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… and you can watch the ISS! June 27, 2009

Posted by Sarah in astro 2.0.
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Don’t freak out that the ISS is watching you – just wave back! A new service called Twisst has just been launched on Twitter to send users alerts of ISS passes at their location, based on the location information they have listed on their profile*. ISS twitter feeds already existed of course, from the OverTwitter project, which has twitter feeds for satellite passes over many world cities. An aside to OverTwitter is OverRSS, which allows users to sign up to an RSS feed of satellite passes for any location of your choice. Twisst combines the two by converting the location registered to the Twitter profile to co-ordinates, and automatically sends the alert at the right time for the right place. All you need to do is follow @twisst. (more…)

Tweeting Arxiv June 9, 2009

Posted by Sarah in astro 2.0, science.
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tweprintsFellow astronomer, blogger and developer Rob (@orbitingfrog) has put together a great new site in recent months that makes the most of two of my favourite places on the web, arxiv and Twitter. Arxiv on Twitter, or Tweprints for short, tracks all tweets about publications listed on arxiv, the online preprint service where many scientists post their new papers in a variety of sciences, including astronomy. Authors often post their work to arxiv before they are officially published by the journals, so it’s an excellent way to disseminate new results to the community more quickly than the time it takes a journal to publish (months sometimes).


The reinvention of Hubble May 11, 2009

Posted by Sarah in science, space.
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If you’re into space and astronomy, then I can’t imagine you don’t already know that the 4th Space Shuttle mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope, aka Pimp my Space Telescope, is launching today. Yes, TODAY! How long have we been waiting for this? It seems so long. So what’s happening? In their 11 days in space,  mission astronauts will undertake 5 spacewalks to make some crucial fixes and replacements to Hubble. Two brand new instruments, the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph and the Wide Field Camera 3 will be installed, setting the telescope up for 5 more years of Hubble goodness.

WFPC2, the camera that was responsible for so many of Hubble’s amazing images, will now be decommissioned. NASA released a final pretty picture from the camera yesterday, of planetary nebula K 4-55.

A final goodbye from WFPC2

A final goodbye from WFPC2, planetary nebula K 4-55

Mike Massimino, one of the astronauts on the Space Shuttle crew, has been twittering about his preparations for the mission. It’s been amazing to follow first-hand how astronauts prepare for these things and how they feel – particularly for this mission that is so long-awaited. Brilliant job Mike, thanks to you and all the crew, and safe travels tonight!

The launch is planned to take place at 2:01 EDT (check here what that is in your timezone) from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Watch it live over on NASA TV, and follow updates on twitter. NASA’s official page for the mission is here. Blogs with more mission information over at astropixie and Cosmic Variance.

Update, 11/05: Wired Science have a useful guide to following the Shuttle launch live, here.


Hubble brings exotic beauties to the IYA party April 7, 2009

Posted by Sarah in pics, science, space.
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Remember when the folks at NASA gave us all the opportunity to vote for a target to observe with the Hubble Space Telescope? (more…)

The Big Vote November 4, 2008

Posted by Sarah in random.
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It’s a day like any other: we all got up this morning, went to work, are having coffees at the office and bitching about meetings – only it’s not quite the same here in the US. It’s election day! I’m a total outsider and it’s very exciting to be able to witness this “historic” election from inside the country. To know that the whole world is watching feels pretty special.

On a lighter note, I found this great blog called the Twitter Vote Report. A number of software developers used Twitter as a platform to collate news about the election today. One cool feature is that it creates tables of waiting times in various cities, with the information coming from the actual voters standing in line. Or you can view maps of voter tweets from individual states.

Anyone can contribute to the Vote Report in the following ways:

  • Twitter: include #votereport and other tags to describe the scene on the ground
  • SMS: Send text messages to 66937 (MOZES) starting with the keyword #votereport plus other hash tags
  • iPhone: We have a Twitter Vote Report iPhone app in the App store!
  • Phone: Call our automated system at 567-258-VOTE (8683) to report about conditions, using any touch-tone phone

They also have a telephone line with a human being on the line to record your experiences. So call: 1-866-OUR-VOTE, Tweet, text or get the iPhone app!