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Posts Tagged ‘James Webb Space Telescope’

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.

Addendum

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.

10/04/2022 – Ephemeris – DART does its job, now we wait and watch.

October 4, 2022 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Tuesday, October 4th. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 33 minutes, setting at 7:17, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:45. The Moon, 2 days past first quarter, will set at 2:14 tomorrow morning.

Last week Monday night NASA’s DART spacecraft successfully smashed into the tiny asteroid Dimorphos, which was slowly orbiting an asteroid named Didymos five times its size, and nearly a half mile in size. Dimorphos is too small and too close to Didymos to be seen in optical telescopes. Even the DART spacecraft’s telescope could only spot it in the last hour before the collision. Astronomers have found that they can see asteroid shapes and moonlets by radar. One technique was to send out radar pulses out from the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico and receive them back with the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia. Now that Arecibo has been destroyed, astronomers transmit from Goldstone, California.

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

Addendum

Dimorphos collision from Hubble and JWST

Dimorphos collision from as seen from Hubble and JWST. The colors aren’t true. Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, Jian-Yang Li, Cristina Thomas, Ian Wong, Joseph DePasquale, Alyssa Pagan. From CNET web site.

07/12/2022 – Ephemeris – The rest of the first images and data from the James Webb Space Telescope to be released tomorrow

July 12, 2022 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Tuesday, July 12th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 18 minutes, setting at 9:27, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:09. The Moon, 1 day before full, will set at 5:26 tomorrow morning.

Later today at 10:30 am, NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute will present the first results from the James Webb Space Telescope. These will be, I believe, four multi-spectral images rendered in full color, and other data. The wavelength coverage of Webb in the infrared is greater than Hubble Space Telescope, which is mostly visible light, by several factors. The test images we’ve seen released so far are monochromatic and rendered in white, yellow, orange and red to depict a wide brightness range. There will be a Webb image release with explanations at the Milliken Auditorium of the Dennos Museum at 10:30, with doors opening at 10 am; and also at the Main Library in Traverse City. I’ll endeavor to be at the library.

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

Addendum

Not known by me last Sunday night when I wrote and recorded today’s program was that President Biden was going to preview one of the images Monday evening. If I were the general public, I would have been underwhelmed. It wasn’t enlarged, or particularly colorful. Here it is below. Click on it for an even larger view:

Teaser Deep Field Image from President Biden's Presentation

The teaser deep field image from President Biden’s July 11th presentation. Click on the image to fill your screen with it. Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, JWST, STScI.

In the image above, anything with diffraction spikes is a star in our galaxy. Everything else is a galaxy, like the Milky Way, with billions of stars. This is a tiny piece of sky. As a rule of thumb, the redder the galaxy, the farther away it is. The light emitted by these galaxies are starlight in mostly visible wavelengths, but shifted to the infrared by their great speed of recession caused by the expansion of space between us and them. Also note that many of these galaxies are distorted into short arcs. They seem curved as if being part of a circle around the large, bright galaxy in the center. This is caused by the gravitational lensing caused by the mass of that galaxy, dark matter, and other galaxies in its cluster. This is an effect predicted by Einstein’s theory of General Relativity. I have a feeling that we are going to see a lot more gravitational lensing as the JWST probes into deeper and deeper fields.

One thing to remember about deep fields, is that because of the speed of light being finite, that the farther we look out, the farther back in time we see into an evolving universe. The farthest back we can see with electromagnetic radiation (that is gamma rays, x-rays, ultraviolet, visible, and infrared light, microwaves and radio waves) is the era of the cosmic microwave background, when the universe became transparent, about 380 thousand years after the Big Bang. After that came a period called the dark ages before galaxies formed and the first stars ignited, called the dark ages. At least that’s what I hear-tell. There are lots of questions, like the chicken and egg question: Which came first, supermassive black holes or galaxies?

We will find answers to some of our questions, I’m sure. Even more intriguing, we will be able to ask even more and deeper questions to probe the mystery and beauty of the universe.

07/11/2022 – Ephemeris – First color images from the James Webb Space Telescope will be released tomorrow

July 11, 2022 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Monday, July 11th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 20 minutes, setting at 9:28, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:08. The Moon, 2 days before full, will set at 4:19 tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow at 10:30 am, NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute will present the first results from the James Webb Space Telescope. These will be, I believe, four multi-spectral images rendered in full color, and other data. The spectral range of Webb in the infrared is greater than Hubble Space Telescope by several factors. Hubble operates mostly in visible light and plus a bit in the ultraviolet and the near infrared. The current alignment images released are monochromatic and rendered in orange for aesthetic reasons, and to hint that these are from the long wavelength part of the spectrum. I expect the new images to look as great or better than anything the Hubble has produced. There will be a Webb image release and celebration at the Milliken Auditorium of the Dennos Museum at 10:30, with doors opening at 10 am; and also at the Main Library in Traverse City.

