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FEATURED STORIES - June 2020

Information For The Media

This newsletter is emailed weekly to requesting radio stations across Australia. Enquiries for interviews or info Ph: (02) 6585 2260 Mob: 0400 636 363 Email: davereneke@gmail.com

'Astro' Dave: David Reneke is one of Australia's most well known and respected astronomers and lecturers with links to some of the world's leading astronomical institutions. 

NASA Are Considering Fusion Energy to Power Our Moon and Mars Bases

An artistic impression of what a lunar colony might look like.
An artistic impression of what a lunar colony might look like.

US Nuclear Corp. (OTC: UCLE) announces that NASA has just released "Artemis Accords - Guidelines For Humans to Abide by in Space" which also covers protection of the astronaut's basic infrastructure, including their major assets: spaceships and the Moon and Mars base power plants. Ideally, these will all be fusion powered.

NASA and the new US Space Force need a clean, high-powered, compact, and safe energy source for spacecraft propulsion and to establish operations on the Moon and colonizing Mars. Since there is little spare oxygen on space ships, the Moon, and Mars, most conventional energy sources (such as fossil fuels) will not burn and are not useful. Nuclear fission is not safe, and solar cells do not generate adequate power.

That leaves fusion energy as the most desirable energy source because it is safe, it is the most powerful energy source known, and it is not subject to runaway meltdown like fission reactors.

US Nuclear has strong confidence in a new type of fusion energy being developed by our partners, Magneto Inertial Fusion Technologies, Inc. (MIFTI) and MIFTEC Laboratories, Inc. Last year, MIFTI's Z-Pinch system demonstrated its capabilities when it achieved a major milestone at the University of Nevada, Reno National 1 million ampere, Terawatt Facility. MIFTI broke all records and repeatedly generated over 10 billion neutrons from each pulse of their stage Z-Pinch fusion generator.

There is only one measure of success or failure in fusion: the production of neutrons. Not just extreme temperatures which many have previously accomplished, but actual neutrons that contain the exceptionally powerful energy that is produced in our sun and all the stars. MIFTI is poised to build compact fusion generators that could be a reality in under 5 years. 

 Results were so compelling that MIFTI quickly moved forward with the detailed design plans for their new 10 million ampere machine, projected to deliver 1,000 trillion neutrons per pulse, which may be enough to power hypervelocity space ships, and to provide all the power that is needed to build colonies on the Moon and on Mars.

China outlines ambitious plan to build space station in orbit

China has an ambitious new plan to build a space station in orbit by 2023.

Why it matters: The U.S. sees China as a rival in space, so any large undertaking like this one will be watched closely.

  • The space station also represents the evolution of China's space program, which made use of two smaller test stations in orbit that hosted crew before moving on to this more complex design.

Details: China plans to launch the first module of its new space station next year, with a total of 11 launches needed to complete the station by 2023, according to a report from SpaceNews.

  • The station is expected to eventually play host to crews of three astronauts aboard for six months who can perform experiments and other activities from orbit.
  • "It's quite possible that maybe even their first but probably their second or third crew for their space station will include a foreigner," Dean Cheng, a space analyst focusing on China at the Heritage Foundation, told Axios.
  • China is also planning to launch a telescope that will be able to dock to the station for maintenance, SpaceNews said.

What to watch: In mid-May, intact pieces of China's Long March 5 booster fell back to Earth, potentially putting people on the ground in Ivory Coast in danger and flouting norms among nations to safely de-orbit their spent rockets.

  • With a number of launches coming up, it remains to be seen whether China will start issuing warnings about where their rockets are coming down or find new ways to dispose of them safely.
  • It's also possible the crewed SpaceX launch could influence the burgeoning commercial space sector in China, according to Cheng.
  • "The Chinese are worried, not about Elon Musk per se, but they recognize that companies can do entrepreneurship way better than state-owned enterprises," Cheng said.

The Space Age is making a comeback, but it's cheaper this time with SpaceX.

This is huge, but in a sense nothing new: We were launching people into orbit over 50 years ago, after all. But SpaceX is doing it for much less, and that's revolutionary.

Though the news is filled with stories of riots and a pandemic, the most transformative things going on at present are in a totally different sphere. One of those things is pretty obvious, the other less so.

The obvious transformation involves SpaceX's successful launch of a human crew into orbit, the first such launch involving an American spacecraft in nearly a decade, and the first such launch ever by a commercial spacecraft.

