Archive for December 26, 2022

12/26/2022 – Ephemeris – Some space firsts this year

December 26, 2022 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Monday, December 26th. Today the Sun will be up for 8 hours and 49 minutes, setting at 5:08, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:19. The Moon, halfway from new to first quarter, will set at 9:10 this evening.

I hope we all survived the holiday season so far. We now have one more to go, New Year’s Eve. The Moon will pass the planet Saturn later this morning. By this evening, Saturn will be to the right of the Moon in the southwestern sky. Now that we’re ending the year, we can look back at some space firsts. The James Webb Space Telescope was launched last Christmas. It became operational late spring of this year and presented its first 5 spectacular images in July. The DART spacecraft, also launched last year, collided with the small asteroid Dimorphos, orbiting the larger Didymos in a 12-hour orbit produced an amazing effect on its orbit. And late this year Artemis I finally launched, making a nearly flawless orbit of the Moon with its Orion space capsule, and returned.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EST, UT –5 hours). They may be different for your location.


The Moon and Saturn at 6:30 pm tonight, 12/26/22

The Moon and Saturn at 6:30 pm tonight, December 26, 2022. Note that the Moon is shown at twice its apparent size to better show its phase. Created using Stellarium.

Teaser Deep Field Image from President Biden's Presentation

The James Webb Space Telescope teaser deep field image from President Biden’s July 11th presentation. Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, JWST, STScI.

Didymus and Dimorphos from DART

DART images of both Didymos, the big one, and Dimorphos, on approach. Dimorphos is the target. Credit NASA / JHAPL.

Two images from the LiciaCube satellite

Two images from the LiciaCube satellite launched from the DART spacecraft 15 days before the impact, and trailing it to record the collision with its wide and narrow angle imagers. Dimorphos does appear to be a rubble pile asteroid from its appearance and the amount of ejecta caused by the impact. The ejecta adds to the effect of the spacecraft’s kinetic energy by pushing away from the asteroid by Newton’s third law of motion.
Credit Italian Space Agency.

Earthset from Artemis I's Orion spacecraft

Earthset from Artemis I’s Orion spacecraft, as it moves around to the far side of the Moon. Click on the image to enlarge it. Credit: NASA.