TGT #28 - NAM: James Webb and Buzz Lightyear; First Five Webb Images by Distance; + 8 more [July 18, 2022]
Astronomy's Impact on Healthcare and More, James Webb and Buzz Lightyear--and Images by Distance; Planet Parade from Sunset to Dawn, Meteors at Month End; Astronomy on Tap; Satellite Constellations.
Cover Photo - The First Five Webb Images
In This Issue:
Cover Photo — First Five Webb Images in Order of Increasing Distance
Welcome to Issue 28!
Astronomy in Everyday Life
- NAM: The Impact of Astronomy
- NAM: James Webb and Buzz Lightyear; First Five Webb Images by Distance
- AAS: Astronomy on Tap
- Worst Quote EVER Heard at an Astronomy Conference
This Just In —
* AAS: Tatooine A, B or AB?
Deeper Looks —
* EAS: Satellite Constellations
Sky Planning Calendar —
* Observing—Plan-et —
- Planets Parade Easily Into the Evening; Meteors at Month’s End; Comet? Ha Ha…
* Moon-Gazing - The Moon Passes Closer…and Closer…and Covers Planets….
* Border Crossings
The Classroom Astronomer Newsletter-Inbox Magazine #31 July 11, 2022 Issue Highlights.
Welcome to The Galactic Times Newsletter-Inbox Magazine #28 !
Part of me is in Alabama. Part at the Royal Astronomical Society National Astronomy Meeting (NAM) in the UK. And another is at Leiden, the Netherlands, for an all-sciences conference called ESOF. Both following the European Astronomical Society (EAS) meeting. Cheaper than air travel but who says you can’t get jet lag at a computer.
Shaking up the order of things, there was considerably more Astronomy in Daily Life material this time so I’ve put it up front — with several chuckles—and for a change, shifted things in the Sky Planning Calendar. I’ve also changed our News Coverage—splitting stories with analyses from recent news—making Deeper Looks out from This Just In pieces.
- - -
Click here https://www.thegalactictimes.com for our Home Page, with all past issue Tables of Contents and stories indexed by topic. You can also hear and find useful materials for education from our former podcast, on the website (plus links to other Hermograph products and periodicals).
Head here -
— for our (Free) Subscription Page and subscribe, or to read in the Archive.
If you are enjoying this twice-monthly newsletter, please support it by 1) using the link at the end to spread copies to your colleagues and friends and urge them to subscribe (why should you do all the emailing, right? We’re glad to do it!) and 2) if you are an educator, subscribe to the Classroom Astronomer Inbox Magazine, too!
It being hot as blazes as I write this…..you and yours need to get into some new T-shirts. Hermograph’s Wearable Sundial shirts will keep you cool…and on time! S, M, L, XL and XXL! Go to the Hermograph Press Store!
Publisher — Dr. Larry Krumenaker Email: email@example.com
Astronomy in Everyday Life
NAM: The Impact of Astronomy
In an earlier time, to justify the moneys spent on the American space program, NASA used to point to spin-offs such as hand-held scientific calculators and Teflon lubricants to made it into home-cooking pans. Steven van Loo and others in this Royal Astronomical Society conference session pointed out why astronomers not only should acknowledge how astronomy impacts the rest of the world, but actively seek out partnerships and alliances with industry. Yes, astronomy is a fundamental astronomy and delving into the workings of the universe is satisfying. But that’s not all it does. It also impacts everyday life. Consider:
Astrophysicist William Fowler’s thought invention of electron degeneracy, how white dwarves need to be shorn of their electrons to be packed into so tiny a star, is now used widely in solid state physics, and electronics.
Your iPad and home wi-fi all need to pay homage to John O’Sullivan, a CSIRO astronomy engineer who designed a technique for radio signal multipath interference reduction in computer networking which was integrated into 802.11 wi-fi standards.
Fedex tracking uses FORTH computer code developed for Kitt Peak telescopes.
IRAF is used for medical imaging in breast cancer detection and human genome decoding.
