Bob Trembley

About Bob Trembley

Bob is a lifelong amateur astronomer, the Outreach Officer for the Warren Astronomical Society, and a volunteer NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador. Bob does a lot of astronomy outreach - he lectures about astronomy and space science, and sets up his telescopes at schools, planetariums, conventions, and other venues. From 2014-2016, he was the editor of the Warren Astronomical Society's newsletter.

Bob is fantastically interested in asteroids and near-Earth objects (NEOs), and a HUGE fan of Kerbal Space Program; he is determined to improve the teaching of astronomy and Space History throughout Michigan, and the U.S.

Rocket in Flight
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Lyrids Meteor Shower 2017

The Lyrids meteor shower is a medium strength shower that typically produces good rates for three nights centered on the maximum. These meteors usually lack persistent trails, but have been known to produce fireballs. This shower is best seen from the northern hemisphere, where the radiant is high in the dawn sky. This shower can be seen from the southern hemisphere, but at a lower rate. Peak: April 21-22nd Active from: April 16th to April 25th Radiant: 18:04 +34° (see image above) Hourly Rate: 18 Velocity: 30 miles/sec (medium – 48.4km/sec) Parent Object: C/1861 G1 (Thatcher) The moon will be a waning crescent, rising shortly before dawn. Source: American Meteor Society … Continue reading

Newly Named Asteroids: Mar. 12, 2017

The March 2017 IAU Minor Planet Center circular returned to its regular format, containing: errata, new observatory codes, deleted observations, new identifications, thousands of observation records, and several new names for minor planets. Numerous finalists from the US who participated in the 2016 Broadcom MASTERS math and science competition for middle school students were given named asteroids, as well as Noam Chomsky, the city of Mansfield in Germany, the Mekong and Thames rivers, the Chimborazo volcano, Tai Chi instructor Tam Yiu, and several others. (624) Hektor I = Skamandrios Discovered 2006 July 21 by F. Marchis et Mauna Kea. Skamandrios was the son of Andromache and Hektor, who was a Trojan prince and the greatest fighter for Troy in the Trojan War. (7202) Kigoshi = 1995 DX1 Discovered 1995 Feb. 19 at Ojima. Kunihiko Kigoshi (1919–2014) was a cosmo-geochemist and emeritus professor at Gakushuin University. One of his pioneering works was the development of the radiocarbon dating method, both … Continue reading

Exoplanet Extravaganza

Exoplanet news has been all the buzz since the announcement of seven Earth-sized planets orbiting a red dwarf star 39 light-years away from Earth – that’s 229 trillion miles or 369 trillion kilometers. Three of those worlds orbit within that star’s habitable zone, increasing their likelihood of supporting life. Two hours after the announcement, I discussed with students in the Endeavour Space Academy, what exoplanets are, exoplanet detection methods, and the thousands of exoplanets found to date. The questions I got mirror those I’ve seen asked online: Can we go there? Well, there are a lots of gotchas to that question. At our current level of technology, and using the fastest object humans have created as a baseline, it would take well over 100,000 years to reach this star system; Remember: “Space is big. Really big!” Speaking of “we,” what will modern-day humans have evolved into after 100,000 years? Could life exist there? It’s certainly possible. With the discovery of … Continue reading

New Named Asteroids – Feb. 12, 2017

The day before the 4th anniversary of the Chelyabinsk meteor strike, the IAU Minor Planet Center released a new circular: this one, however, contains only the citations for newly names minor planets – it is completely devoid of the usual list of asteroid and comet observations. Here are the new named minor planets for Feb. 12, 2017: (6117) Brevardastro = 1985 CZ1 Discovered 1985 Feb. 12 by H. Debehogne at the European Southern Observatory. Brevard is a county on the east coast of Florida and is known as the “space coast”. Brevard county is the home of the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, where many of the early manned space flights originated. The Brevard Astronomical Society is a very active amateur astronomy community in Brevard county. (6118) Mayubosh = 1986 QX3 Discovered 1986 Aug. 31 by H. Debehogne at the European Southern Observatory. There is a Japanese poem whose subject is Mt. Bizan in the Manyosyu, an anthology of the Nara Era. … Continue reading

New Named Asteroids – Jan. 12, 2017

Each month (or thereabouts), the IAU Minor Planet Center publishes a PDF document containing an extensive list of asteroid and comet observations. At the bottom of this document is a list of newly named asteroids. Asteroids have been named after: scientists (Br. Guy Consolmagno, Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson) and fictional characters (Sauron, Achilles), cities (Barcelona, Chicago), and entertainers (Freddie Mercury, Monty Python, Wil Wheaton), science and engineering fair winning students, and space mission specialists (a boatload of OSIRIS-REx mission team members got asteroids named after them). The Warren Astronomical Society and the Astronomical Society of the Pacific both have asteroids named after them. While doing research for my lecture on asteroids, I got to know an astronomer who worked at the Catalina Sky Survey; through him, I was able to get an asteroid named after my wife: 117852 Constance (2005 JG151). Each citation is allowed a short description of the recipient; sometimes it can be difficult to extol the virtues of … Continue reading

