At the time, the car was 493,000 km (306,000) away, not far beyond the orbit of the Moon, receding from Earth about 3.7 km/s (8,300 mph). Reflecting sunlight, it shone about as brightly as a 16th magnitude star.
"It's the craziest thing I've ever captured with a telescope," he says. Like Valvasori, Kneip used an iTelescope at the Siding Spring Observatory to photograph the hurtling Tesla.
Dummy payload from the first launch of SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch vehicle [on Feb. 6, 2018]. Consists of a standard Tesla Roadster automobile and a spacesuit-wearing mannequin nicknamed "Starman". Also includes a Hot Wheels toy model Roadster on the car's dash with a mini-Starman inside. A data storage device placed inside the car contains a copy of Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" novels. A plaque on the attachment fitting between the Falcon Heavy upper stage and the Tesla is etched with the names of more than 6,000 SpaceX employees.
GROWING SUNSPOT: Sunspot AR2699 continues to grow, more than doubling in size since it appeared on Feb. 4th. This movie from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the sunspot expanding and turning toward Earth:
The sunspot has developed an unstable "beta-gamma" magnetic field that harbors energy for M-class solar flares. NOAA forecasters estimate a 15% chance of such explosions on Feb. 9th. Free: Solar Flare Alerts.
With a sterling silver backface that says "I Love You to the Moon and Back," these blue jewels make great Valentine's gifts.
All proceeds support hands-on STEM education
ROARING BEAVER APPEARS IN NORTHERN LIGHTS: Seeing animals in clouds is a physiological phenomenon called pareidolia. On Feb. 6th, Markus Varik of Tromsø, Norway, experienced auroradolia. "We saw a roaring beaver in the Northern Lights!" he says.
Things got even stranger after that. "The shapes we witnessed were unlike anything I have ever seen before as an aurora tour guide," says Varik. "For about 30 minutes the lights transformed from a beaver to Mother Theresa and many other things. Our guests were as happy as can be!" Free: Aurora Alerts
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In this diagram of the inner solar system, all of the fireball orbits intersect at a single point--Earth. The orbits are color-coded by velocity, from slow (red) to fast (blue). [Larger image] [movies]
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Look closer, and the aliens will find an in-car sound system playing David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” on loop. In the dashboard, a sign is labelled “Don’t Panic” as a cheeky reference to Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy. On the car’s circuit board is a little message that says “Made on Earth by humans.” Any aliens that come across this thing will find tons of tidbits to pore over.
The SpaceX mission was a big success. Although only two of the three boosters landed safely as planned, the rocket took off and sent “Starman” on their journey without a hitch.