Astronomy (General/Chat)

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  • WATCH LIVE @ 9:30 pm ET: NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Arrives at Mars

    09/21/2014 6:42:39 PM PDT · by Dallas59 · 20 replies
    http://www.space.com ^ | September 20, 2014 | www.space.com
    A NASA spacecraft built to study the atmosphere of Mars like never before will arrive at the Red Planet tonight (Sept. 21) and you can watch it live online. After 10 months in deep-space, NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft is expected to enter orbit around Mars and begin a one-year mission studying the planet's upper atmosphere. The Mars arrival will cap a 442 million-mile (711 million kilometers) trek across the solar system. You can watch the MAVEN spacecraft arrive at Mars on Space.com, courtesy of NASA TV, in a live webcast that runs from 9:30 p.m. to...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Saturn at Equinox

    09/21/2014 6:35:14 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 18 replies
    NASA ^ | September 21, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: How would Saturn look if its ring plane pointed right at the Sun? Before August 2009, nobody knew. Every 15 years, as seen from Earth, Saturn's rings point toward the Earth and appear to disappear. The disappearing rings are no longer a mystery -- Saturn's rings are known to be so thin and the Earth is so near the Sun that when the rings point toward the Sun, they also point nearly edge-on at the Earth. Fortunately, in this third millennium, humanity is advanced enough to have a spacecraft that can see the rings during equinox from the side....
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Shoreline of the Universe

    09/20/2014 12:38:21 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | September 20, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Against dark rifts of interstellar dust, the ebb and flow of starlight along the Milky Way looks like waves breaking on a cosmic shore in this night skyscape. Taken with a digital camera from the dunes of Hatteras Island, North Carolina, planet Earth, the monochrome image is reminiscent of the time when sensitive black and white film was a popular choice for dimmly lit night- and astro-photography. Looking south, the bright stars of Sagittarius and Scorpius are near the center of the frame. Wandering Mars, Saturn, and Zubenelgenubi (Alpha Librae) form the compact triangle of bright celestial beacons farther...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Potentially Habitable Moons

    09/20/2014 12:35:22 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 31 replies
    NASA ^ | September 19, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: For astrobiologists, these may be the four most tantalizing moons in our Solar System. Shown at the same scale, their exploration by interplanetary spacecraft has launched the idea that moons, not just planets, could have environments supporting life. The Galileo mission to Jupiter discovered Europa's global subsurface ocean of liquid water and indications of Ganymede's interior seas. At Saturn, the Cassini probe detected erupting fountains of water ice from Enceladus indicating warmer subsurface water on even that small moon, while finding surface lakes of frigid but still liquid hydrocarbons beneath the dense atmosphere of large moon Titan. Now looking...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Cocoon Nebula Wide Field

    09/20/2014 12:30:18 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 1 replies
    NASA ^ | September 18, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: In this crowded starfield covering over 2 degrees within the high flying constellation Cygnus, the eye is drawn to the Cocoon Nebula. A compact star forming region, the cosmic Cocoon punctuates a long trail of obscuring interstellar dust clouds. Cataloged as IC 5146, the nebula is nearly 15 light-years wide, located some 4,000 light years away. Like other star forming regions, it stands out in red, glowing, hydrogen gas excited by the young, hot stars and blue, dust-reflected starlight at the edge of an otherwise invisible molecular cloud. In fact, the bright star near the center of this nebula...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Aurora over Maine

    09/20/2014 12:27:48 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | September 17, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: It has been a good week for auroras. Earlier this month active sunspot region 2158 rotated into view and unleashed a series of flares and plasma ejections into the Solar System during its journey across the Sun's disk. In particular, a pair of Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) impacted the Earth's magnetosphere toward the end of last week, creating the most intense geomagnetic storm so far this year. Although power outages were feared by some, the most dramatic effects of these impacting plasma clouds were auroras seen as far south as Wisconsin, USA. In the featured image taken last Friday...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Milky Way above Atacama Salt Lagoon

