Sunday, April 6, 2008

Comes a space shuttle passing by ... on the river Rhine!

Well, it's not one of the shuttles but a Soviet Buran and it's also not the one that performed the only spaceflight of the ill-fated program 20 years ago - but one of the surviving prototypes, the No. 002 alias OK-GLI used in 34 taxi, approach and landing tests and later ending up in Bahrain's harbor. Having already made it to the Netherlands, on Monday it should start a journey up the Rhine river to its final destination, the Technik-Museum Speyer in Germany: While this semi-Buran is partially disassembled, as recent pictures show, it will at least be a strange sight (there is even a photo contest). Via a GPS receiver the convoy's position can be tracked in real time; due to motor problems of the vessel it's stuck in the Netherlands, though, for tonight, and may hopefully make it to Krefeld, Germany, on Monday.

In other news comet C/2007 W1 (Boattini) - seen here in pictures of today and April 4 - is indeed brighter than expected: It was estimated at 8.9 mag. on Apr. 3 and at 8.6 mag. today (and 26P/Grigg-Skjellerup is also brighter than thought). • Comets in conjunction: C/2007 B2 (Skiff) with some galaxies today and another one on Mar. 29, and Chen-Gao next to Holmes on Mar. 25. • The Moon near Venus and hard-to-find Mercury on Apr. 5 and Mercury at Venus on Mar. 26, as seen from Oz. • Finally a map of Mars in 2007/8, based on images by one amateur.

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