28 December 2021


 Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington

By Gene Major

Today, December 28 marks the birth of English astronomer/mathematician Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington (1882). Sir Eddington worked on understanding the structure of stars and especially for his work on interpreting Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity. Eddington's expedition (on the island of Principe to observe the total solar eclipse of 29 May 1919 and his photographs confirmed that a massive object like the sun can bend starlight due to gravitation, just as Einstein predicted. Eddington went on to discover the mass-luminosity relationship of stars in 1924 through his study of Cepheid variable stars. Eddington died unmarried in 1944. In 2019, Portugal issued a set of stamps honouring the 1919 eclipse expedition that confirmed Einstein's theories of general relativity, as did Sao Tome E Principe.

19 December 2021

PGM-17 Thor Postcard

 PGM-17 Thor Postcard

The PGM-17A Thor was the first operational ballistic missile of the U. S. Air Force (USAF). Named after the Norse god of thunder, it was deployed in the United Kingdom between 1959 and September 1963 as an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) with thermonuclear warheads. Thor was 65 feet (20 m) in height and 8 feet (2.4 m) in diameter. The Thor and later Delta families of space launch vehicles used boosters derived from the initial Thor missile.

This postcard shows the Thor rocket on a launch pad at Cape Canaveral and is franked with the date November 2. 1959. 

The picture shows a Thor test launch was on May 12 1959 with missile number 187.


 JUNO • NASA’s Juno Spacecraft ‘Hears’ Jupiter’s Moon

Dec. 17, 2021

IMAGE:  This JunoCam image shows two of Jupiter's large rotating storms, captured on Juno’s 38th perijove pass, on Nov. 29, 2021. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS 

• An audio track (Audio in post comments) collected during Jupiter mission’s Ganymede flyby offers a dramatic ride-along. It is one of the highlights mission scientists shared in a briefing at American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting.

Sounds from a Ganymede flyby, magnetic fields, and remarkable comparisons between Jupiter and Earth’s oceans and atmospheres were discussed during a briefing today on NASA’s Juno mission to Jupiter at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in New Orleans.

Juno Principal Investigator Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio has debuted a 50-second audio track generated from data collected during the mission’s close flyby of the Jovian moon Ganymede on June 7, 2021. Juno’s Waves instrument, which tunes in to electric and magnetic radio waves produced in Jupiter’s magnetosphere, collected the data on those emissions. Their frequency was then shifted into the audio range to make the audio track.

“This soundtrack is just wild enough to make you feel as if you were riding along as Juno sails past Ganymede for the first time in more than two decades,” said Bolton. “If you listen closely, you can hear the abrupt change to higher frequencies around the midpoint of the recording, which represents entry into a different region in Ganymede's magnetosphere.”

• Continue Reading: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/.../nasas-juno-spacecraft-hears...

• Juno online at: https://www.nasa.gov/juno

• Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS Image processing: Kevin M. Gill CC BY

11 December 2021

Viktor Vasiliyevich

 On December 3, 1934, birth of Viktor Vasiliyevich Gorbatko in Ventsy-Zarya in Russia, Soviet cosmonaut selected on March 7, 1960 in the TsPK-1 group.

He participated in three space missions:

-Soyuz 7, from 12 to 17 October 1969.

-Soyuz 24, from February 7 to 25 1977.

-Soyuz 37, from July 23 to July 31, 1980.

He was assigned to the reserve crew for the flights of Soyuz 5, Soyuz 21, Soyuz 23 and Soyuz 31.

He leaves the group of cosmonauts on August 28, 1982 after 30 days 12 hours 47 minutes spent in space.

He died on May 17, 2017 in Moscow.

By Astrophilatelie Martin

10 December 2021

Covers and stamps

 Covers and stamps Space meeting on July 17, 1975 Apollo/ Soyuz mission USA/ USSR. Kingdom of Laos.

By Astrophilatelie Martin

09 December 2021

post office issued

 The French post office issued a stamp on July 22, 2019 for the 50th anniversary of man's first steps on the moon. Stamp valued at 1.30 Euros depicting Buzz Aldrin next  to the US flag on the moon.

First day cover and postcards with philatelic stamp city of Toulouse and insert with philatelic stamp city of Paris.

By Astrophilatelie Martin

08 December 2021

Japanese NASDA cover

59th Japanese NASDA cover commemorating this time the International Microgravity Laboratory 2 (IML-2) mission flown on the Space Shuttle mission STS-65 in 1994.

07 December 2021

Solar Eclipse

Bulgaria Solar Eclipse issue stamps from 2020 and 1999

By Nicholas Steggall 

06 December 2021

X-Ray astronomy satellite

 Spektr-RG is an X-Ray astronomy satellite `Спектр-РГ,. also called Spectrum-X-Gamma, SRG, SXG) is a Russian–German high energy astrophysics space observatory which was launched on July 13. 2019.  It follows on from the Spektr-R satellite telescope launched in 2011.

