The Winter Solstice is At Hand

Listen 6:48

Monday, December 18 is the new moon of the year’s last lunar cycle. The moon will be in the 1st quarter by Christmas Eve. If you’re up late wrapping presents on Christmas Eve, or up early to open gifts on Christmas morning, in the East there will be lots of stars visible, as well as Mars, Jupiter and Mercury.
President Donald Trump signed a space policy directive last week formally directing NASA to return humans to the moon, then to use that experience to attempt a visit to Mars. This further refines NASA’s direction for deep solar system exploration in that it clearly leans on a ‘stepping stone’ approach to solar system exploration starting with the moon. But with one hand he giveth and with the other he taketh away; the humans-to-an-asteroid mission is dead.
Trump’s declaration applies only to the national space agency; it has no effect on commercial space companies, several of whom are still pressing forward with plans to get to Mars sooner than NASA. Last week, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin rocket company conducted a successful test flight.

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