Keyword: astronomy

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  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The New World Atlas of Artificial Sky Brightness

    06/29/2016 11:03:43 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | Thursday, June 30, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: How far are you from a naturally dark night sky? In increasing steps, this world map (medium | large) shows the effect of artificial night sky brightness on the visual appearance of the night sky. The brightness was modeled using high resolution satellite data and fit to thousands of night sky brightness measurements in recent work. Color-coded levels are compared to the natural sky brightness level for your location. For example, artificial sky brightness levels in yellow alter the natural appearance of the night sky. In red they hide the Milky Way in an artificial luminous fog. The results...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- From Alpha to Omega in Crete

    06/29/2016 7:39:42 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | Wednesday, June 29, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This beautiful telephoto composition spans light-years in a natural night skyscape from the island of Crete. Looking south, exposures both track the stars and record a fixed foreground in three merged panels that cover a 10x12 degree wide field of view. The May 15 waxing gibbous moonlight illuminates the church and mountainous terrain. A mere 18 thousand light-years away, huge globular star cluster Omega Centauri (NGC 5139) shining above gives a good visual impression of its appearance in binoculars on that starry night. Active galaxy Centaurus A (NGC 5128) is near the top of the frame, some 11 million...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Juno Mission Trailer

    06/28/2016 10:45:32 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | Tuesday, June 28, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What will NASA's Juno spacecraft find when it reaches Jupiter next Monday? Very little, if Juno does not survive Jupiter Orbit Insertion, a complex series of operations in an unknown environment just above Jupiter's cloud tops. If successful, as explained in the featured video, Juno will swoop around Jupiter, passing closer than any previous spacecraft. The goal is to decelerate, enter into a highly elliptical orbit, and begin two years of science operations. Juno's science mission objectives include mapping Jupiter's deep structure, determining how much water is in Jupiter's atmosphere, and exploring Jupiter's powerful magnetic field and how it...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Anticrepuscular Rays over Colorado (II)

    06/28/2016 10:40:43 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | Monday, June 27, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's happening over the horizon? Although the scene may appear somehow supernatural, nothing more unusual is occurring than a setting Sun and some well placed clouds. Pictured above are anticrepuscular rays. To understand them, start by picturing common crepuscular rays that are seen any time that sunlight pours though scattered clouds. Now although sunlight indeed travels along straight lines, the projections of these lines onto the spherical sky are great circles. Therefore, the crepuscular rays from a setting (or rising) sun will appear to re-converge on the other side of the sky. At the anti-solar point 180 degrees around...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Jupiter's Clouds from New Horizons

    06/26/2016 10:54:07 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The New Horizons spacecraft took some stunning images of Jupiter on its way out to Pluto. Famous for its Great Red Spot, Jupiter is also known for its regular, equatorial cloud bands, visible through even modest sized telescopes. The featured image, horizontally compressed, was taken in 2007 near Jupiter's terminator and shows the Jovian giant's wide diversity of cloud patterns. On the far left are clouds closest to Jupiter's South Pole. Here turbulent whirlpools and swirls are seen in a dark region, dubbed a belt, that rings the planet. Even light colored regions, called zones, show tremendous structure, complete...
  • Nasa to put man on far side of moon

    03/18/2006 4:10:56 PM PST · by iPod Shuffle · 157 replies · 3,453+ views
    The Sunday Times March 19, 2006 Nasa to put man on far side of moon Jonathan Leake , Science Editor NASA, the American space agency, has unveiled plans for one of the largest rockets ever built to take a manned mission to the far side of the moon. It will ferry a mother ship and lunar lander into Earth orbit to link up with a smaller rocket carrying the crew. Once united they will head for the moon where the larger ship will remain in orbit after launching the lunar lander and crew. The design emerged during a space science...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Strawberry to Honey Moonrise [Popsicle stick]