    09/20/2014 12:24:41 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | September 16, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Galaxies, stars, and a serene reflecting pool combine to create this memorable land and skyscape. The featured panorama is a 12-image mosaic taken last month from the Salar de Atacama salt flat in northern Chile. The calm water is Laguna Cejar, a salty lagoon featuring a large central sinkhole. On the image left, the astrophotographer's fiancee is seen capturing the same photogenic scene. The night sky is lit up with countless stars, the Large and Small Magellanic Cloud galaxies on the left, and the band of our Milky Way galaxy running diagonally up the right. The Milky Way may...
  • Space Station Extension May Cost More Than NASA Expects: Report

    09/19/2014 12:44:28 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 13 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | September 19, 2014 | Elizabeth Howell on
    NASA’s anticipated $3 billion to $4 billion annual budget for the International Space Station is “overly optimistic”, a new report from NASA’s Inspector General says. Transportation costs will likely rise when NASA uses commercial spacecraft to access the station instead of Russian Soyuzes, the report said. Also, if international partners don’t commit to extending the station four extra years to 2024, NASA will need to pick up more of the financial burden. “While ISS program officials have been seeking ways to reduce costs and consolidate resources, it is unclear whether these efforts will be sufficient to address anticipated cost increases,...
  • Radiation Blast Delays NASA Spacecraft’s Arrival At Dwarf Planet Ceres

    09/17/2014 2:17:55 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 13 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | September 17, 2014 | Elizabeth Howell on
    Controllers discovered Dawn was in safe mode Sept. 11 after radiation disabled its ion engine, which uses electrical fields to “push” the spacecraft along. The radiation stopped all engine thrusting activities. The thrusting resumed Monday (Sept. 15) after controllers identified and fixed the problem, but then they found another anomaly troubling the spacecraft. ... Dawn is en route to Ceres after orbiting the huge asteroid Vesta between July 2011 and September 2012. A similar suspected radiation blast three years ago also disabled Dawn’s engine before it reached Vesta, but the ion system worked perfectly in moving Dawn away from Vesta...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- 62 Kilometers above Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko

    09/14/2014 10:40:53 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 15 replies
    NASA ^ | September 15, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Spacecraft Rosetta continues to approach, circle, and map Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Crossing the inner Solar System for ten years to reach the vicinity of the comet last month, the robotic spacecraft continues to image the unusual double-lobed comet nucleus. The reconstructed-color image featured, taken about 10 days ago, indicates how dark this comet nucleus is. On the average, the comet's surface reflects only about four percent of impinging visible light, making it as dark as coal. Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko spans about four kilometers in length and has a surface gravity so low that an astronaut could jump off of it. In...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M27: The Dumbbell Nebula

    09/13/2014 9:28:43 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 16 replies
    NASA ^ | September 14, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The first hint of what will become of our Sun was discovered inadvertently in 1764. At that time, Charles Messier was compiling a list of diffuse objects not to be confused with comets. The 27th object on Messier's list, now known as M27 or the Dumbbell Nebula, is a planetary nebula, the type of nebula our Sun will produce when nuclear fusion stops in its core. M27 is one of the brightest planetary nebulae on the sky, and can be seen toward the constellation of the Fox (Vulpecula) with binoculars. It takes light about 1000 years to reach us...
  • Scientists turn textbook volcanic eruption theory on its head

    09/13/2014 12:52:15 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 22 replies
    Zeenews (India) ^ | Tuesday, September 9, 2014 | ANI
    Researchers at Caltech and the University of Miami in Florida found that the volcano pictures, such as those that are forming the Hawaiian Islands, illustrate that it erupts when magma gushes out as narrow jets from deep inside Earth but those pictures are wrong. Don Anderson, the Eleanor and John R. McMillian Professor of Geophysics, Emeritus, at Caltech said that new seismology data are now confirming that such narrow jets don't actually exist. He further explained that, in fact, basic physics doesn't support the presence of these jets, called mantle plumes, and the new results corroborated those fundamental ideas. It...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Median Mashup: Hubble's Top 100

    09/13/2014 12:42:32 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | September 13, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Now, as you sip your cosmic latte you can view 100 Hubble Space Telescope images at the same time. The popular scenes of the cosmos as captured from low Earth orbit are all combined into this single digital presentation. To make it, Hubble's top 100 images were downloaded and resized to identical pixel dimensions. At each point the 100 pixel values were arranged from lowest to highest, and the middle or median value was chosen for the final image. The combined image results in a visual abstraction - light from across the Universe surrounded by darkness.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Supernova Remnant Puppis A

