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Keyword: astronomy

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  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Flyby Image of Saturn's Sponge Moon Hyperion

    06/03/2015 6:22:25 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | June 03, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Why does this moon look like a sponge? To better investigate, NASA and ESA sent the Saturn-orbiting robotic spacecraft Cassini zooming past Saturn's moon Hyperion, once again, earlier this week. One of the images beamed back to Earth is featured above, raw and unprocessed. Visible, as expected, are many unusually shaped craters with an unusual dark material at the bottom. Although Hyperion spans about 250 kilometers, its small gravitational tug on Cassini indicates that it is mostly empty space and so has very low surface gravity. Therefore, the odd shapes of many of Hyperion's craters are thought to result...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Polaris and Comet Lovejoy

    06/02/2015 10:34:39 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | June 02, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: One of these two bright sky objects is moving. On the right is the famous star Polaris. Although only the 45th brightest star in the sky, Polaris is famous for appearing stationary. Once you find it, it will always appear in the same direction -- all night and all day -- for the rest of your life. This is because the northern spin pole of the Earth -- called the North Celestial Pole -- points near Polaris. On the left, about ten million times closer, is Comet Lovejoy, which noticeably changes its sky position by the hour. The featured...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Pulsating Aurora over Iceland

    05/31/2015 10:01:57 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | June 01, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Why do some auroras pulsate? No one is sure. Although this unusual behavior has been known for a long time, the cause remains an active topic of research. Featured here is a dramatic video that captured some impressive pulsating auroras in mid-March over Svínafellsjökull Glacier in Iceland. The 48-second video is shown is not time-lapse. The real-time pulsations are exemplified by sequences where the astrophotographer is visible moving about in the foreground. A close inspection of the enigmatic flickering sky colors reveals that some structures appear to repeat, while others do not. The quick rapidity of the pulsations seen...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Supernova 1994D and the Unexpected Universe

    05/31/2015 8:55:02 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | May 31, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Long ago, far away, a star exploded. Supernova 1994D, visible as the bright spot on the lower left, occurred in the outskirts of disk galaxy NGC 4526. Supernova 1994D was not of interest for how different it was, but rather for how similar it was to other supernovae. In fact, the light emitted during the weeks after its explosion caused it to be given the familiar designation of a Type Ia supernova. If all Type 1a supernovae have the same intrinsic brightness, then the dimmer a supernova appears, the farther away it must be. By calibrating a precise brightness-distance...
  • It's not over 'til Saturn's squidgy moon sings: Cassini probe set for final Hyperion fly-by

    05/30/2015 3:45:24 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 17 replies
    .theregister.co.uk ^ | Kelly Fiveash
    Mission scientists have hopes of seeing different terrain on Hyperion than the mission has previously explored in detail during the encounter, but this is not guaranteed. Hyperion (168 miles, 270 kilometres across) rotates chaotically, essentially tumbling unpredictably through space as it orbits Saturn. Because of this, its challenging to target a specific region of the moon's surface, and most of Cassini's previous close approaches have encountered more or less the same familiar side of the craggy moon.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Messier Craters in Stereo

    05/30/2015 3:06:55 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | May 30, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Many bright nebulae and star clusters in planet Earth's sky are associated with the name of astronomer Charles Messier, from his famous 18th century catalog. His name is also given to these two large and remarkable craters on the Moon. Standouts in the dark, smooth lunar Sea of Fertility or Mare Fecunditatis, Messier (left) and Messier A have dimensions of 15 by 8 and 16 by 11 kilometers respectively. Their elongated shapes are explained by an extremely shallow-angle trajectory followed by the impactor, moving left to right, that gouged out the craters. The shallow impact also resulted in two...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Saturn at Opposition