    06/25/2016 4:43:25 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | Saturday, June 25, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Near the horizon the Full Moon often seems to loom large, swollen in appearance by the famous Moon illusion. But timelapse images demonstrate that the Moon's apparent size doesn't really change as it climbs toward the zenith. Its color does, though. Recording a frame every 10 seconds, this image shows how dramatic that color change can be. The composite follows a solstice Full Moon climbing above a rugged horizon over northwestern Indiana. A shrinking line-of-sight through planet Earth's dense and dusty atmosphere shifted the moonlight from strawberry red through honey-colored and paler yellowish hues. That change seems appropriate for...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Sagittarius Sunflowers

    06/23/2016 11:09:57 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | Friday, June 24, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: These three bright nebulae are often featured in telescopic tours of the constellation Sagittarius and the crowded starfields of the central Milky Way. In fact, 18th century cosmic tourist Charles Messier cataloged two of them; M8, the large nebula left of center, and colorful M20 near the bottom of the frame The third, NGC 6559, is right of M8, separated from the larger nebula by dark dust lanes. All three are stellar nurseries about five thousand light-years or so distant. The expansive M8, over a hundred light-years across, is also known as the Lagoon Nebula. M20's popular moniker is...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Solstice Dawn and Full Moonset

    06/23/2016 8:38:01 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | Thursday, June 23, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A Full Moon sets as the Solstice Sun rises in this June 20 dawn skyscape. Captured from a nearby peak in central California, planet Earth, the scene looks across the summit of Mount Hamilton and Lick Observatory domes on a calendar date that marks an astronomical change of seasons and hemispherical extremes of daylight hours. Earth's shadow stretches toward the Santa Cruz Mountains on the western horizon. Just above the atmospheric grey shadowband is a more colorful anti-twilight arch, a band of reddened, backscattered sunlight also known as the Belt of Venus. The interplay of solstice dates and lunar...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Cirrus over Paris

    06/22/2016 4:45:04 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | Wednesday, June 22, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's that over Paris? Cirrus. Typically, cirrus clouds appear white or gray when reflecting sunlight, can appear dark at sunset (or sunrise) against a better lit sky. Cirrus are among the highest types of clouds and are usually thin enough to see stars through. Cirrus clouds may form from moisture released above storm clouds and so may herald the arrival of a significant change in weather. Conversely, cirrus clouds have also been seen on Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Titan, Uranus, and Neptune. The featured image was taken two days ago from a window in District 15, Paris, France, Earth. The...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 6814: Grand Design Spiral Galaxy from Hubble

    06/21/2016 1:24:44 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | Tuesday, June 21, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: In the center of this serene stellar swirl is likely a harrowing black-hole beast. The surrounding swirl sweeps around billions of stars which are highlighted by the brightest and bluest. The breadth and beauty of the display give the swirl the designation of a grand design spiral galaxy. The central beast shows evidence that it is a supermassive black hole about 10 million times the mass of our Sun. This ferocious creature devours stars and gas and is surrounded by a spinning moat of hot plasma that emits blasts of X-rays. The central violent activity gives it the designation...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Sunrise Solstice over Stonehenge

    06/20/2016 3:35:50 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 19 replies
    NASA ^ | Monday, June 20, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Today the Sun reaches its northernmost point in planet Earth's sky. Called a solstice, the date traditionally marks a change of seasons -- from spring to summer in Earth's Northern Hemisphere and from fall to winter in Earth's Southern Hemisphere. The featured image was taken during the week of the 2008 summer solstice at Stonehenge in United Kingdom, and captures a picturesque sunrise involving fog, trees, clouds, stones placed about 4,500 years ago, and a 4.5 billion year old large glowing orb. Even given the precession of the Earth's rotational axis over the millennia, the Sun continues to rise...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Galaxy and Planets Beyond Bristlecone Pines