    09/13/2014 12:40:55 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | September 12, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Driven by the explosion of a massive star, supernova remnant Puppis A is blasting into the surrounding interstellar medium about 7,000 light-years away. At that distance, this remarkable false-color exploration of its complex expansion is about 180 light-years wide. It is based on the most complete X-ray data set so far from the Chandra and XMM/Newton observations, and infrared data from the Spitzer Space Telescope. In blue hues, the filamentary X-ray glow is from gas heated by the supernova's shock wave, while the infrared emission shown in red and green is from warm dust. The bright pastel tones trace...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Zodiacal Light before Dawn

    09/13/2014 12:36:34 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | September 11, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: You might not guess it, but sunrise was still hours away when this nightscape was taken, a view along the eastern horizon from a remote location in Chile's Atacama desert. Stretching high into the otherwise dark, starry sky the unusually bright conical glow is sunlight though, scattered by dust along the solar system's ecliptic plane . Known as Zodiacal light, the apparition is also nicknamed the "false dawn". Near center, bright star Aldebaran and the Pleiades star cluster seem immersed in the Zodiacal light, with Orion toward the right edge of the frame. Reddish emission from NGC 1499, the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Laniakea: Our Home Supercluster of Galaxies

    09/13/2014 12:33:34 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | September 10, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: It is not only one of the largest structures known -- it is our home. The just-identified Laniakea Supercluster of galaxies contains thousands of galaxies that includes our Milky Way Galaxy, the Local Group of galaxies, and the entire nearby Virgo Cluster of Galaxies. The colossal supercluster is shown in the above computer-generated visualization, where green areas are rich with white-dot galaxies and white lines indicate motion towards the supercluster center. An outline of Laniakea is given in orange, while the blue dot shows our location. Outside the orange line, galaxies flow into other galatic concentrations. The Laniakea Supercluster...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- An Aurora Cupcake with a Milky Way Topping

    09/13/2014 12:30:58 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | September 09, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This sky looked delicious. Double auroral ovals were captured above the town lights of Östersund, Sweden, last week. Pictured above, the green ovals occurred lower to the ground than violet aurora rays above, making the whole display look a bit like a cupcake. To top it off, far in the distance, the central band or our Milky Way Galaxy slants down from the upper left. The auroras were caused by our Sun ejecting plasma clouds into the Solar System just a few days before, ionized particles that subsequently impacted the magnetosphere of the Earth. Aurora displays may continue this...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Super Moon vs. Micro Moon

    09/13/2014 12:28:18 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 13 replies
    NASA ^ | September 08, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What is so super about tomorrow's supermoon? Tomorrow, a full moon will occur that appears slightly larger and brighter than usual. The reason is that the Moon's fully illuminated phase occurs within a short time from perigee - when the Moon is its closest to the Earth in its elliptical orbit. Although the precise conditions that define a supermoon vary, given one definition, tomorrow's will be the third supermoon of the year -- and the third consecutive month that a supermoon occurs. One reason supermoons are popular is because they are so easy to see -- just go outside...
  • Is anyone seeing aurora's.Got pictures?

    09/12/2014 6:33:39 PM PDT · by fatima · 137 replies
    Getting reports on Twitter they are beautiful.Post them if you got them.
  • Will Aurora Strike Tonight? Here’s What to Expect

    09/12/2014 1:12:34 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 19 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | September 12, 2014 | Bob King on
    Activity should begin right at nightfall and peak between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. Central Daylight Time. The best place to observe the show is from a location well away from city lights with a good view of the northern sky. Auroras are notoriously fickle, but if the NOAA space forecasting crew is on the money, flickering lights should be visible as far south as Illinois and Kansas. The storm also has the potential to heat and expand the outer limits of Earth’s atmosphere enough to cause additional drag on low-Earth-orbiting (LEO) satellites. High-frequency radio transmissions like shortwave radio may...
  • Scientists: 'Extreme' Solar Storm Heading to Earth

    09/11/2014 12:18:35 PM PDT · by Tolerance Sucks Rocks · 37 replies
    Newsmax.com ^ | September 10, 2014 | Associated Press
    Scientists say an extreme solar flare is blasting its way to Earth and could mess up some power grids, satellites and radio transmissions. Forecasters at the Space Weather Prediction Center don't yet know when Wednesday's solar storm will arrive here and which part of the planet will be facing the sun and bear the brunt of the effects. It could be as early as Thursday morning to a few days.
  • Solar Flare Geomagnetic Strength Increased by Twice: NASA

