Herschel is now over 1.2 million km from Earth and receding at 0.32km/s. Signals now take 4.0 seconds to reach the spacecraft. The spacecraft – from the point of view of an observer on Earth – is located in the constellation of Ophiuchus, and was imaged last night by Peter Birtwhistle (West Berkshire, UK) using a 16″ Meade Schmitt-Cassegrain and by the Catalina Sky Survey at a visual magnitude of 17.8. Amazing stuff that amateur (especially) astronomers can routinely image such faint objects, alongside their professional counterparts! Well done to both.
‘First light’ – after we have removed the cryocover and when we observe our first object – is scheduled for June 14th, so busy (and scary) times lie ahead of us! PACS testing seems to have gone well too – congrats to the PACS team!
Antonio Villacorta of the HSC has produced a nice Herschel video.
Herschel also gets a mention in the ‘Teapots From Space’ video podcast.
And finally, an animated image of the Ariane upper stage, 850,000 km from Earth (as imaged from Spain).