviously, they made quite the impression on young Neil.

“Saturn has rings! Oh my gosh the Moon has craters! Things you’ve heard about and read about, but to experience them yourself becomes a singular moment in your life. You are there in the Universe.”

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50 Amazing Facts About the Moon

There's a lot of fascinating things to learn about our Moon, and here are 50 of them!

There are a lot of fascinating things to learn about our Moon, and here are 50 of them!

How fast does the Moon rotate? How far is it (on average) to the Moon? How long did it take to build a lunar rover for the Apollo missions? And what did one cost? You could Google all of these answers for yourself, of course, but it’ll be a lot quicker — not to mention a lot more fun — to find out in the newest space-themed infographic from Neomammalian Studios, 50 Amazing Facts About the Moon! Check it out below. There may be some things you didn’t know about our planet’s partner in space.

(And here’s a little tip: don’t ever tell Buzz Aldrin he didn’t go to the Moon…)

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Keeping the Lights On: How To Replace a Macbook Air Battery

A bad battery almost shut the Lights off... but it was easy to replace and no Genius Bar needed!

A bad battery almost shut the Lights off… but it was easy to replace and no Genius Bar needed!

If you’re at all like me, you are in front of a computer for most of your waking and conscious day. Everyone has their own personal preference for computer workstations, and these days I use an 11″ Macbook Air for all of my personal and professional needs. I like its small size and portability combined with its decent operating muscle (I’m a graphic designer so I use industry-standard Adobe design software… Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.) When I’m at my desk I have my Macbook plugged into a 23″ monitor, but when I want to hit the road and, say, go work at a coffee shop or take a project to a client I simply unplug and go. My entire office fits into a small backpack, and that’s awesome.

The only downside to this is that everything runs off of a lithium-ion battery. Even when plugged into the wall, power is running through the battery and, even if you are very careful to maintain your battery (running charge cycles at least once a month, keeping it within operating temperatures, etc.) it will eventually succumb to the law of entropy and, one day, die.

This happened to me this month. Last week, in fact. My computer was running terribly sluggishly, even connected to the MagSafe cable, and the battery indicator on my toolbar was saying “replace now.” Reading online I found that Macbook Airs aren’t “supposed” to have their batteries replaced by the consumer and you have to take it to the Apple store to have them do it… but you can do it yourself if you are even somewhat familiar with fixing electronics. While I’m no electronics guru I have fixed a few gadgets before so I figured I’d give it a shot, and since here I am writing this with a brand-new battery installed, I guess I did a pretty good job. Here’s how it’s done, if you want to try it yourself:

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