Showing posts with label Brisbane. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Brisbane. Show all posts

Tuesday 22 January 2013

International Space Station over Australia and New Zealand

See the International Space Station (ISS) fly over Australia and New Zealand. 

Source: Chris Hadfield
There are many good viewing opportunities of the International Space Station this week for people in Australia and New Zealand.  Below is a list of links that take you to the end of this article where there is a list of several major cities in Australia and New Zealand listing times and where to look in the sky to see the Space station. 

The image to the right is of a Sunrise as viewed from the space station, the astronauts would see several of these per day.

We have included the following locations


Since my first Space Station post many people have asked me how can they work out when they can see it for their location, there are several ways to do this I have listed a few here 
  1.  This is a NASA site that lets you see when the ISS and other satellites are flying overhead, you can enter GPS coordinates or your city name, and this site will show you when the next several over passes are happening. This site also will show you when about 400 other satellites are passing over head as well. 
  2. This is an email alert service from NASA and will email you for your location whenever the ISS is going to over pass your area. 
  3. There are many small apps that you can get for iOS, Android, Windows and many other phones / tablets that will show you what is in the sky above you. Many of these will also include alarms that will warn you as the ISS or other satellites are about to pass.
  4. Stare at the sky, until you see the third brightest object move overhead ;) although this sounds silly, its not really, this was meant to encourage people to look up at the stars. If you do it often enough you will eventually notice the ISS.
For the last few weeks I have been following Chris Hadfield on Google+ and his amazing photos that he takes from the space station, and the geek in me thought it was pretty cool to watch a twitter conversation between Captain Kirk and Chris Hadfield.

Take a walk outside, look up at the stars, wonder what is out there, show the kids and explain to them that there are 6 men living up there inside a Space Station, a space station that is a combined effort of many planets of Earth. Hopefully this will encourage them to become curious and want to learn more about the stars, space and what can be done out there.

Tuesday 8 January 2013

I can see something over New Zealand from Brisbane

The other night I was watching the International Space Station (ISS) over passing Brisbane and by using the ISS tracker I realized that as the ISS disappeared over the horizon it was now above New Zealand. This meant that while I was standing on the road outside my house in Suburban Brisbane, I was able to see an object in the air that was currently located over New Zealand.

Usually when i am looking for the ISS to fly over, there has been minimal cloud cover so it has been easy to spot it, but the other night, there was a lot of cloud cover, so I used the tracker to help me align where to look, it was then that I noticed where the ISS was currently which was over Emerald about 650 km North West of where I was now (Brisbane) , and the ISS had been above the horizon for a few minutes already,

I was pretty amazed that it was still that far away and I could see it, as I continued to monitor the ISS as it approached the horizon I was able to see that it passed fairly quickly South of Sydney and was still easily visible. I lost sight of the ISS when it was about 10 degrees above the horizon behind some trees and noticed that it was about to cross the coast of New Zealand which was about 2300 km away.

Path of International Space Station Click for Larger Image.
I estimate from where it disappeared that it would have been visible if I could spot it early, about 10 degrees above the horizon that it would be visible from the middle of the Gulf of Carpentaria (A in the image). Over B, which is where i was located all the way to the coast of New Zealand (C in the image ) a total distance of 4600 km.

The distances it will be visible from will vary depending on the height of the ISS, the orbit decays (gets closer to earth) and then rockets are used to increase the distance from Earth, I do not know when the ISS flew over if it was high, middle or a low height. The time and hence distance it will be visible for will also vary on how close the overpass is, this over pass was at 62 degrees so was a medium length overpass, a 20 degree overpass (Such as the overpass tonight 8th Jan 2013) would be noticeably less distance. If you are not sure why - get a tennis / basket ball and mark a dot where you are and move your finger over the ball as if it was the ISS.

Thursday 3 January 2013

See the International Space Station pass over Brisbane to tonight.

Click here for an updated overpass times 22 January 2013

At the moment there are six men, who are working and living in an artificial environment 370 km above the earth, travelling at nearly 8 km per second (28,000 km per hour) and tonight as it does every few weeks it will pass over our heads. This is the International Space Station.

At 8:10 pm for about 6 minutes it will be visible, over Brisbane, Queensland as small bright dot crossing over the sky. It will appear from the NW and will disappear to the SE, it will reach a maximum height of 76'. I have been monitoring the ISS for a few months now, and this is the highest and hence longest duration overpass I have seen,

Image courtesy of
From my experience last time, you won't be able to spot it until it is about 10 or 15 degrees above the horizon and will be pretty easy to spot. It's appears a lot brighter than the background stars and is noticeably moving across the sky. The space station is the third brightest object in the sky after the Sun and the moon.

I will be in Graceville park (with dogs) which is a good location to see it from as it is a large space so the horizon is very low. If anyone wants to come along feel free to come over and say hello.

Here is a link to the NASA site about how to see the Space Station, and you can sign up here to be notified of when it is flying over your location.

I think that this is something fantastic to show the kids as it may spark their imagination about space, and get them thinking about science. And since it is school holidays they can stay up a bit later if young.

Wednesday 26 December 2012

I had an 8 hour 48 minute phone call because of this blog.

Blogs are meant to start conversation, and my first post started one, and this was one long conversation nearly 9 hours. 

Last night an old mate of mine John Pritchard (of Techroom) contacted me at about 10:45 PM on Christmas Eve to say that he had heard some common friends talking about my Boeing 737 blog post, and asked me what the URL was, we then typed a few season greetings messages in Skype to each other and then we started a voice chat at 11:00 PM. This Skype call finished at 7:48 AM Boxing day - a total duration of 8 hours 48 minutes and 17 seconds.