This is huge, but in a sense, nothing new: We were launching people into orbit over 50 years ago, after all. SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule is bigger and fancier than a Gemini, but the mission profile is not all that different. And of course, our last mission to orbit, on board a space shuttle, was basically old hat itself.   

SpaceX births new era

But SpaceX is doing it for much less, and that's revolutionary. To get a kilogram into orbit on the space shuttle costs $54,500. To do the same thing with SpaceX's newest rocket, the Falcon 9, costs $2,720. That's basically a twenty-fold reduction in cost.

Lots of things that are too expensive to do at $54,500 become doable at $2,720. And SpaceX isn't standing still. Its Starship reusable rocket, under development now, is to cost a mere $2 million per launch, and Elon Musk says its cost per kilogram to orbit will be at least 10 times lower than the Falcon 9. There are a lot more things that become doable at $272 per kilogram. At those prices, things like space tourism, space hotels, lunar mines and asteroid mining become feasible.

As Robert Heinlein once said, once you get to Earth orbit, you're halfway to anywhere in the solar system.

Which brings me to the second, less obvious transformation of this spring: President Donald Trump's opening outer space for business. "The executive order, "Encouraging International Support for the Recovery and Use of Space Resources," is meant to create a new industry: the extraction and processing of resources from the moon and asteroids toward the settlement of the solar system," as I wrote in April.

There's a lot of wealth in space as I wrote back in 2013, "A 79-foot-wide M-type (metallic) asteroid could hold 33,000 tons of extractable metals, including $50 million in platinum alone. A 23-foot-diameter C-type (carbonaceous) asteroid can hold 24,000 gallons of water, useful for generating fuel and oxygen. Larger asteroids could be worth as much as the GDP of a superpower. Asteroid 1986 DA is a metallic asteroid made up of iron, nickel, gold and platinum. Estimates of its value range between $6 and $7 trillion. Something that size won't be retrieved anytime soon, but the figure gives some idea of just how much wealth is out there."

Space for business

People have been talking about asteroid mining for awhile and even started companies with that in mind, but they've been slowed down by two problems: The expense of getting into outer space, and the legal uncertainties around extracting lunar and asteroid resources. Musk is addressing the expense; Trump is addressing the legal uncertainty.

The executive order makes clear that America rejects the failed 1979 Moon Treaty - which the United States never joined, and which banned private property rights in space - and that it will recognize and defend the rights of its citizens in developing space resources.

In doing so, it's pretty bipartisan: In 2015, President Barck Obama signed the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, which provides that "a U.S. citizen engaged in the commercial recovery of an asteroid resource or a space resource ... shall be entitled to ... possess, own, transport, use, and sell the asteroid resource or space resource obtained in accordance with applicable law, including the international obligations of the United States."

Trump's order ensures that international obligations will be supportive and not destructive of such efforts.

Rather than the Moon Treaty, the administration is working on a new set of agreements with other spacefaring nations, known as the Artemis Accords, in which participants will agree to respect each others' rights in outer space. There's already interest from other nations, though the Russians, whose space-launch business has collapsed in the face of competition from SpaceX, aren't happy.

At any rate, it may well be that future historians will remember 2020 much more for being the second beginning of a wave of human expansion into space, than for the grubby earthbound problems that occupy the news on a daily basis. I certainly hope so.

Cr: Glenn Harlan Reynolds, a University of Tennessee law professor 

How close can you get to a black hole?

Streams of gas fall to their dooms, plunging into black holes, locked away from the universe forever. In their final moments, these gassy shreds send out one last flare of light, some of the brightest emissions in the universe. These death dives are too far away to be seen directly, but astronomers have devised a new technique for detecting their panicked cries for help. They're using the method to test our knowledge of gravity in the most extreme environments in the universe.

In a new study, physicists looked at specific features of that light to figure out the closest you can get to a black hole without having to work hard to prevent disaster - a threshold called the innermost stable circular orbit or ISCO. The researchers found their method could work with more sensitive X-ray telescopes coming online.

Over the waterfall

The event horizon of a black hole is the invisible line-in-the-sand across which you can never return. Once anything passes through the event horizon, even light itself, it can no longer return to the universe. The black hole's gravity is just too strong within that region.

Outside a black hole, however, everything is just dandy. A particular black hole will have a certain mass (anywhere from a few times the mass of the sun for the smaller ones in the galaxy up to billions of times heavier for the true monsters roaming the cosmos), and orbiting the black hole is just like orbiting anything else of identical mass. Gravity is just gravity, and orbits are orbits.