This 2020 stamp from Russia shows the Spektr-RG.

By Nicholas Steggall

05 December 2021

Herschel Observatory

This November, ESA's Mars Express spacecraft carried out a series of experimental communication tests with the Chinese rover (CNSA) Zhurong Mars. Mars Express successfully captured the data sent "blindly" by the rover and relayed it to Earth, where it was sent to Zhurong's team in China.

13:07 CET, November 7, Utopia Planitia.

The Zhurong rover, commanded by the Tianwen-1 orbiter, points its radio towards the Martian sky. At any moment, ESA's Mars Express will begin to pass overhead. Zhurong begins to transmit a signal into space. There is no way to know if the message is received.  Mars landing vehicles and rovers collect data that helps scientists answer fundamental questions about geology, the atmosphere, the surface environment, the history of water, and the potential for life on the Red Planet. To bring this knowledge back to Earth, they first transmit the data to a spacecraft orbiting Mars. These orbiters then use their much larger and more powerful transmitters to "transmit" the data across space to Earth. "Normally, an orbiter like ESA's Mars Express first sends a hail signal to a rover as a 'hello'," says James Godfrey, director of operations for the Mars Express spacecraft. "The rover then sends a response to establish stable communications and initiate the two-way exchange of information. But this depends on the compatibility of the rover's radio system with that of the orbiter." Since Mars Express broadcasts its "hello" signal using communication frequencies other than those received by the Chinese rover Zhurong Mars, two-way communication is not possible. But in the other direction, Zhurong can transmit a signal using a frequency that Mars Express can receive. Relay radio on Mars Express has a mode that allows for this one-way communication ("blind" communication where the sender cannot be sure that their signal is being received), but until now the technique had not been tested on the spacecraft.  In November, ESA's Mars Express and CNSA's Zhurong teams carried out a series of experimental communications tests in which Mars Express used this "blind" mode to listen for signals sent by the Zhurong Rover.  The experiments culminated in a successful test on November 20. "Mars Express has successfully received the signals sent by the rover and our colleagues from the Zhurong team have confirmed that all data has reached Earth in very good quality," says ESA's Gerhard Billig. "We look forward to further testing in the future to continue testing and further improving this method of communication between space missions." Data transmitted by Mars Express reached Earth at ESA's ESOC space operations center in Darmstadt, Germany, via communication antennas in deep space.  From there, this data was sent to Zhurong's team at the Beijing Aerospace Flight Control Center, which confirmed the test's success.


Soyuz 16

 Soviet stamp Soyuz 16 mission from December 2 to 8, 1974. Rehearsal for the Apollo-Soyuz flight ASTP.

By Astrophilatelie Martin

21 November 2021

Orbit 130

Orbit Issue 130 Preview

Orbit issue 130 preview - Please read the Editorial on pages 2 and 3 by our Chairman Ian Ridpath, as this informs you about the future of our society, the membership and future issue of Orbit.
If you have any questions please get in touch with us
If you would like to become a member please visit our website and fill in the form.


11 November 2021

Nodal Module

 Nodal Module Prichal
Uziovoy Module `UM`

Узловой Модуль "Причал",

Nodal Module Berth

“The general appearance of the emblem of the Prichal continues the main idea and symbols that have been used in such a chevron of the multipurpose laboratory module” Science “, including the logo of the state corporation Roscosmos and the corporate red edging, but the pentagonal shape should be called unique,” the state corporation said. This form is due to the fact that the module has five passive docking nodes for docking of manned and cargo ships of Russian production and for the possible expansion of the configuration of the Russian segment.

Two stars in the left corner of the pentagon symbolize two new modules in the Russian segment – “Science” and “Prichal”. There are also, two large stars that can be seen in the right corner of the emblem, they symbolize the Zarya functional cargo unit and the Zvezda service module. The two smaller stars represent the small research modules Rassvet (MIM-1) and Poisk (MIM-2).

The launch of the Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket with the Progress M-UM cargo spacecraft and the Prichal is scheduled for November 24. Module “Prichal”, intended for additional build-up of the Russian segment of the ISS, will have six docking nodes for receiving and placing other modules and spacecraft around it.

10 November 2021


 Visions of the Earth from Space. A series of 6 stamps from Liberia. 

Showing the Kizimen Volcano Russia, Issaquane Erg Algeria, Fringing Coral Reef Red Sea,  Ice lake Michigan United States, Paris France and Zambezi River Delta Mozambique with a separate sheet showing Mt Everest and the Surrounding Himalayas.

By Nicholas Steggall

09 November 2021