    05/29/2015 2:15:34 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | May 29, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Telescopic observers on Earth have been treated to spectacular views of Saturn lately as the ringed planet reached its 2015 opposition on May 23 at 0200 UT. Of course opposition means opposite the Sun in Earth's sky. So near opposition Saturn is up all night, at its closest and brightest for the year. These sharp images taken within hours of the Sun-Earth-Saturn alignment also show the strong brightening of Saturn's rings known as the opposition surge or the Seeliger Effect. Directly illuminated, the ring's icy particles cast no shadows and strongly backscatter sunlight toward planet Earth, creating the dramatic...
  • Two giant black holes might crash into each other in 21 years

    05/28/2015 6:23:02 PM PDT · by LibWhacker · 57 replies
    Geek.com ^ | 5/23/15 | Ryan Whitwam
    In the center of most galaxies (ours included) there is a supermassive black hole that holds everything together. However, one galaxy 10.5 billion light years away looks like it might have two black holes, and just like in Highlander, there can be only one. Scientists believe the pair are going to crash into each other in just 21 years. This could provide an unprecedented opportunity to observe the mind-boggling physics of such an event. The galaxy in question doesnt have a snazzy name its known only as PSO J334.2028+01.4075. Its what is known as a quasar, or an active...
  • Planets, Priests and a Persistent Myth

    05/28/2015 3:31:18 PM PDT · by presidio9 · 13 replies
    The Wall Street Journal ^ | May 21, 2015 | Stephen Barr and Dermott Mullan
    Last week NASAs Dawn spacecraft, after a voyage of about eight years, captured incredible video of two bright spots on Ceres. Ceres has an interesting history, labeled for decades a planet, then an asteroid (or minor planet), and most recently a dwarf planet, a category that includes another erstwhile planet, Pluto. Ceres was discovered through the dedication of a Catholic priest, Giuseppe Piazzi (1746-1826), who obtained the best astronomical instruments of his day, and positioned them where they could be used to best effect. When he was 19, Piazzi joined the Theatine Order of clerics, which supported his doctoral studies...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Nearby Spiral Galaxy NGC 4945

    05/28/2015 4:59:41 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | May 28, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Large spiral galaxy NGC 4945 is seen edge-on near the center of this cosmic galaxy portrait. In fact, NGC 4945 is almost the size of our own Milky Way Galaxy. Its own dusty disk, young blue star clusters, and pink star forming regions standout in the sharp, colorful telescopic image. About 13 million light-years distant toward the expansive southern constellation Centaurus, NGC 4945 is only about six times farther away than Andromeda, the nearest large spiral galaxy to the Milky Way. Though the galaxy's central region is largely hidden from view for optical telescopes, X-ray and infrared observations indicate...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Approaching Pluto

    05/27/2015 1:32:31 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | May 27, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Here comes Pluto. NASA's robotic New Horizons spacecraft is now beyond the orbit of Neptune and closing fast on the Solar System's most famous unexplored world. The featured time lapse video shows Pluto and Pluto's largest moon, Charon, orbiting their common center of mass in 13 frames taken from April 12 to April 18. Although blurry, images in the video now rival even the best images of Pluto yet taken from Earth. New Horizons remains on schedule to zoom past the distant dwarf planet on July 14.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Starburst Galaxy M94

    05/26/2015 7:03:13 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | May 26, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What could cause the center of M94 to be so bright? Spiral galaxy M94 has a ring of newly formed stars surrounding its nucleus, giving it not only an unusual appearance but also a strong interior glow. A leading progenitor hypothesis holds that an elongated knot of stars known as a bar rotates in M94 and has generated a burst of star formation in the inner ring. Recent observations have revealed the outer, fainter ring is not closed and relatively complex. M94, pictured here spans about 30,000 light years, lies about 15 million light years away, and can be...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Galaxy Tree

    05/25/2015 12:23:13 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | May 25, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: First came the trees. In the town of Salamanca, Spain, the photographer noticed how distinctive a grove of oak trees looked after being pruned. Next came the galaxy. The photographer stayed up until 2 am, waiting until the Milky Way Galaxy rose above the level of a majestic looking oak. From this carefully chosen perspective, dust lanes in the galaxy appear to be natural continuations to branches of the tree. Last came the light. A flashlight was used on the far side of the tree to project a silhouette. By coincidence, other trees also appeared as similar silhouettes across...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Space Shuttle Rising