Indeed, lots of stuff in the universe finds itself orbiting around black holes. Once these foolhardy adventurers get caught in the black hole's gravitational embrace, they begin the journey toward the end. As material falls toward the black hole, it tends to get squeezed into a razor-thin band known as an accretion disk. That disk spins and spins, with heat, friction, and magnetic and electric forces energizing it, causing the material to glow brightly.

In the case of the most massive black holes, the accretion disks around them glow so intensely that they get a new name: active galactic nuclei (AGN), capable of outshining millions of individual galaxies.

In the accretion disk, individual bits of material rub up against other bits, draining them of rotational energy and driving them ever-inward to the gaping maw of the black hole's event horizon. But still, if it weren't for those frictional forces, the material would be able to orbit around the black hole in perpetuity, the same way that the planets can orbit around the sun for billions of years.

A call for help

As you get closer to the black hole's center, though, you reach a certain point where all hopes of stability are dashed against the rocks of gravity. Just outside the black hole, but before reaching the event horizon, the gravitational forces are so extreme that stable orbits become impossible. Once you reach this region, you cannot remain in placid orbit.

You have only two choices: if you have rockets or some other source of energy, you can propel yourself away to safety. But if you're a hapless chunk of gas, you're doomed to fall freely toward the waiting dark nightmare below. This boundary, the innermost stable circular orbit (or ISCO for the lovers of astronomical jargon), is a firm prediction of Einstein's general theory of relativity, the same theory that predicts the existence of black holes in the first place.

Despite the success of general relativity in predicting and explaining phenomena across the universe, and our sure knowledge that black holes are real, we've never been able to verify the existence of the ISCO and whether it conforms to the predictions of general relativity. But the gas that falls to its doom may provide a way for us to verify that existence.

Trends and predictions for the global space industry

The global space industry is at a pivotal point. In the coming years, the industry is set to advance and open up, which will trigger growth - by 2030, the global space industry will be worth around $600 billion. This will generate opportunity for national governments and private sectors players, with companies from several industries looking at space to improve and transform their own businesses.

In a new report by KPMG, experts from the professional services firm look into the key trends and levers behind the expected growth. According to the authors, a set of 30 developments will drive significant change and the anticipated growth, across five pillars: life and work, deep space exploration; space business models; space data; sustainability in space.

Humans will live, work and holiday in space

The key trends & predictions:

1. Space travel will be a collaborative multinational venture.
2. Living in space will be easier but not easy.
3. Zero gravity - new medical conditions and new treatments.
4. Many will experience space - but not all will go.
5. You will know an astronaut.
6. The human genome will change to support human deep space exploration.

In 2030 expect society's interaction with space and in particular the Moon to revolutionize. While in recent years we have flirted with the idea of travelling to the Moon commercially, by the end of the decade we will move ahead in leaps and bounds with many having completed this 'once in a lifetime' experience.

In a world where leisurely travel to the Moon is viable, expect open discussion of the prospect of people permanently residing on its barren terrain. While it will be a possibility by the end of the decade, the financial, logistical, physical, and psychological implications will mean it's still a hard task for humans to conquer.

Space travel will still be costly and not accessible to all. With technology improving at a rapid speed, virtual reality will play a large role in giving people the experience of space travel. This will be critical to increase interest in space.

While we will need to identify solutions to challenges to enable us to stay in space and on the Moon for longer, easier access to space and increased presence in space will enable us to conduct more medical research in zero gravity. This will provide opportunities to discover new treatments for conditions we thought weren't possible. Furthermore, we may start to see the ability to deliberately alter the human genome to further support humanity's sustained exploration of space.

Deep space exploration

The key trends & predictions:

7. We'll successfully mine the Moon for water by 2030.
8. We may finally discover evidence of life in space.
9. We'll operate assets remotely on the Moon like mines in the Pilbara.
10. Growing and eating food in space will be commonplace.
11. Virtual companions will assist with the mental health challenges of long space travel.
12. We will look back in time more than 4 billion years.

As space industry technology continues to improve in the new decade, so will our ability to expand our horizons and more deeply explore all aspects of the solar system, in particular our Moon.

With a much greater appetite to have permanent human residence on the Moon by 2030, there will be a focus on ensuring we are able to use water on the Moon for fuel and life. Through new extraction technology we will be able to separate water into the basic constituents of rocket fuel (hydrogen and oxygen) and support agriculture on the Moon.

