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  NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope launched Dec. 25 at 7:20 a.m. EST on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, on the northeastern coast of South America. Webb, a partnership with the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency, will explore every phase of cosmic history – from within our solar system to the most distant observable galaxies in the early universe. NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope launched at 7:20 a.m. EST Saturday on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, South America. A joint effort with ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency, the Webb observatory is NASA’s revolutionary flagship mission to seek the light from the first galaxies in the early universe and to explore our own solar system, as well as planets orbiting other stars, called exoplanets. “The James Webb Space Telescope represents the ambition that NASA and our partners maintain to propel...

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James Webb Space Telescope Launch Update

Wednesday, December 22nd 2021 06:01 PM

NASA and Arianespace successfully completed the Launch Readiness Review for the James Webb Space Telescope on Dec. 21. The team authorized the Ariane 5 rocket carrying Webb to rollout and the start of launch sequencing for the mission. However, due to adverse weather conditions at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, the flight VA256 to launch Webb – initially scheduled for Dec. 24 – is being postponed. The new targeted launch date is Dec. 25, as early as possible within the following launch window: Between 7:20 a.m. and 7:52 a.m. Washington Between 9:20 a.m. and 9:52 a.m. Kourou Between 12:20 p.m. and 12:52 p.m. Universal (UTC) Between 1:20 p.m. and 1:52 p.m. Paris Between 9:20 p.m. and 9:52 p.m. Tokyo Tomorrow evening, another weather forecast will be issued in order to confirm the date of December 25. The Ariane 5 launch vehicle and Webb are in stable and safe conditions in the Final Assembly Building.   A mockup of Arianespace's Ariane 5 rocket...

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Capture the sky with Stellarvue’s SVX 102T

Thursday, December 16th 2021 05:19 PM

  The 4-inch refractor has been a favorite of astronomy enthusiasts for countless years, thanks to the combination of portability and resolving power. While these scopes are not the largest light buckets around, they lend themselves well to wide-field observing. Recently, I revisited this classic format. After acquiring a new full-frame camera (the QHY 128C Pro), I needed to find a wide-field telescope to go with it. Careful research led to my selection: Stellarvue’s SVX 102T refractor. The nitty gritty The SVX 102T has a length of 23.5 inches (59.7 centimeters) with the focuser attached, and the dew shield adds an additional 5.5 inches (14 cm). It weighs 9.8 pounds (4.4 kilograms) with both the 2-inch and 1¼-inch ring adapters. The refractor comes with the rings and a Losmandy-style base plate as well as a heavy-duty, reinforced nylon refractor case. Since its founding in 1998, Stellarvue has refined its telescopes into some of the best instruments available to...

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  The James Webb Space Telescope mirrors sit outside a testing chamber in 2011. (Inside Science) -- At 7:20 a.m. EST on Dec. 22, the largest and most powerful space telescope ever built is scheduled to hurtle into space from a launch point near Kourou, French Guiana. It will spend a month traveling roughly a million miles from Earth to a special spot called the second Lagrange point, or L2. L2 is just 1% farther away from the sun than Earth is, forming a straight line with the star and planet. As Earth orbits the sun, so does L2 at the same speed, as if they were both attached to the sun by the same string. The telescope will travel in an ovular orbit around L2 -- from the perspective of the sun, Webb's orbit would look like a halo behind Earth. From this position, the telescope will observe the faint, distant light traveling through space from the earliest galaxies to form in the universe around 13.5 billion years ago. Webb will also learn more about the chemistry of the atmos...

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NASA to Launch 4 Earth Science Missions in 2022

Tuesday, December 14th 2021 05:18 PM

  An illustration of the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS). JPSS is a collaborative program between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA. JPSS-2 is NOAA’s next-generation operational Earth observation program that acquires and distributes global environmental data primarily from multiple polar-orbiting satellites. Credit: Oribtal ATK   The TROPICS Pathfinder satellite, pictured above, was launched on June 29. The satellite body measures approximately 10 cm X 10 cm X 36 cm and is identical to the six additional satellites that will be launched in the constellation in 2022. The golden cube at the top is the microwave radiometer, which measures the precipitation, temperature, and humidity inside tropical storms. Credit: Blue Canyon Technologies   In June 2020, the "Godzilla" dust storm traveled from the Sahara desert across the Atlantic Ocean, as seen in this true color satellite imagery from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiomete...

