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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Perseids Meteor Shower Star Party!! August 11-12!!!

The ever-reliable Perseids Meteor Shower peaks this year on the nights of August 11 and 12. During those nights, and especially after midnight, the shower can show as many as 100 meteors per hour, although this is the maximum theoretical number. Realistic numbers are more in the range of 40-60 meteors per hour under very dark skies. This will be a good year for the meteor shower since the moon sets early in the evening leaving the sky dark all night.

There are a number of star parties where you can come and watch the event. The most crucial conditions for a good show are a dark sky and clear horizon. So, what better place to view it than the dark, desert skies of Mitzpe Ramon? Mitzpe Ramon will have its own traditional star party on Monday night-Tueday morning, August 12 and 13. This star party attracts thousands of people from around Israel. Last year over 9,000 people attended. Although this sounds like a zoo, it was actually quite alot of fun, and everything was quite orderly and joyful. This may be the largest star party in the world. And if you've never heard 9,000 people cheer when a fireball flashes overhead, well, you've never lived.

If you want something a bit more intimate, on the previous night, Sunday, August 11 through the morning of Monday August 12, I will be hosting my own star party in conjunction with the Desert Shade Eco-Lodge in Mitzpe Ramon. I will be doing both naked eye and telescope star shows throughout the night until after 1:00AM, after which we can all sit back and watch the sky blaze with meteors. I will also be showing my video of the great Chelyabinsk Meteor that fell over Russia on February 15 of this year, cutting a huge swatch of destruction in its wake. To complement the video I will have a "show and hold" presentation of actual meteorites from space, including a genuine piece of the Chelyabinsk meteorite. The "piece de resistance" of my collection is a piece of the actual "Tohu va'Vohu" (See Beresheet 1:2) from which our solar system began over 5 billion years ago. It's more fun than a freak show and alot kinder to the children! We will also have a campfire around midnight and all the tea you can drink. Admission includes camping all night as well as use of the bathroom facilities. Bring your own sleeping bags, tents, camprolls, etc.

What: Perseids Meteor Shower Star Party
When: Sunday night through Monday morning, August 11-12
Where: Desert Shade Eco-Lodge Mitzpe Ramon
Activities: Naked eye and telescopic star tours by Ira Machefsky, the Starman of Mitzpe Ramon; All night camping included in price of entry; Movie of the Great Chelyabinsk Fireball that crashed over Russia on Feb. 15 of this year; "Show and Hold" presentation of actual Rocks from Space together with the most primitive meteorite ever discovered, a piece of the "Tohu va'Vohu" of our world; Camp fire; and of course meteor watching all night long.
Language: English
Admission: 80nis per person, includes all night camping privileges, hot tea all night, bathroom facilities, camp fire, all presentations.

Upgrades: Price for star tour & over night in dorm eco tent  125 Nis per person
Price for star tour & over night in private eco tent  165 Nis per person ( MIN 2 PAX PER ECO TENT)

Vegetarian food will be available  to purchase.

Optional  sun rise jeep desert safari  for just 240 NIS  

For more details & reservation
Reservations Required:

A meteor shower occurs when the earth in its orbit around the sun encounters the orbit of an old comet. Comets slowly disintegrate as they orbit the sun, leaving behind a trail of cometary debris that consists of varying size rocks, dust and debris. When the arth encounters this material, it enters the earth's atmosphere at very high speed where friction causes it to burn up. The fiery remains are seen as meteors in the sky. The larger the debris, the brighter the meteor. The Perseids Meteor Shower is the result of the earth encountering the orbit of Comet Swift-Tuttle.

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Surreal Photo of Phobos Captured Above Mars

Behold a surreal image of Mar's moon Phobos above the red planet, captured by the ESA's Mars Express orbiter circling Mars in 2010. Not a drawing. Not an artist's conception. But the real deal! Phobos orbits Mars at a height of about 5,800 miles and has a diameter of about 14 miles, very tiny in comparisson to Earth's moon with a diameter of 3,500 miles.

Mars's moon Phobos as imaged above the red planet in 2010 by the ESA's Mars Express satellite with features of Mars below. Mars's features look wavy because of the way the satellite captured this image.

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Full Moon of Menachem Av Above Mitzpe Ramon

Full Moon, 7-21-13, between the cell towers of Mitzpe Ramon.

Full moon rising, 7-21-13, Mitzpe Ramon, Israel.

"Calling the full moon." - Mitzpe Ramon, Israel. 7-21-13.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Did You See the New Moon of Av with Venus?

It was a wonderful sight on the plateau above Mitzpe Ramon, the new moon of Menachem Av setting beside Venus. Here is the pair as they set above the dome of the Weiss observatory. If you missed them this month, don't fret. They will be visible again next month for the new moon of Elul when the King is in the field! May Mashiach come speedily in our days, and usher in a time of peace and rejoycing for all Israel for all time.

The new moon of Menachem Av to the left of bright Venus, as they set above the Weiss Observatory in Mitzpe Ramon.

"I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth."

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Sunday, July 7, 2013

The New Moon of Menachem Av with Venus

Rosh Chodesh Menachem Av is this Sunday night and Monday. The new moon will usher in the month of Av, more fully called Menachem Av, the consolation of Av, when the Jewish people seek consolation from G-d for the loss of the two holy temples that were destroyed on the 9th of Av. It is also the day the spies that Moses sent to spy out the land of Israel returned with an evil report that caused the Jews to wander in the desert for 40 years.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe teaches that the spies returned with an evil report because the people did not want to loose their spiritual connection to G-d and the Torah. In the desert all of their needs were taken care of, leaving them free to study Torah night and day. The well of Miriam provided water, the Manna fell from heaven, their clothes and shoes did not age or wear out.

We see from the result how wrong they were. It was time for them to share the burden of peoplehood and statehood. It was time for them to stop living off the freely-given food and drink of G-d. It was time to give up some of their study time to nation building and statecraft.

How similar to those ancient times are the times of today. The Chareidi Jews are like the Jews of the Exodus from Egypt. All of their needs are taken care of. They are give food and water freely as Miriam's well water and G-d's Manna. They can spend all of their time studying Torah with all of their needs cared for.

Yet their sin is the sin of the spies, the greatest sin of that generation. It is time to give up the Manna; it is time to give up Miriam's spring; it is time to give up all Torah study. It is time to join the People of Israel, time to become a nation; time to work for your bread and water; time to defeat the Cannaaites, time to join in building a nation, develop statecraft, and leave the Torah study of the desert of exile behind. Not to do so will be to repeat the sin of the Spies, a sin for which we are still punished to this day.

Don't forget to go out on Thursday night, July 11, just after dark and observe the waxing crescent moon shinning next to bright Venus. The moon will then be 3.17 days old and heading toward the fast of Av on the 9th of the month. May this beautiful sight and Venus be the "star coming out of Jacob" that will herald the coming of Mashiach and the Messianic age. Then the Chareidim can return to their all torah-study way of life.

The 3 day old new moon of Menachem Av shines next to Venus (right of the moon) on Thursday night, July 11th. Go out and look for it starting around 8:15pm.

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