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    • By European Space Agency
      For the first time, a phenomenon astronomers have long hoped to image directly has been captured by the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope’s Near-InfraRed Camera (NIRCam). In this stunning image of the Serpens Nebula, the discovery lies in the northern area of this young, nearby star-forming region.
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      6 Min Read First of Its Kind Detection Made in Striking New Webb Image
      The Serpens Nebula from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. Alignment of bipolar jets confirms star formation theories
      For the first time, a phenomenon astronomers have long hoped to directly image has been captured by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam). In this stunning image of the Serpens Nebula, the discovery lies in the northern area (seen at the upper left) of this young, nearby star-forming region.
      Astronomers found an intriguing group of protostellar outflows, formed when jets of gas spewing from newborn stars collide with nearby gas and dust at high speeds. Typically these objects have varied orientations within one region. Here, however, they are slanted in the same direction, to the same degree, like sleet pouring down during a storm.
      Image: Serpens Nebula (NIRCam)
      In this image of the Serpens Nebula from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, astronomers found a grouping of aligned protostellar outflows within one small region (the top left corner). Serpens is a reflection nebula, which means it’s a cloud of gas and dust that does not create its own light, but instead shines by reflecting the light from stars close to or within the nebula. The discovery of these aligned objects, made possible due to Webb’s exquisite spatial resolution and sensitivity in near-infrared wavelengths, is providing information into the fundamentals of how stars are born.
      “Astronomers have long assumed that as clouds collapse to form stars, the stars will tend to spin in the same direction,” said principal investigator Klaus Pontoppidan, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “However, this has not been seen so directly before. These aligned, elongated structures are a historical record of the fundamental way that stars are born.”
      So just how does the alignment of the stellar jets relate to the rotation of the star? As an interstellar gas cloud crashes in on itself to form a star, it spins more rapidly. The only way for the gas to continue moving inward is for some of the spin (known as angular momentum) to be removed. A disk of material forms around the young star to transport material down, like a whirlpool around a drain. The swirling magnetic fields in the inner disk launch some of the material into twin jets that shoot outward in opposite directions, perpendicular to the disk of material.
      In the Webb image, these jets are signified by bright clumpy streaks that appear red, which are shockwaves from the jet hitting surrounding gas and dust. Here, the red color represents the presence of molecular hydrogen and carbon monoxide.
      “This area of the Serpens Nebula – Serpens North – only comes into clear view with Webb,” said lead author Joel Green of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. “We’re now able to catch these extremely young stars and their outflows, some of which previously appeared as just blobs or were completely invisible in optical wavelengths because of the thick dust surrounding them.”
      Astronomers say there are a few forces that potentially can shift the direction of the outflows during this period of a young star’s life. One way is when binary stars spin around each other and wobble in orientation, twisting the direction of the outflows over time.
      Stars of the Serpens
      The Serpens Nebula, located 1,300 light-years from Earth, is only one or two million years old, which is very young in cosmic terms. It’s also home to a particularly dense cluster of newly forming stars (~100,000 years old), seen at the center of this image. Some of these stars will eventually grow to the mass of our Sun.
      “Webb is a young stellar object-finding machine,” Green said. “In this field, we pick up sign posts of every single young star, down to the lowest mass stars.”
      “It’s a very complete picture we’re seeing now,” added Pontoppidan.
      So, throughout the region in this image, filaments and wisps of different hues represent reflected starlight from still-forming protostars within the cloud. In some areas, there is dust in front of that reflection, which appears here with an orange, diffuse shade.
      This region has been home to other coincidental discoveries, including the flapping “Bat Shadow,” which earned its name when 2020 data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope revealed a star’s planet-forming disk to flap, or shift. This feature is visible at the center of the Webb image.
      Future Studies
      The new image, and serendipitous discovery of the aligned objects, is actually just the first step in this scientific program. The team will now use Webb’s NIRSpec (Near-Infrared Spectrograph) to investigate the chemical make-up of the cloud.
      The astronomers are interested in determining how volatile chemicals survive star and planet formation. Volatiles are compounds that sublimate, or transition from a solid directly to a gas, at a relatively low temperature – including water and carbon monoxide. They’ll then compare their findings to amounts found in protoplanetary disks of similar-type stars.
      “At the most basic form, we are all made of matter that came from these volatiles. The majority of water here on Earth originated when the Sun was an infant protostar billions of years ago,” Pontoppidan said. “Looking at the abundance of these critical compounds in protostars just before their protoplanetary disks have formed could help us understand how unique the circumstances were when our own solar system formed.”