    05/25/2015 12:23:10 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 11 replies
    NASA ^ | May 24, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's that rising from the clouds? The space shuttle. Sometimes, if you looked out the window of an airplane at just the right place and time, you could have seen something very unusual -- a space shuttle launching to orbit. Images of the rising shuttle and its plume became widely circulated over the web shortly after Endeavour's final launch in 2011 May. The above image was taken from a shuttle training aircraft by NASA and is not copyrighted. Taken well above the clouds, the image can be matched with similar images of the same shuttle plume taken below the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 7822 in Cepheus

    05/25/2015 12:23:07 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | May 23, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Hot, young stars and cosmic pillars of gas and dust seem to crowd into NGC 7822. At the edge of a giant molecular cloud toward the northern constellation Cepheus, the glowing star forming region lies about 3,000 light-years away. Within the nebula, bright edges and dark shapes are highlighted in this colorful skyscape. The image includes data from narrowband filters, mapping emission from atomic oxygen, hydrogen, and sulfur into blue, green, and red hues. The atomic emission is powered by energetic radiation from the hot stars, whose powerful winds and radiation also sculpt and erode the denser pillar shapes....
  • Latest images of Pluto may show a polar ice cap

    04/29/2015 2:41:30 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 10 replies
    washingtonpost.com ^ | April 29 at 4:40 PM | By Rachel Feltman
    you can see the best-ever images of Pluto, our solar system's most distant (dwarf) planet. The animation is made up of images taken by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft between April 12 and 18 from a distance of 69 to 64 million miles from Pluto. They capture one complete rotation of Pluto and its moon Charon... The images have already surpassed the Hubble's resolution, but there are plenty of features too subtle for the spacecraft to pick up. In fact, the images don't even show all of Pluto's known moons yet -- let alone any smaller ones we've yet to discover...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Dark and Dusty Sky

    05/22/2015 4:25:13 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | May 22, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: In the dusty sky toward the constellation Taurus and the Orion Arm of our Milky Way Galaxy, this broad mosaic follows dark and faint reflection nebulae along the region's fertile molecular cloud. The six degree wide field of view starts with long dark nebula LDN 1495 stretching from the lower left, and extends beyond the (upside down) bird-like visage of the Baby Eagle Nebula, LBN 777, at lower right. Small bluish reflection nebulae surround scattered fainter Taurus stars, sights often skipped over in favor of the constellation's better known, brighter celestial spectacles. Associated with the young, variable star RY...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 6240: Merging Galaxies

    05/21/2015 3:55:01 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | May 21, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: NGC 6240 offers a rare, nearby glimpse of a cosmic catastrophe in its final throes. The titanic galaxy-galaxy collision takes place a mere 400 million light-years away in the constellation Ophiuchus. The merging galaxies spew distorted tidal tails of stars, gas, and dust and undergo fast and furious bursts of star formation. The two supermassive black holes in the original galactic cores will also coalesce into a single, even more massive black hole and soon, only one large galaxy will remain. This dramatic image of the scene is a composite of narrowband and near-infrared to visible broadband data from...
  • Advanced Ligo gravitational wave hunt is green lit

    05/20/2015 8:00:08 PM PDT · by 2ndDivisionVet · 13 replies
    The British Broadcasting Corporation ^ | May 20, 2015 | Jonathan Amos, Science Correspondent
    One of the great physics experiments of our age looks ready to begin its quest.Scientists have held a dedication ceremony to inaugurate the Advanced Ligo facilities in the US. This pair of widely separated laboratories will be hunting for gravitational waves. These ripples in the fabric of space-time are predicted to result from extreme cosmic events, such as the merger of black holes and the explosive demise of giant stars. Confirmation of the waves' existence should open up a new paradigm in astronomy. It is one that would no longer depend on traditional light telescopes to observe and understand phenomena...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Cliff Looming on Comet 67P