    06/19/2016 6:48:50 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | Sunday, June 19, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's older than these ancient trees? Nobody you know -- but almost everything in the background of this picture. The trees are impressively old -- each part of the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest located in eastern California, USA. There, many of the oldest trees known are located, some dating as far back as about 5,000 years. Seemingly attached to tree branches, but actually much farther in the distance, are the bright orbs of Saturn (left) and Mars. These planets formed along with the Earth and the early Solar System much earlier -- about 4.5 billion years ago. Swooping down...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Sputnik Planum vs. Krun Macula

    06/18/2016 12:30:40 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | Saturday, June 18, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Pluto's pitted plains meet rugged highlands in this stunning view. On the left lies a southeastern extent of the bright region still informally known as Sputnik Planum. At right the edge of a dark region, informally Krun Macula, rises some 2.5 kilometers above the icy plains. Along the boundary, connected clusters of large pits form deep valleys, some over 40 kilometers long with shadowy floors. Nitrogen ice is likely responsible for the more reflective plains. The dark red color of the highlands is thought to be from complex compounds called tholins, a product of ultraviolet light induced chemical reactions...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Comet PanSTARRS in the Southern Fish

    06/17/2016 10:22:46 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 1 replies
    NASA ^ | Friday, June 17, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Now approaching our fair planet this Comet PanSTARRS (C/2013 X1) will come closest on June 21-22, a mere 5.3 light-minutes away. By then its appearance low in northern hemisphere predawn skies (high in the south), will be affected by the light of a nearly Full Moon, though. Still the comet's pretty green coma is about the apparent size of the Full Moon in this telescopic portrait, captured on June 12 from the southern hemisphere's Siding Spring Observatory. The deep image also follows a broad, whitish dust tail up and toward the left in the frame, sweeping away from the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Northern Lights above Lofoten

    06/16/2016 8:56:16 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | Thursday, June 16, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The Aurora Borealis or northern lights are familiar visitors to night skies above the village of Reine in the Lofoten Islands, Norway, planet Earth. In this scene, captured from a mountaintop camp site, the auroral curtains do seem to create an eerie tension with the coastal lights though. A modern perspective on the world at night, the stunning image was chosen as the over all winner in The World at Night's 2016 International Earth and Sky Photo Contest. Selections were made from over 900 entries highlighting the beauty of the night sky and its battle with light pollution.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- GW151226: A Second Confirmed Source of Gravitational Radiation

    06/15/2016 1:43:27 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | Wednesday, June 15, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A new sky is becoming visible. When you look up, you see the sky as it appears in light -- electromagnetic radiation. But just over the past year, humanity has begun to see our once-familiar sky as it appears in a different type of radiation -- gravitational radiation. Today, the LIGO collaboration is reporting the detection of GW151226, the second confirmed flash of gravitational radiation after GW150914, the historic first detection registered three months earlier. As its name implies, GW151226 was recorded in late December of 2015. It was detected simultaneously by both LIGO facilities in Washington and Louisiana,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The North America and Pelican Nebulas

    06/13/2016 9:49:44 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | Tuesday, June 14, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Here lie familiar shapes in unfamiliar locations. On the left is an emission nebula cataloged as NGC 7000, famous partly because it resembles our fair planet's continent of North America. The emission region to the right of the North America Nebula is IC 5070, also known for its suggestive outlines as the Pelican Nebula. Separated by a dark cloud of obscuring dust, the two bright nebulae are about 1,500 light-years away. At that distance, the 4 degree wide field of view spans 100 light-years. This spectacular cosmic portrait combines narrow band images to highlight bright ionization fronts with fine...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Roll Cloud Over Uruguay

    06/12/2016 6:40:44 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | Sunday, June 12, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What kind of cloud is this? A type of arcus cloud called a roll cloud. These rare long clouds may form near advancing cold fronts. In particular, a downdraft from an advancing storm front can cause moist warm air to rise, cool below its dew point, and so form a cloud. When this happens uniformly along an extended front, a roll cloud may form. Roll clouds may actually have air circulating along the long horizontal axis of the cloud. A roll cloud is not thought to be able to morph into a tornado. Unlike a similar shelf cloud, a...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Fornax Cluster of Galaxies