      These observations were taken as part of General Observer program 1611. The team’s initial results have been accepted in the Astrophysical Journal.
      The James Webb Space Telescope is the world’s premier space science observatory. Webb is solving mysteries in our solar system, looking beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probing the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it. Webb is an international program led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency).
      Downloads
      Right click any image to save it or open a larger version in a new tab/window via the browser’s popup menu.
      View/Download all image products at all resolutions for this article from the Space Telescope Science Institute.
      Science Paper: The science paper by J. Green et al., PDF (7.93 MB) 
      Media Contacts
      Laura Betz – laura.e.betz@nasa.gov, Rob Gutro – rob.gutro@nasa.gov
      NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
      Hanna Braun hbraun@stsci.edu Christine Pulliam – cpulliam@stsci.edu
      Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md.
      Related Information
      Animation Video – “Exploring Star and Planet Formation”
      Infographic – “Recipe for Planet Formation”
      Science Snippets Video -“Dust and the Formation of Planetary Systems“
      Interactive: Explore the jets emitted by young stars in multiple wavelengths 
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      Webb is the premier observatory of the next decade, serving thousands of astronomers worldwide. It studies every phase in the…


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      Details
      Last Updated Jun 20, 2024 Editor Stephen Sabia Contact Laura Betz laura.e.betz@nasa.gov Related Terms
      Astrophysics Goddard Space Flight Center James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) Nebulae Science & Research Star-forming Nebulae The Universe
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      6 Min Read Investigating the Origins of the Crab Nebula With NASA’s Webb
      This image by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope’s NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera) and MIRI (Mid-Infrared Instrument) shows different structural details of the Crab Nebula. New data revises our view of this unusual supernova explosion.
      A team of scientists used NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope to parse the composition of the Crab Nebula, a supernova remnant located 6,500 light-years away in the constellation Taurus. With the telescope’s MIRI (Mid-Infrared Instrument) and NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera), the team gathered data that is helping to clarify the Crab Nebula’s history.
      The Crab Nebula is the result of a core-collapse supernova from the death of a massive star. The supernova explosion itself was seen on Earth in 1054 CE and was bright enough to view during the daytime. The much fainter remnant observed today is an expanding shell of gas and dust, and outflowing wind powered by a pulsar, a rapidly spinning and highly magnetized neutron star.
      The Crab Nebula is also highly unusual. Its atypical composition and very low explosion energy previously have been explained by an electron-capture supernova — a rare type of explosion that arises from a star with a less-evolved core made of oxygen, neon, and magnesium, rather than a more typical iron core.
      “Now the Webb data widen the possible interpretations,” said Tea Temim, lead author of the study at Princeton University in New Jersey. “The composition of the gas no longer requires an electron-capture explosion, but could also be explained by a weak iron core-collapse supernova.”
      Image A: Crab Nebula (NIRCam and MIRI)
      This image by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope’s NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera) and MIRI (Mid-Infrared Instrument) shows different structural details of the Crab Nebula. The supernova remnant is comprised of several different components, including doubly ionized sulfur (represented in green), warm dust (magenta), and synchrotron emission (blue). Yellow-white mottled filaments within the Crab’s interior represent areas where dust and doubly ionized sulfur coincide. The observations were taken as part of General Observer program 1714. Studying the Present to Understand the Past
      Past research efforts have calculated the total kinetic energy of the explosion based on the quantity and velocities of the present-day ejecta. Astronomers deduced that the nature of the explosion was one of relatively low energy (less than one-tenth that of a normal supernova), and the progenitor star’s mass was in the range of eight to 10 solar masses — teetering on the thin line between stars that experience a violent supernova death and those that do not.
      However, inconsistencies exist between the electron-capture supernova theory and observations of the Crab, particularly the observed rapid motion of the pulsar. In recent years, astronomers have also improved their understanding of iron core-collapse supernovae and now think that this type can also produce low-energy explosions, providing that the stellar mass is adequately low.
      Webb Measurements Reconcile Historic Results
      To lower the level of uncertainty surrounding the Crab’s progenitor star and nature of the explosion, the team led by Temim used Webb’s spectroscopic capabilities to hone in on two areas located within the Crab’s inner filaments.
      Theories predict that because of the different chemical composition of the core in an electron-capture supernova, the nickel to iron (Ni/Fe) abundance ratio should be much higher than the ratio measured in our Sun (which contains these elements from previous generations of stars). Studies in the late 1980s and early 1990s measured the Ni/Fe ratio within the Crab using optical and near-infrared data and noted a high Ni/Fe abundance ratio that seemed to favor the electron-capture supernova scenario.
