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Astronomy Picture of the Day (General/Chat)

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  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - A Night Sky Vista from Sardinia

    10/21/2020 3:43:51 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 27 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 21 Oct, 2020 | Image Credit & Copyright: Tomáš Slovinský
    Explanation: How many famous sky objects can you find in this image? The featured dark sky composite combines over 60 exposures spanning over 220 degrees to create a veritable menagerie of night sky wonders. Visible celestial icons include the Belt of Orion, the Orion Nebula, the Andromeda Galaxy, the California Nebula, and bright stars Sirius and Betelgeuse. You can verify that you found these, if you did, by checking an annotated version of the image. A bit harder, though, is finding Polaris and the Big Dipper. Also discernible are several meteors from the Quandrantids meteor shower, red and green airglow,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Saturn and Jupiter over Italian Peaks

    10/20/2020 4:23:37 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 26 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 20 Oct, 2020 | Image Credit & Copyright: Giorgia Hofer
    Explanation: Saturn and Jupiter are getting closer. Every night that you go out and check for the next two months, these two bright planets will be even closer together on the sky. Finally, in mid-December, a Great Conjunction will occur -- when the two planets will appear only 0.1 degrees apart -- just one fifth the angular diameter of the full Moon. And this isn't just any Great Conjunction -- Saturn (left) and Jupiter (right) haven't been this close since 1623, and won't be nearly this close again until 2080. This celestial event is quite easy to see -- already...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - A Flight over Jupiter Near the Great Red Spot

    10/19/2020 5:35:29 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 16 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 19 Oct, 2020 | Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS; Video Processing & License: Kevin M. Gill; Music: Vangelis
    Explanation: Are you willing to wait to see the largest and oldest known storm system in the Solar System? In the featured video, Jupiter's Great Red Spot finally makes its appearance 2 minutes and 12 seconds into the 5-minute video. Before it arrives, you may find it pleasing to enjoy the continually changing view of the seemingly serene clouds of Jupiter, possibly with your lights low and sound up. The 41 frames that compose the video were captured in June as the robotic Juno spacecraft was making a close pass over our Solar System's largest planet. The time-lapse sequence actually...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - UGC 1810: Wildly Interacting Galaxy from Hubble

    10/18/2020 2:35:50 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 12 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 18 Oct, 2020 | Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble, HLA; Processing & Copyright: Domingo Pestana
    Explanation: What's happening to this spiral galaxy? Although details remain uncertain, it surely has to do with an ongoing battle with its smaller galactic neighbor. The featured galaxy is labelled UGC 1810 by itself, but together with its collisional partner is known as Arp 273. The overall shape of UGC 1810 -- in particular its blue outer ring -- is likely a result of wild and violent gravitational interactions. This ring's blue color is caused by massive stars that are blue hot and have formed only in the past few million years. The inner galaxy appears older, redder, and threaded...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Cygnus: Bubble and Crescent

    10/17/2020 4:51:17 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 10 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 17 Oct, 2020 | Image Credit & Copyright: Wissam Ayoub
    Explanation: These clouds of gas and dust drift through rich star fields along the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy toward the high flying constellation Cygnus. Caught within the telescopic field of view are the Soap Bubble (lower left) and the Crescent Nebula (upper right). Both were formed at a final phase in the life of a star. Also known as NGC 6888, the Crescent was shaped as its bright, central massive Wolf-Rayet star, WR 136, shed its outer envelope in a strong stellar wind. Burning through fuel at a prodigious rate, WR 136 is near the end of a...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Planetary Nebula Abell 78

    10/16/2020 4:51:23 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 14 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 16 Oct, 2020 | Image Credit & Copyright: Bernhard Hubl
    Explanation: Planetary nebula Abell 78 stands out in this colorful telescopic skyscape. In fact the colors of the spiky Milky Way stars depend on their surface temperatures, both cooler (yellowish) and hotter (bluish) than the Sun. But Abell 78 shines by the characteristic emission of ionized atoms in the tenuous shroud of material shrugged off from an intensely hot central star. The atoms are ionized, their electrons stripped away, by the central star's energetic but otherwise invisible ultraviolet light. The visible blue-green glow of loops and filaments in the nebula's central region corresponds to emission from doubly ionized oxygen atoms,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Galaxies in Pegasus

    10/15/2020 5:23:43 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 17 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 15 Oct, 2020 | Image Credit & Copyright: Robert Eder
    Explanation: This sharp telescopic view reveals galaxies scattered beyond the stars of the Milky Way, at the northern boundary of the high-flying constellation Pegasus. Prominent at the upper right is NGC 7331. A mere 50 million light-years away, the large spiral is one of the brighter galaxies not included in Charles Messier's famous 18th century catalog. The disturbed looking group of galaxies at the lower left is well-known as Stephan's Quintet. About 300 million light-years distant, the quintet dramatically illustrates a multiple galaxy collision, its powerful, ongoing interactions posed for a brief cosmic snapshot. On the sky, the quintet and...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - The Colorful Clouds of Rho Ophiuchi