    09/11/2014 11:07:27 AM PDT · by dware · 12 replies
    Capital Wired ^ | 09.11.2014 | Jidde Plas
    NASA’s recent reports alerted that Earth’s magnetic field will face a double-blow from a pair of CMEs on Sept. 12th. Previously, the two storm clouds were propelled in our direction by explosions in the magnetic canopy of sunspot AR2158, which also fired off another intense solar flare on 9th and 10. These two flare outburst process was captured on camera by NASA. Huge geomagnetic tornados are expected on Sept. 12th and 13th as an outcome of the above repeated impacts.
  • When Will Betelgeuse Explode? (Constellation Orion)

    09/11/2014 6:32:08 AM PDT · by C19fan · 34 replies
    Slate ^ | September 8, 2014 | Phil Plait
    If there’s one star in the sky people know about, it’s Betelgeuse.* Marking the right shoulder of the hunter Orion—remember, he’s facing us, so it’s on our left—this orange-red star is one of the brightest in the night sky. It’s been studied for as long as we’ve had telescopes, yet for all our advanced technology and knowhow, details about it are maddeningly vague. We don’t even have a good determination of how far away it is! Still, there’s a lot we do know: It’s a red supergiant, a star that started out life already a lot bigger, more massive, and...
  • Solar Storm Warning: Sun Shoots X-Flare Outburst at Earth

    09/10/2014 2:18:35 PM PDT · by Kartographer · 96 replies
    NBC News ^ | 9/10/14 | Alan Boyle
    Alan Boyle
  • Laniakea: Our home supercluster (Video)

    09/07/2014 12:28:21 AM PDT · by JerseyanExile · 13 replies
    Youtube ^ | Sep 3, 2014 | Nature Video
    Superclusters – regions of space that are densely packed with galaxies – are the biggest structures in the Universe. But scientists have struggled to define exactly where one supercluster ends and another begins. Now, a team based in Hawaii has come up with a new technique that maps the Universe according to the flow of galaxies across space. Redrawing the boundaries of the cosmic map, they redefine our home supercluster and name it Laniakea, which means ‘immeasurable heaven’ in Hawaiian. Video Link
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Full Moon Silhouettes

    09/06/2014 10:10:29 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | September 07, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Have you ever watched the Moon rise? The slow rise of a nearly full moon over a clear horizon can be an impressive sight. One impressive moonrise was imaged in early 2013 over Mount Victoria Lookout in Wellington, New Zealand. With detailed planning, an industrious astrophotographer placed a camera about two kilometers away and pointed it across the lookout to where the Moon would surely soon be making its nightly debut. The above single shot sequence is unedited and shown in real time -- it is not a time lapse. People on Mount Victoria Lookout can be seen in...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Moonbow Beach

    09/06/2014 4:52:36 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | September 06, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Like a rainbow at night, a beautiful moonbow shines above the western horizon in this deserted beach scene from Molokai Island, Hawaii, USA, planet Earth. Captured last June 17 in early morning hours, the lights along the horizon are from Honolulu and cities on the island of Oahu some 30 miles away. So where was the Moon? A rainbow is produced by sunlight internally reflected in rain drops from the direction opposite the Sun back toward the observer. As the light passes from air to water and back to air again, longer wavelengths are refracted (bent) less than shorter...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Sagittarius Starscape

    09/06/2014 4:49:49 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | September 05, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This rich starscape spans nearly 7 degrees on the sky, toward the Sagittarius spiral arm and the center of our Milky Way galaxy. A telescopic mosaic, it features well-known bright nebulae and star clusters cataloged by 18th century cosmic tourist Charles Messier. Still popular stops for skygazers M16, the Eagle (far right), and M17, the Swan (near center) nebulae are the brightest star-forming emission regions. With wingspans of 100 light-years or so, they shine with the telltale reddish glow of hydrogen atoms from over 5,000 light-years away. Colorful open star cluster M25 near the upper left edge of the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Cloud, Clusters and

