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Astronomy (General/Chat)

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  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Wisps Surrounding the Horsehead Nebula

    09/08/2012 9:16:56 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 13 replies
    NASA ^ | September 09, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The famous Horsehead Nebula in Orion is not alone. A deep exposure shows that the dark familiar shaped indentation, visible just below center, is part of a vast complex of absorbing dust and glowing gas. To bring out details of the Horsehead's pasture, amateur astronomers at the Star Shadow Remote Observatory in New Mexico, USA fixed a small telescope on the region for over seven hours filtering out all but a very specific color of red light emitted by hydrogen. They then added the image to a full color frame taken over three hours. The resulting spectacular picture details...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Cosmic Rays at Voyager 1

    09/08/2012 9:16:52 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 13 replies
    NASA ^ | September 08, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Launched on a grand tour of the outer planets in 1977, by good fortune the twin Voyager spacecraft were also headed in the general direction of the Sun's motion relative to nearby stars. Thirty five years later, Voyager 1 appears to be nearing the boundary of the Sun's heliosphere and interstellar space. Of course the heliosphere is the realm of the Sun defined by the influence of the solar wind and the Sun's magnetic field. But how can you tell when your spacecraft crosses the boundary into interstellar space? One clue would be a sudden increase in the detection...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- IC 4628: The Prawn Nebula

    09/06/2012 9:14:16 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | September 07, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: South of Antares, in the tail of the nebula-rich constellation Scorpius, lies emission nebula IC 4628. Nearby hot, massive stars, millions of years young, radiate the nebula with invisible ultraviolet light, stripping electrons from atoms. The electrons eventually recombine with the atoms to produce the visible nebular glow, dominated by the red emission of hydrogen. At an estimated distance of 6,000 light-years, the region shown is about 250 light-years across, spanning an area equivalent to four full moons on the sky. The nebula is also cataloged as Gum 56 for Australian astronomer Colin Stanley Gum, but seafood-loving astronomers might...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Airglow over Italy

    09/06/2012 8:11:43 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | September 06, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: In this serene night skyscape, the Milky Way's graceful arc stretches over prominent peaks in the Italian Alps known as Tre Cime di Lavaredo. A 180 degree wide-angle panorama made in four exposures on August 24, the scene does look to the north and the sky is suffused with an eerie greenish light. Still, the subtle glowing bands are not aurorae, but airglow. Unlike aurorae 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, and found around the globe. The chemical energy is...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Airglow Over Germany

    09/05/2012 3:00:22 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | September 05, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Does air glow? It does, but it is usually hard to see. When conditions are right, however, a faint glow about 90 kilometers up can be observed, most easily with a wide-angle long-duration camera exposure. The same airglow can also frequently be seen looking down -- in pictures taken from Earth orbit -- as a faint arc hovering above the surface. Pictured above between the beige clouds, above the curving Earth, behind the streaking airplane, and in front of the sparkling stars are some green bands of airglow. The glow is predominantly created by the excitation of atoms by...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Hurricane Paths on Planet Earth

    09/04/2012 4:04:33 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 11 replies
    NASA ^ | September 04, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Should you be worried about hurricanes? To find out, it is useful to know where hurricanes have gone in the past. The above Earth map shows the path of every hurricane reported since 1851, Although striking, a growing incompleteness exists in the data the further one looks back in time. The above map graphically indicates that hurricanes -- sometimes called cyclones or typhoons depending on where they form -- usually occur over water, which makes sense since evaporating warm water gives them energy. The map also shows that hurricanes never cross -- or even occur very near -- the...
  • Asteroid #2 down; on to Asteroid #1!

    09/03/2012 11:44:43 PM PDT · by LibWhacker · 17 replies
    Starts With a BANG! ^ | 8/30/12 | Ethan Siegel
    “I have announced this star as a comet, but since it is not accompanied by any nebulosity and, further, since its movement is so slow and rather uniform, it has occurred to me several times that it might be something better than a comet. But I have been careful not to advance this supposition to the public.” -Giuseppe Piazzi, discoverer of Ceres, the first Asteroid Out beyond Mars, but not quite out as far as Jupiter, a collection of thousands of rocky objects, ranging in size from pebbles all the way up to the size of Texas, lies the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M45: The Pleiades Star Cluster