    06/12/2016 6:37:47 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | Saturday, June 11, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Named for the southern constellation toward which most of its galaxies can be found, the Fornax Cluster is one of the closest clusters of galaxies. About 62 million light-years away, it is almost 20 times more distant than our neighboring Andromeda Galaxy, and only about 10 percent farther than the better known and more populated Virgo Galaxy Cluster. Seen across this two degree wide field-of-view, almost every yellowish splotch on the image is an elliptical galaxy in the Fornax cluster. A standout barred spiral galaxy NGC 1365 is visible on the lower right as a prominent Fornax cluster member....
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 6888: The Crescent Nebula

    06/10/2016 4:07:34 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | Friday, June 10, 2016 | (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 sharp telescopic portrait uses narrow band image data that isolates light from hydrogen and oxygen atoms in the wind-blown nebula. The oxygen atoms produce the blue-green hue that seems to enshroud the detailed folds and filaments. Visible within the nebula, 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...
  • World Famous Scientist: God Created the Universe

    06/09/2016 9:32:50 AM PDT · by Heartlander · 94 replies
    Intellectual Takeout ^ | June 8, 2016 | Jon Miltimore
    World Famous Scientist: God Created the Universe ‘The final resolution could be that God is a mathematician.’ Michio Kaku has made a name for himself as a world-leading theoretical physicist unafraid to speak his mind.Kaku, the Henry Semat Chair and Professorship in theoretical physics at the City College of New York, has published more than 70 articles in physics journals on topics such as supersymmetry, superstring theory, supergravity, and hadronic physics.His latest claim is likely to make waves in the world of science.“I have concluded that we are in a world made by rules created by an intelligence”, Kaku says...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Pluto at Night

    06/09/2016 2:44:32 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 13 replies
    NASA ^ | Thursday, June 09, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The night side of Pluto spans this shadowy scene. The spacebased view with the Sun behind the distant world was captured by New Horizons last July. The spacecraft was at a range of over 21,000 kilometers, about 19 minutes after its closest approach. A denizen of the Kuiper Belt in dramatic silhouette, the image also reveals Pluto's tenuous, surprisingly complex layers of hazy atmosphere. The crescent twilight landscape near the top of the frame includes southern areas of nitrogen ice plains informally known as Sputnik Planum and rugged mountains of water-ice in the Norgay Montes.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Horsehead Nebula in Infrared from Hubble

    06/08/2016 8:23:58 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | Wednesday, June 08, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: While drifting through the cosmos, a magnificent interstellar dust cloud became sculpted by stellar winds and radiation to assume a recognizable shape. Fittingly named the Horsehead Nebula, it is embedded in the vast and complex Orion Nebula (M42). A potentially rewarding but difficult object to view personally with a small telescope, the above gorgeously detailed image was taken in 2013 in infrared light by the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope in honor of the 23rd anniversary of Hubble's launch. The dark molecular cloud, roughly 1,500 light years distant, is cataloged as Barnard 33 and is seen above primarily because it...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Night on Venus in Infrared from Orbiting Akatsuki

    06/07/2016 5:36:48 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 18 replies
    NASA ^ | Tuesday, June 07, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Why is Venus so different from Earth? To help find out, Japan launched the robotic Akatsuki spacecraft which entered orbit around Venus late last year after an unplanned five-year adventure around the inner Solar System. Even though Akatsuki has passed its original planned lifetime, the spacecraft and its instruments are operating so well that much of its original mission has been reinstated. In the featured image taken by Akatsuki late last month, Venus was captured in infrared light showing a surprising amount of atmospheric structure on its night side. The vertical orange terminator stripe between night and day is...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Supernova and Cepheids of Spiral Galaxy UGC 9391

