BAN #459: I’m healthy!, Cool stuff in the sky to see
September 5, 2022 Issue #459
[Hubble image of NGC 3603. Credit: NASA, ESA, R. O'Connell (UVa), F. Paresce (NIA, Bologna, Italy), E. Young (USRA/Ames Research Center), the WFC3 Science Oversight Committee, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)]
About this newsletter
Reminder: Tomorrow (Tuesday, September 6) I’ll be picking the six winners of a copy of Randal Munroe’s book what if 2! I’ll be sending out emails to the folks whose names I’ve picked in the early afternoon Mountain US Time, and they’ll have just two days to respond, so stay alert! I hope you win. Yes, you.
Yeah, but not too personal
Health update: I’m healthy!
I had a follow-up endoscopy on Friday, September 2, and it looks like everything is all better. My ulcers have all healed; there was a small scar where the doctor previously cauterized one of the ulcers closed (the one that was bleeding and causing 99% of the trouble).
I was taking pills that reduce acid production in my stomach — called, awesomely, proton pump inhibitors, which is the closest I’ll ever get to Star Trek — which have helped (and no longer need to take, hurray), and also I tend to heal weirdly quickly from things like cuts and other abrasions. So this wasn’t a surprise but it was still nice to hear. And see, too, though I’ll spare you the pix of my duodenum this time. But it’s shiny and healthy.
There’s still gastritis, a little irritation in my stomach lining, but it’s minor. They’re culturing a bit to check for H. pylori but I’m sure it’ll come back negative. I didn’t have it last time they checked.
I’ve been getting back on my exercise bike, too, and while I’m a little weak from lack of exercise it’s not from lack of blood, which is way way better. I can already see improvements after three sessions.
So I’m good to go. Yay!
[JWST images of the exoplanet HIP 65426b. Though not the first images of the planet, they’re the first for JWST and a promise of what’s to come. From Friday’s article. Photo: NASA/ESA/CSA, A Carter (UCSC), the ERS 1386 team, and A. Pagan (STScI)]
Monday 29 August, 2022: Black hole delivery pipeline may feed a nearby galaxy
Tuesday 30 August, 2022: Mars InSight finds no ice to a depth of 300 meters below the surface
Wednesday 31 August, 2022: The future history of the Sun
Thursday 1 September, 2022: If you want to live on Mars it’ll take a lot of MOXIE
Friday 2 September, 2022: JWST takes its first direct image of an exoplanet
Look up! There’s stuff to see in the sky!
Right now is a great time to be outside under the night sky. There’s a lot to see!
Note: These tips are for folks around 40° N latitude, plus or minus some. If you live much farther north and south then your kilometerage may vary.
Also, Star charts help a lot here, of course. Stellarium is a good planetarium program that’s not too hard to use and is free online. I use Sky Safari app a lot, and the basic version is only $5. It’s my favorite of the ones I’ve tried, and has more sophisticated versions for more advanced use, too.
Saturn is up by the time the sky gets dark after sunset; face to the southeast and it’s the brightest object around, a yellowish “star” not too high off the horizon. It culminates — reaching its highest point in the sky off the horizon, when it’s due south — around local midnight. It’ll be roughly 35° up and easy to spot. Your fist held out at arm’s length is about 10° wide, which is useful to gauge things like that.
Jupiter rises not much later, around 9:00 p.m. local time. It’s easy to spot because it’s the brightest thing in the sky unless the Moon or Venus is up. Jupiter rises pretty much due east right now. It reaches opposition on September 26, meaning it’s directly opposite the Sun, rising when the Sun sets. This means Earth is directly between the Sun and Jupiter, so we’re closest to it as we’ll be all year. That in turn means it’s as big in the sky as it’ll get, so this is the best time to observe it! Even binoculars will show its four big moons, and a small ‘scope can reveal its broadest cloud stripes.
This is cool too: The protoplanet (née asteroid) Vesta is easiest to spot right now, too. It’s the brightest of the objects between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, and is just barely in reach of the naked eye if you have good vision and a very dark site. For the rest of us, binoculars make it an easy object. Sky and Telescope has a page about finding it (with a star chart to help you), and I’ll note that if you go out after about 10:00 p.m. it’s almost directly on a line between Saturn and the bright star Fomalhaut, which will be very low to the southeast, below and to the left of Saturn.
If we ever get a clear, non-hazy night here in Colorado (it’s been really unusual here lately; it’s usually clear) I’ll go for it. I bet it’ll even show up easily in a photo you can take with your phone; my Android has a “Night Sight” setting that shows stars fainter than the eye can see, so Vesta shouldn’t be too tough. Give it a try!
Neptune is tougher, but only about 12° to the upper right of Jupiter. It’s faint, and you’ll need a telescope for sure, but it’s cool to see it through the eyepiece. You can see it’s a disk, and the teal color is astonishing.
Mars rises around midnight, and Uranus is between Mars and Jupiter, too. It’s about as bright as Vesta, and not too hard with binoculars. Venus rises just before the Sun, around 6:00, but is close enough to the Sun now that’s harder to spot. It’ll round the Sun and be an evening object again in November/December.
If you can, go outside! Look up! There’s plenty to see.
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org (though replies can take a while), and all my social media outlets are gathered together at about.me. Also, if you don’t already, please subscribe to this newsletter! And feel free to tell a friend or nine, too. Thanks!