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See other posts from August 2010

Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla

A space calendar in "the cloud"

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

2010/08/23 05:47 CDT


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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Chris Campbell: 03/14/2013 03:28 CDT

Emily - I'm posting this down here in the hope that you have some sort of feed that alerts you to comments in old stories. Are you still updating these calendars? In particular, I have the "mission events" calendar integrated into my personal calendar and have found it very useful. But I think it isn't getting updated. For example, it lists Phobos Grunt events for this month :( I'm hoping that by posting this I will effectively nudge you to update it :) - Chris

Emily Lakdawalla: 03/25/2013 05:21 CDT

Yeah, I'm sorry I haven't updated this -- both for you and for me. I should, at some point. Don't give up. But it's pretty far down my priority list right now. Almost all of the data would come from this JPL calendar: If someone wants to volunteer to build an Excel table of future events, I'd be incorporate that into my space calendar...hint, hint....

Chris Campbell: 04/01/2013 02:03 CDT

Not taking the bait, sorry :) Perhaps JPL (Ron Baalke) could be encouraged to transition to a Google Calendar format? If so, it would be good to split that data up into, say, the three categories of spacecraft events (e.g. flybys), asteroid/comet events, conference events (i.e. meetings), and historical anniversaries. Actually even if he didn't migrate to Google Calendar or some other platform that would allow automatic integration, it would be good to have some categorization in there. As it stands, it's a wall of asteroid flybys and harder to pick out the spacecraft events. Maybe float these ideas to Ron, and then write up a blog post asking for help from the community, based on his response? Sorry I can't help more ...

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