Star Nights 2022: the passion for discovery

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The 32nd edition of the Nuit des étoiles is being held this weekend throughout France. The opportunity to (re) discover the sky at the time of the feats achieved by the James Webb telescope.

This is one of the favorite summer events of the French: the Nuits des étoiles will be held throughout France from August 5 to 7. Led by teams of volunteer astronomers under the leadership of the French Astronomical Association, this 32nd edition will revolve around the theme of exploration – from the return of Man to the Moon to the future conquest of Mars . But it is of course the observation of the sky which remains the marker of this event which, like others, has been impacted by the Covid epidemic.

In 2019, 580 events in 380 municipalities were organized, during which 3,854 local leaders and organizers welcomed some 190,000 people. Attendance figures that the organizers hope to find this year, while last year, only 360 evenings for 61,350 people were able to take into account the health context. To date, 476 events are planned in 335 municipalities, organized by 290 structures in the four corners of France, but also in Belgium, Switzerland and Algeria in particular.

The James Webb Effect

If exploration is the theme of this 2022 edition, observation remains at the heart of Star Nights An observation whose interest has increased tenfold with the putting into orbit of the James Webb telescope, which took over in December, of the Hubble telescope, in service for more than thirty years.

In early July, a spectacular first image taken by James Webb was revealed by United States President Joe Biden himself: the deepest image in the universe. NASA then published several very detailed photos of the Carina Nebula, which is located about 7,500 light-years from Earth, in the constellation of Carina, or the Southern Ring Nebula, the exoplanet WASP-96 b, a giant planet or Stephan’s Quintet, in the constellation Pegasus, about 300 million light years away.

This Tuesday, NASA unveiled a spectacular new image of the Cartwheel galaxy, 500 million light-years away from Earth, whose rings appear with unprecedented clarity…

Image of the Cartwheel Galaxy and two other smaller galaxies unveiled by the James Webb Telescope on Tuesday.

Will these photographs increase attendance at the Nuits des étoiles? Will there be a “James Webb effect”? In any case, all volunteers are ready to welcome young and old, especially in our region. In Toulouse, the European capital of space – the Cnes is moreover one of the faithful partners of the Night of the Stars – the Cité de l’espace organizes from 8 p.m. of Planetarium and Stellarium.

The Star Night Card

The Star Night Card

But another epicenter of the Night of the Stars is in the Gers where the Fleurance astronomy festival takes place until August 12th. Sponsored by astrophysicist Hubert Reeves, one of the most famous and beloved scientists of the French, this festival obviously organizes observation evenings, but also extends the reflection around conferences and workshops. Since 1991, 500 scientists have met the general public to explain, discuss and debate, making the festival a unique event in Europe.

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