    05/20/2015 4:46:01 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | May 20, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What that looming behind this gravel-strewn hill on Comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko? A jagged cliff. The unusual double-lobed nucleus of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko lends itself to unusual and dramatic vistas, another of which has been captured by the Rosetta spacecraft that arrived at the comet last September. The featured cometscape, taken last October and digitally enhanced, spans about 850 meters across. Meanwhile, Comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko continues to sprout jets as it nears its closest approach to the Sun in August. Along the way, Rosetta will continue listening for signals from Philae, a probe that landed on the nucleus but rebounded to an unknown...
  • OSIRIS discovers balancing rock on 67P

    05/19/2015 4:24:15 PM PDT · by OK Sun · 19 replies
    Max Planck Institute ^ | May 18, 2015 | Max Planck Institute
    Scientists from Rosettas OSIRIS team have discovered an extraordinary formation on the larger lobe of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in the Aker region. From a group of three boulders the largest one with a diameter of approximately 30 meters stands out: images obtained on 16 September 2014 from a distance of 29 kilometers with the help of Rosettas scientific imaging system OSIRIS show it to perch on the rim of a small depression. There seems to be only a very small contact area with the nucleus. Similar geological formations are found also on Earth. So-called balancing rocks touch the underground with only...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Globular Star Cluster 47 Tucanae

    05/19/2015 2:30:13 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | May 19, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Globular star cluster 47 Tucanae is a jewel box of the southern sky. Also known as NGC 104, it roams the halo of our Milky Way Galaxy along with over 150 other globular star clusters. The second brightest globular cluster (after Omega Centauri) as seen from planet Earth, 47 Tuc lies about 17,000 light-years away and can be spotted naked-eye near the Small Magellanic Cloud in the constellation of the Toucan. The dense cluster is made up of hundreds of thousands of stars in a volume only about 120 light-years across. Recent observations have shown that 47 Tuc's white...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Auroras and Star Trails over Iceland

    05/18/2015 9:57:36 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 19 replies
    NASA ^ | May 18, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: It was one of the quietest nights of aurora in weeks. Even so, in northern- Iceland during last November, faint auroras lit up the sky every clear night. The featured 360-degree panorama is the digital fusion of four wide-angle cameras each simultaneously taking 101 shots over 42 minutes. In the foreground is serene Lake Myvatn dotted with picturesque rock formations left over from ancient lava flows. Low green auroras sweep across the sky above showing impressive complexity near the horizon. Stars far in the distance appear to show unusual trails -- as the Earth turned -- because early exposures...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 2440: Pearl of a New White Dwarf

    05/17/2015 11:50:08 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 15 replies
    NASA ^ | May 17, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Like a pearl, a white dwarf star shines best after being freed from its shell. In this analogy, however, the Sun would be a mollusk and its discarded hull would shine prettiest of all! In the above shell of gas and dust, the planetary nebula designated NGC 2440, contains one of the hottest white dwarf stars known. The glowing stellar pearl can be seen as the bright dot near the image center. The portion of NGC 2440 shown spans about one light year. The center of our Sun will eventually become a white dwarf, but not for another five...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Ares 3 Landing Site: The Martian Revisited

    05/16/2015 5:45:12 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | May 16, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This close-up from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's HiRISE camera shows weathered craters and windblown deposits in southern Acidalia Planitia. A striking shade of blue in standard HiRISE image colors, to the human eye the area would probably look grey or a little reddish. But human eyes have not gazed across this terrain, unless you count the eyes of NASA astronauts in the scifi novel The Martian by Andy Weir. The novel chronicles the adventures of Mark Watney, an astronaut stranded at the fictional Mars mission Ares 3 landing site corresponding to the coordinates of this cropped HiRISE frame. For...
  • Andromeda And The Milky Way Might Collide Sooner Than We Think

