Back to School / After-School
My wife and I are starting up our after-school astronomy and space science club again this year – the Endeavour Space Academy. We want to a lot of hands-on activities with the students, and try to get eyes on telescopes – even though that has been problematic in the past.
We have several buddies in various astronomy clubs who have said they’d be willing to speak remotely to the club, or host live-stream telescope sessions for the students at night.
I’m not sure if we’ll be able to run Kerbal Space Program or not; the PCs that I installed upgraded video cards in (so that they could run KSP) have been replaced – who knows what happened to the old hardware…
The Moon and Venus appear in the southwestern sky dusk; the Moon appears near Venus on September 9th, and near the star Aldebaran on September 12th.
Jupiter and Saturn appear in the southeastern sky after sunset.
The star Sirius shines brightly low in the southeastern sky before sunrise; earlier last week, I saw Sirius… and ONLY Sirius, twinkling madly through a thin veil of clouds.
- The Moon is a a Waxing Crescent – visible toward the southwest in early evening.
- The First Quarter Moon occurs on September 13th – visible high in the southern sky in early evening.
- After September 13th, the Moon will be a Waxing Gibbous – visible to the southeast in early evening, 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 is covered in spots! SpaceWeather.com says: “For the first time in years, there are multiple large spots on the sun” and “sunspots AR2866 and AR2868 are crackling with minor B-class solar flares.”
The Sun seen in 193 angstroms on September 6th.
Tornadoes (plasma indirection) appear in several locations on the Sun’s limb; the large sunspot regions are all blowing off flares.
The northern coronal hole remains HUGE, the southern hole has reopened, and there appears to be a large coronal hole in the southern hemisphere.
The Sun seen in 304 angstroms on September 6th.
Spots can be seen blowing off flares in this frequency too! Moderate prominence activity along the limb – but that one in the upper left is HUGE! In fact -if you look close, you’ll see a filament on the Sun’s face stretching up to the prominence in the upper left
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
Seriously! Click into the image here, then again on the SpaceWeather.com site to see this in hi-rez!
Solar wind speed is 361.9 km/sec ▼ with a density of 13.9 protons/cm3 ▼ at 1344 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: 40, this year: 1840 (+105), all time: 26,679 (+105)
- Potentially hazardous asteroids: 2205 (+2 updated 2021-09-07)
- Total Minor Planets discovered (NASA): 1,113,527 (updated 2021-08-17)
- Total Minor Planets discovered (MPC): 1,116,816 (updated 2021-08-31) – odd to see these last t numbers NOT be updated in a couple weeks!
Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
|Asteroid||Date(UT)||Miss Distance||Velocity (km/s)||Diameter (m)|
|2021 QH1||2021-Sep-07||2.2 LD||7.8||28|
|2021 RB||2021-Sep-08||12.7 LD||7.4||22|
|2021 QY3||2021-Sep-08||8 LD||11.5||25|
|2021 QG||2021-Sep-09||6.2 LD||5.8||18|
|2010 RJ53||2021-Sep-09||9.6 LD||19.3||56|
|2020 KR2||2021-Sep-10||14.2 LD||5.1||17|
|2021 RE||2021-Sep-10||14.5 LD||12.9||82|
|2021 RQ1||2021-Sep-11||16.6 LD||6.6||19|
|2008 CD6||2021-Sep-13||4 LD||14.4||65|
|2021 QR3||2021-Sep-14||16.7 LD||14.6||59|
|2021 QG2||2021-Sep-16||18.1 LD||7.3||30|
|2021 QV5||2021-Sep-16||12.8 LD||15.4||42|
|2021 QA2||2021-Sep-18||10.7 LD||13||54|
|2017 SL16||2021-Sep-20||12.8 LD||6.1||23|
|2021 RS||2021-Sep-22||18.7 LD||3.3||32|
|2021 NY1||2021-Sep-22||3.9 LD||9.4||177|
|2019 SF6||2021-Sep-26||16.4 LD||8.6||20|
|1998 SD9||2021-Oct-06||10.6 LD||10.8||59|
|2015 TQ21||2021-Oct-07||10.7 LD||20.7||12|
|2021 QF5||2021-Oct-11||15.4 LD||7.1||47|
|2019 SE5||2021-Oct-11||16.3 LD||6.6||16|
|2020 TH6||2021-Oct-19||7.3 LD||5.9||6|
|1996 VB3||2021-Oct-20||8.8 LD||15.3||135|
|2017 SJ20||2021-Oct-25||18.7 LD||15.7||123|
|2019 UW6||2021-Oct-26||8 LD||11.1||17|
|2009 WY7||2021-Nov-02||19.2 LD||14.7||54|
|2017 TS3||2021-Nov-02||14 LD||9.9||135|
|2005 VL1||2021-Nov-04||17 LD||5.2||18|
Eagle Scout who suggested name for asteroid Bennu gets an asteroid named after him!