      The Webb telescope, with its sensitive infrared capabilities, is now advancing Crab Nebula research. The team used MIRI’s spectroscopic abilities to measure the nickel and iron emission lines, resulting in a more reliable estimate of the Ni/Fe abundance ratio. They found that the ratio was still elevated compared to the Sun, but only modestly and much lower in comparison to prior estimates.
      The revised values are consistent with electron-capture, but do not rule out an iron core-collapse explosion from a similarly low-mass star. (Higher-energy explosions from higher-mass stars are expected to produce ratios closer to solar abundances.) Further observational and theoretical work will be needed to distinguish between these two possibilities.
      “At present, the spectral data from Webb covers two small regions of the Crab, so it’s important to study much more of the remnant and identify any spatial variations,” said Martin Laming of the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington and a co-author of the paper. “It would be interesting to see if we could identify emission lines from other elements, like cobalt or germanium.”
      Video: Crab Nebula Deconstructed

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      This video shows the different major components that compose the Crab Nebula as observed by the James Webb Space Telescope. Despite decades of study, this supernova remnant continues to puzzle astronomers as they seek to understand what kind of progenitor star and explosion produced this dynamic environment. Image- NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Tea Temim (Princeton University) Video- Joseph DePasquale (STScI) Mapping the Crab’s Current State
      Besides pulling spectral data from two small regions of the Crab Nebula’s interior to measure the abundance ratio, the telescope also observed the remnant’s broader environment to understand details of the synchrotron emission and the dust distribution.
      The images and data collected by MIRI enabled the team to isolate the dust emission within the Crab and map it in high resolution for the first time. By mapping the warm dust emission with Webb, and even combining it with the Herschel Space Observatory’s data on cooler dust grains, the team created a well-rounded picture of the dust distribution: The outermost filaments contain relatively warmer dust, while cooler grains are prevalent near the center.
      “Where dust is seen in the Crab is interesting because it differs from other supernova remnants, like Cassiopeia A and Supernova 1987A,” said Nathan Smith of the Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona and a co-author of the paper. “In those objects, the dust is in the very center. In the Crab, the dust is found in the dense filaments of the outer shell. The Crab Nebula lives up to a tradition in astronomy: The nearest, brightest, and best-studied objects tend to be bizarre.”
      These findings have been accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
      The observations were taken as part of General Observer program 1714.
      The James Webb Space Telescope is the world’s premier space science observatory. Webb is solving mysteries in our solar system, looking beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probing the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it. Webb is an international program led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency).
      Downloads
      Right click any image to save it or open a larger version in a new tab/window via the browser’s popup menu.
      View/Download all image products at all resolutions for this article from the Space Telescope Science Institute.
      These findings have been accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
      Media Contacts
      Laura Betz – laura.e.betz@nasa.gov, Rob Gutro – rob.gutro@nasa.gov
      NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
      Abigail Major – amajor@stsci.edu / Christine Pulliam – cpulliam@stsci.edu
      Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md.
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      James Webb Space Telescope


      Webb is the premier observatory of the next decade, serving thousands of astronomers worldwide. It studies every phase in the…


      Galaxies



      Stars



      Universe


      Share








      Details
      Last Updated Jun 17, 2024 Editor Stephen Sabia Contact Laura Betz laura.e.betz@nasa.gov Related Terms
      Astrophysics Crab Nebula Goddard Space Flight Center James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) Nebulae Neutron Stars Pulsars Science & Research Stars Supernovae The Universe View the full article
    • By NASA
      17 Min Read The Next Full Moon is the Strawberry Moon
      A perigee full moon, or supermoon, is seen next to the Empire State Building, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015 in New York City. Credits:
      NASA/Joel Kowsky The Next Full Moon is the Strawberry Moon; the Flower, Hot, Hoe, or Planting Moon; the Mead or Honey Moon; the Rose Moon; Vat Purnima; Poson Poya; and the LRO Moon.
      The next full Moon will be Friday evening, June 21, 2024, appearing opposite the Sun (in Earth-based longitude) at 9:08 PM EDT. This will be Saturday from Greenland and Cape Verde time eastward across Eurasia, Africa, and Australia to the International Date Line in the mid-Pacific. Most commercial calendars will show this full Moon on Saturday, June 22, the date in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). The Moon will appear full for about three days around this time, from Thursday evening through Sunday morning.