Traveling further into space means astronauts will be isolated for extended periods of time. With the assistance of technology, 'virtual buddies' will ensure that these people will stay in a healthy mental state while away from Earth.

New telescope technology will enable us to see the first galaxies being formed after the Big Bang, through projects like the James Webb Space Telescope, which will expand our understanding of the solar system.

We now have a much better idea of what we are looking for on other planets for signs of life. Over the coming decade, missions to other planets like Mars 2020 with the Perseverance rover and Europa Clipper to one of Jupiter's Moons will help determine if we are alone in the universe.

Space business models

The key trends & predictions:

13. Every business will be a space business.
14. The leading space businesses of 2030 are start-ups today.
15. Long-established terrestrial industries will build a presence in space.
16. Government will be a customer of civil space business.
17. Multinational co-operation, while challenging, will drive the peace dividend.
18. Manufacturing in space will be real and viable.

Already in 2020, many multi-national businesses are investing in the space sector and understanding how it can add value to their business on Earth. By 2030 we expect all businesses across all industries, whether related or not, to benefit from space, with many having dedicated space teams and resources.

Operations that have long been run on Earth will now take place beyond our planet. Organisations will be trialing experiments - from medical research to manufacturing - in space, introducing new products and solutions into the market. This may include growing tissue and artificial transplants in zero gravity, as well as manufacturing fiber optics for communication.

Rather than space programs being purely government-led, we will see more and more partnerships between the public and private sectors. These partnerships will drive new activities and push technological boundaries as we aim to develop new commercial applications from the sector and make new discoveries about the solar system. Global levels of cooperation will help enhance economic and political ties between nation states.

What were considered to be 'small start-ups' in the space industry in 2020, by 2030 will become the leaders of this sector. As space becomes commercially focused, more businesses will realize the value of space, and new business cases will become viable. The majority of space companies will be valued in the billions of dollars and operate across multiple countries.

Space data comes back to Earth

The key trends & predictions:

19. Space data will become completely commoditized.
20. An international regulatory body for space data will be established.
21. AI will be commonplace in space.
22. Data will not be owned - rather shared.
23. Governments will conduct their census from space.
24. Personal privacy will be challenged.

Data collected in space will continue to increase in value over the next decade as volume, variety, velocity and veracity increase. With the increased use of space data, a central international governing body will need to be established, employing new agile approaches to regulation as new issues appear - but getting there will not be easy.

Much of the data collected will be analysed by edge analytics in-orbit to reduce the volume of data that needs to be transmitted to Earth and stored. At the same time, in-orbit relays will increase our transmission capacity to Earth, providing more data to input into analytics. AI will also be used in deep space missions to overcome communications delays due to distance, and help pre-empt and correct problems.

We expect that space data will be prolific, though provide little value on its own. Companies will find real value in generating and selling actionable insights from the data they collect and intersect with other sources. New data will help identify and drive new business opportunities across different industries.

Governments by 2030 may conduct their own census from space rather than by the ten-yearly survey we've become used to filling out. This will enable more precise humanitarian and medical support in developing countries and enable more frequent updates.

Sustainability in space

The key trends & predictions:

25. Sustainability in space will benefit sustainability on Earth.
26. There will be a 'CFC moment' in space which will trigger a moratorium on space debris.
27. Space ecology will be imperative for our millennial generation.
28. Space will get its own legal jurisdiction.
29. Space will be forced to accelerate quickly as an operational domain for armed forces.
30. A Master's of Space Ecology will be offered at universities.

Businesses are already putting sustainability at the forefront of what they do on Earth, and in the years ahead the same will be applied to our activities in space.

Debris in space has long been an area of concern. This will only escalate as we are more active in space, to the point where international agreements will have to be made to find sustainable solutions. The recovery of decommissioned satellites in space will also involve a strategy to recycle and find a new purpose for them. As access to space is opened up and deep space exploration grows, legislation and treaties governing space will need to evolve. Expect space to become its own legal jurisdiction.

Space is already softly militarized, with many countries leveraging it as an operational domain for armed forces. There are however deliberate efforts and treaties to ensure this doesn't become hard militarization. With the applications possible in space constantly expanding, treaties and regulations must evolve to ensure it is not exploited.

Expect a Master's degree in Space Ecology to become a viable degree for students wishing to have prosperous careers in the sector.