    09/04/2014 4:37:42 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | September 04, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: On October 19th, a good place to watch Comet Siding Spring will be from Mars. Then, this inbound visitor (C/2013 A1) to the inner solar system, discovered in January 2013 by Robert McNaught at Australia's Siding Spring Observatory, will pass within 132,000 kilometers of the Red Planet. That's a near miss, equivalent to just over 1/3 the Earth-Moon distance. Great views of the comet for denizens of planet Earth's southern hemisphere are possible now, though. This telescopic snapshot from August 29 captured the comet's whitish coma and arcing dust tail sweeping through southern skies. The fabulous field of view...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M6: The Butterfly Cluster

    09/04/2014 4:33:28 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | September 03, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: To some, the outline of the open cluster of stars M6 resembles a butterfly. M6, also known as NGC 6405, spans about 20 light-years and lies about 2,000 light years distant. M6, pictured above, can best be seen in a dark sky with binoculars towards the constellation of the Scorpion (Scorpius), coving about as much of the sky as the full moon. Like other open clusters, M6 is composed predominantly of young blue stars, although the brightest star is nearly orange. M6 is estimated to be about 100 million years old. Determining the distance to clusters like M6 helps...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Holometer: A Microscope into Space and Time

    09/04/2014 4:29:41 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | September 02, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: How different are space and time at very small scales? To explore the unfamiliar domain of the miniscule Planck scale -- where normally unnoticeable quantum effects might become dominant -- a newly developed instrument called the Fermilab Holometer has begun operating at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) near Chicago, Illinois, USA. The instrument seeks to determine if slight but simultaneous jiggles of a mirror in two directions expose a fundamental type of holographic noise that always exceeds a minimum amount. Pictured above is one of the end mirrors of a Holometer prototype. Although the discovery of holographic noise...
  • Hunting for “Minimoons” Orbiting Earth

    09/02/2014 11:37:46 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 3 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | September 2, 2014 | David Dickinson on
    solar orbit from time to time. Now, a recent paper out of the University of Hawaii written in partnership with the SETI Institute and the Department of Physics at the University of Helsinki has looked at the possible prospects for the population of captured Near-Earth asteroids, and the feasibility of detecting these with existing and future systems about to come online. ... Turns out, our large Moon makes a pretty good goaltender, ejecting —and sometimes taking a beating from — any tiny second moon hopeful. Of course, you can’t blame those astronomers of yore entirely. Though none of these spurious...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Airglow Ripples over Tibet

    09/01/2014 12:50:51 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | September 01, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Why would the sky look like a giant target? Airglow. Following a giant thunderstorm over Bangladesh in late April, giant circular ripples of glowing air appeared over Tibet, China, as pictured above. The unusual pattern is created by atmospheric gravity waves, waves of alternating air pressure that can grow with height as the air thins, in this case about 90 kilometers up. Unlike auroras powered by collisions with energetic charged particles and seen at high latitudes, airglow is due to chemiluminescence, the production of light in a chemical reaction. More typically seen near the horizon, airglow keeps the night...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Space Shuttle and Space Station Photographed Together

    08/30/2014 11:05:59 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 25 replies
    NASA ^ | August 31, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: How was this picture taken? Usually, pictures of the shuttle, taken from space, are snapped from the space station. Commonly, pictures of the space station are snapped from the shuttle. How, then, can there be a picture of both the shuttle and the station together, taken from space? The answer is that during the Space Shuttle Endeavour's last trip to the International Space Station in 2011 May, a supply ship departed the station with astronauts that captured a series of rare views. The supply ship was the Russian Soyuz TMA-20 which landed in Kazakhstan later that day. The above...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Starry Sky under Hollow Hill

    08/30/2014 12:02:41 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | August 30, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Look up in New Zealand's Hollow Hill Cave and you might think you see a familiar starry sky. And that's exactly what Arachnocampa luminosa are counting on. Captured in this long exposure, the New Zealand glowworms scattered across the cave ceiling give it the inviting and open appearance of a clear, dark night sky filled with stars. Unsuspecting insects fooled into flying too far upwards get trapped in sticky snares the glowworms create and hang down to catch food. Of course professional astronomers wouldn't be so easily fooled, although that does look a lot like the Coalsack Nebula and...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Wizard Nebula