      In the 1930s the Maine Farmer’s Almanac began publishing “Indian” names for full Moons and these names are now widely known and used. According to this Almanac, as the full Moon in June this is the Strawberry Moon, a name that comes from the relatively short season for harvesting strawberries in the north-eastern United States. Other seasonal names that I have found in various sources (sometimes with conflicting information about whether they are of European or Native American origin) are the Flower Moon, Hot Moon, Hoe Moon, and Planting Moon.
      An old European name for this full Moon is the Mead or Honey Moon. Mead is a drink created by fermenting honey mixed with water and sometimes fruits, spices, grains, or hops. In some countries Mead is also called Honey Wine (though in others Honey Wine is made differently). Some writings suggest the time around the end of June was when honey was ready for harvesting, which made this the “sweetest” Moon. The word “honeymoon” traces back to at least the 1500s in Europe. The tradition of calling the first month of marriage the “honeymoon” may be tied to this full Moon because of the custom of marrying in June or because the “Honey Moon” is the “sweetest” Moon of the year. There doesn’t appear to be enough evidence to support a 19th century theory that the word entered English from the custom of gifting newlyweds mead for their first month of marriage.
      Another European name for this full Moon is the Rose Moon. Some sources indicate “Rose Moon” comes from the roses that bloom this time of year. Others indicate that the name comes from the color of the full Moon. The orbit of the Moon around the Earth is in almost the same plane as the orbit of the Earth around the Sun (only about 5 degrees off). On the summer solstice the Sun appears highest in the sky for the year. Full Moons are opposite the Sun, so a full Moon near the summer solstice will be low in the sky. Particularly for Europe’s higher latitudes, when the full Moon is low it shines through more atmosphere, making it more likely to have a reddish color (for the same reasons that sunrises and sunsets are red). For the Washington, DC area, the full Moon on the night from the evening of June 21 to the morning of June 22 will have the lowest full Moon of the year, reaching only 21.9 degrees above the southern horizon at 1:20 AM EDT.
      For Hindus this is Vat Purnima. During the 3 days of this full Moon married women will show their love for their husbands by tying a ceremonial thread around a banyan tree. The celebration is based on the legend of Savitri and Satyavan.
      For Buddhists this full Moon is Poson Poya. The Poson holiday in Sri Lanka celebrates the introduction of Buddhism in 236 BCE.
      Another tribe has also given a name to this full Moon. This tribe is now scattered but mostly lived in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States. This tribe’s language is primarily English, but with a liberal smattering of acronyms, arcane scientific and engineering terms, and Hawaiian phrases (cheerfully contributed by the former Deputy Project Manager). Comprised of people from all backgrounds, many of whom have gone on to join other tribes, this tribe was devoted to the study of the Moon. This tribe calls June’s full Moon the LRO Moon, in honor of the spacecraft they launched towards the Moon 15 years ago, on June 18, 2009. NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is still orbiting the Moon providing insights about our nearest celestial neighbor, some of which help us understand our own planet. See https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LRO/main/index.html for more information.
      Many lunar and lunisolar calendars start the months on or just after the new Moon and the full Moon is near the middle of the month. This full Moon is near the middle of the fifth month of the Chinese year of the Dragon, Sivan in the Hebrew calendar, and Dhu al-Hijjah, the final month of the Islamic year and one of the four sacred months during which fighting is forbidden.
      As usual, the wearing of suitably celebratory celestial attire is encouraged in honor of the full Moon. If you’re not allergic, enjoy the strawberries, flowers, and honey during this “sweetest” month of the year, and take note of how low in the sky this full Moon will be.
      As for other celestial events between now and the full Moon after next (with specific times and angles based on the location of NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC):
      As summer begins the daily periods of sunlight start to gradually shorten, having been at their longest on the summer solstice on the day before this full Moon. On Friday, June 21, 2024 (the day of the full Moon), morning twilight will begin at 4:30 AM, sunrise will be at 5:43 AM, solar noon at 1:10 PM when the Sun will reach its maximum altitude of 74.6 degrees, sunset will be at 8:37 PM, and evening twilight will end at 9:49 PM. The period of daylight will be 1.2 seconds shorter than on the summer solstice the previous day.
      The solar days (as measured, for example, from solar noon to solar noon on a sundial) are longer than 24 hours near the solstices, so the earliest sunrises of the year occur before the summer solstice and the latest sunsets occur after the solstice. For the Washington, DC area and similar latitudes at least (I’ve not checked for other latitudes), Thursday, June 27, will have the latest sunset of the year, with sunset at 8:37:30 PM EDT.