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

Addendum

The alignment image of the James Webb Space Telescope after the 18 primary mirror segments have been aligned to act as a single mirror. Beside the alignment star showing its overexposed diffraction spikes, many faint galaxies can be seen. The alignment star, near the Big Dipper, is almost too faint to be seen in binoculars. Credit: NASA, Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI).

Webb Fine Guidance Sensor test image

Webb Fine Guidance Sensor (FGC) test image guiding on a star for 72 exposures totaling 32 hours over 8 days. The color key to brightness is white, yellow, orange, red for bright to dim. The black cores to the stars, and at least one galaxy is due to saturating the pixels due to brightness, and are not black holes. Credits: Canadian Space Agency, NASA, FGS team. The Fine Guidance Sensor is a contribution to the James Webb Space Telescope by the Canadian Space Agency.

03/22/2022 – Ephemeris – James Webb Space Telescope has aligned its 18 segment mirror to act as one

March 22, 2022 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Tuesday, March 22nd. Today the Sun will be up for 12 hours and 15 minutes, setting at 7:57, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:40. The Moon, 3 days before last quarter, will rise at 1:34 tomorrow morning.

Last week, NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) released a photograph of the star they had been using to align the mirrors of the James Webb Space Telescope. What started a couple of months ago as a scattering of in and out of focus images of that star, are now coalesced into a single image. The six spikes on the very overexposed star are called diffraction spikes, caused by the straight edges of the hexagonal mirrors. The other objects in the field are distant galaxies. So even this calibration image appears to meet or exceed expectations. There is more work to be done in getting the other three instruments that will receive light from the telescope aligned and calibrated. We’re probably two months away from the first scientific image.

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

Addendum

The alignment image of the James Webb Space Telescope after the 18 primary mirror segments have been aligned to act as a single mirror. Beside the alignment star showing its overexposed diffraction spikes, many faint galaxies can be seen. The alignment star, near the Big Dipper, is almost too faint to be seen in binoculars. Credit: NASA, Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI).

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01/25/2022 – Ephemeris -The James Webb Space Telescope is now in orbit of Lagrange point 2 (L2)

January 25, 2022 Comments off

Note: This program was written and recorded prior to the thruster burn at 2 pm Monday, which nudged it into a halo orbit of the Earth-Sun L2 point. This post was posted after the burn.

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Tuesday, January 25th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 32 minutes, setting at 5:41, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:08. The Moon, at last quarter today, will rise at 2:19 tomorrow morning.

On the James Webb Space Telescope, which should now be in a big lazy halo orbit of the Lagrangian L2, point nearly a million miles directly opposite the Sun from the Earth. Its final mid-course correction should have dropped into the halo orbit. I’m recording this Sunday night before the scheduled 2 pm yesterday mid-course correction firing. While I’m always sure it’ll be clear tonight to see the stars, or when an eclipse will happen. I’m not so sure on when or what will happen where spacecraft and rockets are involved. As far as knowing, that it will be clear tonight. I’m sure that someone will hear or read these comments, also published on my blog, and have clear skies somewhere on the planet.

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.

Addendum

James Webb Space Telescope trajectory to L2

James Webb Space Telescope trajectory to L2 with some milestones of deployment. “ISIM” stands for Integrated Scientific Instruments Module. Credit: Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI).

Clouds Over Great Lakes

Lake effect clouds over Michigan. Taken earlier this month by NASA via SpaceRef.com. I live somewhere on the northwestern part of the Lower Peninsula under the lake effect clouds. We haven’t had much snow from it… Yet! But winter isn’t half over, and we can get big snow storms a month into spring. We exchange sub-zero (F) cold on the western edge of the lakes for slightly warmer temperatures, clouds and snow, until the lakes freeze, if they freeze.

01/18/2022 – Ephemeris – James Webb Telescope Status

January 18, 2022 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Tuesday, January 18th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 17 minutes, setting at 5:32, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:13. The Moon, 1 day past full, will rise at 6:07 this evening.

Let’s take a look at what’s happening with the Webb Space Telescope as of Sunday night when I’m recording this program, the technicians are moving the 18 mirror segments of the primary mirror away from their stowed position for liftoff to near their final position. That’s moving each of them forward about a half inch by tiny increments. Then each will be tilted to concentrate each mirror into a single image and focus it. The mirrors can be tilted and also change the curvature of the mirror segment a bit. This is what takes the time, about 5 months. All the teeny tiny adjustments take time, especially with a nearly eight and a half second two-way light-time between the Earth and the telescope.

