Jupiter at Opposition 2022, Closest in 59 Years

Be sure to observe Jupiter this week, during its finest apparition of a lifetime.

You’ve never seen Jove like this. Jupiter opposition season for 2022 is upon us tonight, as the King of the Planet shines rising in the east opposite to the setting Sun in the west. This is the very best time to catch Jupiter and its retinue of moons, as they dominate the sky throughout the night. And although Jupiter reaches opposition as seen from the Earth nearly every year, this one is special as it’s the closest to the Earth in our lifetimes, and the nearest for the 21st century.

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Meet the New Vespera Telescope From Vaonis

Vespera
Vespera, out under the night sky. Vespera

The Vespera telescope offers power and portability in a small deep-sky imaging package.

A great new telescope just got smaller and more portable. The French-based company Vaonis released its newest addition to their ‘smartscope’ family this week: the Vespera telescope. The small pill-shaped instrument joins the Stellina and the (forthcoming) Hyperia line, offering a lower price point and backpack portability without a compromise in quality.

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BlueWalker-3 Satellite Launches This Weekend, May Be Bright

AST SpaceMobile
An artist's conception of BlueWalker-3 in space. Credit: AST SpaceMobile

A new satellite launching this weekend BlueWalker-3 could be conspicuously bright once it’s unfurled in orbit.

A routine SpaceX Starlink launch this coming weekend carries an unusual passenger, that you many be able to easily see gliding through the increasingly crowded night sky.

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Firefly, Northrop Grumman to Redesign Antares

Northrop Grumman will partner with startup Firefly Aerospace to continue sending cargo to the International Space Station.

It’s truly a time of ‘crisis and opportunity’ out there in the spaceflight industry, as private startups carve out their niche, in a traditionally government-based environment. This was especially apparent last week, when aerospace giant Northrop Grumman stated that it will partner with the small space startup Firefly Aerospace to build the next generation of Antares rockets.

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Starlink Satellites Are Still Bright

Starlink
An artist's conception of the Starlink constellation encircling the Earth. Credit: SpaceX

The new generation of Starlink satellites remain above the accepted brightness threshold.

It’s one of the stranger sights of the modern Space Age. Recently, we found ourselves under the relatively dark skies of southern Spain. Sure enough, within a few minutes, we caught sight of a chain of flashing ‘stars’ winking in and out of view in quick succession.

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K2 PanSTARRS Still a Fine Binocular Comet Through late 2022

Long anticipated comet K2 PanSTARRS puts on its best show through the end of 2022.

An icy visitor from the distant Oort Cloud is still in view, if you know exactly where to look for it. The comet is C/2017 K2 PanSTARRS. It’s in the name: the comet was discovered five years ago in 2017, an unusually long period of lead time, even for a long-period comet. Though it (unfortunately) never entered the inner solar system, mid-2022 is the best time to see the comet, and its distance also means that—unlike swift short period comets—K2 PanSTARRS will linger in the sky for a while, for the remainder of 2022.

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Record ‘Fast Nova’ Flares Over a Single Day

A galactic nova flared briefly into naked eye visibility for a day, before vanishing from sight.

Some stars burn bright but brief. These transitory novae pepper the sky, with one flaring into naked eye visibility every few years… but it was a recent brief appearance of just such a ‘new star’ that gave astronomers a chance to probe the secrets of the Universe.

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BepiColombo’s Second Mercury Flyby

Mercury Flyby
Mercury

BepiColombo’s stunning close pass by Mercury on Thursday provides a prelude of what’s to come.

Welcome (briefly) to Mercury, with a planetary flyby hinting at more to come. The joint European Space Agency/Japanese Aerospace Agency’s BepiColombo spacecraft treated us to just that on Thursday, June 23rd, passing just 200 kilometers from the surface of the innermost world at 9:44 Universal Time (UT). During that brief encounter, BepiColombo got a brief glimpse of its final destination.

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