      By Sunday, July 21, (the day of the full Moon after next), morning twilight will begin at 4:52 AM, sunrise will be at 6:00 AM, solar noon at 1:15 PM when the Sun will reach its maximum altitude of 71.4 degrees, sunset will be at 8:28 PM, and evening twilight will end at 9:37 PM.
      The comet 13P/Olbers is expected to peak at magnitude 7.5 in early July, too dim to see with the naked eye. The two meteor showers expected to peak this lunar cycle will be difficult to see. The full Moon will interfere with the peak of the June Bootids (170 JBO) on June 27. The July Pegasids (175 JPE), peaking on July 10, is only expected to show 3 meteors per hour (under ideal conditions).
      Evening Sky Highlights:
      On the evening of Friday, June 21, 2024 (the evening of the day of the full Moon), as twilight ends (at 9:49 PM EDT), the rising Moon will be 7 degrees above the southeastern horizon. The bright planets Venus and Mercury will be below the horizon, with Venus setting 21 minutes and Mercury setting 43 minutes after sunset. Mercury may be visible from about 30 minutes after sunset until it sets 13 minutes later. The bright object appearing closest to overhead will be the star Arcturus at 69 degrees above the south-southwestern horizon. Arcturus is the brightest star in the constellation Boötes the herdsman or plowman. It is the 4th brightest star in our night sky and is 36.7 light years from us. While it has about the same mass as our Sun, it is about 2.6 billion years older and has used up its core hydrogen, becoming a red giant 25 times the size and 170 times the brightness of our Sun.
      As this lunar cycle progresses the background of stars will appear to shift westward each evening (as the Earth moves around the Sun). June 30 will be the first evening that the bright planet Mercury will be above the west-northwestern horizon as evening twilight ends and the first evening that the bright planet Venus will be above the horizon 30 minutes after sunset (an approximation of when Venus will start emerging from the glow of dusk. Mercury will shift to the left low along the horizon, reaching its highest above the horizon (just 2 degrees as twilight ends) on July 13. The waxing Moon will pass by Regulus on July 8 and 9, Spica on July 13, and Antares on July 17.
      By the evening of Sunday, July 21 (the evening of the day of the full Moon after next), as twilight ends (at 9:37 PM EDT), the rising Moon will be 3 degrees above the east-southeastern horizon. The bright planet Mercury will be 1 degree above the west-northwestern horizon and 6 minutes away from setting. The planet Venus will set 22 minutes before twilight ends, but will be bright enough to see in the glow of dusk low on the west-northwestern horizon before it sets. The bright object appearing closest to overhead will be Vega, the brightest star in the constellation Lyra the lyre, at 65 degrees above the eastern horizon. Vega is one of the three bright stars in the Summer Triangle along with Deneb, and Altair. Vega is the 5th brightest star in our night sky, about 25 light-years from Earth, has twice the mass of our Sun, and shines 40 times brighter than our Sun.
      Morning Sky Highlights:
      On the morning of Friday, June 21, 2024 (the morning of the day of the full Moon), as twilight begins (at 4:31 AM EDT), the setting full Moon will be 2 degrees above the southwestern horizon. The brightest planet in the sky will be Jupiter at just 3 degrees above the east-northeastern horizon. The planet Mars will be 19 degrees above the eastern horizon and the planet Saturn (almost as bright as Mars) will be 37 degrees above the southeastern horizon. The bright object appearing closest to overhead will be the star Deneb at 80 degrees above the northwestern horizon. Deneb is the 19th brightest star in our night sky and is the brightest star in the constellation Cygnus the swan. Deneb is one of the three bright stars of the “Summer Triangle” (along with Vega and Altair). Deneb is about 20 times more massive than our Sun but has used up its hydrogen, becoming a blue-white supergiant about 200 times the diameter of the Sun. If Deneb were where our Sun is, it would extend to about the orbit of the Earth. Deneb is about 2,600 light years from us.
      As this lunar cycle progresses, Jupiter, Saturn, and the background of stars will appear to shift westward each evening, with Mars shifting more slowly and to the left. The waning Moon will pass by Saturn on June 27, on Mars on July 1, the Pleiades star cluster on July 2, and Jupiter on July 3.