    08/28/2014 10:03:52 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | August 29, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Open star cluster NGC 7380 is still embedded in its natal cloud of interstellar gas and dust popularly known as the Wizard Nebula. Seen with foreground and background stars along the plane of our Milky Way galaxy it lies some 8,000 light-years distant, toward the constellation Cepheus. A full moon would easily fit inside this telescopic view of the 4 million year young cluster and associated nebula, normally much too faint to be seen by eye. Made with telescope and camera firmly planted on Earth, the image reveals multi light-year sized shapes and structures within the Wizard in a...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Messier 20 and 21

    08/28/2014 7:32:17 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | August 28, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The beautiful Trifid Nebula, also known as Messier 20, is easy to find with a small telescope in the nebula rich constellation Sagittarius. About 5,000 light-years away, the colorful study in cosmic contrasts shares this well-composed, nearly 1 degree wide field with open star cluster Messier 21 (top right). Trisected by dust lanes the Trifid itself is about 40 light-years across and a mere 300,000 years old. That makes it one of the youngest star forming regions in our sky, with newborn and embryonic stars embedded in its natal dust and gas clouds. Estimates of the distance to open...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Milky Way over Yellowstone

    08/28/2014 7:20:51 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | August 27, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The Milky Way was not created by an evaporating lake. The colorful pool of water, about 10 meters across, is known as Silex Spring and is located in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, USA. Illuminated artificially, the colors are caused by layers of bacteria that grow in the hot spring. Steam rises off the spring, heated by a magma chamber deep underneath known as the Yellowstone hotspot. Unrelated and far in the distance, the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy arches high overhead, a band lit by billions of stars. The above picture is a 16-image panorama taken...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Flying Past Neptune's Moon Triton

    08/28/2014 6:55:04 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 14 replies
    NASA ^ | August 26, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What would it look like to fly past Triton, the largest moon of planet Neptune? Only one spacecraft has ever done this -- and now, for the first time, images of this dramatic encounter have been gathered into a movie. On 1989 August 25, the Voyager 2 spacecraft shot through the Neptune system with cameras blazing. Triton is slightly smaller than Earth's Moon but has ice volcanoes and a surface rich in frozen nitrogen. The first sequence in the video shows Voyager's approach to Triton, which, despite its unusual green tint, appears in approximately true color. The mysterious terrain...
  • NASA Says A Thigh Bone Was Not Found on Mars

    08/25/2014 4:24:46 PM PDT · by CivilWarBrewing · 52 replies
    Weather.com ^ | August 24, 2014 | Laura Dattaro
    An image from the Curiosity rover that some people thought showed a “thigh bone” on Mars is just a photo of a weathered rock, according to NASA. The photo shows the dirt-covered surface of Mars littered with bits of rock, one of which is elongated in a shape similar to a leg bone. The image was first picked up on a UFO blog, Space.com reports, purporting to show evidence of past alien life on the planet. The claim got so much attention that NASA released the photo with an official explanation — saying the object did look like a thigh...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Arp 188 and the Tadpole's Tail

    08/24/2014 9:23:44 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 11 replies
    NASA ^ | August 25, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Why does this galaxy have such a long tail? In this stunning vista, based on image data from the Hubble Legacy Archive, distant galaxies form a dramatic backdrop for disrupted spiral galaxy Arp 188, the Tadpole Galaxy. The cosmic tadpole is a mere 420 million light-years distant toward the northern constellation Draco. Its eye-catching tail is about 280 thousand light-years long and features massive, bright blue star clusters. One story goes that a more compact intruder galaxy crossed in front of Arp 188 - from right to left in this view - and was slung around behind the Tadpole...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Mercury's Transit: An Unusual Spot on the Sun

    08/24/2014 1:39:14 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | August 24, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's that dot on the Sun? If you look closely, it is almost perfectly round. The dot is the result of an unusual type of solar eclipse that occurred in 2006. Usually it is the Earth's Moon that eclipses the Sun. This time, the planet Mercury took a turn. Like the approach to New Moon before a solar eclipse, the phase of Mercury became a continually thinner crescent as the planet progressed toward an alignment with the Sun. Eventually the phase of Mercury dropped to zero and the dark spot of Mercury crossed our parent star. The situation could...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Spectre of Veszprem

