In addition to Independence Day, Monday is also aphelion day, when the Earth is farthest from the Sun at 94.5 million miles.
The Earth’s orbit has a slight bend from gravitational interaction with the Moon and, to a lesser extent, with the planets, so the exact value of aphelion changes. Tomorrow it will be 94,509,598 miles, but next year it will be slightly less – 94,506,364 miles, and in 2024 – 94,510,539 miles.
The fact that aphelion occurs during our summer shows that distance from the sun is not the cause of the seasons. The steeper angle of sunlight falling on our part of the Earth in summer concentrates solar energy, and the longer the sun is above the horizon in summer, the warmer it will be in summer than in winter (more baking power and baking power). time means it bakes in the summer in Bakersfield).
In June, those who got up early in the morning could perfectly see all the planets visible to the naked eye in the east of the sky. On June 24, in the ruler, including the crescent moon, all the objects were beautifully displayed in the same order as their distance from the sun, and they were all about the same distance from each other.
Monday morning or the next morning will probably be the last time you can see all the planets at the same time. They are still displayed in the same order as their distance from the sun. Mercury is rapidly sinking back towards the sun, so it will soon be lost in the twilight.
The distance between the two ends, Mercury and Saturn, has increased to such an extent that they do not fit on one star chart. The attached chart focuses on the most easily visible planets: Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. The moon in the evening sky in the form of a growing crescent in the west. This will be the first quarter (half coverage) on Wednesday night and the full phase on the night of July 13th.
Bad luck for the psyche
In space exploration news, there has been a setback for the Psyche mission, which will explore the metal asteroid of the same name. The delay in receiving the spacecraft’s flight software has pushed systems testing beyond the launch window, which begins in August. from 1 to 11 October. In this launch window, Psyche was supposed to use the gravitational support of Mars to propel the spacecraft to an asteroid in 2026. Psyche will not appear until 2029 or 2030.
The asteroid Psyche has a diameter of about 130 miles and is located in the asteroid belt about three times farther from the Sun than the Earth. What’s unusual about Psyche is that it’s mostly metallic iron and nickel, just like our planet’s core. Other asteroids are mostly rocky or icy bodies. Psyche may be the exposed core of an early planetesimal that lost its outer rocky mantle and crust in the many violent collisions that rocked every solid object in the early solar system. In addition to its scientific value, the metallic world can be an attractive source of materials.
On a positive note, the James Webb Space Telescope is due to release its first images and spectroscopy data on July 12 at 7:30 AM PDT. There will be a live press conference with a simultaneous release on major social media platforms and the nasa.gov/webbfirstimages website.
On July 13 at noon, Webb experts will answer questions about the first images and data on NASA Science Live on YouTube and Facebook. People can ask questions on Twitter using the hashtag #UnfoldtheUniverse or in the YouTube/Facebook chat areas.
Columnist Nick Strobel is director of the William M. Thomas Planetarium at Bakersfield College and author of the award-winning website AstronomyNotes.com.