      By the morning of Sunday, July 21 (the morning of the day of the full Moon after next), as twilight begins (at 4:52 AM EDT), the setting full Moon will be 7 degrees above the southwestern horizon. The brightest planet in the sky will be Jupiter at 25 degrees above the eastern horizon. Mars will be 33 degrees above the eastern horizon and Saturn 45 degrees above the southern horizon. The bright object appearing closest to overhead still will be the star Deneb at 56 degrees above the west-northwestern horizon.
      Detailed Daily Guide:
      Here for your reference is a day-by-day listing of celestial events between now and the full Moon after next. The times and angles are based on the location of NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC, and some of these details may differ for where you are (I use parentheses to indicate times specific to the DC area).
      Sunday morning, June 16, 2024, will be the first morning that the bright planet Jupiter will be above the east-northeastern horizon as morning twilight begins (at 4:30 AM EDT).
      Sunday evening into early Monday morning, June 16 to 17, 2024, the bright star Spica will appear near the waxing gibbous Moon. As evening twilight ends (at 9:48 PM EDT) Spica will be 3.5 degrees to the right of the Moon. By the time Spica sets on the west-southwestern horizon 4.5 hours later (at 2:16 AM) it will be 5 degrees to the lower right of the Moon. Around the northern part of the boundary between Europe and Asia the Moon will actually block Spica from view.
      Wednesday evening, June 19, 2024, will be the first evening the bright planet Mercury will be above the west-northwestern horizon 30 minutes after sunset, an approximation of when it will begin emerging from the glow of dusk. Each evening after this Mercury should become easier to spot and by the end of June will be above the horizon as evening twilight ends.
      Wednesday evening into Thursday morning, June 19 to 20, 2024, the bright star Antares will appear near the waxing gibbous Moon. As evening twilight ends (at 9:49 PM EDT) Antares will be 5 degrees to the lower left of the Moon. The Moon will reach its highest in the sky 1.5 hours later (at 11:25 PM EDT) with Antares 4 degrees to the left of the Moon. The Moon will set first on the southwestern horizon (at 4:03 AM) with Antares 2 degrees to the upper left.
      Thursday afternoon, June 20, 2024, at 4:51 PM EDT will be the summer solstice, the astronomical end of spring and start of summer. This will be the day with the longest period of sunlight (14 hours, 53 minutes, 42.5 seconds) but will not be the day with the earliest sunrise or the latest sunset.
      As mentioned above, the full Moon will be Friday evening, June 21, 2024, at 9:08 PM EDT. This will be on Saturday from Greenland and Cape Verde time eastward across Eurasia, Africa, and Australia to the International Date Line in the mid-Pacific. Most commercial calendars will show this full Moon on Saturday, June 22. This will be the lowest full Moon of the year (reaching only 21.9 degrees above the southern horizon Saturday morning at 1:20 AM). The Moon will appear full for about three days around this time, from Thursday evening through Sunday morning.
      Thursday morning, June 27, 2024, the planet Saturn will appear near the waning gibbous Moon. As Saturn rises on the eastern horizon (at 12:26 AM EDT) it will be 6 degrees to the lower left of the Moon. By the time morning twilight begins (at 4:33 AM) Saturn will be 4 degrees to the upper left of the Moon.
      Thursday morning June 27, 2024, the Moon will be at perigee, its closest to the Earth for this orbit.
      For the Washington, DC area and similar latitudes, at least, Thursday, June 27, 2024, will have the latest sunset of the year (with sunset at 8:37:30 PM EDT).
      Friday afternoon, June 28, 2024, the waning Moon will appear half-full as it reaches its last quarter at 5:53 PM EDT (when the Moon will be below the horizon).
      Sunday evening, June 30, 2024, will be the first evening that the bright planet Mercury will be above the west-northwestern horizon as evening twilight ends (at 9:49 PM EDT). It will also be the first evening that the bright planet Venus will be above the west-northwestern horizon (at 9:07 PM) 30 minutes after sunset, an approximation of when Venus will start emerging from the glow of dusk.
      Monday morning, July 1, 2024, the planet Mars will appear 5 degrees to the lower left of the waning crescent Moon. Mars will rise last on the east-northeastern horizon (at 2:29 AM EDT) and morning twilight will begin a little more than 2 hours later (at 4:35 AM).
      Tuesday morning, July 2, 2024, the Pleiades star cluster will appear 5 degrees to the lower left of the waning crescent Moon. The Pleiades will rise last on the east-northeastern horizon (around 2:46 AM EDT) and morning twilight will begin a little less than 2 hours later (at 4:35 AM).