    05/16/2015 2:26:25 PM PDT · by ETL · 61 replies
    Universe Today via io9 ^ | May 16, 2015 | Bob King
    The merger of the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxy wont happen for another 4 billion years, but the recent discovery of a massive halo of hot gas around Andromeda may mean our galaxies are already touching. Andromedas halo is gargantuan. Extending for at least 2 million light years, if we could see in our night sky it would be 100 times the diameter of the Moon or 50 degrees across! [the entire sky, from horizon to horizon, is approx 180 deg -ETL] Credit: NASA University of Notre Dame astrophysicist Nicholas Lehner led a team of scientists using the Hubble Space...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Jupiter, Ganymede, Great Red Spot

    05/15/2015 4:03:11 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 14 replies
    NASA ^ | May 15, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: In this sharp snapshot, the Solar System's largest moon Ganymede poses next to Jupiter, the largest planet. Captured on March 10 with a small telescope from our fair planet Earth, the scene also includes Jupiter's Great Red Spot, the Solar System's largest storm. In fact, Ganymede is about 5,260 kilometers in diameter. That beats out all three of its other fellow Galilean satellites, along with Saturn's Moon Titan at 5,150 kilometers and Earth's own Moon at 3,480 kilometers. Though its been shrinking lately, the Great Red Spot's diameter is still around 16,500 kilometers. Jupiter, the Solar System's ruling gas...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Dwarf Planet, Bright Spot

    05/14/2015 3:45:01 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | May 14, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Now at Ceres, Dawn's camera recorded this closer view of the dwarf planet's northern hemisphere and one of its mysterious bright spots on May 4. A sunlit portrait of a small, dark world about 950 kilometers in diameter, the image is part of a planned sequence taken from the solar-powered spacecraft's 15-day long RC3 mapping orbit at a distance of 13,600 kilometers (8,400 miles). The animated sequence shows Ceres' rotation, its north pole at the top of the frame. Imaged by Hubble in 2004 and then by Dawn as it approached Ceres in 2015, the bright spot itself is...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Magnificent Horsehead Nebula

    05/14/2015 3:42:44 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | May 13, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Sculpted by stellar winds and radiation, a magnificent interstellar dust cloud by chance has assumed this recognizable shape. Fittingly named the Horsehead Nebula, it is some 1,500 light-years distant, embedded in the vast Orion cloud complex. About five light-years "tall", the dark cloud is cataloged as Barnard 33 and is visible only because its obscuring dust is silhouetted against the glowing red emission nebula IC 434. Stars are forming within the dark cloud. Contrasting blue reflection nebula NGC 2023, surrounding a hot, young star, is at the lower left. The gorgeous featured image combines both narrowband and broadband images....
  • Einstein Memorial Refutes White House Environmentalist

    05/13/2015 11:52:33 AM PDT · by Kaslin · 5 replies
    Townhall.com ^ | May 13, 2015 | Terry Jeffrey
    It is an obvious truth we too often forget. At the Albert Einstein Memorial, on the grounds of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C., an explanatory sign states a simple fact that refutes the argument President Barack Obama's science adviser once made for redistributing wealth and limiting human population so as to save the human race from a poverty he claimed must inevitably intensify as our numbers increase. "At Einstein's feet lies a circular sky map representing the planets, sun, moon, and stars, positioned as observed by astronomers from the U.S. Naval Observatory at noon on the day...
  • More evidence that the Milky Way has four spiral arms

    05/12/2015 12:33:15 PM PDT · by Red Badger · 30 replies
    Phys.Org ^ | 05-12-2015 | by Dan Majaess, Universe Today
    Astronomers have been arguing over just how many spiral arms our galaxy exhibits. Is the Milky Way a four or two-armed spiral galaxy? Astronomers had often assumed the Milky Way was potentially a four-armed spiral galaxy, but comparatively recent observations from NASA's Spitzer telescope implied the galaxy had two spiral arms. In 2013, astronomers mapped star forming regions and argued they had found the two missing arms, bringing the total number of arms back to four. The case for a four-armed Milky Way may have just gotten stronger. A team of Brazilian astronomers used star clusters embedded in their natal...
  • Asteroid a MILE wide to hurtle past Earth in 48 HOURS - as experts warn of MASS EXTINCTION

