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Emily LakdawallaAugust 23, 2010

A space calendar in "the cloud"

EDIT 8/29: I added outer planet solstices, equinoxes, and ring plane crossings to the Astronomical Events calendar.

I've spent today fiddling around with Google Calendar and have created a wholly new calendar of space events for the blog. This was motivated in part by my annoyance with the klunky process of updating my old calendar through Dreamweaver (which meant I rarely updated it, so it often had inaccuracies), and in part by the fact that important space events and meetings never showed up on my personal calendar. I recently moved to using Gmail to handle my email accounts, and after some prodding from my boss and my husband I decided to take the step to using Google to handle my calendar as well.

Or, I should say, calendars. One of the awesome things about Google Calendar is how easy it is to set up multiple calendars, which you can switch on and off in the browser. I wound up creating four separate space calendars -- one for mission events like launches and encounters, one for science meetings, one for astronomical events (which is presently only populated with Mars' solstices and equinoxes for Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, but which I'll update once I find a good source of dates for future events), and one for all the detailed minutiae of the Cassini tour. (I have put the dates of Cassini targeted flybys on the main mission events calendar; the Cassini tour calendar includes these plus apoapses, periapses, nontargeted flybys, conjunctions, and ring plane crossings with time information and details on distances, speeds, and phase angles in addition to date.) All four of these calendars are public, so if you use Google Calendar you can follow those links to add my calendars to yours. I also added in a pre-existing public calendar of moon phases. All five of these calendars are included below:

Posting this today, I see that Cassini reaches apoapsis in a few hours, beginning orbit 137; and it'll be a full Moon tomorrow. Yay for organization!

Please send me an email with any additions, corrections, or suggestions. I am in search of a good source of data for astronomical events, something that's in a format that'll be easy for me to convert -- or, even better, a public Google astronomical event calendar maintained by a reputable astronomical organization.

I'll return to regularly scheduled pretty picture postings tomorrow...

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Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
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