NSAS January Update: 2023 and Introducing the Beginners Open Question Night
Category: President's Monthly Mail-Out
On the 12th September 1962, President John F. Kennedy uttered those inspiring words "we choose to go to the moon."
Exactly 60 years later, Bill Nelson, NASA Administrator, reflected on the year of 2022 and all that it was to achieve. At that time, Artemis was meant to have launched 2 weeks earlier on 29th August. When it did finally launch on November 16, it capped off a tremendous year for NASA, ESA, and the space and science industry all together. Clearly, from an astronomy point of view, the highlight was the commissioning of the James Webb Space Telescope on 12 July 2022. A project that took over 26 years in the making, finally coming together and performing flawlessly. It really was a world effort with the JWST being trucked around the place and even loaded onto ships to be transported to its Launch site. Amazing images and research data is now available.
More images here :- Webb Images/Science - 2022 | Flickr
Other achievements for 2022 include 176 successful launches to space, the DART (NSAS-dart-mission-hits-asteroid-in-first-ever-planetary-defense-test) test where NASA smashed a car sized spacecraft into a stadium sized asteroid to test if it could redirect its path, 3 wealthy individuals became the first private astronauts paying $ 55m USD collectively for a 17-day space flight. Also announced was the development of a device to generate breathable oxygen on MARS. Called ''Moxie" (mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/spacecraft/instruments/moxie/) it is still in briefcase sized form and performs as well as one tree so clearly still a way to go, and then in December there was the announcement of the first net energy producing Fusion reaction (Breakthrough in nuclear fusion energy announced - BBC News). Whilst this will still take decades to overcome all sorts of technical challenges to become a mainstream energy source, it does potentially usher in a totally different concept of providing energy to the world.
For 2023 there are a number of important events that are scheduled to occur:
and there will be a whole new set of super heavy rockets being launched
Just this past few weeks has seen the NASA Administrator, Bill Nelson, further remark that 2022 was one of NASA's most accomplished years and that 2023 had a lot more coming. Here is a YouTube video of his remarks https://youtu.be/KjBisqblTLQ including coverage of NASA's plans for 2023.
2023 should also see the commissioning of the LSST (Legacy Survey of Space and Time) telescope at Vera Rubin Observatory with its 3.2 Billion pixel camera. The LLST is designed to watch the entire Southern Sky with an unwavering recording of data to enable real-time diagnostic ability of detected astronomical events. It is scheduled to come online in December so hopefully that date doesn't slip.
NSAS 2023 events
The NSAS calendar has now been updated with a number of events now up on the website. We have also introduced a Beginners Open Question (BOQ) Night where members and non-members ($20) can attend and ask any question they wish about setting up and using their telescopes. There will be a basic agenda to cover off types of telescopes, eyepieces and the like to get the conversation started.
The BOQ will also be supported with Beginners Night in the Field sessions continuing to be scheduled around the same time so you can put into practice anything that you learn.
The committee has not finalised the star party for this year but it is in the discussion phase so stay tuned!
We also have a number of exciting and interesting speakers arranged including Earl White who will talk to us in February about building a MARS mission simulator in the Australian outback.
On the weather front, the Bureau of Meteorology is still reporting that the La Niña is weakening, however the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) continues to influence the south-east of Australia with above average chance of rain. Hopefully this weakens during January. For those that are interested, there is a Climate Driver Update issued by the Bureau every few weeks here > Climate Driver Update (bom.gov.au).
Hopefully this is foretelling of some Clear Skies ahead.
A new style of consumer oriented telescopes seems to have come online in 2022 and will continue to expand in 2023. These are the probably best described as consumerism meets the telescope industry and will no doubt shake up the market to hide the technical challenges that come along with owning and setting up a scope. Current examples are the Unistellar (Homepage - Unistellar) and Vaonis (Vaonis.com).
I'd suggest that the existing telescope mount heads will continue to dominate high quality imaging for some time but it will be interesting to watch these easy-to-use instruments develop over the next 5 years or so.
Wishing clear skies for 2023 for all