NASA Should Beware of Viruses From Outer Space

This summer, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration will launch a rover designed to collect samples of the Martian surface and store them until they can eventually be brought back to Earth. When they arrive, according to a former NASA scientist, they'll be "quarantined and treated as though they are the Ebola virus until proven safe.

"His statement caused a minor media sensation, and understandably so. In the midst of one pandemic, Americans aren't ready for another imported from outer space. But ready or not, the U.S. and other spacefaring nations need to start updating planetary-protection measures for a new era of spaceflight.In the years ahead, NASA's Mars initiatives will likely be emulated by other countries. Ambitious private space companies are eager to follow with their own robots (and perhaps, eventually, humans). 

Clearer safety guidelines are essential both for protecting Earth and for ensuring that a wary public is comfortable with humanity's next steps into the solar system.No one knows, of course, if there's life elsewhere in the universe. But as far back as the mid-1950s, scientists were thinking about ways to prevent alien lifeforms from contaminating the Earth (and vice-versa). In 1967, the Outer Space Treaty codified a consensus that member states should avoid "adverse changes in the environment of the Earth resulting from the introduction of extraterrestrial matter." 

When the Apollo 11 astronauts returned from the moon in 1969, they were immediately sealed in a decontamination chamber for three weeks, on the off chance that they had conveyed lunar micro-organisms to Houston.In the years that followed, planetary-protection guidelines were gradually updated. The Committee on Space Research (or COSPAR), a global research group, came up with non-binding protocols for various types of missions, and wisely requested that any "non-terrestrial replicating entity" - that is, a lifeform - remain contained on landing. 

At NASA, the Office of Planetary Protection ensures that these and other guidelines are followed when planning new missions.But while these rules worked well enough when NASA was mostly focused on protecting other planets, they're turning out to be incomplete or obsolete in an era of one-of-a-kind missions like the Mars sample return. In 2018, a review by the National Academy of Sciences found that "there did not appear to be a solid scientific basis" for some of the agency's planetary-protection rules. 

And even as it prepares to launch the new Mars rover in July, NASA has yet to come up with policies on how to safely distribute any returned samples to scientists.Meanwhile, private space companies increasingly have the technology and ambition to make Mars visits of their own. Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, says he hopes to send a crewed mission there in 2024. If the company manages to meet that unlikely deadline, it might be able to avoid planetary-protection requirements altogether. At the moment, no federal agency has jurisdiction to authorize and supervise such a mission. Among other problems, that regulatory gap places the U.S. out of compliance with the Outer Space Treaty.

Addressing these issues is essential, and not just to avoid a real-life Andromeda Strain. For one thing, steps taken by the U.S. now will be adapted by COSPAR and become a non-binding global standard, which should help ensure that this new space age is a safe one. At the same time, a public scarred by the coronavirus is likely to be wary of any space missions that require Ebola-level containment strategies. If NASA and other spacefarers want to assure people that they shouldn't be worried about Martian Ebola, they need to prove that their safety efforts are as failsafe as their engineering.

For a start, NASA should reassess its planetary-protection measures in light of recent technological advances, and make sure it fills any gaps. It should also establish a standing forum devoted to updating those policies as circumstances warrant. Imposing safety requirements on private space companies is a trickier issue that ultimately will require congressional action.

 But in the meantime, NASA should link planetary-protection compliance to eligibility for federal contracts.There's no telling when and where the next pandemic will emerge. But with a little care, NASA and its partners can all but guarantee that it won't be extraterrestrial.

Elon Musk 'overcome with emotion' after SpaceX's 1st successful manned flight

SpaceX founder Elon Musk celebrates after the successful launch of the Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on May 30, 2020
SpaceX founder Elon Musk celebrates after the successful launch of the Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on May 30, 2020

SpaceX founder Elon Musk was choked up with emotion after his company successfully launched astronauts to space for the first time on Saturday (May 30). "I'm really quite overcome with emotion on this day, so it's kind of hard to talk, frankly," Musk said in a post-launch press conference at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida Saturday evening. "It's been 18 years working towards this goal, so it's hard to believe that it's happened."

Musk's comments came a few hours after SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from the center's historic Launch Complex 39A, carrying a Crew Dragon spacecraft with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on board. By successfully launching its new Crew Dragon spacecraft with astronauts on board for the first time, SpaceX became the first private company to launch astronauts for NASA.