    10/14/2020 5:44:16 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 13 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 14 Oct, 2020 | Image Credit & Copyright: Amir H. Abolfath
    Explanation: The many spectacular colors of the Rho Ophiuchi (oh'-fee-yu-kee) clouds highlight the many processes that occur there. The blue regions shine primarily by reflected light. Blue light from the Rho Ophiuchi star system and nearby stars reflects more efficiently off this portion of the nebula than red light. The Earth's daytime sky appears blue for the same reason. The red and yellow regions shine primarily because of emission from the nebula's atomic and molecular gas. Light from nearby blue stars - more energetic than the bright star Antares - knocks electrons away from the gas, which then shines when...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Mars, Pleiades, and Andromeda over Stone Lions

    10/13/2020 4:40:18 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 8 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 13 Oct, 2020 | Image Credit & Copyright: Cem Özkeser
    Explanation: Three very different -- and very famous -- objects were all captured in a single frame last month. On the upper left is the bright blue Pleiades, perhaps the most famous cluster of stars on the night sky. The Pleiades (M45) is about 450 light years away and easily found a few degrees from Orion. On the upper right is the expansive Andromeda Galaxy, perhaps the most famous galaxy -- external to our own -- on the night sky. Andromeda (M31) is one of few objects visible to the unaided eye where you can see light that is millions...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Descending Toward Asteroid Bennu

    10/12/2020 4:42:47 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 28 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 12 Oct, 2020 | Video Credit: NASA, OSIRIS-REx, NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio; Data: NASA, U. Arizona, CSA,
    Explanation: What would it be like to land on an asteroid? Although no human has yet done it, NASA's robotic OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is scheduled to attempt to touch the surface of asteroid 101955 Bennu next week. The goal is to collect a sample from the nearby minor planet for return to Earth for a detailed analysis in 2023. The featured video shows what it looks like to descend toward the 500-meter diamond-shaped asteroid, based on a digital map of Bennu's rocky surface constructed from image and surface data taken by OSIRIS-REx over the past 1.5 years. The video begins by...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Milky Way over the Pinnacles in Australia

    10/11/2020 1:51:10 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 12 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 11 Oct, 2020 | Image Credit & Copyright: Michael Goh
    Explanation: What strange world is this? Earth. In the foreground of the featured image are the Pinnacles, unusual rock spires in Nambung National Park in Western Australia. Made of ancient sea shells (limestone), how these human-sized picturesque spires formed remains unknown. In the background, just past the end of the central Pinnacle, is a bright crescent Moon. The eerie glow around the Moon is mostly zodiacal light, sunlight reflected by dust grains orbiting between the planets in the Solar System. Arching across the top is the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy. Many famous stars and nebulas are also...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Virgo Cluster Galaxies

    10/10/2020 5:40:18 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 13 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 10 Oct, 2020 | Image Credit & Copyright: Fernando Pena
    Explanation: Galaxies of the Virgo Cluster are scattered across this deep telescopic field of view. The cosmic scene spans about three Full Moons, captured in dark skies near Jalisco, Mexico, planet Earth. About 50 million light-years distant, the Virgo Cluster is the closest large galaxy cluster to our own local galaxy group. Prominent here are Virgo's bright elliptical galaxies from the Messier catalog, M87 at the top left, and M84 and M86 seen (bottom to top) below and right of center. M84 and M86 are recognized as part of Markarian's Chain, a visually striking line-up of galaxies vertically on the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - The Very Large Array at Moonset

    10/09/2020 4:01:22 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 16 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 9 Oct, 2020 | Image Credit: Jeff Hellermann, NRAO / AUI / NSF
    Explanation: An inspirational sight, these giant dish antennas of the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) rise above the New Mexico desert at moonset. Mounted on piers but transportable on railroad tracks to change the VLA’s configuration, its 27 operating antennas are each house-sized (25 meters across) and can be organized into an array spanning the size of a city (35 kilometers). A prolific radio astronomy workhorse, the VLA has been used to discover water on planet Mercury, radio-bright coronae around stars, micro-quasars in our Galaxy, gravitationally-induced Einstein rings around distant galaxies, and radio counterparts to cosmologically distant gamma-ray...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Mare Frigoris