    06/06/2016 3:59:04 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | Monday, June 06, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What can this galaxy tell us about the expansion rate of the universe? Perhaps a lot because UGC 9391, featured, not only contains Cepheid variable stars (red circles) but also a recent Type Ia supernova (blue X). Both types of objects have standard brightnesses, with Cepheids typically being seen relatively nearby, while supernovas are seen much further away. Therefore, this spiral is important because it allows a calibration between the near and distant parts of our universe. Unexpectedly, a recent analysis of new Hubble data from UGC 9391 and several similar galaxies has bolstered previous indications that Cepheids and...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Comet PanSTARRS and the Helix Nebula

    06/05/2016 4:16:28 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 17 replies
    NASA ^ | Sunday, June 05, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: It's rare that such different objects are imaged so close together. Such an occasion is occurring now, though, and was captured two days ago in combined parallel exposures from the Canary Islands of Spain. On the lower right, surrounded by a green coma and emanating an unusually split blue ion tail diagonally across the frame, is Comet C/2013 X1 (PanSTARRS). This giant snowball has been falling toward our Sun and brightening since its discovery in 2013. Although Comet PannSTARRS is a picturesque target for long-duration exposures of astrophotography, it is expected to be only barely visible to the unaided...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Shadow of Surveyor 1

    06/04/2016 5:49:02 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 24 replies
    NASA ^ | Saturday, June 04, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Fifty years ago, Surveyor 1 reached the Moon. Launched on May 30, 1966 and landed on June 2, 1966 with the Moon at full phase it became the first US spacecraft to make a soft landing on another world. The first of seven Surveyor missions intended to test the lunar terrain for the planned Apollo landings it sent back over 10,000 images before lunar nightfall on June 14. The total rose to over 11,000 images returned before its second lunar night began on July 13. Surveyor 1 continued to respond from the lunar surface until January 7, 1967. Captured...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 4631: The Whale Galaxy

    06/03/2016 3:14:49 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | Friday, June 03, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: NGC 4631 is a big beautiful spiral galaxy. Seen edge-on, it lies only 25 million light-years away in the well-trained northern constellation Canes Venatici. The galaxy's slightly distorted wedge shape suggests to some a cosmic herring and to others its popular moniker, The Whale Galaxy. Either way, it is similar in size to our own Milky Way. In this sharp color image, the galaxy's yellowish core, dark dust clouds, bright blue star clusters, and red star forming regions are easy to spot. A companion galaxy, the small elliptical NGC 4627 is just above the Whale Galaxy. Faint star streams...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Three Planets from Pic du Midi

    06/02/2016 4:03:22 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | Thursday, June 02, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Seen any planets lately? All three planets now shining brightly in the night sky are imaged in these panels, captured last week with the 1 meter telescope at Pic du Midi Observatory in the French Pyrenees. Near opposition and closest to Earth on May 30, Mars is presently offering the best ground-based photo-ops in the last decade. The sharp image finds clouds above the Red Planet's north pole (top) and towering volcanos near its right limb. Saturn reaches its own opposition tonight, its bright rings and gaps clearly revealed in the telescopic portrait. Jupiter is currently highest during the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Tycho's Supernova Remnant Expands

    06/01/2016 5:48:02 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | Wednesday, June 01, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What star created this huge expanding puffball? Featured here is the first expansion movie ever created for Tycho's supernova remnant, the result of a stellar explosion first recorded over 400 years ago by the famous astronomer Tycho Brahe. The 2-second video is a time-lapse composite of X-ray images taken by the orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory between the years 2000 and 2015, added to a stock optical frame. The expanding gas cloud is extremely hot, while slightly different expansion speeds have given the cloud a puffy appearance. Although the star that created SN 1572, is likely completely gone, a star...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Stars and Gas of the Running Chicken Nebula

