The Hubble Team Assesses Switching to Backup Hardware
The Hubble Space Telescope has been in safe mode since June 13th – NASA engineers have been diagnosing the issue, and have been preforming a boatload of tests. Later this week, we may see the Hubble switch to backup hardware.
These efforts will either fix the problem, or they will not. If the problem is fixed, GREAT! The Hubble gets a few more years! If not, well… we may be seeing the end of the Hubble as a useful scientific instrument.
In either case, the Hubble has been continuously losing altitude for years – eventually will become a large piece of space debris in serious need of some sort of directed reentry. No one wants the end of Hubble’s story to be a news article about smoldering pieces of Hubble crashing through someone’s roof; Although… I can only imagine what you could sell those chunks for…
To see a timeline of operations being preformed on the Hubble Space Telescope, see this NASA site: [LINK]
There will be a mega-conjunction of the crescent Moon & the star Regulus, and the planets Venus & Mars in the western sky at sunset on July 13th – Venus and Mars appear VERY close to each other. If you are driving west at sunset, be careful – this may draw your eyes!
Jupiter and Saturn appear low in the southeastern sky before midnight.
Before sunrise, Jupiter and Saturn appear high above the southern horizon.
The Waxing Crescent Moon appears in conjunction with the binary star Spica in the southwestern sky after sunset on July 16th.
Spica is a rotating ellipsoidal variable star comprised of a blue giant and a variable star of the Beta Cephei type. The two stars are so close together they are egg-shaped due to each star’s gravity, and can only be separated by their spectra. When I created the image below, I positioned the view to show how truly close the two stars are!
The Waxing Gibbous Moon appears in conjunction with the red giant star Antares in the southern sky after sunset on July 16th.
The constellation Cygnus appears high in the east-southeastern sky after sunset. The star Albireo is a great observing target – its colors are striking! When looking at Albireo, defocus your telescope ever so slightly – the colors may be a bit easier to see.
- The Moon is a Waxing Crescent – visible toward the southwest in early evening.
- The First Quarter Moon occurs on July 17th – visible high in the southern sky in early evening.
- After July 17th, the Moon will be a Waxing Gibbous – visible to the southeast in early evening, and up for most of the night.
If you click on the Moon image above, or click this link, you will go to NASA’s Moon Phase and Libration, 2021 page – it will show you what the Moon looks like right now. If you click the image on that page, you will download a high-rez TIFF image annotated with the names of prominent features – helpful for logging your lunar observations!
The Sun has 2 sunspots. SpaceWeather.com says “These sunspots have stable magnetic fields that pose little threat for strong solar flares.”
The Sun seen in 193 angstroms on July 12th
Active coronal loop activity over the two sunspot regions – another couple regions with coronal loops are rotating out of view. The northern coronal hole appears to have diminished a little, the southern hole has merged with a huge and long coronal hole – stretching up towards the equator.
The Sun seen in 304 angstroms on July 12th
A long-lived prominence on the Sun’s limb (lower right); AR 2842 (upper left) is crackling with flares!
You can view the Sun in near real-time, in multiple frequencies here: SDO-The Sun Now.
You can create your own time-lapse movies of the Sun here: AIA/HMI Browse Data.
You can browse all the SDO images of the Sun from 2010 to the present here: Browse SDO archive.
Amateur Solar Astrophotography
Solar wind speed is 317.3 km/sec ▼, with a density of 6.9 protons/cm3 ▼ at 1350 UT.
Click here to see a near real-time animation of the corona and solar wind from the Solar & Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO).
- Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) discovered this month: 61, this year: 1364 (+56), all time: 26,202 (+58)
- Potentially hazardous asteroids: 2194 (+5) (updated 2021-07-13) This is the biggest leap in PHA’s I’ve seen!
