The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) continues to prove its worth. On July 12, NASA and the European Space Agency released the first five images from the JWST.
They included: the Carina Nebula; Stephan’s Quintet; the Southern Ring Nebula; WASP-96 b; and SMACS 0723. The Carina Nebula is a young, star-forming region located about 7,600 light-years away.
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Stephan’s Quintet is a group of five galaxies – four are interacting with each other. The four are about 290 million light-years away and the fifth is about 40 million light-years from Earth.
The Southern Ring Nebula is the remnant of a star that exploded and is about 2,500 light-years from Earth.
WASP-96 b is an exoplanet about 1,150 light-years away. Webb discovered the existence of water vapor in its atmosphere.
SMACS 0723 is a cluster of galaxies 4.5 billion light-year away. The image teems with thousands of galaxies and represents the area of sky about the size of a grain of sand held out at arm’s length. This image was released on July 11 by President Biden during a White House event.
You can see these images at nasa.gov/webbfirstimages.
Morning sky: All the planetary action pretty much continues in the morning sky this month. Venus, Mars, Jupiter are all visible before sunrise all month long. Saturn reaches opposition mid-month meaning it rises in the east as the Sun sets in the west becoming an evening object. Watch the Moon catch up and pass each planet during the month, see below for dates.
Evening sky: Saturn becomes an evening object mid-August. You might catch Mercury very low in the west after sunset toward the end of the month. Optical aide will help. Watch the Moon pass a couple of bright stars, see below for dates.
1st: Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn form line in the morning sky before sunrise all month long.
3rd: Moon near bright star Spica in Virgo the Maiden in the evening sky.
6th: Moon near bright star Antares, “Rival of Mars,” in Scorpius in the evening sky.
6th: Tallahassee Astronomical Society’s free planetarium show, “August Skies over Tallahassee,” at the Downtown Digital Dome Theatre and Planetarium at the Challenger Learning Center (not recommended for children under 5). Doors close at 10 a.m. sharp. Masks highly recommended.
11th: Full Moon near Saturn.
12th – 13th: Perseid meteor shower. Moon will wash out most meteors.
14th: Saturn reaches opposition becoming an evening object.
15th: Moon near Jupiter in the morning sky.
18th: Venus near Beehive star cluster in the morning sky.
19th: Last quarter Moon joins Mars near the Pleiades star cluster in the morning sky.
20th: Moon near Aldebaran in Leo the Lion in the morning sky.
23rd: Moon forms triangle with Castor and Pollux in Gemini the Twins in the morning sky.
24th: Moon forms line with Castor and Pollux in Gemini the Twins in the morning sky.
25th: Crescent Moon near Venus in the morning sky.
30th: Moon near bright star Spica in Virgo the Maiden in the evening sky.
Ken Kopczynski is president of the Tallahassee Astronomical Society, a local group of amateur astronomers.
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