    08/23/2014 8:24:37 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | August 23, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The city of Veszprem, Hungary was only briefly haunted by this mysterious spectre. On the morning of August 11, its monstrous form hovered in the mist above municipal buildings near the town center. A clue to its true identity is offered by the photographer, though, who reports he took the picture from the top of a twenty story building with the rising Sun directly at his back. That special geometry suggests this is an example of an atmospheric phenomenon called the Glory or sometimes "the Spectre of the Brocken". Also seen from mountain tops and airplanes when looking opposite...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Comet Jacques, Heart and Soul

    08/23/2014 8:13:44 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | August 22, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: On July 13th, a good place to watch Comet Jacques was from Venus. Then, the recently discovered visitor (C/2014 E2) to the inner solar system passed within about 14.5 million kilometers of our sister planet. But the outbound comet will pass only 84 million kilometers from our fair planet on August 28 and is already a fine target for telescopes and binoculars. Two days ago Jacques' greenish coma and straight and narrow ion tail were captured in this telescopic snapshot, a single 2 minute long exposure with a modified digital camera. The comet is flanked by IC 1805 and...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Venus and Jupiter at Dawn

    08/23/2014 8:06:08 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | August 21, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: On Monday morning, Venus and Jupiter gathered close in dawn skies, for some separated by about half the width of a full moon. It was their closest conjunction since 2000, captured here above the eastern horizon before sunrise. The serene and colorful view is from Istia beach near the city of Capoliveri on the island of Elba. Distant lights and rolling hills are along Italy's Tuscan coast. Of course, the celestial pair soon wandered apart. Brighter Venus headed lower, toward the eastern horizon and the glare of the Sun, while Jupiter continues to rise a little higher now in...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- In the Center of the Lagoon Nebula

    08/23/2014 8:02:31 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 1 replies
    NASA ^ | August 20, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The center of the Lagoon Nebula is a whirlwind of spectacular star formation. Visible near the image center, at least two long funnel-shaped clouds, each roughly half a light-year long, have been formed by extreme stellar winds and intense energetic starlight. The tremendously bright nearby star, Herschel 36, lights the area. Walls of dust hide and redden other hot young stars. As energy from these stars pours into the cool dust and gas, large temperature differences in adjoining regions can be created generating shearing winds which may cause the funnels. This picture, spanning about 5 light years, combines images...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Contrasting Terrains on Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko

    08/23/2014 7:58:55 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 21 replies
    NASA ^ | August 19, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Where should Philae land? As ESA's robotic spacecraft Rosetta circles toward Comet 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko, a decision must eventually be made as to where its mechanical lander should attempt to touch-down. Reaching the comet earlier this month, Rosetta is sending back detailed pictures of the comet's unusual nucleus from which a smooth landing site will be selected. Pictured above, near the image top, the head of the comet's nucleus shows rugged grooves, while near the image bottom, the body shows a patch-work of areas sometimes separated by jagged hills. Some of the patch-work areas apparent on both the head and...
  • Galileo satellites go into wrong, lower orbit

    08/23/2014 1:31:44 PM PDT · by DUMBGRUNT · 29 replies
    BBC ^ | 23 August 2014
    The European Space Agency (Esa) says the latest two satellites for Europe's version of the American GPS satellite navigation system have not gone into the correct orbit.
  • Huge Asteroid Heading for Earth... Possible Impact March 16, 2880

    08/22/2014 2:31:59 PM PDT · by nickcarraway · 80 replies
    Emirates 24/7 ^ | Friday, August 22, 2014
    However, scientists claim there is no cause for concern because the hundreds of years of warning could allow for a method to divert itResearchers studying a huge asteroid that is hurtling towards earth say there is a possibility of it striking our planet on March 16, 2880! They say the rock rotates so quickly that it should break apart, but it remained intact on its Earth-bound trajectory, according to a report in Dailymail.co.uk Though studies have revealed that Asteroid 1950DA is held together by cohesive forces called van der Waals, scientists still have no clue on how to stop it....
  • SECCHI Image (What is that?)

    08/21/2014 4:55:50 PM PDT · by Talisker · 25 replies
    SECCHI ^ | US Navy/NASA
    Amazing photo from SECCHI HI2 dated August 18, 2014. What the heck is that thing?! The big dot on the right with the line going through it is the planet Venus.