    09/03/2012 12:23:54 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 35 replies
    NASA ^ | September 03, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Perhaps the most famous star cluster on the sky, the Pleiades can be seen without binoculars from even the depths of a light-polluted city. Also known as the Seven Sisters and M45, the Pleiades is one of the brightest and closest open clusters. The Pleiades contains over 3000 stars, is about 400 light years away, and only 13 light years across. Quite evident in the above photograph are the blue reflection nebulae that surround the brighter cluster stars. Low mass, faint, brown dwarfs have also been found in the Pleiades. (Editors' note: The prominent diffraction spikes are caused by...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- RBSP Night Launch

    09/02/2012 6:05:34 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | September 02, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This graceful arc traces a Delta rocket climbing through Thursday's early morning skies over Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, USA. Snug inside the rocket's Centaur upper stage were NASA's twin Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP), now in separate orbits within planet Earth's Van Allen radiation belts. Reflected in the Turn Basin from a vantage point about 3 miles from Space Launch Complex 41, the scene was captured in a composite of two exposures. One highlights the dramatic play of launch pad lighting, clouds, and sky. A subsequent 3 minute long exposure records the rocket's fiery trail. While...
  • Blue Stars Confirm Recent Creation

    09/01/2012 7:28:34 PM PDT · by lasereye · 102 replies
    Institute for Creation Research ^ | September 2012 | Jason Lisle, Ph.D.
    Orion is one of the most well-known and easily recognized constellations of the winter sky. The three bright blue stars in Orions belt seem to draw our attention instantly.1 Such stars are a strong confirmation of the biblical timescale. Most stars generate energy by the process of nuclear fusion of hydrogen into helium in the stellar core. This is a very efficient power source. Theoretically, a star like the sun has enough hydrogen in its core to keep it burning for ten billion years. But thats not the case with blue stars. Blue stars are always more massive than the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- On a Blue Moon

    09/01/2012 2:56:41 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 26 replies
    NASA ^ | September 01, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Rising at sunset, the gorgeous Full Moon of August 31 became the second Full Moon in a month. According to modern reckoning, that makes it a Blue Moon. In fact, parts of the Full Moon do look a little blue in this sharp lunar portrait. Taken just hours before the exact full phase in delightfully clear skies over Nottingham, UK, it features eye-catching bright rays extending from the prominent young crater Tycho in the Moon's southern hemisphere. The slightly color enhanced image also brings out subtle shades of blue, a real characteristic of terrain with a high content of...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Apollo 11 Landing Site Panorama

    08/30/2012 9:18:42 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 11 replies
    NASA ^ | August 30, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Have you seen a panorama from another world lately? Assembled from high-resolution scans of the original film frames, this one sweeps across the magnificent desolation of the Apollo 11 landing site on the Moon's Sea of Tranquility. Taken by Neil Armstrong looking out his window of the Eagle Lunar Module, the frame at the far left (AS11-37-5449) is the first picture taken by a person on another world. Toward the south, thruster nozzles can be seen in the foreground on the left, while at the right, the shadow of the Eagle is visible toward the west. For scale, the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Halo of the Cat's Eye

    08/30/2012 9:18:44 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | August 31, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The Cat's Eye Nebula (NGC 6543) is one of the best known planetary nebulae in the sky. Its haunting symmetries are seen in the very central region of this tantalizing image, processed to reveal the enormous but extremely faint halo of gaseous material, about 6 light-years across, which surrounds the brighter, familiar planetary nebula. Made with narrow and broadband data the composite picture shows the remarkably strong extended emission from twice ionized oxygen atoms in blue-green hues and ionized hydrogen and nitrogen in red. Planetary nebulae have long been appreciated as a final phase in the life of a...
  • Space Sugar Discovered Around Sun-Like Star

    08/30/2012 10:16:01 AM PDT · by skinkinthegrass · 14 replies
    Space.com ^ | 29 August 2012 Time: 06:01 AM ET | SPACE.com Staff
    What a sweet cosmic find! Sugar molecules have been found in the gas surrounding a young sun-like star, suggesting that some of the building blocks of life may actually be present even as alien planets are stillforming in the system.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Dark Earth with a Red Sprite