Astronomer Claire Council of the University of Southhampton, UK, gave as examples how astronomical statistical techniques are used by the healthcare industry to determine the possibilities of successful medical results. A technique called Monte Carlo modeling, where hundreds of initial conditions are run through a process to see which outcomes are generated most, is used to see what kinds of results a treatment will generate given different initial blood pressures, ages and weights and diets and genders and other parameters of patients. These techniques are used to study the complexities of galaxy formations given different ages, types, sizes, star formation rates, luminosities and other factors in galaxies, equally complex initial conditions to human beings. Another collaboration the astronomy department has with healthcare researchers involves techniques that are used in studying X-ray pulsations in black hole for studying uterine contractions and fetal heart rates.
The word “Cancer” is both biological and astronomical. The former is far more deadly. The moles that can form in skin cancer, particularly whole-body melanomas, can be time-consuming to diagnose and susceptible to misdiagnosis. The University of Southhampton is developing a biological Zooniverse-like activity called Molecatcher. Images of patient skin are converted into ‘star photos’ where skin tones serve as dark sky and moles as stars and the mole images can be extracted, resulting in fewer mis-identifications.
“Astronomy not only answers fundamental questions,” says van Loo, “but also drives innovation.”
AAS: Astronomy on TAP
Don’t drink and observe, but if some non-astronomer is the designated driver you might like to spend time at your nearest Habitable Zone, a.k.a. Astronomy on Tap site. Similar in concept to the Science Cafe’s, AoT’s are fewer in number and more often than not located near a university with an astronomy department. But they offer a public talk on a hot astronomy topic with researchers at a bar or restaurant. Some are also streamed online.
An example: on the 19th of July, astronomers Griffin Hosseinzadeh and Michael Jones from Steward Observatory will give talks entitled Explosions in Space! How to Catch a Supernova and Oases in a desert: New, blue, and isolated stellar systems. It will take place on the patio of Borderlands Brewing Company (119 E. Toole Ave, Tucson AZ) at 7:30 pm Arizona time. Other sites offer games and prizes, and put the talks on a YouTube channel for later viewing.
The location menu indicates there are 29 in North America, 11 in Europe, and one each in Asia (Taipei) and South America (Chile), but the Calendar seems to indicate others not on that list—I saw two others in Germany. In the second half of July you can hear the latest research in a relaxed setting in Leiden (Netherlands), State College (PA), Bonn and Cologne, Germany, and Pittsburgh. In August, you can raise a glass to the stars and speakers in San Antonio, Los Angeles (two, one in English, one in Chinese!), Charlottesville, VA, Huntsville, AL, Minneapolis, Tucson, Seattle, and Leiden and State College again. AoT might be a good thing for the travelling or vacationing astro buff, teacher, grad student or prof to hit this site after you make your travel arrangements but before you actually go!
NAM: James Webb and Buzz Lightyear
Yup. The obligatory first Webb telescope photograph. This is the SMACS 0723-73 Galaxy Cluster, with gravitational lensing, away way away at over 4 billion light years distance. Not the farthest photographed object ever taken. But cool. And it brings in a natural discussion towards how far things are. Which is what astronomer and workshop director (and also member of the Bristol (UK) Improv) Kierann Shah did at the Royal Astronomical Society’s National Astronomy Meeting did in her talk about engagement with the public, using the recent Buzz Lightyear movie opening as a way to get kids interested in “what was a light year anyway?”
To do so, she showed the already giggly audience (why, later…) this table (slightly modified by yours truly with one additional line) on light years:
You can add or change items as you wish but it definitely gives you a feel for distance and time.
If you like you could add in the other First Images. In order of distance (see Cover Photo), they are:
WASP-96b (the spectrum only), 1150 light years (ly).
Southern Ring Nebula, 2500 ly.
Cosmic Cliffs Nebula in Carina, 7600 ly
Stephen’s Quintet, 290 million ly (for four of them, one is a 40 million ly foreground galaxy).
And the SMACs galaxy cluster.
Finding historical events for some might be a good historical, interdisciplinary activity. What happened in the year 872 AD? 478 BC? 5578 BC?
Oh, and why were the audience of scientists (and postdocs and grad students, and…) giggly? Because we all had to get Buzz Lightyear-style “Space Ranger”names, courtesy of Disney (apologies for the fuzzy screen capture).