    05/31/2016 7:14:57 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | Tuesday, May 31, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: To some, it looks like a giant chicken running across the sky. To others, it looks like a gaseous nebula where star formation takes place. Cataloged as IC 2944, the Running Chicken Nebula spans about 100 light years and lies about 6,000 light years away toward the constellation of the Centaur (Centaurus). The featured image, shown in scientifically assigned colors, was captured recently in an 11-hour exposure from a backyard near Melbourne, Australia. Two star clusters are visible: the Pearl Cluster seen on the far left, and Collinder 249 embedded in the nebula's glowing gas. Although difficult to discern...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Galaxy Evolution Tracking Animation

    05/31/2016 7:12:37 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | Monday, May 30, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: How did the universe evolve from such a smooth beginning? To help understand, computational cosmologists and NASA produced the featured time-lapse animated video depicting a computer simulation of part of the universe. The 100-million light-year simulation starts about 20 million years after the Big Bang and runs until the present. After a smooth beginning, gravity causes clumps of matter to form into galaxies which immediately begin falling toward each other. Soon, many of them condense into long filaments while others violently merge into a huge and hot cluster of galaxies. Investigating of potential universe attributes in simulations like this...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Valles Marineris: The Grand Canyon of Mars

    05/31/2016 7:06:44 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | Sunday, May 29, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Mars will look good in Earth's skies over the next few days -- but not this good. To get a view this amazing, a spacecraft had to actually visit the red planet. Running across the image center, though, is one the largest canyons in the Solar System. Named Valles Marineris, the grand valley extends over 3,000 kilometers long, spans as much as 600 kilometers across, and delves as much as 8 kilometers deep. By comparison, the Earth's Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA is 800 kilometers long, 30 kilometers across, and 1.8 kilometers deep. The origin of the Valles Marineris...
  • Mars Set to Make Closest Approach to Earth in 11 Years

    05/28/2016 1:22:57 PM PDT · by NormsRevenge · 52 replies
    abc News on Yahoo ^ | 5/26/16 | Alyssa Newcomb - abc News
    If Martians exist, they'll be closer to Earth on Memorial Day than they have been in 11 years. This Monday, around 5:34 p.m. EDT, when many Americans may be enjoying a holiday barbecue, the Red Planet will be the closest it has been to Earth in more than a decade, coming within 46.8 million miles, according to NASA. The relatively close encounter with Earth comes a week after the Martian opposition, when Mars and the sun lined up on exact opposite sides of the Earth.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Cat's Eye Wide and Deep

    05/28/2016 4:18:20 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | Saturday, May 28, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The Cat's Eye Nebula (NGC 6543) is one of the best known planetary nebulae in the sky. Its more familiar outlines are seen in the brighter central region of the nebula in this impressive wide-angle view. But the composite image combines many short and long exposures to also reveal an extremely faint outer halo. At an estimated distance of 3,000 light-years, the faint outer halo is over 5 light-years across. Planetary nebulae have long been appreciated as a final phase in the life of a sun-like star. More recently, some planetary nebulae are found to have halos like this...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Great Carina Nebula

    05/28/2016 4:14:03 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | Friday, May 27, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A jewel of the southern sky, the Great Carina Nebula, also known as NGC 3372, spans over 300 light-years, one of our galaxy's largest star forming regions. Like the smaller, more northerly Great Orion Nebula, the Carina Nebula is easily visible to the unaided eye, though at a distance of 7,500 light-years it is some 5 times farther away. This gorgeous telescopic close-up reveals remarkable details of the region's central glowing filaments of interstellar gas and obscuring cosmic dust clouds. The field of view is over 50 light-years across. The Carina Nebula is home to young, extremely massive stars,...
  • Mars Used To Look More White Than Red