    08/29/2012 2:57:57 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | August 29, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: There is something very unusual in this picture of the Earth -- can you find it? A fleeting phenomenon once thought to be only a legend has been newly caught if you know just where to look. The above image was taken from the orbiting International Space Station (ISS) in late April and shows familiar ISS solar panels on the far left and part of a robotic arm to the far right. The rarely imaged phenomenon is known as a red sprite and it can be seen, albeit faintly, just over the bright area on the image right. This...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Colorful Clouds Near Rho Ophiuchi

    08/28/2012 2:52:46 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 19 replies
    NASA ^ | August 28, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Why is the sky near Antares and Rho Ophiuchi so colorful? The colors result from a mixture of objects and processes. Fine dust illuminated from the front by starlight produces blue reflection nebulae. Gaseous clouds whose atoms are excited by ultraviolet starlight produce reddish emission nebulae. Backlit dust clouds block starlight and so appear dark. Antares, a red supergiant and one of the brighter stars in the night sky, lights up the yellow-red clouds on the lower center. Rho Ophiuchi lies at the center of the blue nebula near the top. The distant globular cluster M4 is visible just...
  • Footage of Curiositys Descent onto Mars Interpolated to 25 Frames per Second

    08/27/2012 5:30:44 PM PDT · by SWAMPSNIPER · 40 replies
    PETAPIXEL ^ | August 27, 2012 | Michael Zhang
    NASAs Curiosity Rover snapped photographs at 5 frames per second as it descended onto the face of Mars a few weeks ago. The footage that results when the images are combined into a 15 frame per second HD video is pretty amazing, but apparently not amazing enough for a YouTube user named hahahaspam. He spent four straight days taking the 5 fps footage and interpolating it to 25 frames per second. This means that instead of a video showing the choppy landing at 3 times the actual speed, his video shows the landing smoothly and in real time!
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Curiosity on Mars: Mt. Sharp in View

    08/27/2012 3:31:29 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 26 replies
    NASA ^ | August 27, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's that on the horizon? The light peak is Mt. Sharp -- an eventual destination of the Curiosity rover. The above image mosaic was taken from Bradbury Landing, the landing spot of Curiosity, and shows in the foreground the rover's extended robotic arm. Curiosity's is already on the move crossing the intermediate gravel field toward an interesting terrain feature named Glenelg. Curiosity has also already started analyzing its surroundings by zapping a nearby rock with its laser to analyze the chemical composition of the resulting gas plume. If life ever existed on Mars it might well have been here...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Cat's Eye Nebula

    08/25/2012 11:40:38 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | August 26, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Three thousand light-years away, a dying star throws off shells of glowing gas. This image from the Hubble Space Telescope reveals the Cat's Eye Nebula to be one of the most complex planetary nebulae known. In fact, the features seen in the Cat's Eye are so complex that astronomers suspect the bright central object may actually be a binary star system. The term planetary nebula, used to describe this general class of objects, is misleading. Although these objects may appear round and planet-like in small telescopes, high resolution images reveal them to be stars surrounded by cocoons of gas...
  • Space Shuttle Flight 32 (STS-33) Post Flight Presentation

    08/25/2012 4:58:28 PM PDT · by real saxophonist · 2 replies
    video
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Perseid over Albrechtsberg Castle

    08/24/2012 9:12:16 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | August 25, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Medieval Albrechtsberg castle is nestled in trees near the northern bank of the river Pielach and the town of Melk, Austria. In clearing night skies on August 12 it stood under constellations of the northern summer, including Aquarius, Aquila, and faint, compact Delphinus (above and right of center) in this west-looking skyview. The scene also captures a bright meteor above the castle walls. Part of the annual perseid meteor shower, its trail points back toward the heroic constellation Perseus high above the horizon in the early morning hours. Entering the atmosphere at about 60 kilometers per second, perseid meteors...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Moon Meets Morning Star

    08/24/2012 3:43:24 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | August 24, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Rising in the dark hours before dawn, wandering Venus now shines as the brilliant morning star. Its close conjunction with the Moon on August 13 was appreciated around planet Earth. But skygazers in eastern Asia were also treated to a lunar occultation, the waning crescent Moon passing directly in front of the bright planet in still dark skies. This composite image constructed from frames made at 10 minute intervals follows the celestial performance (vimeo video) from above the city lights and clouds over Taebaek, Korea. The occultation begins near the horizon and progresses as the pair rises. Venus first...
  • She Roves! Curiosity Hits the Martian Road: Big Pics