    05/12/2015 7:08:14 AM PDT · by Red Badger · 204 replies
    www.express.co.uk ^ | UPDATED: 14:28, Tue, May 12, 2015 | By Nathan Rao
    A COLOSSAL asteroid hurtling through space is feared to be one of the biggest EVER to threaten a collision with Earth. The gigantic missile thought to measure almost a mile across will brush closer than previous monsters which have sparked a global panic. Worried astronomers warned 1999 FN53, which is an eighth of the size of Mount Everest, will skim the Earth in TWO DAYS. A collision would be nothing short of catastrophic triggering mass destruction, earthquakes and global extinction. The monster is more than TEN TIMES bigger than other meteorites currently visible on NASAs Near Earth Object radar. It...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Two Worlds, One Sun

    05/12/2015 3:51:10 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | May 12, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: How different does sunset appear from Mars than from Earth? For comparison, two images of our common star were taken at sunset, one from Earth and one from Mars. These images were scaled to have same angular width and featured here side-by-side. A quick inspection will reveal that the Sun appears slightly smaller from Mars than from Earth. This makes sense since Mars is 50% further from the Sun than Earth. More striking, perhaps, is that the Martian sunset is noticeably bluer near the Sun than the typically orange colors near the setting Sun from Earth. The reason for...
  • Closest look yet at Ceres bright spots

    05/11/2015 10:25:52 AM PDT · by Red Badger · 19 replies
    earthsky.org ^ | May 11, 2015 | Staff
    Mysterious Spot 5 the most prominent of Ceres bright spots is shown in a new image from the orbiting Dawn spacecraft to consist of many smaller spots. Bright spots on Ceres are revealed to be composed of many smaller spots in this May, 2015 image from the Dawn spacecraft. Image via NASA Dawn mission. Alright! Now were getting somewhere. The Dawn spacecraft which has now completed its first mapping orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres acquired these closest-yet images of the mysterious bright spots on Ceres, known as Spot 5, on May 3 and 4, 2015....
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Sky from Mauna Kea

    05/11/2015 6:45:55 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 11 replies
    NASA ^ | May 11, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What if you could stand at the top of a volcano and peer out across the universe? It the timing is right, you might see an amazing panorama like the one featured here. In this case, the volcano is the Hawaii's Mauna Kea, and the time was a clear night last summer In the foreground of this south-facing panorama lies a rugged landscape dotted with rocks and hardy plants. Slightly above and further out, a white blanket of clouds spreads horizontally to the horizon, seemingly dividing heaven and Earth. City lights illuminate the clouds and sky on the far...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- MyCn18: An Hourglass Planetary Nebula

    05/09/2015 10:04:47 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | May 10, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The sands of time are running out for the central star of this hourglass-shaped planetary nebula. With its nuclear fuel exhausted, this brief, spectacular, closing phase of a Sun-like star's life occurs as its outer layers are ejected - its core becoming a cooling, fading white dwarf. In 1995, astronomers used the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) to make a series of images of planetary nebulae, including the one above. Here, delicate rings of colorful glowing gas (nitrogen-red, hydrogen-green, and oxygen-blue) outline the tenuous walls of the hourglass. The unprecedented sharpness of the HST images has revealed surprising details of...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Trio Leo

    05/09/2015 6:58:09 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 18 replies
    NASA ^ | May 09, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This popular group is famous as the Leo Triplet - a gathering of three magnificent galaxies in one field of view. Crowd pleasers when imaged with even modest telescopes, they can be introduced individually as NGC 3628 (left), M66 (bottom right), and M65 (top). All three are large spiral galaxies but they tend to look dissimilar because their galactic disks are tilted at different angles to our line of sight. NGC 3628 is seen edge-on, with obscuring dust lanes cutting across the plane of the galaxy, while the disks of M66 and M65 are both inclined enough to show...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- When Vega is North