    05/26/2016 12:49:12 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 27 replies
    popularmechanics.com ^ | 05/26/2016 | William Herkewitz
    Had you searched the sky with a telescope just a few hundred thousand years ago, you would have struggled to find a red planet. Instead, you would have seen a gleaming-white ice ball where Mars should be. A team of astronomers led by Isaac Smith, an astrophysicist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, has collected the first concrete evidence that Mars has just exited an extreme ice age, one so intense it would have put Earth's recent frosty foray to shame. Using cameras and a radar-pinging device on board NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Smith's team deduced this history...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- IC 5067 in the Pelican Nebula

    05/26/2016 5:23:38 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 17 replies
    NASA ^ | Thursday, May 26, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The prominent ridge of emission featured in this sharp, colorful skyscape is cataloged as IC 5067. Part of a larger emission nebula with a distinctive shape, popularly called The Pelican Nebula, the ridge spans about 10 light-years following the curve of the cosmic pelican's head and neck. This false-color view also translates the pervasive glow of narrow emission lines from atoms in the nebula to a color palette made popular in Hubble Space Telescope images of star forming regions. Fantastic, dark shapes inhabiting the 1/2 degree wide field are clouds of cool gas and dust sculpted by the winds...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 5078 and Friends

    05/25/2016 3:16:55 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 1 replies
    NASA ^ | Wednesday, May 25, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This sharp telescopic field of view holds two bright galaxies. Barred spiral NGC 5101 (top right) and nearly edge-on system NGC 5078 are separated on the sky by about 0.5 degrees or about the apparent width of a full moon. Found within the boundaries of the serpentine constellation Hydra, both are estimated to be around 90 million light-years away and similar in size to our own large Milky Way galaxy. In fact, if they both lie at the same distance their projected separation would be only 800,000 light-years or so. That's easily less than half the distance between the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Milky Way Over the Spanish Peaks

    05/24/2016 4:28:10 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 14 replies
    NASA ^ | Tuesday, May 24, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: That's not lightning, and it did not strike between those mountains. The diagonal band is actually the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy, while the twin peaks are actually called the Spanish Peaks -- but located in Colorado, USA. Although each Spanish peak is composed of a slightly different type of rock, both are approximately 25 million years old. This serene yet spirited image composite was meticulously created by merging a series of images all taken from the same location on one night and early last month. In the first series of exposures, the background sky was built...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Inside a Daya Bay Antineutrino Detector

    05/22/2016 9:30:47 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | Monday, May 23, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Why is there more matter than antimatter in the Universe? To better understand this facet of basic physics, energy departments in China and the USA led in the creation of the Daya Bay Reactor Neutrino Experiment. Located under thick rock about 50 kilometers northeast of Hong Kong, China, eight Daya Bay detectors monitor antineutrinos emitted by six nearby nuclear reactors. Featured here, a camera looks along one of the Daya Bay detectors, imaging photon sensors that pick up faint light emitted by antineutrinos interacting with fluids in the detector. Early results indicate an unexpectedly high rate of one type...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- LL Orionis: When Cosmic Winds Collide

    05/22/2016 5:31:41 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | Sunday, May 22, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What created this great arc in space? This arcing, graceful structure is actually a bow shock about half a light-year across, created as the wind from young star LL Orionis collides with the Orion Nebula flow. Adrift in Orion's stellar nursery and still in its formative years, variable star LL Orionis produces a wind more energetic than the wind from our own middle-aged sun. As the fast stellar wind runs into slow moving gas a shock front is formed, analogous to the bow wave of a boat moving through water or a plane traveling at supersonic speed. The slower...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Milky Way and Planets Near Opposition

    05/21/2016 12:47:18 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | Saturday, May 21, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: In this early May night skyscape, a mountain road near Bursa, Turkey seems to lead toward bright planets Mars and Saturn and the center of our Milky Way Galaxy, a direction nearly opposite the Sun in planet Earth's sky. The brightest celestial beacon on the scene, Mars, reaches its opposition tonight and Saturn in early June. Both will remain nearly opposite the Sun, up all night and close to Earth for the coming weeks, so the time is right for good telescopic viewing. Mars and Saturn form the tight celestial triangle with red giant star Antares just right of...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- 3D Mercury Transit