The first names are those of real astronauts—Yuri (Gagarin), Sally (Ride), Mae (Jemison). The surnames are astronomical terms! One audience member had the coolest name—Peggy Parallax! Yours truly is Sultan Quasar.
Head to www.sciencecentres.org.uk/projects/lightyear for a better copy.
Worst quote EVER heard at an astronomy conference:
“The Sun is not a solar-type star.”
This Just In
* AAS: Tatooine A, B or AB?
Many exoplanets are found in binary star systems, because single stars are actually not all that common. The question sometimes is, though, which star in the binary system is the planet orbiting?? When all you see is stream of photons and not the individual stars, it is not that obvious an answer. One needs to know if the planet orbits the primary, the secondary, or both, in order to figure out the planets radius and density, the correct planetary transit depth, and star properties.
Katie Lester of NASA Ames and three colleagues measured a sample of 23 sample exoplanet systems in binaries and found that 70% orbited the primary star. They were sure only 9% orbited the secondary; they rest were indeterminable. [Ed.—As far as I can recall hearing, only one exoplanet has been discovered that orbits both the primary and secondary stars, at a considerable distance from both so that the pair act as a single gravitational source.]
EAS: Satellite Constellations
I won’t claim to be unbiased here. I consider the burgeoning numbers of satellite constellations for internet access a pollution to the sky as bad as unchecked dumping waste into the air or water. Legal the former may be, as the latter has been, but there has been much improvement in the latter, if not perfection, in reality and in law.
A plenary talk by Dr. Olivier Hainaut of the European Space Observatory outlined the current status of the situation. Today SpaceX and OneWeb together have about 3000 low Earth orbit satellites, about equal in number to all other satellites of all other purposes and countries in orbit. In ten years expect theirs and other competitors to have about 100,000 satellites in both low and high orbits. Right now at any time about 100 are about the horizon; expect 5000 to in view in ten years. Most may be invisible to the naked eye, but to telescopes….they range in the range of magnitudes 5-10, average 8. Naked eye ones now are 50, mostly during twilight and ten to the naked eye afterwards.
As he put it, we can not escape. They are always up. Their radio signals spill out into astrophysically important and non-protected bands. There is always data loss in detectors, constantly.
Mitigations? Fewer. (HAH!!) Lower is better—they decay faster, more are in shadow, more can be made darker—but….more satellites means more potential for collisions and orbital pollution, and as they crash back to Earth, whole or in pieces, there is more Aluminum pollution from them than from meteoroids! Launching this many satellites—and their replacements—adds to atmospheric pollution.
While I fervently believe there has to be a better way—you can check your email and internet sites on your cell phone without satellites—I was reluctantly astonished to find myself nodding in agreement with some of the benefits:
Remote areas can have access they can’t otherwise have.
Access for areas having disasters and war.
Alternative access for those under dictatorships and authoritarian regimes.
Safety for ships at see and for airlines, and telemetry for same.
Educational services for poor and remote areas.
Remote sensing for environmental monitoring.
These are good uses. But while competition is a hallmark of capitalism, even utilities have been so regulated such to remove the dangers of overlapping infrastructures. One does not have multiple electric wires or phone wires or sewage systems. If we’re going to have satellite constellations, we should not do so at the cost of destroying the starfields.
Sky Planning Calendar
While the planetary line-up — minus Mercury — is still barely hanging on in the dawn — the show is now moving into the evening skies. Let’s take it in order of planetary appearances after sunset.
Mercury is on the way in, but shyly. It sets 45 minutes after sunset after the 27th of July, but only just barely, gaining only about 15 more minutes during this apparition into August. You’ll find it best when it is near something, like the Moon on the 29th.
Next comes Saturn, rising during twilight, in fact, it rises as Mercury sets, on the 27th. A month from now it is up the whole night through to sunrise. It is the only bright star in the faint water zone of Capricornus and other oceanic constellations.
Jupiter rises almost two hours after Saturn, and before midnight, on the far side of the sea creatures, in Cetus near the Pisces-Aries border. It isn’t going to move much in July, nearing its first retrograde stationary point on the 29th, about to move westward or backwards, for four months.
Mars straddles the evening-morning line, rising at Standard Time midnight at the start of our two-week time-frame and a little over an hour after Jupiter, though that gap will widen with the weeks.
