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Kevin M. Berg

Astronomy News

In the News July

Chang'e-6 Moon Mission was Exciting!
June 25th,   Today, China's 6th Chang'-e lunar mission returned samples to Earth from the Moon's immense Aitkin basin on the far side of the Moon.   It was a big technological accomplishment because the lunar module was completely autonomous.   It will soon be a big scientific accomplishment as well!   Why? Because our current theory of the Moon's formation, (the collision of a Mars-sized planet with a young Earth), will be supported if analysis of samples from the far side of the Moon are consistent with those returned by the Apollo missions from the near side of the Moon.   If they are not consistent... Wow! We will need to explain why not, and will likely need to re-think our current theory of the formation of the Moon!   I can't wait for the tests to begin!

Boeing Starliner Udate...
July 5th   A planned one week stay at the ISS enters its fifth week.   Engineers are taking advantage of the unexpected technical issues experienced during the June 6th docking to execute a myriad of additional tests for the space capsule.   There is an official news conference scheduled for July 10th which should discuss the test results.   Meanwhile, here is the link for updates about the Boeing Starliner.

Far Out!
July 5th   Earth's orbit around the Sun is rather round-ish, but still a bit elliptical.   Today is the day when planet Earth is farther from the Sun than on any other day of its annual orbit around our star.   The term that astronomers use to describe this distance extreme is "aphelion".   Yes you are thinking correctly!   In the cold days of January, Earth is actually closest to the sun, that is at "perihelion".   The tilted axis of the Earth is the "reason for the seasons", not Earth's proximity to the Sun.   Far Out!

Speaking of Perihelion...
July 30th  On June 30th, after a 69-year journey, comet 13P/Olbers once again reached perihelion, its closest point to the sun.   About a month later, on July 30th, we will be able to observe this 10km-wide periodic comet telescopically in the constellation Ursa Major.

July's Lunar Cycle:
The New Moon occurs on the 5th, First Quarter on the 13th, Full Moon is on the 21st and the cycle completes on the 27th with the Last Quarter Moon.

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.
--The STSCI lecture series archives can be found Here.

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