    05/08/2015 4:16:18 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | May 08, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: In only about 12,000 years Vega will be the North Star, the closest bright star to our fair planet's North Celestial Pole. By then, when you fix your camera to a tripod long exposures of the night sky will show the concentric arcs of star trails centered on a point near Vega as Earth rotates on its axis. Of course, presently the bright star conveniently near the North Celestial Pole is Polaris, but that will change as the Earth's axis of rotation precesses, like the wobble of a spinning top with a precession period of about 26,000 years. If...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- At the Limit of Diffraction

    05/07/2015 12:34:26 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | May 07, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Did you ever want to just look through the eyepiece of a large telescope in space? If you could, you would see a sharp view that was diffraction limited. Unaffected by atmospheric blurring that ultimately plagues earthbound observers, the angular resolution of your diffraction limited view would be determined only by the wavelength of light and diameter of the telescope lens or mirror; the larger the diameter, the sharper the image. Still, in this working earth-based snapshot a new active adaptive optics system (MagAO) is being used to cancel out the atmospheric blurring in a visual observation of famous...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Summer Triangles over Japan

    05/06/2015 4:16:35 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 17 replies
    NASA ^ | May 06, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Have you ever seen the Summer Triangle? The bright stars Vega, Deneb, and Altair form a large triangle on the sky that can be seen rising in the early northern early spring during the morning and rising in the northern fall during the evening. During summer months, the triangle can be found nearly overhead near midnight. Featured here, the Summer Triangle asterism was captured last month from Gunma, Japan. In the foreground, sporting a triangular shape of its own, is a flowering 500 year old cherry tree, standing about 15 meters tall. The triangular shape of the asterism is...
  • Astronomers unveil the farthest galaxy

    05/05/2015 10:50:45 AM PDT · by Red Badger · 29 replies
    Phys.Org ^ | 05-05-2015 | Provided by Yale University
    An international team of astronomers led by Yale University and the University of California-Santa Cruz have pushed back the cosmic frontier of galaxy exploration to a time when the universe was only 5% of its present age. The team discovered an exceptionally luminous galaxy more than 13 billion years in the past and determined its exact distance from Earth using the powerful MOSFIRE instrument on the W.M. Keck Observatory's 10-meter telescope, in Hawaii. It is the most distant galaxy currently measured. The galaxy, EGS-zs8-1, was originally identified based on its particular colors in images from NASA's Hubble and Spitzer space...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Gravitational Anomalies of Mercury

    05/05/2015 4:09:19 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | May 05, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's that under the surface of Mercury? The robotic MESSENGER spacecraft that had been orbiting planet Mercury for the past four years had been transmitting its data back to Earth with radio waves of very precise energy. The planet's gravity, however, slightly changed this energy when measured on Earth, which enabled the reconstruction of a gravity map of unprecedented precision. Here gravitational anomalies are shown in false-color, superposed on an image of the planet's cratered surface. Red hues indicate areas of slightly higher gravity, which in turn indicates areas that must have unusually dense matter under the surface. The...
  • Size of the Milky Way Upgraded, Solving Galaxy Puzzle

    05/04/2015 2:19:04 PM PDT · by LibWhacker · 17 replies
    Space.com ^ | 4/4/15 | Shannon Hall
    The Corrugated Galaxy The disk of the Milky Way Galaxy disk may actually be rippled. Two ringlike structures of stars wrapping around the Milky Way's outer disk now appear to belong to the disk itself. The results, outlined in a new study, show that the disk is about 60 percent larger than previously thought. Not only do the results extend the size of the Milky Way, they also reveal a rippling pattern, which raises intriguing questions about what sent wavelike fluctuations rippling through the disk. The researchers said the likely culprit was a dwarf galaxy. It might have plunged...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- An Unexpected Aurora over Norway

    05/04/2015 5:49:42 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | May 04, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Sometimes the sky lights up unexpectedly. A trip to northern Norway to photograph auroras was not going as well as hoped. It was now past midnight in Steinsvik, Troms, in northern Norway, and the date was 2014 February 8. Despite recent activity on the Sun, the skies were disappointing. Therefore, the astrophotographer began packing up to go. His brother began searching for a missing lens cap. When the sky suddenly exploded with spectacular aurora. Reacting quickly, a sequence detailing dramatic green curtains was captured, with the bright Moon near the image center, and the lens-cap seeking brother on the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Moonrise Through Mauna Kea's Shadow

