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This website created by
Kevin M. Berg

Astronomy News

In the News October

A Final Good Night to Pragyan!
September 22, Pragyan, the Indian Space Research Organization's Moon rover, landed on the Moon on August 23rd, becoming the first spacecraft to successfully soft-land near the promising region of the lunar South Pole and the first rover to perform in-situ analysis of the lunar regolith.   Then came the lunar night.   Despite fully charged batteries and solar panels positioned to harness energy from the September 22nd sunrise on the Moon, after two weeks of nearly -400 degree Fahrenheit lunar nights there has been no communication from the ISRO's Moon rover.   The mission planners built the rover for its achieved purposes.   Had the rover awakened in the sunlight, that would only have been the "icing" on the cake. (Groan.)   Good night, Pragyan.

October 5-25, This is the window for the successful launch this year of NASA's Psyche mission to the asteroid bearing the same name as the mission.   Not a typical asteroid, Psyche may be the remaining solid metal core of an early planitesimal!   In addition to the exciting destination six years hence, the mission will showcase a new "Solar-Electric" propulsion system and test near-infrared invisible laser light as an excitingly fast medium for future space communication.   Read up on the mission at NASA's PSYCHE BLOG.

Asteroid Bennu Samples--Live!
October 11, The OSIRIS-Rex mission culminated on September 24th with the successful parachute delivery of asteroid samples taken during its October 2020 "touch-and-go" encounter with asteroid Bennu.   The payload has been taken to the new clean room at Johnson Space Center that was specifically designed to analyze the Bennu samples.   Researchers plan to analyze asteroid dust from the initial disassembly for an early glimpse into the chemical, mineralogical, and physical characteristics and rock types that may be found in the bulk sample.   NASA will share these initial findings, plus first images of the sample, in a live broadcast on October 11 at 11am.   You can follow the reveal at NASA OSIRIS-Rex.   In more OSIRIS news, after delivering the payload, the spacecraft that visited Bennu fired its rockets to continue researching asteroids.   Its next target: asteroid Apophis.   The new mission, named OSIRIS-APEX (OSIRIS-Apophis Explorer), will study the asteroid for 18 months which includes a close encounter--but no samples will be returned.   I am eager for the upcoming broadcast of the close encounter!

View the Eclipse Safely! Use only ISO 12312-2 Approved Eye Protection! or...
October 14, From Michigan's North-Easterly location, today's annular solar eclipse will be observed as a partial solar eclipse. Locally, the moon begins to block the sun's light at 11:46am, reaches maximum coverage (just under half the sun will be eclipsed) at 1:04pm, and ends at 2:25pm.   The "Ring of Fire" view associated with an annular solar eclipse occurs when the Moon is near the part of its orbit that is most distant from Earth.   Because the Moon is farther from Earth than it is during a total solar eclipse, the Moon doesn't block out the entire Sun, instead it leaves a bright ring of Sun visible at the peak of the eclipse. This annular eclipse is visible along a narrow path in the Western USA, but live coverage will air on NASA TV and the agency's website on Oct. 14, 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. DST.   Here is the link to NASA TV.

October's Lunar Cycle:
The Last Quarter Moon occurs on the 6th, New Moon on the 14th, First Quarter on the 21st and the Full Moon is on the 28th.

On-Line Programs to enjoy on a cloudy night!
--Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Image of Aristarchus Crater released Dec 1st, 2022 LROC.
--The McDonald Observatory Archive of livestreams can be found Here.
--Lowell Observatory's most recent livestreamed program can be found Here.
--The STSCI lecture series archives can be found Here.