What’s Webb Been Up To?:
The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is hanging out nearly a million miles from Earth, observing the universe in new detail. It is cool, both literally and figuratively. The side of the telescope that’s facing deep space is about minus three hundred degrees. They need it to be that cold to observe in the infrared spectrum – light that’s much redder than we can see. With their special cameras, they can peer right through clouds of space dust, observing things we’ve never seen before, and looking back to the early universe. Plus, the images are wild looking. They’re posting new stuff all the time, so keep an eye on their website.
Watch Out For That Tree!:
You’d think my favorite movie would be Interstellar, but nope, it’s George of the Jungle! The main line is, “Watch out for that tree!” (George usually hits it anyway.) NASA seems to have taken a page from the script and crashed their spacecraft into a rock – on purpose!
It’s actually for a good cause. They’re trying to figure out if, by smashing into an asteroid, they might be able to change its path. This would be great if one ever ends up on a collision course with Earth. Although the Chesapeake Bay was likely formed by the impact of one of these “space rocks” about 35 million years ago, it would be nice to avoid future bumps. Right, T-Rex?
But don’t worry, folks: this is just a wicked cool science experiment. There’s no asteroid currently aiming at us. They are figuring out what to do IF that happens, but this was just for research. (And it looks pretty fun, too, right?)
On Monday, September 26th, they scored a direct hit on Dimorphos, a “moonlet” of the asteroid Didymos. Now they’re watching to see if they altered its orbit.
In other words, they aimed something about the size of a large golf cart at a space rock 7 million miles away, and crashed into it going 14,000 mph, and are now waiting to see if it wobbled. BOOM!
Here’s the full story and video.
Until Next Time
Here are a few things to look for:
- Can you spot Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars?
- Learn a new sky pattern! See if you can pick out the Great Square of Pegasus. Hint: Jupiter points the way.
- Try finding the Andromeda Galaxy. Binoculars work best.
And, as always, let me know if you have any questions! JoshUrban[at]Protonmail[dot]com
Clear skies, and rock on!