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Posts Tagged ‘Hubble Space Telescope’

07/22/2021 – Ephemeris – Hubble’s trouble is fixed

July 22, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Thursday, July 22nd. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours even, setting at 9:19, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:19. The Moon, 1 day before full, will set at 5:18 tomorrow morning.

Folks at NASA are breathing a sigh of relief. After a month when one of its computers failed in the Hubble Space Telescope, ground controllers were able to diagnose that the problem was actually in the computer and not somewhere else. They switched to a backup computer. This wasn’t the main computer, but the one that ran the instruments. Hubble resumed operations this past Sunday. Hubble’s more or less replacement, the James Webb Space Telescope is many years overdue to be launched, and is expected to be launched later this year by the European Space Agency from French Guiana, as their contribution to the project. The Webb telescope operates in the infrared, while Hubble operates mostly in visible light.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT – 4 hr). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

The Hubble Space Telescope

The Hubble Space Telescope after its last servicing mission. Credit: NASA.

 

Full scale model of the JWST at Goddard Space Flight Center

Full scale model of the James Webb Space Telescope at Goddard Space Flight Center. Note its scale with the people in front of it.

03/18/2021 – Ephemeris – The aging Hubble Space Telescope survived its latest glitch

March 18, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Thursday, March 18th. Today the Sun will be up for 12 hours and 4 minutes, setting at 7:53, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:47. The Moon, 3 days before first quarter, will set at 1:21 tomorrow morning.

On Sunday the 7th the Hubble Space Telescope, arguably the most famous telescope there is entered safe mode. Whenever a spacecraft finds an unexpected problem it stops what it is doing, orients itself, so its solar panels face the Sun if it can. It may or may not phone home. And waits for instructions. The last time Hubble experienced a glitch that forced a safe mode was 2018. Then it took 3 weeks to get it back to normal operations. This time it was 4 days. However, the ground controllers are still checking out one of its cameras, while the others are working again. Hubble is over 30 years old. It’s replacement, the James Webb Space Telescope is expected to finally be launched this October on the European Space Agency’s Ariane 5 rocket.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

The Hubble Space Telescope

The Hubble Space Telescope after a servicing mission. Credit: NASA.

Full scale model of the JWST at Goddard Space Flight Center

Full scale model of the James Webb Space Telescope at Goddard Space Flight Center. Note its scale with the people in front of it.

I’ll be covering the James Webb Space Telescope in more detail as we count down to its launch.

10/22/2018 – Ephemeris – The Hubble Space Telescope is on the mend

October 22, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, October 22nd. The Sun will rise at 8:07. It’ll be up for 10 hours and 39 minutes, setting at 6:46. The Moon, 2 days before full, will set at 6:42 tomorrow morning.

Some of this news is a week old, but on October 5th the Hubble Space Telescope went into safe mode due to the loss of a functioning gyroscope. It needs three for fine stabilization for normal operation. Six new ones were installed by a servicing mission in 2009. In a worse case scenario, it can hobble along with just one. When a backup gyro was brought on-line it was showing anomalous readings. That was the status as of a week ago. Apparently, a workaround for the wonky gyro was found, and Hubble will go back into full operation soon.  Another servicing mission is impossible because the Space Shuttle program has ended and all the surviving shuttle orbiters are in museums. With the James Web Space Telescope delayed until at least 2021, there may well be a gap in the reception of those exquisite images from space.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

The Hubble Space Telescope
The Hubble Space Telescope after a servicing mission. Credit: NASA.

09/05/2017 – Ephemeris – Neptune’s at opposition from the Sun today

September 5, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Tuesday, September 5th. The Sun will rise at 7:09. It’ll be up for 13 hours and 1 minute, setting at 8:11. The Moon, 1 day before full, will set at 7:22 tomorrow morning.