Curiosity Rover Examines Possible Mud Cracks Preserved in Martian Rock

I saw this image and immediately thought: dried mud; then I saw where the image came from: the Curiosity Rover on Mars! Reports of water having once flowed in Mars’ ancient past, currently flowing seasonally, and as sub-surface ices have been numerous over the past few years. On Earth, “where there’s water, there’s life;” and water has been found everywhere in the solar system. The Mars 2020 rover will have scientific instruments used to search for signs of past life on the red planet. From JPL Press Release 2017-009: Scientists used NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover in recent weeks to examine slabs of rock cross-hatched with shallow ridges that likely originated as cracks in drying mud. “Mud cracks are the most likely scenario here,” said Curiosity science team member Nathan Stein. He is a graduate student at Caltech in Pasadena, California, who led the investigation of a site called “Old Soaker,” on lower Mount Sharp, Mars. If this interpretation holds up, these would be … Continue reading

Titan: Frozen Moon of Saturn

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 12 years since the Huygens probe touched down on the surface of Saturn’s moon Titan – the only moon in the solar system with a dense atmosphere and clouds. The probe returned images of rugged terrain as it descended, and revealed what appears to be drainage channels flowing down to a possible shoreline. The lander returned data for about 90 minutes after touchdown. Huygens is the most distant landing of any human-made craft. The Huygens lander was part of the Cassini mission to Saturn; the mission was so successful, it was extended in 2008, and again in 2010. The spacecraft has flown by numerous moons, and returned a treasure trove of scientific data; it has also returned some of the most spectacular imagery ever produced by a robotic probe. Cassini is now in its final months at Saturn, with the probe slated to burn up on Saturn’s atmosphere this September. From JPL Press Release 2017-006: 2005 Historic Descent … Continue reading

Endeavour Space Academy

I cannot remember a time when I haven’t been fascinated with astronomy, the space program, and science fiction. I was a child during the Apollo era, and a young man when the original COSMOS first aired. I cut my teeth on Star Trek, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, and Larry Niven; Carl Sagan was, and remains to this day, my personal hero. Now that I think about it, I started doing astronomy outreach the moment I got my first cheap telescope in 1968; I showed the Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn to the neighbors, and took it with me to summer camp. I had one of those really scary green glass eyepiece solar filters – that got used a lot more than I like to think about! My wife gave me an 8″ Dobsonian telescope for my 40th birthday, that came with a not-scary-at-all solar filter; that telescope has seen a LOT of use in 16 years – so much so, it’s … Continue reading

Spacecraft 3D: NASA’s Augmented Reality Smartphone App

NASA has an app for smartphones that lets you learn about and interact with several different spacecraft that explore our solar system, study the Earth, and observe the cosmos. You can hold a virtual Mars rover in the palm of your hand, or watch as a rocket’s boosters fall away, and its fairing separate! Seeing the Curiosity rover popup in my hand, and being able to rotate it, zoom, and deploy its mast – using my Android – just blew me away! I think students would LOVE this! If you have an iOS/Android phone,download Spacecraft 3D now and experience #AugmentedReality! — : NASA_Eyes (@nasa_eyes) December 8, 2016 A photo target must be used for the app to generate the spacecraft model; the photo can be small enough to fit in your hand, or printed larger for use on a tabletop. The app can email you a link to the AR target ( which includes some cool Mars pics … Continue reading

Three Comet Close Encounters 2017-2018

Three comets will have close encounters with the Earth over the next 2 years; they are the subject of the 4*P Coma Morphology Campaign, an observing program being run by the Planetary Science Institute. All three comets are very small, ranging in size from 1.2 – 1.4 kilometers in diameter, and are classified as Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) due to their proximity to the Earth. Their comas and tails may not be visible to the naked eye (I hesitate to speculate with them being comets and all…), but they will be observable with binoculars and telescopes, and should be good targets for amateurs and professionals alike. The Planetary Science Institute is running this observing campaign nearly identically to what they carried out for Comet ISON (C/2012 S1); they are requesting un-enhanced continuum (dust) images, as well as gas (e.g., CN) images with good signal-to-noise ratio, More photography requirements and info can be found at the campaign website: “Observations with sufficient signal-to-noise that could be … Continue reading

Cassini’s Final Months at Saturn

NASA’s Cassini mission to Saturn is in its final months. The spacecraft has been put into a polar orbit which brings it over Saturn’s poles, and very close to the main rings. Cassini has sent back spectacular views of  Saturn’s north polar region shortly before it made its first close pass by the outer edge of Saturn’s main rings. In late April, Cassini will again change its orbit, bringing the spacecraft between Saturn’s innermost ring, and its cloudtops. These orbits send tingles through my spine when I think about them; there is a chance that a ring particle might impact the spacecraft, rendering it nonfunctional. According to NASA Eyes on the Solar System, when Cassini passes through the ring plane from now through April, it will be travelling at 21 km/sec. When it changes orbit in late April, and gets closer to Saturn, it will be passing over the cloudtops at about 34 km/sec. If Cassini survives all its passes … Continue reading

Have You Seen a Satellite?

Have you ever see a satellite pass overhead? Maybe the International Space Station, or the Hubble Space Telescope? I was at a friend’s home the other day, and mentioned that it was rare for me not to see a satellite during a nighttime observing session – typically within the first half hour. My friend said he’d only seen the International Space Station, once… I was floored! I mentioned this to my wife, and she pointed out to me what should have been obvious to me: that not everyone spends half hour sessions looking at the sky. (Actually, what she lovingly said was “You’re not normal.”) So, with that… there are a LOT of man-made satellites orbiting the Earth; the United States Space Surveillance Network is currently tracking more than 8,000 objects(1). Only seven percent of those objects are operational satellites, the rest is space junk: dead satellites, rocket bodies, and miscellaneous debris. If you go outside on a clear moonless night, … Continue reading