Friday, February 24, 2023

New Eye on the Universe

It seems JWST is going to be an astronomy research bonanza. And a reliable topic for PBS NOVA. In September, 2022, NOVA's first JWST episode debuted. Ultimate Space Telescope came just a few months after James Webb Space Telescope's first light.

Now in February, 2023, New Eye on the Universe has aired. It follows the series of researchers putting JWST to work. The search for carbon dioxide in the clouds of a distant Jupiter-like exoplanet reveals a surprising molecule. The search for an atmosphere on a less distant rocky exoplanet pushed JWST to the limits of its capabilities. 

Meanwhile, the water plumes of Enceladus and the surface of Europa yield some surprises. JWST provides stunning new images of Jupiter and Neptune. And the race to find the oldest galaxies in the universe cast current astronomical theories into doubt. There's even a nice vignette on how these infrared light images are colorized.

I didn't waste much time developing a Lessons of Phyz question set for this episode.

Monday, February 20, 2023

Star Chasers of Senegal

It's the NOVA astronomy episode you might not have been expecting. A team of Senegalese astronomers is called upon by NASA to record the star occupation made by a Trojan asteroid sharing Jupiter's orbit. "If you don't get the data at the exact moment, you don't get the data ever," according to a NASA scientist. 

In Senegal, we see imams reacting to the application of modern astronomy techniques to the practices of Islam, Muslims using astronomy to determine true solar time, and evidence of astronomy used in ancient stone circles.

If you're looking for a nice addition to your Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion resources, take a look at PBS NOVA's Star Chasers of Senegal.