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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Zarya, Zvezda, etc ...

So ... "What on Earth are Zarya and Zvezda?" you ask? Well - actually they are NOT on Earth! They are 2 modules of the International Space Station (ISS) that is orbiting around the Earth ;-)

Zarya was the first module launched, then Unity, then Zvezda (If you are interested, there is more info here: ... and from there you can follow the links to Zvezda and other stuff ) This website - - has some interesting info on the use/history of the name Zarya (it was initially the call sign of mission control for the flight when Yuri Gargarin orbited the Earth ;-)

Zvezda means "Star" ... which is about how bright the ISS now looks when you watch it fly over!
Zarya means Sunrise/Dawn ... symbolising the dawn of a new age of space exploration or something ... and I guess there are definitely some exciting things happening at the moment (like the failed Phobos-Grunt in a decaying orbit and due re-enter the Earth's atmospehre at some random time in approximately 2 days time, and the MSL mission (Curiosity rover) due to land on Mars this August ... I hope they have another CSIROTweetup for that, and if they do - I hope I can sneak off from work to go to it!)

Talking about Dawn ... that is when I went to bed "last night" - LOL  but - there is one advantage in having been still up at that stupid hour of the morning - I got to go outside and see the ISS fly overhead at 4:12am ;-)
(it has also been visible here in the evenings this week - but either I forget to look until too late, or it is too cloudy ... sigh)

To find out when you can look up and see the ISS fly over, one can just search on Google/etc for ISS sightings or something ... or go to or
If you are into Twitter - you can also follow @twisst to get sent alerts when it is due to be visible flying overhead ;-)
And if you have an iPhone or an Android phone ... there is at least one App that tracks satellites/etc and tells you where to look in the sky (the app I have on my phone tracks lots of stuff, including ISS, and the doomed and soon to re-enter Phobos-Grunt)

I did take a photo of the ISS with my phone - but it just looks like a tiny white dot on a black background - not worth uploading here ;-)
I don't have any recent/new photos of a Sunrise either, but I did take a photo of this Sunset over the house as we drove off to have tea at a pizza place with a name starting with Z, a couple of days ago.  lol

[the next day] ... seeing this was meant to be my Z post for ABC Wednesday, I probably should have uploaded the photo and posted this yesterday (seeing it was already late then, and is now even later) ... but I kind of never got that far ... sigh ... but I might have a couple more Sunset photos now ;-)  I took some on my phone when I was walking the dog this evening ... and then the dog and I got home just as the ISS was flying overhead ... not directly overhead, and some thin cloud - so not bright enough for any decent photos (besides - I would probably need to set up the camera on a tripod to get any photos that actually looked like anything other than a white dot in a black background - lol)

Anyway ... Here is the Sunset over the house the other day:
 yes - it really was that colour!

And here are the other Sunset/etc photos I took, with my phone, while waking the dog this evening:
(I took some with my camera too, but they are not on the computer yet)
pink sky and hills

this is what normally happens when trying to take photos of the dog, or the cat:
photo of said animal at least part way OUT of the photo!

orange Sunset

closer up (taken just after other one)

a few minutes later (from a slightly different place)

Sunset reflected in the pond

more Sunset reflections in the pond

Diesel, wishing I would let him jump in the pond  and chase the swan that has come over  - probably to see  if we have any food ;-)

Just for fun - the same photo after I played with it in GIMP (a very useful bit of  photo editing software that can is free to download from the www) I was going to make it a bit lighter because the original (above) is rather dark ... but it didn't look any good when I made it lighter (all the colours became distracting and ruined the effect - the darkness is part of what makes it a photo I like - kind of moody looking, or something ;-) but I quite like the effect in this one too.
While I was playing with photos in GIMP ... I decided to play with the lightness and contrast of another photo I took this evening - I was trying to take one of the ISS as if flew over (using my phone ;-) but it was way too dark and the photo just turned out black, with no sign of the ISS or even the stars in the sky ... but when I upped the contrast as far as it would go, and same with the brightness, but one number less - I got this rather interesting "noise" effect, which I quite like - it kind of looks like an abstract art quilt or something ;-)

oh ... one more Z thing I just have to mention seeing this is meant to be a post for the letter Z ... something that someone Tweeted reminded me ... a piece of music that I love, partly because it was used as the theme song in the film "2001 A Space Oddesy" but also because I like it anyway - is a rather dramatic piece called "Also Spake Zarathustra" ... LOL
Oddly enough ... I just looked it up (at ) and it says that the initial fanfare - the bit that was used in the film - is called "Sunrise" - which ties in nicely with where this post started - the name that I already knew, that gave me the idea for this blog post - Zarya, which means "Sunrise" ;-)

(so now that I have gone full circle, maybe it is time I hit the "post" button before I bore you all so much that you turn into Zombies? ;-)


  1. a great post to finish off the round:


Feel free to have your say ... I will read it eventually ... and maybe even answer you, if you asked a question ;-)