    10/08/2020 3:33:03 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 20 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 8 Oct, 2020 | Image Credit & Copyright: Matt Smith
    Explanation: Lighter than typically dark, smooth, mare the Mare Frigoris lies in the far lunar north. Also known as the Sea of Cold, it stretches across the familiar lunar nearside in this close up of the waxing gibbous Moon's north polar region. Dark-floored, 95 kilometer wide crater Plato is just left of the center. Sunlit peaks of the lunar Alps (Montes Alpes) are highlighted below and right of Plato, between the more southern Mare Imbrium (Sea of Rains) and Mare Frigoris. The prominent straight feature cutting through the mountains is the lunar Alpine Valley (Vallis Alpes). Joining the Mare Imbrium...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Ou4: A Giant Squid in a Flying Bat

    10/07/2020 3:38:48 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 17 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 7 Oct, 2020 | Image Credit & Copyright: Yannick Akar
    Explanation: A very faint but very large squid-like nebula is visible in planet Earth's sky -- but inside a still larger bat. The Giant Squid Nebula cataloged as Ou4, and Sh2-129 also known as the Flying Bat Nebula, are both caught in this cosmic scene toward the royal royal constellation Cepheus. Composed with 55 hours of narrowband image data, the telescopic field of view is 3 degrees or 6 Full Moons across. Discovered in 2011 by French astro-imager Nicolas Outters, the Squid Nebula's alluring bipolar shape is distinguished here by the telltale blue-green emission from doubly ionized oxygen atoms. Though...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Mars Approach 2020

    10/06/2020 4:19:16 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 26 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 6 Oct, 2020 | Image Credit: Jonathan T. Grayson
    Explanation: Look to the east just after sunset tonight and you'll see a most impressive Mars. Tonight, Mars will appear its biggest and brightest of the year, as Earth passes closer to the red planet than it has in over two years -- and will be again for another two years. In a week, Mars will be almost as bright -- but at opposition, meaning that it will be directly opposite the Sun. Due to the slightly oval shape of the orbits of Mars and Earth, closest approach and opposition occur on slightly different days. The featured image sequence shows...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - NGC 5643: Nearby Spiral Galaxy from Hubble

    10/05/2020 4:01:29 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 30 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 5 Oct, 2020 | Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, A. Riess et al.; Acknowledgement: Mahdi Zamani
    Explanation: What's happening at the center of spiral galaxy NGC 5643? A swirling disk of stars and gas, NGC 5643's appearance is dominated by blue spiral arms and brown dust, as shown in the featured image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. The core of this active galaxy glows brightly in radio waves and X-rays where twin jets have been found. An unusual central glow makes NGC 5643 one of the closest examples of the Seyfert class of galaxies, where vast amounts of glowing gas are thought to be falling into a central massive black hole. NGC 5643, is a...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Orion Nebula in Oxygen, Hydrogen, and Sulfur

    10/04/2020 3:28:35 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 36 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 4 Oct, 2020 | Image Credit & Copyright: César Blanco González
    Explanation: Few astronomical sights excite the imagination like the nearby stellar nursery known as the Orion Nebula. The Nebula's glowing gas surrounds hot young stars at the edge of an immense interstellar molecular cloud. Many of the filamentary structures visible in the featured image are actually shock waves - fronts where fast moving material encounters slow moving gas. The Orion Nebula spans about 40 light years and is located about 1500 light years away in the same spiral arm of our Galaxy as the Sun. The Great Nebula in Orion can be found with the unaided eye just below and...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Driving to the Sun

    10/03/2020 3:06:33 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 28 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 3 Oct, 2020 | Image Credit: Solar Dynamics Observatory, NASA
    A follow on to yesterday's "Biking to the Moon". Explanation: How long would it take to drive to the Sun? Brittany age 7, and D.J. age 12, ponder this question over dinner one evening. James also age 7, suggests taking a really fast racing car while Christopher age 4, eagerly agrees. Jerry, a really old guy who is used to estimating driving time on family trips based on distance divided by speed, offers to do the numbers. "Let's see ... the Sun is 93 million miles away. If we drove 93 miles per hour the trip would only take us...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Biking to the Moon (Harvest Moon Edition)

    10/02/2020 5:06:13 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 25 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 2 Oct, 2020 | Image Credit & Copyright: Susan Snow
    Explanation: As you watched October's first Full Moon rise last night, the Full Moon closest to the northern autumnal equinox, you were probably asking yourself, "How long would it take to bike to the Moon?" Sure, Apollo 11 astronauts made the trip in 1969, from launch to Moon landing, in about 103 hours or 4.3 days. But the Moon is 400,000 kilometers away. This year, the top bike riders in planet Earth's well-known Tour de France race covered almost 3,500 kilometers in 21 stages after about 87 hours on the road. That gives an average speed of about 40 kilometers...