VIDEO (Above)  NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken give a tour of the Crew Dragon a few hours after launch. Hurley and Behnken named the capsule 'Endeavour' 

Start Of A New Era

The uncrewed test flight, called Demo-2, is also the first crewed launch from the United States since the space shuttle program ended in 2011. SpaceX and Boeing were both selected for NASA's commercial crew program to wean the agency off its dependence on Russia's Soyuz to fly astronauts after the shuttle program was retired.

"I think this is something that's particularly important in the United States but appeals to everyone throughout the world who has within them the spirit of exploration," Musk said. "This is something that I think humanity should be excited about proud of occurring on this day." If all goes well with the Demo-2 test flight, SpaceX will soon begin launching astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) for NASA as well as other space agencies and private companies.

The first operational Crew Dragon mission, called Crew-1, could launch to the ISS as early as Aug. 30, with three NASA astronauts and one astronaut from the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency on board. Behnken and Hurley will arrive at the ISS Sunday morning (May 30), and the Crew Dragon spacecraft is scheduled to autonomously dock with the orbiting lab at 10:29 a.m. EDT (1429 GMT). You can watch the docking live here on Space.com, courtesy of NASA TV.

The Demo-2 astronauts, who will be joining the three-person crew of ISS Expedition 63, will spend anywhere from one to four months at the station. SpaceX and NASA will determine the duration of their stay after they assess the condition of the Crew Dragon spacecraft in orbit as well as the Crew Dragon that will fly the Crew-1 mission this summer. When asked about his conversations with the Demo-2 astronauts' kids, Musk - who recently became a dad again(he has six sons) - got choked up. "It really hit home," he said of the time he told their two boys that he would do everything in his power to bring their dads home safely.

"I think it was an argument that the return is more dangerous in some ways than the ascent, so in order to declare victory yet, we need to bring them home safely [and] make sure that we're doing everything we can to minimize that risk of reentry and return," Musk said.

Top 3 astronomy events to look for in June 2020

No telescope is needed to see any of the astronomical events this month, but a grouping of Jupiter, Saturn and the moon will bring the perfect opportunity for people to get familiar with a new telescope.

Here are the top three astronomy events to look for in June:

1. Strawberry Moon
When:
June 5

The first weekend of June will kick off with a full moon rising in the eastern sky right around sunset on Friday, June 5. Across North America, this is commonly called the Strawberry Moon.

This name originated with Algonquin tribes in eastern North America who knew it as a signal to gather the ripening fruit of wild strawberries. June's full moon takes on different nicknames around the globe. In Europe, it is typically called the Rose Moon, but in China, it is known as the Lotus Moon. 

For us in the Southern Hemisphere where the season will soon transition into winter, it is referred to as the Long Night's Moon. The full moon will also come with an added bonus for some areas of the world. A penumbral lunar eclipse will be visible on Friday night across Australia, Asia, Europe and Africa, as long as cloudy conditions don't obscure the event.

2. A celestial trio you can spot with the naked eye
When:
June 7-8

Jupiter and Saturn will shine brightly next to each other all month long, and just before the middle of the month, the planets will have a visitor. On the nights of June 7 and June 8, the moon will swing by Jupiter and Saturn. The trio will l be hard to miss.

This will take place over the course of two nights, so stargazers will have a couple of opportunities to see the event. No telescope is required to see the celestial meetup, but having one will add to the experience.

Pointing a basic telescope at the moon will give onlookers a more detailed look of all the craters on its surface. More powerful telescopes will allow folks to see some of Jupiter's largest moons and even Saturn's famous rings.

3. Stargazing on the summer solstice
When:
June 20

Summer officially gets underway across the Northern Hemisphere on June 20 with the summer solstice. In The southern hemisphere it marks the start of Winter. The solstice features the longest day and shortest night of the year, but don't let that dissuade you from stargazing if you live above us.

There will also be a new moon around the solstice this year, meaning that there will be a dark, moonless night to kick off the summer stargazing season. The Winter in Australia is also the best time of the year to look for the Milky Way, although people will need to head to dark areas away from light pollution to see it.

Looking east at 5am the comet is where the 30 altitude line crosses the 90 degree line.Just looked at the comet with 20x80 binoculars, I could see about 1.2 degrees of its tail. With my 305 mm Dob the head of the comet was spectacular. Credit: Astronomer Glen Cousins Via FB

NB/ Comet SWAN is currently located in southern skies, best seen by telescopes in Australia, New Zealand, southern Africa and South America. Stay tuned for updates.

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