Tag Archives: Earth



Tom Logsdon
“Hi diddle diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon.
The little dog laughed,
To see such fun,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.”
My mother taught me that playful English nursery rhyme when I was about nine years old..
Notice how the poet who wrote it couldn’t think of anything more fanciful than having a living,
breathing creature ending up in the vicinity of the moon!
It took 300,000 of us a full decade of very hard work, but we did it! We sent two dozen
astronauts on the adventure of a lifetime and we brought all of them back alive. In 1961
President John F. Kennedy, youthful and exuberant and brimming over with confidence,
announced to the world that America’s scientists and engineers would—within a single decade
—land a man on the moon and return him safely to the earth. No cows need apply. But
potential human astronauts were bigly and hugely enthusiastic about their new opportunity
to fly through space to a different world.
By using the math and physics we had learned in school, we covered hundreds of pages with
with cryptic mathematical symbols to work out the details down to a gnat’s eyebrow.
We ended up hurling 24 American astronauts into the vicinity of the moon!. 12 of them
“kangaroo hopped“ on its surface.
Earlier this month, when the moon grew to its maximum apparent size, we were all reminded of
the excitement we felt during Project Apollo. Of course, the size of the moon did not actually
change, it merely moved up to its point of closest approach.
Systematic perturbations on the moon’s orbit coupled with rhythmic variations in its distance
from the Earth as it traveled around its elliptical orbit resulted in surprisingly large variations
in its apparent size and its brightness as seen from the Earth.
These distance variations, in turn, cause its observed diameter and its brightness to vary by as
much as 15 and 30 percent, respectively. When the moon approaches its maximum apparent
size and brightness, it is characterized as a supermoon. The biggest and brightest supermoons
are spaced out several decades apart.
My son, Chad, who participates in Special Olympics, used his cellphone camera to create the
two photographs that accompany this blog. He took the first picture at the crack of dawn
when the moon reached its maximum diameter at the edge of the parking lot at the Embassy
Suites Hotel in Lexington, Kentucky (population 360,000). He made the second photograph
12 hours later in my hometown of Springfield, Kentucky, ((population 2900). That second
picture was made on a small roadside hill beside the Bardstown Road above the IGA
Supermarket within sight of the yellow blinker light at the edge of town.
Author and short-course instructor, Tom Logsdon, who wrote this article, teaches the Launch
and Orbital Mechanics short course for The Applied Technology Institute. Click here for more
information on that course. He also teaches the GPS and Its International Competitors short
course. Click here for more information.

Super-Moon Photos and Facts

One of the super-moon photos is a humorous hoax. Can you spot it? We knew that ATI’s instructors are world-class experts. They are the best in the business, averaging 25 to 35 years of experience, and are carefully selected for their ability to explain advanced technology in a readily understandable manner. We did not know that many are talented photographers. We challenged them to take some photographs of the November 13-14 super-moon.  See our previous post and then the resulting photographs.


Tom Logsdon, who teaches Orbital & Launch Mechanics – Fundamentals provided us some of the orbits key parameters.

Here are the best, most appropriate, average orbital parameters for Earth’s.

perigee radius: 363,300 Km (for the super-moon it was 356,508 Km (or 221,524 miles)

apogee radius: 405,400 Km

Inclination to the ecliptic plane: 5.145 deg

(the plane containing the Earth and the moon)

orbital eccentricity: 0. 0549 (sometimes quoted as 5.49 percent)

recession rate from the Earth: 3.8 cm/yr

Siderial month: 27.3 days

Synodic month: 29.5 days

( the sidereal month is the time it takes for the moon to make one 360 deg trip around the earth;

the synodic month is the month we observe from the spinning earth…it involves a few extra degrees of travel beyond the sidereal month)

Dr. Peter Zipfel Shalimar, Florida

  Dr. Peter Zipfel

Six Degree of Freedom Modeling of Missile and Aircraft Simulations

Aerospace Simulations In C++

  James  Jenkins, Riva, MD

Sonar Signal Processing

 Matt Moran, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

Engineering Systems Modeling with Excel / VBA

Thermal & Fluid Systems Modeling

  Matt Moran, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

Richard Carande, Denver, CO

Fundamentals of Synthetic Aperture Radar

Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar

Richard Carande, Denver, CO

The photos that beat them all! Taken by the wife or Matt Moran

International Space Station and the Power Of Twitter: Stunning Daily Pics from Space Available to All

Images taken from space can take your breath away.  There is something truly amazing in seeing our world from such a distance and understand how beautiful and fragile it is.

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield is a bit of a space celebrity. Some of his hobbies include tweeting back and forth with William Shatner, posting recordings from space on SoudCloud, and even beaming down the occasional video of himself playing the guitar.

But the best of his messages from space (at least in our humble opinion) have got to be the photos of Earth he tweets daily from the ISS.

He shares a little bit of everything: the webbed lights of cities at night, checkerboard farmland covered in snow, swirling currents deep in the ocean, massive river deltas, and much more. It’s all there for you to browse through on his Twitter feed.

Here are a few of our favorites:

We highly suggest you take some time to look through his photo archive and see more of the spectacular views the ISS astronauts get each and every day. And keep in mind, these are all captured while traveling about 17,500mph at an altitude of about 250 miles.

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Should the world leaders go into space?

“Yes, they should”- says astronaut Scott Parazynski.   There have been about 515 human beings that have seen their planet from space and every single one of them states that the experience changes your life forever.  With NASA Shuttle Program closing the future of human space travel has been turned over to the private companies.  The most prominent of them are SpaceX, Blue Origin, Sierra Nevada Corp. and Boeing.  This makes a possibility of going up in space quite attainable for everybody.  As a matter of fact, there is a contest that was announced in celebration of Seattle’s Space Needle that one can enter and win a chance to go into suborbit.  Space Adventures Company will be responsible for designing a vehicle to take the winner of the Space Needle contest into space.  The estimated price of the vehicle is $110,000.  You can find the details on how to register here.

More importantly, if you were one of the lucky few, what would you see?

You can see on planet Earth is the sunrise or sunset which happens 16 times a day when you’re going around the Earth at 17,500 miles an hour, one orbit every 90 minutes, so half of that time you’re in sunlight and half you’re in darkness.

You see the sun rise from behind the earth and the full spectrum of light.

You come to realize that we are much closer to both our friends and those we call enemies than we think we are and humanity might be better served if we realized that, in the end, we’re all neighbors and perhaps, more importantly, members of the same human family.

While romantic phrases like the endless oceans sound nice on paper, the Earth is a very finite and relatively small world and the things we do have the power to affect it profoundly.

You can find more info here.

What do you think?  Please comment below…

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