Free Astronomy Magazine – May-June 2021 Issue Available For Reading And Download

Above: No doubt saving the hi-def cameras for the bigger chassis. Ingenuity's shadow as captured during its second official flight (taken too late for issue inclusion). [NASA/JPL-Caltech]

The most recent issue of Free Astronomy Magazine (May-June 2021) is available for your reading and downloading pleasure at

Yet another Mars 2020 mission success that cut uncomfortably close to the submission and translation deadline for the magazine, and humbled yet again by its inclusion as the cover story (although the mission probably had something to do with it).

Point of fact, this issue is unique in that both sides of my parents' families also have some level of contribution to featured articles. For Ingenuity, this connection comes from my mother's side, where my Aunts Anglia and Shelly both work for AeroVironment, one of the component manufacturers. As for the two articles about M87, my genius (not used lightly) cousin George Wong, A.B.D. was a contributing researcher to the first study, including the imaging of the supermassive black hole at its center.

Theo's hairs no longer standing on end as the successful first flight is announced by JPL Project Manager MiMi Aung on

The second of the two articles, "How to measure the relativistic jet of M87," is an interesting combination of imaging and straightforward math by authors Aniceto Porcel and Miguel Sánchez to obtain a quality estimate of a feature that any equipped amateur astronomer could manage to capture photons of. The ALPO now has its own exoplanet division – if amateurs can detect and monitor exoplanets from their backyards (one almost giggles at the thought of how fast the community has adopted and adapted to advancements in optics and detectors), something as blindingly bright as the relativistic jets from a number of known candidates should be an easy catch for a future imaging and dimensional estimate award.

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Free Astronomy Magazine – March-April 2021 Issue Available For Reading And Download

Above: Taken from the descent stage, a snapshot of Perseverance rover from about two meters above the Martian surface. This image was sent down the coiled umbilical into Percy for later transmission before the descent stage disconnected from the rover and flew off to a safe distance. [NASA/JPL-Caltech]

The most recent issue of Free Astronomy Magazine (March-April 2021) is available for your reading and downloading pleasure at

The entire issue celebrates the successful (fortunately) landing of Perseverance by summarizing the history of all five NASA rovers (Sojourner, Spirit and Opportunity, Curiosity, "Percy") – with as much Martian eye candy as will fit into 60-ish pages.

For those who'd never heard of Jezero Crater before discussion of the descent on the live feed, I refer you to the Jan/Feb 2020 issue for a full background.

For the record – Percy’s landing on the 18th did not leave a whole lot of time to prep a full article that then needed to be translated into three other languages by the 28th. Additionally, it would have been awful (on many levels) to put together a full article on all of the exciting science and imaging to be done by Percy and Ingenuity – only to then have to scrap the whole article if the rover itself ended up as scrap on the surface (or several feet below depending on the speed of impact).

That said, the landing of Curiosity was exceptional and nine years is a long time to perfect a technique. As such, the final article only required a few changes of verb tense and the “Nixon-Apollo 11” alternate version was not necessary to have out early for its separate translation. In the words of Thomas Zurbuchen as he tore the thin stack of papers up during the first press briefing, “Here’s for the contingency plan!”

I will say, however, that the last-minute-ness of the prep may have resulted in a few glitches working their way into the final edition. People finding them means people are reading, so all the better. As expressed to our fearless leader Michele and in the words of Paul Valéry, “Aux yeux de ces amateurs d’inquiétude et de perfection, un ouvrage n’est jamais achevé, – mot qui pour eux n’a aucun sens, – mais abandonné."

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Jump to the PDF download (18.7 MB): March-April 2021