    08/23/2012 1:19:26 PM PDT · by EveningStar · 3 replies
    Discovery Channel ^ | August 22, 2012 | Irene Klotz
    NASA's new Mars probe lived up to its billing as a rover on Wednesday with a successful first test drive, its first motion since settling down inside an ancient impact basin on Aug. 6. "We built a rover, so unless the rover roves, we really havent accomplished anything," project manager Pete Theisinger, with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., told reporters during a press conference Wednesday. "It's a big moment, a very big moment."
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Conjunction Colours

    08/23/2012 4:17:17 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | August 23, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: During the past week, nightfall on planet Earth has featured Mars, Saturn, and Spica in a lovely conjunction near the western horizon. Still forming the corners of a distinctive celestial triangle after sunset and recently joined by a crescent Moon, they are all about the same brightness but can exhibit different colors to the discerning eye. This ingenious star trail image was recorded as the trio set on August 12 with a telephoto lens from the shores of Lake Eppalock, in central Victoria, Australia. Focused on foreground eucalyptus trees, the image slightly blurs the trails to show more saturated...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Clouds Near the Edge of Space

    08/22/2012 7:06:11 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 16 replies
    NASA ^ | August 22, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Noctilucent or night-shining clouds lie near the edge of space. From about 80 kilometers above Earth's surface, the icy clouds can still reflect sunlight even though the Sun itself is below the horizon as seen from the ground. Usually occurring at high latitudes in summer months, the diaphanous apparitions are also known as polar mesospheric clouds and may be connected to global change in the lower atmosphere. This serene view features a lovely display of noctilucent clouds over water recorded last month near the coastal town of Vaxholm, Sweden. The picture was taken near local midnight.
  • Star is caught devouring planet

    08/21/2012 7:36:21 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    BBC ^ | Tuesday, August 21, 2012 | unattributed
    Rising temperatures near the cores of red giants cause these elderly stars to expand in size, a process which will cause any nearby planets to be destroyed... Spectroscopic analysis of BD+48 740 revealed that it contained an abnormally high amount of lithium, a rare element created primarily during the Big Bang 14 billion years ago. Lithium is easily destroyed in stars, so its high abundance in this ageing star is very unusual... The second piece of evidence discovered by the astronomers is the highly elliptical orbit of a newly discovered planet around the red giant star. The previously undetected world...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- DNA: The Molecule that Defines You

    08/20/2012 9:12:53 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 48 replies
    NASA ^ | August 21, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Every living thing on planet Earth is defined by its own molecule -- what's yours? This molecule, called DNA, spans about two meters stretched out but is coiled into every cell in your body. The many copies of DNA that compose you were all copied from one single cell, and your body is continually making new copies. The above ground-breaking animated video depicts the tiny, amazing, bio-molecular machinery that makes these DNA copies. For a fee, it is now possible to find part of all of the code of the DNA molecule that defines you, but lively debates involving...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Filament Across the Sun

    08/20/2012 3:56:37 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 16 replies
    NASA ^ | August 20, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Is that a cloud hovering over the Sun? Yes, but it is quite different than a cloud hovering over the Earth. The long light feature on the left of the above color-inverted image is actually a solar filament and is composed of mostly charged hydrogen gas held aloft by the Sun's looping magnetic field. By contrast, clouds over the Earth are usually much cooler, composed mostly of tiny water droplets, and are held aloft by upward air motions because they are weigh so little. The above filament was captured on the Sun about two weeks ago near the active...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Filament Across the Sun

    08/20/2012 3:56:22 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | August 20, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Is that a cloud hovering over the Sun? Yes, but it is quite different than a cloud hovering over the Earth. The long light feature on the left of the above color-inverted image is actually a solar filament and is composed of mostly charged hydrogen gas held aloft by the Sun's looping magnetic field. By contrast, clouds over the Earth are usually much cooler, composed mostly of tiny water droplets, and are held aloft by upward air motions because they are weigh so little. The above filament was captured on the Sun about two weeks ago near the active...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M72: A Globular Cluster of Stars

    08/18/2012 10:09:57 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | August 19, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Globular clusters once ruled the Milky Way. Back in the old days, back when our Galaxy first formed, perhaps thousands of globular clusters roamed our Galaxy. Today, there are less than 200 left. Many globular clusters were destroyed over the eons by repeated fateful encounters with each other or the Galactic center. Surviving relics are older than any Earth fossil, older than any other structures in our Galaxy, and limit the universe itself in raw age. There are few, if any, young globular clusters in our Milky Way Galaxy because conditions are not ripe for more to form. Pictured...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Curiosity on Mars: Still Life with Rover