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.

Addendum

MirrorAlignmentTracker for 1/17/22

Mirror Alignment Tracker for January 17, 2022. It looks like most mirrors are about 3 millimeters from their final position. Shown are 19 mirrors, the center on, labeled SM is the secondary mirror, out in front of the primary mirror segments. Mirrors A3 and A6 have not moved forward very much. From their position, I assume that’s intentional. Credit: NASA.

As of yesterday (January 17, 2022) the James Webb Space Telescope has journeyed to 91% of the distance to L2 (Lagrange point 2), and its speed has dropped to 577 miles per hour (929 kilometers per hour). They do not want to overshoot the velocity to drop into a halo orbit of L2. By next week’s report, the telescope should have entered its halo orbit of L2.

01/11/2022 – Ephemeris – The James Webb Space Telescope has been unfolded but more work is needed

January 11, 2022 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Tuesday, January 11th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 5 minutes, setting at 5:23, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:17. The Moon, 2 days past first quarter, will set at 3:41 tomorrow morning.

As of Sunday night, when I’m recording this program, the James Webb Space Telescope is nearly 700 thousand miles (1,100 million kilometers) from Earth, more than two thirds the way to the L2 Lagrange point., and slowing down. It doesn’t want to overshoot the mark. The telescope is fully deployed except for the alignment of all the mirrors. 18 of which make up the 6.4 meter primary mirror. They have to be adjusted to act like a monolithic mirror with millionths of an inch tolerance. That may take 5 months. Sometime around the end of that we may get to see the First Light image from the telescope, an image of something other than the calibration stars they were using for the previous months to get all the mirrors aligned.

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.

Addendum

James Webb Space Telescope temporatures 16 days after launch

James Webb Space Telescope temperatures 16 days after launch. It looks like the cold side temperatures are dropping by 1 or 2 degrees Celsius a day. Credit: James Webb Tracker by The Launch Pad YouTube Channel. Data from NASA.

 

12/30/2021 – Ephemeris – Looking forward to some space events in 2022

December 30, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Thursday, December 30th. Today the Sun will be up for 8 hours and 51 minutes, setting at 5:11, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:20. The Moon, 2 days before new, will rise at 6 tomorrow morning.

If you thought 2021 was an active one in space, 2022 looks to be as exciting. The James Webb Space Telescope will continue to deploy itself as it journeys to reach it’s L2 halo orbit. It should become operational by mid-year. The launch of the uncrewed Artemis-1 mission to, and around the Moon, has been pushed back a month to no earlier than March 12th, because of having to swap out a control computer for one of its main engines. The launch of the Psyche probe to the mostly metallic asteroid of the same name will occur in August by a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket on a four-year journey to orbit this unique asteroid. And NASA’s DART spacecraft is scheduled to crash into the tiny Dimorphos asteroid to test a deflection method in late September.

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.

Addendum

James Webb Space Telescope trajectory to L2

James Webb Space Telescope trajectory to L2 with some milestones of deployment. “ISIM” stands for Integrated Scientific Instruments Module. Credit: Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI).

Artemis-1 orbital plan

Artemis-1 orbital plan. Click on the image to enlarge it. Credit NASA.

Psyche spacecraft at the asteroid Psyche

Psyche spacecraft at the asteroid Psyche. Credit: NASA.

DART Mission

Schematic of the DART mission shows the impact on the moonlet of asteroid (65803) Didymos. Post-impact observations from Earth-based optical telescopes and planetary radar would, in turn, measure the change in the moonlet’s orbit about the parent body.
Credits: NASA/Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab

12/28/2021 – Ephemeris – The James Webb Telescope is on its way to L2

December 28, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Tuesday, December 28th. Today the Sun will be up for 8 hours and 50 minutes, setting at 5:09, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:19. The Moon, 2 days past last quarter, will rise at 3:18 tomorrow morning.

The James Webb Space Telescope was launched Christmas morning and is heading out past the Moon’s orbit. It was launched from the European Space Agency’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana on the northeast coast of South America, as part of their contribution to the project. It will orbit a point called Lagrange Point 2, or L2 for short, over four times the Moon’s distance in a direction opposite of the Sun. It will take the telescope 29 days to unfold itself. First order of business was to unfold the solar panels to obtain power, then to deploy its high gain antenna for communications with the Earth. Next to begin to deploy a 5 layer, tennis court sized sun shield. After that, the telescope will be unfolded.

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.

Addendum

The last view of Webb as it separated from the Ariane 5 launch vehicle

The last view of Webb as it separated from the Ariane 5 launch vehicle. Credit: NASA.