    05/20/2016 10:54:00 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | Friday, May 20, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: On May 9, innermost planet Mercury crossed IN FRONT of the Sun. Though pictures project the event in only two dimensions, a remarkable three dimensional perspective on the transit is possible by free viewing this stereo pair. The images were made 23 minutes apart and rotated so that Mercury's position shifts horizontally between the two. As a result, Mercury's orbital motion produced an exaggerated parallax simulating binocular vision. Between the two exposures, the appropriately named planet's speedy 47.4 kilometer per second orbital velocity actually carried it over 65,000 kilometers. Taken first, the left image is intended for the right...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Surface of Europa

    05/19/2016 10:17:59 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 11 replies
    NASA ^ | Thursday, May 19, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: An enhanced-color view, this image covers a 350 by 750 kilometer swath across the surface of Jupiter's tantalizing moon Europa. The close-up combines high-resolution image data with lower resolution color data from observations made in 1998 by the Galileo spacecraft. Smooth ice plains, long fractures, and jumbled blocks of chaos terrain are thought to hide a deep ocean of salty liquid water beneath. Though the ice-covered alien ocean world is outside the Solar System's habitable zone, new studies show the potential chemistry driving its oxygen and hydrogen production, a key indicator of the energy available for life, could produce...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Halo from Atacama

    05/18/2016 10:27:18 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | Wednesday, May 18, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Influenced by the strong Pacific El Nino, cloudy skies have more often come to Chile's high Atacama Desert this season, despite its reputation as an astronomer's paradise. Located in one of the driest, darkest places on planet Earth, domes of the region's twin 6.5 meter Magellan telescopes of Carnegie Las Campanas Observatory were closed on May 13. Still, a first quarter Moon and bright stars shine through in this panoramic night skyscape, the lunar disk surrounded by a beautiful, bright halo. The angular radius of the halo is 22 degrees. Not determined by the brightness or phase of the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Orion Nebula in Visible and Infrared

    05/17/2016 2:52:36 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | Tuesday, May 17, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The Great Nebula in Orion is a colorful place. Visible to the unaided eye, it appears as a small fuzzy patch in the constellation of Orion. Long exposure, multi-wavelength images like this, however, show the Orion Nebula to be a busy neighborhood of young stars, hot gas, and dark dust. This digital composite features not only three colors of visible light but four colors of infrared light taken by NASA's orbiting Spitzer Space Telescope as well. The power behind much of the Orion Nebula (M42) is the Trapezium - four of the brightest stars in the nebula. Many of...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Clouds of the Carina Nebula

    05/16/2016 6:15:36 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | Monday, May 16, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What forms lurk in the mists of the Carina Nebula? The dark ominous figures are actually molecular clouds, knots of molecular gas and dust so thick they have become opaque. In comparison, however, these clouds are typically much less dense than Earth's atmosphere. Featured here is a detailed image of the core of the Carina Nebula, a part where both dark and colorful clouds of gas and dust are particularly prominent. The image was captured last month from Siding Spring Observatory in Australia. Although the nebula is predominantly composed of hydrogen gas -- here colored green, the image was...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Milky Way Over Quiver Tree Forest

    05/15/2016 3:40:02 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | Sunday, May 15, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: In front of a famous background of stars and galaxies lies some of Earth's more unusual trees. Known as quiver trees, they are actually succulent aloe plants that can grow to tree-like proportions. The quiver tree name is derived from the historical usefulness of their hollowed branches as dart holders. Occurring primarily in southern Africa, the trees pictured in the above 16-exposure composite are in Quiver Tree Forest located in southern Namibia. Some of the tallest quiver trees in the park are estimated to be about 300 years old. Behind the trees is light from the small town of...