    08/17/2012 10:47:17 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 21 replies
    NASA ^ | August 18, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What does the Curiosity rover look like on Mars? To help find out, NASA engineers digitally synthesized multiple navigation camera images taken last week into what appears to be the view of a single camera. Besides clods of Martian dirt, many of Curiosity's science instruments are visible and appear in good shape. Near the middle of the rover is an augmented reality tag intended to enable smartphones to provide background information. Far in the distance is a wall of Gale Crater. As Curiosity will begin to roll soon, its first destination has now been chosen: an intriguing intersection of...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Spiral Galaxy NGC 5033

    08/17/2012 6:01:41 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | August 17, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Magnificent island universe NGC 5033 lies some 40 million light-years away in the well-trained northern constellation Canes Venatici. This telescopic portrait reveals striking details of dust lanes winding near the galaxy's bright core and majestic but relatively faint spiral arms. Speckled with pink star forming regions and massive blue star clusters, the arms span over 100,000 light-years, similar in size to our own spiral Milky Way. A well-studied example of the class of Seyfert active galaxies, NGC 5033 has a core that is very bright and variable. The emission is likely powered by a supermassive black hole. The bright...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 6888: The Crescent Nebula

    08/16/2012 3:40:44 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 16 replies
    NASA ^ | August 16, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: NGC 6888, also known as the Crescent Nebula, is a cosmic bubble about 25 light-years across, blown by winds from its central, bright, massive star. This colorful portrait of the nebula uses narrow band image data combined in the Hubble palatte. It shows emission from sulfur, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms in the wind-blown nebula in red, green and blue hues. NGC 6888's central star is classified as a Wolf-Rayet star (WR 136). The star is shedding its outer envelope in a strong stellar wind, ejecting the equivalent of the Sun's mass every 10,000 years. The nebula's complex structures are...
  • Undead galaxy cluster spews 700 zombie baby stars A YEAR

    08/16/2012 10:08:59 AM PDT · by Ernest_at_the_Beach · 19 replies
    The Register ^ | 16th August 2012 11:19 GMT | Brid-Aine Parnell
    Astroboffins have spotted a galaxy cluster that's breaking all the cosmic rules, including coming back to life to spawn stars at an enormous rate. The Phoenix cluster is spewing out the celestial bodies at the highest rate ever observed for the middle of a galaxy cluster; it's the most powerful producer of X-rays of any known cluster; it's one of the most massive of its kind; and the rate of hot gas cooling in the central regions is the largest ever observed. According to the scientists, the cluster is "experiencing a massive starburst" that's forming the equivalent of 740 Suns...
  • A 360-Degree Street View From Mars:Awesome 360 Degree Images of Mars Taken by 'Curiosity'

    08/15/2012 3:21:53 AM PDT · by lbryce · 18 replies
    Universe Today ^ | August 15, 2012 | John Williams
    After seeing all the amazing imagery so far from NASAs Mars rover Curiosity, I know everyone wants to go there and take in the visual treats of Gale Crater. With the help of a 360-degree panorama you can virtually explore Curiositys landing site; sort of like a Martian version of Googles Street View. Take a martian minute to explore the panorama at www.360pano.eu/mars Photographer Andrew Bodrov stitched together images from Curiositys navigation cameras to create the panorama. After seeing some of the stitches of Curiositys images at NASAs website, I decided to stitch the panorama myself, Bodrov told Universe...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Curiosity on Mars: A Wall of Gale Crater

    08/15/2012 3:59:37 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | August 15, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: If you could stand on Mars, what would you see? The above image is a digitally re-colored approximation of what you might see if the above Martian landscape had occurred on Earth. Images from Mars false-colored in this way are called white balanced and useful for planetary scientists to identify rocks and landforms similar to Earth. The image is a high resolution version of a distant wall of Gale Crater captured by the Curiosity rover that landed on Mars last week. A corresponding true color image exists showing how this scene actually appears on Mars. The robotic Curiosity rover...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Perseid Meteors and the Milky Way