Venus, of course, stays in the morning sky, though it actually rises at the last minutes of darkness. It tickles the feet of Castor, the western Gemini twin, and on the 20th it passes 1.5-degrees from the pretty star cluster M35.
Some cometary debris, i.e. a meteor shower, will make the end of July more interesting. The Delta Aquarids (or southern Deltas), peaks on the 29th but some will be visible for at least 4 days on either side. With no moon to speak of, being near New Moon the whole time, you’ll have no light problems except those of your neighborhood. You might get to see up to 20 per hour as you get towards the morning twilight, coming out of the southern sky, which means look anywhere else but south for the longest trails in the sky.
Aware of a lot of buzz about a comet, known in shorthand as K2 (Formally, C/2017 K2 PanSTARRS)? Inbound for several years and probably never to return, it is decently bright—for binocular viewers—but nowhere near the screaming images or sometimes near-Earth destruction headlines you might see. It won’t get that close, and it won’t get brighter than maybe 7th magnitude at best. It is passing through Ophiuchus on the way towards the head of Scorpius, passing the northern most star of the three around August 21. That might be a good time to try to find the fuzzball with a telescope or binoculars. We’ll tackle that at a later date, but it is near nothing special right now. Just don’t expect a spectacle.
Moon passages by a star, planet or deep sky object are a good way to find a planet or other object if you’ve never located it before.
Our evenings are finally no longer planet-free, but not very yet interesting, and there aren’t any Moon passages by evening planets this fortnight until its end.
July 18 Far away Neptune is 3-degrees north of the waxing moon.
July 19 And tonight, Jupiter is even closer, 2-degrees, but only in the evening.
July 20 Last Quarter….and it is the anniversary of the first Moon landing at Tranquility Base. But that area is in darkness in this moon phase. Look up at the Moon during the morning today and remember…
July 21 Mars sees the giant planets’ bets and raises it…it is 1.1-degrees away when Luna passes it….during daylight in North America. You’ll see Mars to the left of the oncoming Moon during dawn. The Moon will actually cover the planet for those living in Japan, Northwest Alaska, and the very far Arctic regions.
At roughly midnight between the 21st and 22nd, Uranus tops them all, being not only 0.2-degrees from the Moon — less than a Moon’s diameter! — but covered up by the Moon for millions of observers in the region beginning in the eastern Atlantic islands, then the nations bordering the Mediterranean, most of Europe, the Middle East and Asia as far as northern India and western China.
July 26 The Moon’s at apogee, the farthest from Earth it gets this month, and the smallest visible-sized Moon is just 4-degrees north of Venus, at least an easy-to-see grouping…
July 28 New Moon.
July 29 The Moon, barely re-appearing in the evening twilight as a very thin crescent, is in conjunction with barely visible Mercury, to the Moon’s lower left. Look quickly; they will be gone after barely 30 minutes or so after sunset.
July 30 The crescent Moon has moved to the upper left of Regulus, the alpha star of Leo the Lion. Don’t mistake THAT for Mercury, to Regulus’ lower right.
The Sun leaves the Gemini twins and enters Cancer the Crab on the 21st. Traditionally it is bothering the Lion after the 23rd so astronomy and astrology match for TWO WHOLE DAYS!
The Classroom Astronomer Newsletter-Inbox Magazine #31, July 11, 2022 Issue Highlights
Cover Photo - Hawaii’s Movable Solar System
Welcome to Issue 31!
- RTSRE: Brightness, Color, Location for the Blind and Visually Impaired…and Sighted Students!
Astronomy Remotely —
- AAS: Astronomy Learning for Neophytes Part 1 — SLOOH
Connections to the Sky -
- AAS: Hawaii’s Movable Model Solar System
Thanks for reading The Galactic Times Newsletter! If you haven’t already, subscribe for free to receive new posts.
Spread the word and get others to sign up!
You can help support this publication by:
1) also subscribing to The Classroom Astronomer,
2) ….and by purchasing other books or products from The Galactic Times’ parent company Hermograph Press. Click this link Hermograph Press’s Online Store to head to, or
3) click the button to get to the Hermograph’s Home Page and view more details on them and its other products!