Free Astronomy Magazine –March-April 2022 Issue Available For Reading And Download

Above: Will an 18-segment honeycomb arrangement ever mean anything different? Optics, strategically-placed logo, and technical staff during JWST testing and assembly . Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn.

The most recent issue of Free Astronomy Magazine (March-April 2022) is available for your reading and downloading pleasure at

Delighted to have as my first Solar System Ambassador article for the year the successful launch and delivery of the James Webb Space Telescope. With a hard cut-off for translation and publishing of February 15th for this issue, it was impossible to include the several significant updates to have occurred since the final edits went out for review. Just like the Perseverance article! Just like the DAVINCI+/VERITAS article! Something about trying to cover cutting-edge space science in a bi-monthly magazine translated into four languages…

I've binoculars that looked at least this bad before collimation. From NASA: "This image mosaic was created by pointing the telescope at a bright, isolated star in the constellation Ursa Major known as HD 84406. This star was chosen specifically because it is easily identifiable and not crowded by other stars of similar brightness, which helps to reduce background confusion. Each dot within the mosaic is labeled by the corresponding primary mirror segment that captured it. These initial results closely match expectations and simulations. Credit: NASA"

Additional original content includes our fearless editor's extensive review of the detection and additional searching for Proxima b (with reports of the confirmation of Proxima d also coming just as this issue was version-locked for publication), as well as François Blateyron's article about sundials and the Shadows app – which I'd never before heard of before but am now inclined to try to expand the utility of the backyard garden.

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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