If you follow stuff like this, you probably already know, but the James Webb Space Telescope team just released the first actual image from the telescope:
More images are expected to be released tomorrow (July 12). Visit their page for details (and the full-sized image — all 4537×4630 pixels of it). Visit their excellent “Where Is Webb?” page for the latest status and stats on the JWST.
Congrats again to everyone involved! This was an amazing (and prolonged) effort. I’m glad I get to see some of the results now!
It has been doubly depressingly cloudy for a while now. “Doubly” because I like sunshine and because I’ve been wanting to see the Great Conjunction.
Tuesday evening it was finally clear enough that I could. (I missed the date of closest approach, Monday (12/21), by only one day, so I was very happy.)
As someone with almost literally a life-long love of astronomy (my first word was “star”), I’ve always been vaguely intrigued by astrology. I’m fascinated by that which endures through many ages and cultures of humanity. At the very least, such things reflect an aspect of human consciousness. They’re also a shared idea, so they form community in the like-minded.
Is there magic in the stars? No, not in the astrological sense. Any “magic” is in us, in our consciousness, not in the stars. (Worldwide, on average, almost 12 million babies are born each month. That an astrological sign applies to them all is a bit of a stretch.)
And the thing is, most of us aren’t the sign we think we are!
If you keep an eye on the night sky you may have noticed two bright “stars” to the south just around midnight. (To be precise: Jupiter is dead south at 11:02 pm; Saturn is dead south at 11:37 pm. By midnight they’ve moved slightly to the west.)
If you’re the type to keep an eye on the night sky, you likely already know those “stars” are Saturn (on the left) and Jupiter (on the right). What you may not know — and certainly can’t see — is that almost right smack dab between them is the former planet Pluto. All three just happen to be lined up nicely right now.
The New Horizons spacecraft is also out there, well beyond Pluto.
The two Solstices are the only universal holidays I celebrate. There many personal holidays, almost all anniversaries of whatever happened that day: births, weddings, deaths; the arcs of jobs and love affairs; graduations and engagements; all the milestones of life. (The trick is to avoid Marley’s chains and chests.)
When it comes to the world, I see only two true holidays whose meaning every mind on Earth shares; two that everyone can anticipate and appreciate. These holidays are defined by the star that gives us life. They mark our orbit as precisely as the numbers of a clock mark the hours.
In fact there are four such star-marked days; two major, two minor.