It’s been one helluva week for space images. Deepest view of the cosmos ever? Tick. A couple of major rocket launches? Tick. The year’s last supermoon rising? Tick. That’s only the start, with two new surprising views of Jupiter and a Hubble classic helping create a landmark week in cosmic photography. Here are the standout images from the week just gone and the story behind them:A close-up of the Carina Nebula—a nursery 7,600 light-years distant—shows apparent ridges, valleys and pillars of hot dust and gas. Like all of Webb’s first targets it’s in the southern hemisphere’s night sky—that just happened to be where Webb was pointed during July 2022. This colorful object is a planetary nebula—an expanding cloud of gas surrounding a dying star. It’s around 2,000 light years distant in the constellation Vela. One of the deepest images of our universe that has ever been taken, this incredible “deep field” shows a massive foreground galaxy cluster called SMACS 0723 magnifying and distorting the light of objects behind it. About 290 million light-years aways in the constellation Pegasus, this is a group of five galaxies, four of them comprising the first compact galaxy group ever discovered in 1787. Also known as Hickson Compact Group 92, three have distorted shapes, spiral arms and clumps of stars tell-tale signs that they’ve had close encounters with each other. The third “supermoon” of 2022 and the first full Moon of summer 2022, the “Buck Moon” rose in dramatic red and orangey hues on Wednesday. Not to be totally outdone by its newer space telescope rival, the Hubble Space Telescope casually snapped this globular cluster called Terzan 2. In the constellation Scorpio, it’s a tightly gravitationally bound cluster of tens of thousands of stars whose heart is crowded with glittering, colorful stars. The European Space Agency’s brand new Vega-C rocket lifted off for its inaugural flight this week from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. It will help the ESA move away from using Russian Soyuz rockets, which used to launch from French Guiana until Russia invaded Ukraine. The Juno spacecraft sent back yet another batch of data from its latest close flyby on July 7, which were this week processed by citizen scientists—such as the prolific Kevin M. Gill, above—into exquisite close-ups of the planet’s swirling storms and cloud tops. Days after Webb’s first images NASA decided to publish new images of Jupiter acquired while testing various facets of the telescope’s capabilities. Included were some spectacular images of the giant planet and its moon Europa taken by NIRCam. Also included were images of Jupiter’s delicate rings. Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.
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