    05/03/2015 4:12:45 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | May 03, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: How can the Moon rise through a mountain? It cannot -- what was photographed here is a moonrise through the shadow of a large volcano. The volcano is Mauna Kea, Hawai'i, USA, a frequent spot for spectacular photographs since it is arguably the premier observing location on planet Earth. The Sun has just set in the opposite direction, behind the camera. Additionally, the Moon has just passed full phase -- were it precisely at full phase it would rise, possibly eclipsed, at the very peak of the shadow. The Moon is actually rising in the triangular shadow cone of...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M51: The Whirlpool Galaxy

    05/02/2015 4:37:29 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | May 02, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Follow the handle of the Big Dipper away from the dipper's bowl until you get to the handle's last bright star. Then, just slide your telescope a little south and west and you might find this stunning pair of interacting galaxies, the 51st entry in Charles Messier famous catalog. Perhaps the original spiral nebula, the large galaxy with well defined spiral structure is also cataloged as NGC 5194. Its spiral arms and dust lanes clearly sweep in front of its companion galaxy (right), NGC 5195. The pair are about 31 million light-years distant and officially lie within the angular...
  • New exoplanet too big for its stars

    05/01/2015 9:10:45 AM PDT · by Red Badger · 40 replies
    Phys.Org ^ | 05/01/2015 | Provided by Australian National University
    The Australian discovery of a strange exoplanet orbiting a small cool star 500 light years away is challenging ideas about how planets form. "We have found a small star, with a giant planet the size of Jupiter, orbiting very closely," said researcher George Zhou from the Research School of Astrophysics and Astronomy. "It must have formed further out and migrated in, but our theories can't explain how this happened." In the past two decades more than 1,800 extrasolar planets (or exoplanets) have been discovered outside our solar system orbiting around other stars. The host star of the latest exoplanet, HATS-6,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- MESSENGER's Last Day on Mercury

    05/01/2015 4:58:04 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | May 01, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The first to orbit Mercury, the MESSENGER spacecraft came to rest on this region of Mercury's surface yesterday. Constructed from MESSENGER image and laser altimeter data, the scene looks north over the northeastern rim of the broad, lava filled Shakespeare basin. The large, 48 kilometer (30 mile) wide crater Janacek is near the upper left edge. Terrain height is color coded with red regions about 3 kilometers above blue ones. MESSENGER'S final orbit was predicted to end near the center, with the spacecraft impacting the surface at nearly 4 kilometers per second (over 87,000 miles per hour) and creating...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Across the Sun

    04/30/2015 4:05:05 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 13 replies
    NASA ^ | April 30, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A long solar filament stretches across the relatively calm surface of the Sun in this telescopic snap shot from April 27. The negative or inverted narrowband image was made in the light of ionized hydrogen atoms. Seen at the upper left, the magnificent curtain of magnetized plasma towers above surface and actually reaches beyond the Sun's edge. How long is the solar filament? About as long as the distance from Earth to Moon, illustrated by the scale insert at the left. Tracking toward the right across the solar disk a day later the long filament erupted, lifting away from...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Comet Churyumov Gerasimenko in Crescent

    04/29/2015 9:23:34 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 14 replies
    NASA ^ | April 29, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's happening to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko? As the 3-km wide comet moves closer to the Sun, heat causes the nucleus to expel gas and dust. The Rosetta spacecraft arrived at the comet's craggily double nucleus last July and now is co-orbiting the Sun with the giant dark iceberg. Recent analysis of data beamed back to Earth from the robotic Rosetta spacecraft has shown that water being expelled by 67P has a significant difference with water on Earth, indicating that Earth's water could not have originated from ancient collisions with comets like 67P. Additionally, neither Rosetta nor its Philae lander detected...