      Friday afternoon, July 5, 2024, the Earth will be at aphelion, its farthest away from the Sun in its orbit, 3.4% farther away than it was at perihelion in early January. Since the intensity of light drops off as the square of the distance, the sunlight reaching the Earth at aphelion is about 6.5% less bright than sunlight reaching the Earth at perihelion.
      Friday evening, July 5, 2024, at 6:57 PM EDT, will be the new Moon, when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from the Earth. The day of or the day after the New Moon marks the start of the new month for most lunisolar calendars. Saturday, July 6 will be the start of the sixth month of the Chinese year of the Dragon. Sundown on July 6 will mark the start of Tammuz in the Hebrew calendar. In the Islamic calendar the months traditionally start with the first sighting of the waxing crescent Moon. Many Muslim communities now follow the Umm al-Qura Calendar of Saudi Arabia, which uses astronomical calculations to start months in a more predictable way. Using this calendar, sundown on Saturday, July 6, will probably mark Al-Hijra, the Islamic New Year and the beginning of the month of Muharram, although Muharram is one of four months for which the calendar dates may be adjusted by the religious authorities of Saudi Arabia after actual sightings of the lunar crescent. Al-Hijra is a public holiday in many Muslim countries. Customs vary, but most include observing the day quietly and practicing gratitude. Muharram is one of the four sacred months during which warfare is forbidden.
      Sunday evening, July 7, 2024, the planet Mercury will appear 3 degrees below the thin, waxing crescent Moon, with the Beehive cluster (visible with binoculars) 1.5 degrees to the lower right of Mercury. As evening twilight ends (at 9:47 PM EDT) the Moon will be 4 degrees above the west-northwestern horizon, with Mercury a little more than 1 degree and the Beehive cluster a little less than 1 degree above the horizon. The Beehive cluster will set first 7 minutes later (at 9:54 PM), followed by Mercury 4 minutes after that (at 9:58 PM) and the Moon 19 minutes after Mercury set (at 10:17 PM).
      Friday morning, July 12, 2024, at 4:12 AM EDT (when we can’t see it), the Moon will be at apogee, its farthest from the Earth for this orbit.
      Saturday evening, July 13, 2024, the Moon will appear half-full as it reaches its first quarter at 6:49 PM EDT.
      Saturday evening, July 13, 2024, will be when the planet Mercury will reach its highest (2 degrees) above the west-northwestern horizon as evening twilight ends (at 9:43 PM EDT).
      Saturday night, July 13, 2024, the bright star Spica will appear near the half-full Moon, so near that for part of the night the Moon will block Spica from view for much of North America (see http://lunar-occultations.com/iota/bstar/0714zc1925.htm for a map and information on the locations that will see this occultation). For the location of NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC (angles and times will be different for other locations), as evening twilight ends (at 9:43 PM EDT), Spica will be 1 degree to the left of the Moon. If you are in a location that will see this occultation, you should be able to see Spica vanish behind the dark half of the Moon (at 11:26 PM for the DC area). For the Washington, DC area the Moon will set (at 12:32 AM) before Spica reemerges. For locations farther west, the brightness of the lit half of the Moon will make it hard to see when Spica emerges.
      Wednesday night into early Thursday morning, July 17 to 18, 2024, the bright star Antares will appear near the waxing gibbous Moon. As evening twilight ends (at 9:40 PM EDT) Antares will be 3 degrees to the upper right of the Moon. The Moon will reach its highest in the sky 27 minutes later (at 10:07 PM). As Antares sets (at 2:21 AM) it will be 5 degrees to the lower right of the Moon. For much of the southern part of Africa the Moon will pass in front of Antares earlier on Wednesday. See http://lunar-occultations.com/iota/bstar/0717zc2366.htm for a map and information on the locations that will see this occultation. The full Moon after next will be Sunday morning, July 21, 2024, at 6:17 AM EDT. This will be late Saturday night for the International Date Line West and the American Samoa and Midway time zones and early Monday morning for Line Islands Time. The Moon will appear full for about three days around this time, from Friday evening through Monday morning, making this a full Moon weekend.
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    • By NASA
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      Preparations for Next Moonwalk Simulations Underway (and Underwater)
      The WL 20 group of stars is located in the Rho Ophiuchi star-forming region, imaged here by NASA’s now-retired Spitzer Space Telescope. Located near the constellations Scorpius and Ophiuchus, the region is about 407 light-years from Earth. NASA/JPL-Caltech Managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory through launch, Webb’s Mid-Infrared Instrument also revealed jets of gas flowing into space from the twin stars.