    08/14/2012 2:29:18 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | August 14, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Where will the next Perseid meteor appear? Sky enthusiasts who trekked outside for the Perseid meteor shower that peaked over the past few days typically had this question on their mind. Six meteors from this past weekend are visible in the above stacked image composite, including one bright fireball streaking along the band of the background Milky Way Galaxy. All Perseid meteors appear to come from the shower radiant in the constellation of Perseus. Early reports about this year's Perseids indicate that as many as 100 meteors per hour were visible from some dark locations during the peak. The...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Flight Through the Universe

    08/13/2012 2:33:41 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | August 13, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What would it be like to fly through the universe? Possibly the best simulated video of this yet has been composed from recently-released galaxy data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Every spot in the above video is a galaxy containing billions of stars. Many galaxies are part of huge clusters, long filaments, or small groups, while expansive voids nearly absent of galaxies also exist. The movie starts by flying right through a large nearby cluster of galaxies and later circles the SDSS-captured universe at about 2 billion light years (a redshift of about 0.15) from Earth. Analyses of...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Spiral Galaxy NGC 4038 in Collision

    08/12/2012 9:22:01 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | August 12, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This galaxy is having a bad millennium. In fact, the past 100 million years haven't been so good, and probably the next billion or so will be quite tumultuous. Visible on the upper left, NGC 4038 used to be a normal spiral galaxy, minding its own business, until NGC 4039, toward its right, crashed into it. The evolving wreckage, known famously as the Antennae, is pictured above. As gravity restructures each galaxy, clouds of gas slam into each other, bright blue knots of stars form, massive stars form and explode, and brown filaments of dust are strewn about. Eventually...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The First Color Panorama from Mars by Curiosity

    08/11/2012 2:09:57 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 38 replies
    NASA ^ | August 11, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: You've just landed on Mars and opened your eyes -- what do you see? If you're the Curiosity rover, you see a strange gravelly place with a large mountain in the distance. You've landed on target near the edge of 150-km wide Gale Crater, with Mount Sharp on the horizon being the rise in the crater's center. As a car-sized rover with six wheels and a laser, you prepare yourself to go on a two-year mission of exploration, climbing Mt. Sharp, and looking for signs that Mars once harbored life. Currently you sit motionless, check yourself over, and receive...
  • NASAs new lander CRASHES AND BURNS--Curiositys potential sucessor, Morpheus, explodes ...

    08/10/2012 9:26:18 AM PDT · by Ernest_at_the_Beach · 25 replies
    The Register ^ | 10th August 2012 00:43 GMT | By Simon Sharwood, APAC Editor
    Curiositys potential sucessor, Morpheus, explodes after hardware failure Vid NASAs prototype landing craft of the future, Morpheus, has crashed and burned in its latest launch test. Morpheus is designed to become a general-purpose lander capable of setting down payloads wherever NASA wants them. The Moon, Mars and even asteroids are mentioned in its design brief. The craft has undergone several tests when suspended on a tether beneath a crane while its engines get a workout. Those tests have gone well, but a new test of the lander flying all by itself went rather badly, as can be seen in the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Perseid Below

    08/10/2012 3:55:27 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | August 10, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Denizens of planet Earth watched last year's Perseid meteor shower by looking up into the bright moonlit night sky. But this remarkable view captured on August 13, 2011 by astronaut Ron Garan looks down on a Perseid meteor. From Garan's perspective onboard the International Space Station orbiting at an altitude of about 380 kilometers, the Perseid meteors streak below, swept up dust left from comet Swift-Tuttle heated to incandescence. The glowing comet dust grains are traveling at about 60 kilometers per second through the denser atmosphere around 100 kilometers above Earth's surface. In this case, the foreshortened meteor flash...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Mars in the Loop

    08/09/2012 5:26:03 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 17 replies
    NASA ^ | August 09, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This composite of images spaced some 5 to 7 days apart from late October 2011 (top right) through early July 2012 (bottom left), traces the retrograde motion of ruddy-colored Mars through planet Earth's night sky. To connect the dots in Mars' retrograde loop, just slide your cursor over the picture (and check out this animation). But Mars didn't actually reverse the direction of its orbit. Instead, the apparent backwards motion with respect to the background stars is a reflection of the motion of the Earth itself. Retrograde motion can be seen each time Earth overtakes and laps planets orbiting...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Curiosity Drops In

