From the relaunch of Artemis I to a total lunar eclipse, there are plenty of space and astrological events to look forward to this fall. Here are nine exciting things happening in space in the fall of 2022.
1. Launch of Artemis I (September 23 or September 26)
NASA will launch Artemis 1 as the first in a series of increasingly complex missions to enable human exploration of the Moon and Mars on either September 23 or September 26. The Artemis 1 mission will also be the first integrated test flight of NASA’s Deep Space Exploration Systems including the Orion spacecraft, Space Launch System rocket, and the Exploration Ground Systems at Kennedy Space Center. The launch was first set for August 29, 2022, but was delayed because of a faulty sensor on an engine cooling system. Artemis I failed to launch for the second time on September 3, 2022, after the Space Launch System (SLS) suffered a leak in a liquid hydrogen valve.
2. Jupiter at Opposition (September 26)
On September 26, Jupiter will be in opposition of the Earth, which happens when Earth is located between Jupiter and the Sun. This illuminates Jupiter in the night sky and makes it visible for longer. This opposition also marks the closest Jupiter has been to Earth since October 1963, a distance of 367.4 million miles. As a result, this creates the ideal conditions to get the best look at Jupiter the Earth has seen in 70 years, making it a highly anticipated space event this fall.
3. DART Crashes Into Asteroid Target (September 26)
Also on September 26, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) is expected to slam into the asteroid Diomorphos, a small rock that orbits the bigger asteroid Didymos. DART aims to test if our planet can be saved from a future asteroid strike by colliding with a space rock to change its trajectory. This is the world’s first planetary defense test mission, and it will ideally provide data on the effectiveness of the approach of deflecting an asteroid on a collision course with Earth.
4. Total Lunar Eclipse (November 8)
The second total lunar eclipse in 2022 will occur on November 8, starting at about 3 AM EST. In the United States, the East Coast should be able to enjoy the entirety of the eclipse, whereas the West and Midwest will be able to see a part of the event. According to NASA, the moon’s surface will reflect a reddish light during the eclipse because of the sun’s rays bending around the Earth.
5. Mars at Opposition (December 8)
On December 8, Mars will be in opposition to Earth. The Red Planet will thus be at its closest approach to Earth, and its face will be fully illuminated. It will be visible all night and brighter than any other day of the year, making it the best time to view and photograph Mars.
6. Geminid Meteor Shower (December 13-14)
The Geminid Meteor Shower could produce up to 120 to 160 meteors per hour. The Geminids, considered to be one of the best meteor showers each year, are produced by debris left behind by an asteroid known as 3200 Phaethon. The meteors will radiate from the constellation Gemini, but they can appear anywhere in the sky.