What is your favorite asteroid and why?
On September 7, 2021, the NASA All Sky Fireball Network reported 20 fireballs!
(15 sporadics, 5 September epsilon Perseids)
Position of the planets & several spacecraft in the inner solar system on September 6th:
Position of the planets in the middle solar system:
Position of the planets in the outer solar system:
Solar System News
NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover
First core sample ever drilled on another planet ready to come home… someday…
International Space Station
International Space Station
Even more space walks!
HiRISE - Beautiful Mars
Grab your 3D glasses!
Boston founded Sept. 7, 1630
James Webb Space Telescope structure made from graphite composites
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
The islands of Pellworm & Spiekeroog are now recognized as Star Islands & Intl Dark Sky Communities!
- 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/
Education and STEM
College students are invited to get hands-on experience with sticky-note-sized LunaSats
NASA STEM Back to School Resources
Hubble – Beautiful Universe: Star Cluster Westerlund 2 in Nebula Gum 29
The brilliant tapestry of young stars flaring to life resembles a glittering fireworks display at the heart of Nebula Gum 29. The giant cluster of about 3,000 stars, called Westerlund 2, resides in a raucous stellar breeding ground located 20,000 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Carina.
The giant star cluster is only about 2 million years old and contains some of our galaxy’s hottest, brightest, and most massive stars. Some of its heftiest stars unleash torrents of ultraviolet light and hurricane-force winds of charged particles that etch at the enveloping hydrogen gas cloud.
The nebula reveals a fantasy landscape of pillars, ridges, and valleys. The pillars, composed of dense gas and thought to be incubators for new stars, are a few light-years tall and point to the central star cluster. Other dense regions surround the pillars, including reddish-brown filaments of gas and dust.
The brilliant stars sculpt the gaseous terrain of the nebula and help create a successive generation of baby stars. When the stellar winds hit dense walls of gas, the shockwaves may spark a new torrent of star birth along the wall of the cavity. The red dots scattered throughout the landscape are a rich population of newly forming stars still wrapped in their gas-and-dust cocoons. These tiny, faint stars are between 1 million and 2 million years old — relatively young stars — that have not yet ignited the hydrogen in their cores. The brilliant blue stars seen throughout the image are mostly foreground stars.
Because the cluster is very young — in astronomical terms — it has not had time to disperse its stars deep into interstellar space, providing astronomers with an opportunity to gather information on how the cluster formed by studying it within its star-birthing environment.
The image’s central region, which contains the star cluster, blends visible-light data taken by Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys with near-infrared exposures taken by the Wide Field Camera 3. The surrounding region is composed of visible-light observations taken by the Advanced Camera for Surveys. The red colors in the nebulosity represent hydrogen; the bluish-green hues are predominantly oxygen. – NASA
This visualization provides a three-dimensional perspective on Hubble’s 25th anniversary image of the nebula Gum 29 with the star cluster Westerlund 2 at its core. The flight traverses the foreground stars and approaches the lower left rim of the nebula Gum 29.
Passing through the wispy darker clouds on the near side, the journey reveals bright gas illuminated by the intense radiation of the newly formed stars of cluster Westerlund 2. Within the nebula, several pillars of dark, dense gas are being shaped by the energetic light and strong stellar winds from the brilliant cluster of thousands of stars.
Note that the visualization is intended to be a scientifically reasonable interpretation and that distances within the model are significantly compressed.
CREDITS:NASA, ESA, G. Bacon, L. Frattare, Z. Levay, and F. Summers (Viz3D Team, STScI), and J. Anderson (STScI); Acknowledgment: The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), A. Nota (ESA/STScI), the Westerlund 2 Science Team, and ESO
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.
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.