    08/08/2012 6:32:09 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 14 replies
    NASA ^ | August 08, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Just as it captured the Phoenix lander parachuting to Mars in 2008, the HiRise camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) snapped this picture of the Curiosity rover's spectacular descent toward its landing site on August 5 (PDT). The nearly 16 meter (51 foot) wide parachute and its payload are caught dropping through the thin martian atmosphere above plains just north of the sand dune field that that borders the 5 kilometer high Mt. Sharp in Gale Crater. The MRO spacecraft was about 340 kilometers away when the image was made. From MRO's perspective the parachute is flying at...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Wheel on Mars

    08/07/2012 2:31:57 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 28 replies
    NASA ^ | August 07, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A wheel attached to NASA's Curiosity rover is firmly on the martian surface in this early picture from the Mars Science Laboratory mission, captured after a successful landing on August 5, 2012 at 10:32pm (PDT). Seen at the lower right of a Hazard Avoidance Camera fisheye wide-angle image, the rover's left rear wheel is 50 centimeters (about 20 inches) in diameter. Part of a spring hinge for the camera's dust cover is just visible in the right corner, while at the upper left is part of the rover's RTG power source. Looking into the Sun across the rock stewn...
  • Italian 'Super Volcano' May Threaten Millions: Scientists plan to drill deep below Romans'...

    08/06/2012 7:54:17 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 35 replies
    Newser ^ | Monday, August 06, 2012 | Rob Quinn
    A hidden "super volcano" near Pompeii threatens an eruption that could make Vesuvius look like a picnic, scientists warn. The Phlegraean Fields zone of intense seismic activity -- which the ancient Romans believed was the gateway to hell -- could doom millions of people in the Naples area if it erupts, Reuters reports. Scientists plan to drill more than two miles below its surface to monitor any signs of a pending eruption in the huge chamber of molten rock, but some experts fear that the drilling itself could trigger an earthquake or eruption. Areas like the Phlegraean fields "can give...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Nocturnal: Scenes from the Southern Night

    08/06/2012 6:19:19 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | August 06, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Have you ever seen the night sky change? It does -- sometimes in beautiful and unexpected ways. To see it, though, usually requires patience. The above award winning video shows several of the possible changes in dramatic fashion with a time lapse video. Visible are sunset-illuminated clouds moving, stars of vivid colors rising, the long tail of a Comet Lovejoy rising, bright satellites crossing, a meteor exploding, a distant lightning storm approaching, skyscapes including the Magellanic Clouds rotating, and a fisheye sky rotating while the foreground becomes illuminated by moonlight. Frequently featuring an artistic human sculpture in the foreground...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Bubble Nebula

    08/05/2012 10:01:09 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | August 04, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Blown by the wind from a massive star, this interstellar apparition has a surprisingly familiar shape. Cataloged as NGC 7635, it is also known simply as The Bubble Nebula. Although it looks delicate, the 10 light-year diameter bubble offers evidence of violent processes at work. Above and right of the Bubble's center is a hot, O star, several hundred thousand times more luminous and around 45 times more massive than the Sun. A fierce stellar wind and intense radiation from that star has blasted out the structure of glowing gas against denser material in a surrounding molecular cloud. The...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- IC 1396: Emission Nebula in Cepheus

    08/05/2012 10:01:09 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | August 05, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Stunning emission nebula IC 1396 mixes glowing cosmic gas and dark dust clouds in the high and far off constellation of Cepheus. Energized by the bright, bluish central star seen here, this star forming region sprawls across hundreds of light-years -- spanning over three degrees on the sky while nearly 3,000 light-years from planet Earth. Among the intriguing dark shapes within IC 1396, the winding Elephant's Trunk nebula lies just below center. The gorgeous color view is a composition of digitized black and white photographic plates recorded through red and blue astronomical filters. The plates were taken using the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Messier 5

    08/03/2012 5:12:10 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | August 03, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: "Beautiful Nebula discovered between the Balance [Libra] & the Serpent [Serpens] ..." begins the description of the 5th entry in 18th century astronomer Charles Messier's famous catalog of nebulae and star clusters. Though it appeared to Messier to be fuzzy and round and without stars, Messier 5 (M5) is now known to be a globular star cluster, 100,000 stars or more, bound by gravity and packed into a region around 165 light-years in diameter. It lies some 25,000 light-years away. Roaming the halo of our galaxy, globular star clusters are ancient members of the Milky Way. M5 is one...