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Today is a day of celebration! Amidst the seriousness and caution we are all practicing to protect one another, let us take a moment to be thankful for the many achievements that were accomplished within the field of Astronomy.
We are ever thankful for the three decades we’ve been able to share with the Hubble Space Telescope, generating spectacularly beautiful images and revealing our universe like never before. For example, the Hubble Deep Field image shown below shows galaxies so far away that we are just now seeing the light they released 12 billion years ago. We are seeing them the way they looked 12 billion years in the past, about the same time when our own Milky Way Galaxy was just coming into existence!
This is the 25th anniversary of the landmark SOHO satellite, which has been providing us with a continuous view of the Sun in X-rays, UV and visible light and giving us an advanced warning of approaching solar storms. This feat is even more remarkable when you realize the spacecraft is too far away to receive any repairs and was only intended to last three years! And this is the 30th anniversary of the almost tragic Apollo 13 mission, where dedication and human ingenuity turned a disaster into triumph.
Speaking of weather, two years ago when Mars was last passing nearest to the Earth, an early summer on Mars kicked up a global dust storm that ruined the view. This October, Mars will be passing nearby again and we expect the view to be much better. Mars is already getting brighter in the predawn sky, where you’ll also currently find Jupiter and Saturn. All three planets are rising earlier each morning and will be up all night this Summer. Venus is that brilliant “star” seen high up in the West after sunset, where it is outshining everything except the Sun and the Moon.
Though we are all actively practicing social distancing and have had to give up our usual festivities, the DDO Defenders hope these small reminder of past astronomical accomplishments and upcoming events can bring us all hope for the future. We will continue to plan and prepare for when we can all meet again in person! Until then, stay healthy and intrigued!