Chinese Space Station is Coming Down


Tiangong-1 (Chinese Space Station) is currently predicted to reenter the Earth’s atmosphere between 2 AM and 8 PM Sunday, April 1, 2018. Still don’t know where.


The Chinese Space Station, Tiangong-1, is expected to make an uncontrolled reentry to Earth between Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon. Since 2013 it has been unoccupied and there has been no contact with it since 2016. The craft is expected to burn up upon reentry of the Earth’s atmosphere. There is a slight chance small debris makes it to Earth. The odds of any debris from the craft hitting anyone is less than one in 1 trillion. Iowa has a slightly higher change of seeing it burn up in the sky. Check out the map on a previous post.  The weather forecast keeps clouds away from Iowa for most of the weekend.

The video below shows a little more about what might happen and what it could look like as it burns up.

The image below shows how the craft has been slowly losing altitude in March. In January it was at 300 km above Earth. At the beginning of March it was about 250 km and now it is close to 200 km. The forecast shows it falling fast in the next couple of days.

The chart below shows how the prediction has been narrowing down to a specific date. In early March the forecast range was from around the end of March to the first week in April. Now we looking at March 31 to April 1.

Upon reentry of the Earth’s atmosphere the craft will begin to fall apart. Around 80 km above Earth, it will burn up with the potential for small debris reaching the ground. The potential size of the area with that possible debris is the yellow rectangle in the image below.


Posted under Astronomy

This post was written by Schnack on March 29, 2018

Out of Control Satellite

UPDATE: The latest on the Chinese satellite Tiangong-1 is that it will make reentry to the Earth between 5 pm to 9 pm tonight over the Pacific (as determined by Aerospace). Germany radars detected that it was tumbling towards Earth. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to nail down exactly where it will make reentry at. The latest prediction tracks have it staying away from the United States. But again, this is an out of control satellite, so forecasting it’s reentry has been extremely difficult. It is likely that most of it will burn up in the atmosphere and unlikely that debris will hit the Earth.

Tiangong-1 was spotted over Oklahoma this morning. Check out the video below from Thomas Dorman.

Track it live: Aerospace (Be Sure to Hit Refresh)



At the end of 2015, the Chinese satellite Tiangong-1, made its final altitude adjustment. Since this time it has been falling. The latest forecast (March 7, 2018) has a reentry to Earth around April 3, 2018 +/- 1 week. This forecast is updated weekly. The 18,740 lb satellite is likely to burn up as it reenters the Earth’s atmosphere. There is a possibility a small amount of debris could reach the ground if it survives reentry. The yellow area on the map below shows the higher probability of debris reaching the ground. All of Iowa is in the yellow band (click on map below to enlarge). The green area shows a lower probability. The blue area is a zero chance since the satellite doesn’t travel over this area.

According to
When considering the worst-case location (yellow regions of the map) the probability that a specific person (i.e., you) will be struck by Tiangong-1 debris is about one million times smaller than the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot.

Let’s hope if any does make it through reentry it falls over open water.



Posted under Astronomy

This post was written by Schnack on March 12, 2018

Meteor Wednesday Evening

Did you see a meteor Wednesday evening? You are not alone. There were 83 reports about a fireball seen over WI, MN, IL and IA. This map shows the location of each report. Most reports were from around 8:45 PM.


Posted under Astronomy

This post was written by Schnack on March 1, 2018

Orion the Hunter

Look in the southern sky this evening for the constellation Orion the Hunter. Look for the three stars lined up These represent his belt. If you draw a line along the stars it would point toward the star Sirius.


Posted under Astronomy

This post was written by Schnack on February 13, 2018

More Daylight

The days are getting longer and the nights are getting shorter. In about one month the sunset will be setting after 7:00.


Posted under Astronomy, Stats

This post was written by Schnack on February 6, 2018

Falcon Heavy Rocket Test Launch

SpaceX launched the world’s most powerful rocket Tuesday afternoon, February 6, 2018.

This was the first test flight for this spacecraft. The rocket successfully launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The Falcon Heavy can carry large amounts of cargo into orbit… over 100,000 pounds into “low earth orbit” (LEO). LEO is the lowest 100 to 200 miles of space. Falcon Heavy could also take over 30,000 pounds to Mars – tens of millions of miles away from Earth.


This spacecraft has plans and hopes to carry crews to the Moon or Mars. For this initial trip, the rocket is carrying a Tesla car.

Full launch video from CNBC:

For more information visit NBC’s page here.


Posted under Astronomy

This post was written by Rachael Peart on February 6, 2018

Super Blue Blood Moon in Iowa

The Super Blue Blood Moon took place Wednesday morning, January 31, 2018. It was a triple lunar phenomenon for anyone who saw it:

The moon gained it’s red tint this morning as the Earth passed between the moon and the Sun.

According to NASA, the last “super blue blood moon” was May 31, 1844. The next one won’t be until January 31, 2037…so not as long of a wait. That is only a short 19 years from today.

Here are some photos of the 2018 Super Blue Blood Moon from eastern Iowa viewers.

Photo from Robin Ann Eick

Photo by Jason Hicok (Vinton)

Photo by Jodi Zimmer

Photo by Craig Johnston

The next lunar eclipse visible from the United States will be January 21, 2019.

This time, all U.S. viewers have a better chance of seeing what will be a “blood moon”


Posted under Astronomy, NASA

This post was written by Rachael Peart on January 31, 2018

Supermoon/Lunar Eclipse This Month

The second supermoon of the year, and the month, happens on January 31st. Since it is the second supermoon of the month, it is also called a “blue moon”.

Supermoons occur when the moon is closest to Earth in its orbit, a point called perigee.

The Moon also passes in the shadow of Earth on the morning of January 31st. During this time, the Moon takes on a reddish color, becoming a “blood moon” during what will be a total lunar eclipse.

This next supermoon will be known as a “super blue blood moon” as it coincides with a lunar eclipse.

We have a fair shot of seeing some of this event (weather permitting).

Earth’s shadow – and red tint – will be apparent on the Moon around 6:15AM Central Time. The first few glimpses of the rising sun may be visible around that time, potentially decreasing our visibility. NASA says the best time to see the supermoon/eclipse would be from 6:15 to 6:30 AM Central Standard Time.

Overall, the best viewing of the “super blue blood moon” in the United States will be on the West Coast, and in Alaska and Hawaii…if you want to travel.

If it seems like there’s been a supermoon every few weeks, that is because there has. This will be the last in a trilogy of lunar events. The first took place on December 3, 2017 and then on January 1, 2018.

The next U.S. supermoon lunar eclipse, however, won’t take place until January 21, 2019. This event will not be a “blue moon.”

To learn more about the “super blue blood moon” visit NASA’s write-ups on it by clicking here, here, or here.


Posted under Astronomy, NASA

This post was written by Rachael Peart on January 24, 2018

Meteor Tuesday Evening

There are many reports of a meteor this evening. As of this post, as many as six states and Canada had reports. Far eastern Iowa might have been able to see it.

The reports were estimated to be about 7:15 PM . Most of the reports are from around Detroit, MI.


Here is a view of the meteor from Michigan.



Posted under Astronomy

This post was written by Schnack on January 16, 2018

What’s Up January 2018


Posted under Astronomy

This post was written by Schnack on January 2, 2018