Struttin’ Its Stuff: Behind the Webb

The James Webb Space Telescope has a series of mirrors to get the light from the universe into the observatory’s cameras. After the light reaches the primary mirror, it is then bounced up 25 feet to the secondary mirror. This much smaller mirror is deployed using three arms, or struts. Engineers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center are conducting tests to ensure a successful deployment after launch. This episode of Behind the Webb shows us the scope of the task at hand and how the test is being done to simulate a zero-gravity environment.

“Behind the Webb” is an ongoing series that follows the construction of the Webb Space Telescope, Hubble’s successor. Find more episodes at

“Behind the Webb” archive:



Here’s a nice YouTube video guide for the October night sky, from -Marty

Backyard stargazers get a monthly guide to the northern hemisphere’s skywatching events with “Tonight’s Sky.” In October spot Andromeda, our galactic neighbor.


Planet Orbiting around Nearby Star Gives Clues to the Formation of Atmospheres

Astronomers have uncovered new clues about the formation of planets around other stars. One question is, do the atmospheres around planets survive or how are they stripped off? Some of the Earth’s atmosphere was stripped off during formation. What happens in other exoplanet systems?

The question is, why? Please join Tony Darnell, Dr. Carol Christian, and Scott Lewis as we discuss a peculiar observation made with the Hubble Space Telescope around a nearby exoplanet.

Read more here: Hubble Sees a ‘Behemoth’ Bleeding Atmosphere Around a Warm Neptune-Sized Exoplanet



25th Anniversary Video Series: Oh Planet, What Art Thou?

This episode of “Hubble at 25” uncovers Hubble’s key role in the study of planets beyond our own solar system. Thousands of “exoplanet” candidates have been discovered. While Hubble is not responsible for most exoplanet detections, it is able to examine the chemical compositions of their atmospheres. Since these planets are too far away to ever visit in the forseeable future, analyzing their atmospheres provides critical clues about the existence of life elsewhere in the universe.


The Hubble website is concerned about your computer.

I was trying to find a good public domain image of the Pleiades, and came across this gem on the “download high resolution” page for this image.

Emphasis mine.  (It’s really kind of sweet.)

These images should be downloaded, not viewed with a browser. Even though the file sizes may be small, the number of pixels these images contain can be problematic for a browser. The image may not appear, it may cause your Web browser to lock up, or it may crash your computer. Some Web browsers will display a “broken image” icon in response to your attempt to view the picture.

If you simply want to look at a picture on the screen, we recommend choosing one of the other image formats offered, such as those in the category “Screen” or “Print.”

If you still want to use this format, we strongly recommend that you download our “high resolution images” rather than our “full resolution images.” The “high resolution images” provide a more manageable file size for most computers. Very few computers will be able to handle the “full resolution images,” which are intended mainly for digital and printed material.

To download the image, right-click (control-click on a Mac) on the following link, then choosing “Save Target As.” You can then try to open the file using dedicated image-viewing software.

I feel so … looked out for, you know?

Hilariously, I originally found the (same resolution!) image on Wikimedia, with nary a warning to be seen.