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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

Celebrate 12 Years of Spitzer With 12 Months of Spitzer

By Phil Plait

On Aug. 23, 2003, the Spitzer Space Telescope was launched into space. Ever since, it has peered at the sky, looking for infrared light from objects as close as near-Earth asteroids to galaxies halfway to the edge of the observable Universe.

To celebrate, the good folks from JPL have issued a 12-month calendar, with each month featuring a gorgeous image from the venerable observatory. A lot of them are personal favorites of mine … in fact, as I was scrolling down the calendar I was thinking, “C’mon, you have to have Zeta Oph here …” and sure enough:

Zeta Ophiuchi is a massive, hot star that is blowing a fierce wind, and also moving rapidly through space. The wind it blows is plowing into gas and dust in its nearby environment, creating this incredibly beautiful bow shock. I wrote about this image when it came out in 2012.

I’ve written about a lot of Spitzer images, because so many of them are so spectacular and so drenched in scientific awesomeness.

The calendar is free, a downloadable PDF you can print yourself or just keep around on your monitor. Trust me. You want this.

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