I have been on Skype for over 8 years and use it very heavily, and am part of their beta / testing program and have actually had a client for 5 1/2 years that I dealt with mainly through Skype, but my conversation last night was the longest Skype call or phone call that I have ever had in my life. I realize that the length of the call was more to do with the fact that we were both on Christmas break so had the time to chat all night, watch the sun come up and then chat for a few more hours.

I have not been very active blogging in the past but know that I should be doing more and many people have noticed that i have been more active on Social Media for the last two months, and I have spent the previous few months preparing and organizing for starting this blog.

I have had several great friendships that have been formed with people, who I have met by reading their blog. A very good example of that is +David Novakovic who had a blog for his company that was discussing the semantic web. I was doing a project that was very closely related to what he was doing and reached out to him, and arranged for a meeting, when we met we had very similar interests and used his company's service as one of the back end processes for our project. If David had not been blogging, we still may have met up but it may have taken longer or may have never happened.This was about 5 years ago and David and I Are still in pretty regular contact.

I have come to realize that +Duncan Riley is correct Blogging is not a spectator sport, and now understand what he means by that and I have now jumped in with two feet and within days I am already seeing the benefits.

Sunday 23 December 2012

I was run over by a Boeing 737 at Flight Experience

I was fortunate today to be invited by a mate of mine to watch him as he flew a 737 simulator at Flight Experience yesterday afternoon, which happened to be a very cool way to end the work year off.

They start with a discussion with the trainer asking what you want to gain from the experience, and what your flight experience is. My friend was interested in doing a proper flight (taxi - takeoff - circuits - landing), and stated that he has held a commercial light airplane license for about a decade.

Next was a pre-flight briefing video that shows you the basic cockpit controls and talks a bit about the Boeing 737, which is the most popular commercial airliner in the world.

We then walked into the simulator, which is basically a large room, with a projector screen set up in as you can see on the right here. The Simulator has all the switches and dials that a real 737 has and they function as it would in a real 737, so when you adjust the electric trim - the trim wheels spin, the throttle levers moved relative to the power that the autopilot was giving the engines as we adjusted height or bank.

There are 4 seats, the pilot sit on the left, the co-pilot (trainer) sits on the right and there are two seats behind these ones where the passengers sit, which is where I was sitting - behind the pilot - with another friend sitting behind the copilot.

There is a large curved screen outside which has the scenery projected on to, which was pretty realistic, I was able to recognize it as Brisbane airport.

Once inside the cockpit the pilot and copilot were strapped in - using a 5 point harness as the real planes used, the whole process was done as realistic as possible, a 5 minute run through of all the controls was gone through, this was the most interesting part for me of the whole process, as when you first look at the cockpit it looks like controls and buttons everywhere, but once the logic and grouping of the controls was explained, it made things lot easier. This also helped the back seat passengers be aware of what was happening with the plane. We knew where to see air speed, vertical speed, Angle of attack and so forth.

We began taxing and I was impressed at how realistic the experience was - I have spent a lot of time using flight simulators on computers before - but having this large a screen that totally encompassed your view and having the cockpit layout increased the realism effect.

Watching my mate taxing this plane, really made me think about and realize how large and heavy these planes really are, there was a noticeable lag between applying engine power and the plane beginning to move, and the same when power was reduced on the engines  it made  me aware of how hard it is to get 70 tonnes moving.

We were using runway 19 (which means it runs at 190'), we taxied the correct way to the beginning of the runway and then once lined up properly the trainer began explaining in detail the take off procedure, it was while we were sitting here, that i noticed that another Jumbo was lining up for takeoff and was driving right through our plane, the three of us were all IT guys each with over 25 years experience so understood what was happening and commented on it. The trainer was slightly embarrassed and told us to 'ignore that', this did not detract from the realism of the event and to me added a coolness factor, as its not often you get to sit in a realistic 737 cockpit and have a 737 run you over.

We were uninjured from the other 737 running over us and we let that plane clear the runway and my mate applied power and we started to roll down the runway - he did a very good job of keeping it in the center of the runway and once "rotate" was reached we gently climbed into the air. We were soon at 3000 feet and the trainer instructed my friend to start doing gentle turns and talked him through the turns, this is where it became obvious that his experience as a real pilot was advantageous. He was very quickly able to turn a 737 to the exact required heading and too level it out in one smooth operation - where as I tend to do a series of smaller jerkier movements when i am adjusting a plane - whether a real plane, remote control plane or one within a simulator - but i am getting better.

We continued to do some circuits around Brisbane, and occasionally the trainer would pause the simulation which surprisingly did not detract from the realism of the experience for me or the other people with me. When the simulation was paused the trainer would explain things in more detail about the operation that was going to be done next and then we would do that operation.

Once several circuits were done, we were going to do a Touch and Go, which is you land as normal, then instead of applying reverse thrust and brakes, you apply full power and take off once again. From what I understand Touch and Go is a pretty common procedure in pilot training as you get to practice a landing and takeoff.

Once the touch and go was completed we came in for a full landing. and then taxied the plane off the run way and then our time was up.

All up I think this was an amazing experience and was glad that my mate invited me along for the ride, but I think with my limited piloting experience I wouldn't get my moneys worth out of the experience. I am sure that for beginner pilots like me they would have a simpler procedure that they took me through, but then I could do that on my home flight simulator.

Once we walked out - we were all slightly buzzing from the experience as it is a very realistic experience, but soon reality came back and we had to return to work for a few more hours.

See for more details.