The sea green eighth planet from the Sun is named for the Roman god of the sea, Neptune. Today it is at opposition from the Sun, meaning it is opposite the Sun in the sky, rising at sunset. It resides at 30 times the Earth’s distance from the Sun. It is seen now against the stars of the constellation of Aquarius. While it is barely visible in binoculars the bright Moon will serve as a pointer to it tonight, but also make it hard to find. It will be three and a half moon widths left of the Moon* at 10 p.m. In telescopes it shows a tiny disk, so it’s not quite star-like. The large dark spot seen on Neptune in 1989 by Voyager 2 soon disappeared, however two years ago Neptune began to show activity again as seen from Earth and by the Hubble Space Telescope.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

* For the Eastern Daylight Time zone (0200 UT, 2017/09/06).  Add one Moon diameter for every hour prior to 0200 UT, subtract one for every hour after 0200 UT.

Addendum

Click on the charts to enlarge

The constellations around Neptune

The constellations around Neptune at 10 p.m. September 5, 2017. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Neptune finder chart

Finding Neptune tonight, September 5, 2017. Neptune moves slowly, so this finder chart, without the Moon, will work for a few months, Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

The constellations around Neptune

A 300 day track for Neptune with positions every 15 days starting September 5, 2017. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Neptune from Voyager 2

Neptune with the Great Dark Spot in 1979 as seen by Voyager 2. Credit NASA/JPL

Neptune from the Hubble Space Telescope

Neptune from the Hubble Space Telescope in 2016. Credit NASA/ESA.

12/05/2016 – Ephemeris – The planet’s name is Dagon

December 5, 2016 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, December 5th.  The Sun will rise at 8:04.  It’ll be up for 8 hours and 57 minutes, setting at 5:02.  The Moon, 2 days before first quarter, will set at 11:02 this evening.

The lonely bright star low in the south-southwest at 8 p.m. these evenings is Fomalhaut the harbinger of autumn in my book, and about to leave as winter approaches.  Fomalhaut means fishes mouth and is located at the head of Piscis Austrinus, a very dim constellation.  Fomalhaut is a young white star only about 400 million years old with a disk of dust surrounding it.  Near an outer dust ring, 14 years ago the Hubble Space Telescope discovered a spot.  Four years later astronomers discovered that the spot moved along the dust lane and announced the first direct discovery of an exoplanet.  In 2010 and 2012 the planet now dubbed Fomalhaut b or Dagon was observed again and it really does orbit Fomalhaut in a very eccentric orbit.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Fomalhaut b

The track of observations of Fomalhaut b or Dagon in 2004, 2006, 2010 and 2012. Credit: NASA and ESA.

03/17/16 – Ephemeris – Why are there no green stars?

March 17, 2016 Comments off

Ephemeris for St. Patrick’s Day, Thursday, March 17th.  The Sun will rise at 7:50.  It’ll be up for 12 hours and 1 minute, setting at 7:52.   The Moon, 2 days past first quarter, will set at 5:10 tomorrow morning.

Today we celebrate the patron saint of the Emerald Isle.  And green is the color of the day.  When we look to the skies we don’t see a lot of green.  Well, maybe in the Hubble Space Telescope’s false color photographs like the original Pillars of Creation, where green represents hydrogen, and in the northern lights.  The colors we see in stars are red or orange if they are cooler than the Sun, yellow if they are the same temperature as the Sun, and white or bluish if hotter than the Sun.  In the spectrum of light we can see, green is in the middle, between yellow and blue.  As a matter of fact the Sun radiates its energy most heavily in the green.  So if you got rid of those other colors the Sun itself would be green.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Star colors

Star cluster showing star colors, probably enhanced. Source uncredited image from planetsforkids.org.

Black body radiation

“Black body” Radiation Curves by temperatures. The Sun’s surface temperature is around 5800 Kelvin. Note the peak radiation besides increasing in amplitude slides from red to blue with increasing temperature.

Aurora looking north at 10/24/2011 at 10:52 p.m.

Aurora looking north at 10/24/2011 at 10:52 p.m.  The first color visible in an aurora or northern lights is green.  More active aurorae give off other colors.  Credit:  Bob Moler.

Aurora overhead

Looking overhead in an active aurora, and the variety of colors, even green. Credit: Bob Moler.

Pillars of Creation

Pillars of Creation in false color by the Hubble Telescope. Sometimes the colors are given to specific elemental emissions, of shifted because the colors represent radiation that is invisible to the human eye. Credit: NASA/ESA/HST.