- Total Minor Planets discovered (NASA): 1,102,539 (+2,129)
- Total Minor Planets discovered (MPC): 1,086,655 (updated 2021-06-22)
Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
|Asteroid||Date(UT)||Miss Distance||Velocity (km/s)||Diameter (m)|
|2019 AT6||2021-Jul-13||4.2 LD||5.1||11|
|2021 NM3||2021-Jul-14||4.3 LD||8.5||18|
|2019 AK8||2021-Jul-16||16.7 LD||11.7||49|
|2019 NB7||2021-Jul-17||15.2 LD||13.8||12|
|2021 ND1||2021-Jul-18||19.9 LD||14.4||80|
|2021 NX1||2021-Jul-19||6.5 LD||10.6||23|
|2021 NO2||2021-Jul-21||7 LD||9.8||20|
|2021 NO3||2021-Jul-21||9.3 LD||20.1||71|
|2014 BP43||2021-Jul-21||17 LD||8.5||18|
|2008 GO20||2021-Jul-24||12.5 LD||8.2||129|
|2020 BW12||2021-Jul-27||16.7 LD||9.8||21|
|2019 YM6||2021-Jul-31||17.9 LD||13.5||135|
|2021 NL4||2021-Aug-03||12.9 LD||10.1||70|
|2020 PN1||2021-Aug-03||9.6 LD||4.6||30|
|2020 PP1||2021-Aug-03||13 LD||3.6||16|
|2012 BA35||2021-Aug-11||6.9 LD||4.2||64|
|2016 BQ||2021-Aug-14||4.4 LD||4.7||16|
|2016 AJ193||2021-Aug-21||8.9 LD||26.2||655|
|2019 UD4||2021-Aug-22||14.2 LD||5.5||86|
|2020 BC16||2021-Aug-24||15 LD||6.7||34|
|2011 UC292||2021-Aug-24||9 LD||8.5||98|
|2017 RK15||2021-Aug-29||13.3 LD||11.6||26|
|2015 SW6||2021-Sep-05||15.9 LD||9.9||45|
|2010 RJ53||2021-Sep-09||9.6 LD||19.3||56|
Students Discover Three Asteroids
Fossilized Megaripples from Chicxulub Impact Tsunami Discovered
On July 12, 2021, the NASA All Sky Fireball Network reported 5 fireballs!
Position of the planets & several spacecraft in the inner solar system on July 13th:
Position of the planets in the middle solar system – the orbit of asteroid Pallas is highlighted:
Position of the planets in the outer solar system:
Solar System News:
International Space Station
International Space Station
HiRISE - Beautiful Mars
NASA Ingenuity Mars Helicopter
NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover
See a list of current NASA missions here: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/missions?mission_status=current
ex·o·plan·et /ˈeksōˌplanət/, noun: a planet orbiting a star other than the Sun.
Data from the NASA Exoplanet Archive
* Confirmed Planets Discovered by TESS refers to the number planets that have been published in the refereed astronomical literature.
* TESS Project Candidates refers to the total number of transit-like events that appear to be astrophysical in origin, including false positives as identified by the TESS Project.
* TESS Project Candidates Yet To Be Confirmed refers to the number of TESS Project Candidates that have not yet been dispositioned as a Confirmed Planet or False Positive.
SpaceWeather.com Realtime Aurora Gallery: https://spaceweathergallery.com/aurora_gallery.html
Are your city’s streetlights “dark-sky friendly?”
- Visit an International Dark Sky Park: https://www.darksky.org/our-work/conservation/idsp/parks/
- If you live in Michigan, visit the Michigan Dark Skies site: https://sites.lsa.umich.edu/darkskies/
World's largest astronomy museum opens in Shanghai
The Shanghai Astronomy Museum was intentionally designed without straight lines or right angles.
Minecraft Education - ISS!
Hubble – Beautiful Universe
“NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, has captured a spectacular pair of galaxies engaged in a celestial dance of cat and mouse or, in this case, mouse and mouse. Located 300 million light-years away in the constellation Coma Berenices, the colliding galaxies have been nicknamed “The Mice” because of the long tails of stars and gas emanating from each galaxy. Otherwise known as NGC 4676, the pair will eventually merge into a single giant galaxy.
The Hubble image shows the most detail and the most stars that have ever been seen in these galaxies. In one galaxy a bright blue patch is resolved into a vigorous cascade of clusters and associations of young, hot blue stars, whose formation has been triggered by the tidal forces of the gravitational interaction. Streams of material can also be seen flowing between the two galaxies.” – NASA
Stay safe, be well, and look up!
Software Apps used for this post:
NASA Eyes on the Solar System: an immersive 3D solar system and space mission simulator – free for the PC /MAC. I maintain the unofficial NASA Eyes Facebook page.
SpaceEngine: a free 3D Universe Simulator for Windows. Steam version with VR support available.
Stellarium: a free open source planetarium app for PC/MAC/Linux. It’s a great tool for planning observing sessions. A web-based version of Stellarium is also available.