      Scientists recently got a big surprise from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope when they turned the observatory toward a group of young stars called WL 20. The region has been studied since the 1970s with at least five telescopes, but it took Webb’s unprecedented resolution and specialized instruments to reveal that what researchers long thought was one of the stars, WL 20S, is actually a pair that formed about 2 million to 4 million years ago.
      The discovery was made using Webb’s Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) and was presented at the 244th meeting of the American Astronomical Society on June 12. MIRI also found that the twins have matching jets of gas streaming into space from their north and south poles.
      “Our jaws dropped,” said astronomer Mary Barsony, lead author of a new paper describing the results. “After studying this source for decades, we thought we knew it pretty well. But without MIRI we would not have known this was two stars or that these jets existed. That’s really astonishing. It’s like having brand new eyes.”
      This artist’s concept shows two young stars nearing the end of their formation. Encircling the stars are disks of leftover gas and dust from which planets may form. Jets of gas shoot away from the stars’ north and south poles. The team got another surprise when additional observations by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), a group of more than 60 radio antennas in Chile, revealed that disks of dust and gas encircle both stars. Based on the stars’ age, it’s possible that planets are forming in those disks.
      The combined results indicate that the twin stars are nearing the end of this early period of their lives, which means scientists will have the opportunity to learn more about how the stars transition from youth into adulthood.
      “The power of these two telescopes together is really incredible,” said Mike Ressler, project scientist for MIRI at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and co-author of the new study. “If we hadn’t seen that these were two stars, the ALMA results might have just looked like a single disk with a gap in the middle. Instead, we have new data about two stars that are clearly at a critical point in their lives, when the processes that formed them are petering out.”
      This image of the WL 20 star group combines data from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array and the Mid-Infrared Instrument on NASA’s Webb telescope. Gas jets emanating from the poles of twin stars appear blue and green; disks of dust and gas surrounding the stars are pink.U.S. NSF; NSF NRAO; ALMA; NASA/JPL-Caltech; B. Saxton Stellar Jets
      WL 20 resides in a much larger, well-studied star-forming region of the Milky Way galaxy called Rho Ophiuchi, a massive cloud of gas and dust about 400 light-years from Earth. In fact, WL 20 is hidden behind thick clouds of gas and dust that block most of the visible light (wavelengths that the human eye can detect) from the stars there. Webb detects slightly longer wavelengths, called infrared, that can pass through those layers. MIRI detects the longest infrared wavelengths of any instrument on Webb and is thus well equipped for peering into obscured star-forming regions like WL 20.
      Radio waves can often penetrate dust as well, though they may not reveal the same features as infrared light. The disks of gas and dust surrounding the two stars in WL 20S emit light in a range that astronomers call submillimeter; these, too, penetrate the surrounding gas clouds and were observed by ALMA.
      These four images show the WL 20 star system as seen by (from left) NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility at the Mauna Kea Observatory, the Hale 5.0-meter telescope the Palomar Observatory, the Keck II telescope, and the NASA’s Webb telescope and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array. But scientists could easily have interpreted those observations as evidence of a single disk with a gap in it had MIRI not also observed the two stellar jets. The jets of gas are composed of ions, or individual atoms with some electrons stripped away that radiate in mid-infrared wavelengths but not at submillimeter wavelengths. Only an infrared instrument with spatial and spectral resolution like MIRI’s could see them.
      ALMA can also observe clouds of leftover formation material around young stars. Composed of whole molecules, like carbon monoxide, these clouds of gas and dust radiate light at these longer wavelengths. The absence of those clouds in the ALMA observations shows that the stars are beyond their initial formation phase.
      “It’s amazing that this region still has so much to teach us about the life cycle of stars,” said Ressler. “I’m thrilled to see what else Webb will reveal.”
      More About the Mission
      The James Webb Space Telescope is the world’s premier space science observatory. Webb is solving mysteries in our solar system, looking beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probing the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it. Webb is an international program led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency).
      MIRI was developed through a 50-50 partnership between NASA and ESA. A division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, JPL led the U.S. efforts for MIRI, and a multinational consortium of European astronomical institutes contributes for ESA. George Rieke with the University of Arizona is the MIRI science team lead. Gillian Wright is the MIRI European principal investigator.
      The MIRI cryocooler development was led and managed by JPL, in collaboration with Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach, California, and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
      News Media Contact
      Calla Cofield
      Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
      626-808-2469
      calla.e.cofield@jpl.nasa.gov
      2024-085
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      Last Updated Jun 13, 2024 Related Terms
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