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  Very distant, active supermassive black holes are the brightest beacons in the universe. Known as quasars, these behemoths are surrounded by equally distant galaxies. In recent decades, researchers have gone on a cosmic treasure hunt and identified the three most distant quasars known over the last three years – each more than 13 billion light-years from Earth. Astronomers theorize that it can take billions of years for supermassive black holes and their accompanying galaxies to form. How is it possible that these quasars became so gigantic, with billions of solar masses, in the first 700 million years of the universe? Once you can see past their glare, what do their accompanying galaxies look like? And what do their “neighborhoods” look like? These are questions Xiaohui Fan and Jinyi Yang, both of the University of Arizona, and Eduardo Bañados, of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany, with an international team of astronomers,...

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  All meteors appear to come from the same place in the sky, which is called the radiant. The Geminids appear to radiate from a point in the constellation Gemini, hence the name “Geminids.” The graphic shows the radiants of 388 meteors with speeds of 35 km/s observed by the NASA Fireball Network in December 2020. All the radiants are in Gemini, which means they belong to the Geminid shower. Credit: NASA The Geminids are caused by debris from a celestial object known as 3200 Phaethon, whose origin is the subject of some debate. Some astronomers consider it to be an extinct comet, based on observations showing some small amount of material leaving Phaethon’s surface. Others argue that it has to be an asteroid because of its orbit and its similarity to the main-belt asteroid Pallas. Whatever the nature of Phaethon, observations show that the Geminids are denser than meteors belonging to other showers, enabling them to get as low as 29 miles above Earth’s su...

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  NASA technicians lift the James Webb Telescope, using a crane, and move it inside a clean room at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The scientific successor to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, Webb is the most powerful space telescope ever built. NASA is inviting the public to take part in virtual activities and events ahead of the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope. Webb will be the world’s largest and most powerful space science observatory. It will build upon the discoveries of other missions to answer fundamental questions about the universe and its origins. Launch is scheduled for no earlier than Wednesday, Dec. 22, at 7:20 a.m. EST on an Ariane 5 launch vehicle from French Guiana. Members of the public may register to attend the launch virtually or RSVP to the Virtual NASA Social event on Facebook event. NASA’s virtual guest program for this launch includes curated launch resources, a behind-the-scenes look at the mission,...

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All About The Dec. 4, 2021 Eclipse

Friday, December 3rd 2021 11:04 PM

During a total solar eclipse, the Sun, Moon, and Earth line up so that the Sun is blocked when viewed from within the Moon's shadow on Earth. A solar eclipse happens when the Moon moves between the Sun and Earth, casting a shadow on Earth, fully or partially blocking the Sun’s light in some areas. For a total solar eclipse to take place, the Sun, Moon, and Earth must be in a direct line. People located in the center of the Moon’s shadow when it hits Earth will see a total eclipse. The sky becomes very dark, as if it were dawn or dusk. Weather permitting, people in the path of a total solar eclipse can see the Sun’s corona, the outer atmosphere, which is otherwise usually obscured by the bright face of the Sun. The only place where this total solar eclipse can be seen is Antarctica. In some places, while viewers won’t get to see the total solar eclipse, they’ll instead experience a partial solar eclipse. This happens when the Sun, Moon, and Earth are n...

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  Engineering teams have completed additional testing confirming NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is ready for flight, and launch preparations are resuming toward Webb’s target launch date of Wednesday, Dec. 22, at 7:20 a.m. EST. Additional testing was conducted this week to ensure the observatory’s health following an incident that occurred when the release of a clamp band caused a vibration throughout the observatory. On Wednesday, Nov. 24, engineering teams completed these tests, and a NASA-led anomaly review board concluded no observatory components were damaged in the incident. A “consent to fuel” review was held, and NASA gave approval to begin fueling the observatory. Fueling operations will begin Thursday, Nov. 25, and will take about 10 days. The Webb Space Telescope is an international partnership with the European and Canadian space agencies. It will explore every phase of cosmic history – from within our solar system to the most...

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