||Spaceweather.com and NASA are joining forces
...to encourage photography
of NanoSail-D, the first solar sail to circle Earth
in low orbit. Amateur and professional astronomers and even casual
sky watchers can participate. The solar sail will
occasionally be visible to the naked eye when sunlight glints off
the spacecraft's 10 m2 sail, producing a spectacular
flash akin to an Iridium Flare. Even novice photographers
can capture such a bright event. Advanced astrophotographers,
meanwhile, will want to try to image the sail through backyard telescopes.
It will be a challenge (the sail is only 1 arcsecond across), but
even fuzzy pictures could help NASA monitor the condition of the
spacecraft. Cash prizes will be awarded to the
first ($500), second ($200), and third ($100) place photos, judged
by a NASA-appointed panel on the basis of beauty
and technical merit.
The contest begins now and ends when NanoSail-D reenters the atmosphere in April or May 2011.