The current (approximately 11-year-long) Solar Cycle is about to come to an end. Several years of long stretches of days without sunspots (up to 125 days so far this year – 38 of the past 41 days have been spotless) indicate the imminent beginning of a new cycle.
Crews have been selected for the first commercial craft test flights and missions – Seven men, 2 women will crew flights beginning next year, 2019. Most notable is Philadelphia native Chris Ferguson, commander of the last space shuttle flight STS-135. He’ll be part of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner first flight as he’s been the development lead at Boeing since he retired from NASA after the last shuttle flight. The test flights will be followed by operational missions to ISS carrying both America and international astronauts.
Sunrise was 6:10am and sunset today is at 8 p.m. We’ve lost 1 hour 11 minutes of day length since June 21st and we’ll continue to lose 2 minutes/day until mid-November when we slow towards Winter Solstice.
Lastly, weather permitting – there’s an Astronomer Star Party at Strathmere Beach, New Jersey on Friday, Aug. 17th.