Coming Attractions

Listen 07:53
NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA/JPL-Caltech

Astronomers observing white dwarf stars see spectrographic signatures of previously orbiting gas giant planets. Our gas giants (Jupiter and Saturn) will possibly do the same – leave signatures of their existence on our White Dwarf sun long after all the inner planets are gone and the outer planets are transformed. Not to worry – this won’t happen for some eight billion years.

Bid adieu to the Spitzer Space Telescope! Named after astrophysicist Lyman Spitzer (in 1965 he first proposed what would later become the Hubble Space Telescope), the Spitzer Space Telescope was launched in 2003. Expected to last just 2.5 years, Spitzer continued generating good science results until it was finally turned off last month (after it ran out of coolant), an amazing 16 years after it launched. Dusty stellar nurseries, extrasolar planets, centers of galaxies, and newly forming planetary systems hidden behind thick curtains of cosmic dust would remain unseen without Spitzer’s unique heat-detecting capability.

From 6:15 a.m. – 6:30 a.m., Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, and the bright star Antares are all visible.

In the west at 6:00 p.m., bright Mercury is at its greatest height for this cycle. A clear view of the horizon and binoculars will help you catch it.

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