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Keyword: astronomy

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  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Space Shuttle on the Streets of Los Angeles

    10/22/2012 3:08:19 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | October 22, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Was that the space shuttle that just went by? Garnering attention that could make even a movie star blush, thousands of people watched in awe as a quintessential icon of the space age was towed through the streets of Los Angeles. After landing at LAX airport late last month, the shuttle Endeavour was carefully loaded onto rolling trailers and maneuvered down roads and across bridges to the California Science Center, 20 kilometers away. To many, there was a majesty to the voyage that was beyond description, inspiring people to line the LA streets and wait at windows and balconies...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Horsehead Nebula

    10/22/2012 3:05:53 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | October 21, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: One of the most identifiable nebulae in the sky, the Horsehead Nebula in Orion, is part of a large, dark, molecular cloud. Also known as Barnard 33, the unusual shape was first discovered on a photographic plate in the late 1800s. The red glow originates from hydrogen gas predominantly behind the nebula, ionized by the nearby bright star Sigma Orionis. The darkness of the Horsehead is caused mostly by thick dust, although the lower part of the Horsehead's neck casts a shadow to the left. Streams of gas leaving the nebula are funneled by a strong magnetic field. Bright...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Zodiacal Light and Milky Way

    10/21/2012 6:20:33 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | October 20, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Ghostly apparitions of two fundamental planes in planet Earth's sky span this October all-sky view. The scene was captured from a lakeside campsite under dark skies in northern Maine, USA. In it, the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy arcs above faint airglow along the horizon. Zodiacal light, a band of dust scattering sunlight along the solar system's ecliptic plane, stretches almost horizontally across the wide field and intersects the Milky way near a point marked by bright planet Jupiter. Right of Jupiter, past the Pleiades star cluster, is the brightening of the Zodiacal band known as the Gegenschein,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Merging NGC 2623

    10/19/2012 5:29:22 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 25 replies
    NASA ^ | October 19, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: NGC 2623 is really two galaxies that are becoming one. Seen to be in the final stages of a titanic galaxy merger, the pair lies some 300 million light-years distant toward the constellation Cancer. The violent encounter between two galaxies that may have been similar to the Milky Way has produced widespread star formation near a luminous core and along eye-catching tidal tails. Filled with dust, gas, and young blue star clusters, the opposing tidal tails extend well over 50,000 light-years from the merged nucleus. Likely triggered by the merger, accretion by a supermassive black hole drives activity within...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A View from Next Door

    10/18/2012 8:09:48 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 16 replies
    NASA ^ | October 18, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Located just next door, Alpha Centauri is the closest star system to the Sun. A view from our interstellar neighbor a mere 4.3 light-years away is shown in this illustration. The Sun is at the upper right, a bright star against the background of the Milky Way. The crescent in the foreground is an artist's rendering of a planet now reported orbiting Alpha Centauri B, making it the closest known exoplanet. Discovered by astronomer Xavier Dumusque et al. using the planet hunting HARPS instrument to measure minute shifts in the star's spectrum for more than four years, the planet...
  • Planet Found in Nearest Star System to Earth

    10/17/2012 4:46:35 PM PDT · by VanShuyten · 19 replies
    European astronomers have discovered a planet with about the mass of the Earth orbiting a star in the Alpha Centauri system — the nearest to Earth. It is also the lightest exoplanet ever discovered around a star like the Sun. The planet was detected using the HARPS instrument on the 3.6-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. The results will appear online in the journal Nature on 17 October 2012.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Aurora Over White Dome Geyser

    10/17/2012 3:36:39 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | October 17, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Sometimes both heaven and Earth erupt. Colorful aurorae erupted unexpectedly earlier this month, with green aurora appearing near the horizon and brilliant bands of red aurora blooming high overhead. A bright Moon lit the foreground of this picturesque scene, while familiar stars could be seen far in the distance. With planning, the careful astrophotographer shot this image mosaic in the field of White Dome Geyser in Yellowstone National Park in the western USA. Sure enough, just after midnight, White Dome erupted -- spraying a stream of water and vapor many meters into the air. Geyser water is heated to...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Spiral Nebula Surrounding Star R Sculptoris

    10/16/2012 2:34:08 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | October 16, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's happening around that star? An unusual spiral structure has been discovered around the Milky Way star R Sculptoris, a red giant star located about 1,500 light years away toward the constellation of the Sculptor (Sculptoris). The star was observed with the new Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the most powerful telescopic array observing near millimeter wavelengths, that part of the spectrum situated well beyond red light and between microwaves and radio waves. Data from ALMA observations was used to create a 3D visualization of the gas and dust immediately surrounding the star. A digital slice through this data...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Black Sun and Inverted Starfield

    10/15/2012 3:52:56 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | October 15, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Does this strange dark ball look somehow familiar? If so, that might be because it is our Sun. In the above image, a detailed solar view was captured originally in a very specific color of red light, then rendered in black and white, and then color inverted. Once complete, the resulting image was added to a starfield, then also color inverted. Visible in the above image of the Sun are long light filaments, dark active regions, prominences peaking around the edge, and a moving carpet of hot gas. The surface of our Sun has become a particularly busy place...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Hubble Extreme Deep Field

    10/14/2012 3:04:01 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 35 replies
    NASA ^ | October 14, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What did the first galaxies look like? To help answer this question, the Hubble Space Telescope has just finished taking the eXtreme Deep Field (XDF), the deepest image of the universe ever taken in visible light. Pictured above, the XDF shows a sampling of some of the oldest galaxies ever seen, galaxies that formed just after the dark ages, 13 billion years ago, when the universe was only a few percent of its present age. The Hubble Space Telescope's ACS camera and the infrared channel of the WFPC3 camera took the image. Combining efforts spread over 10 years, the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Galaxies, Stars, and Dust

    10/12/2012 9:40:32 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | October 13, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Spiky stars and spooky shapes abound in this deep cosmic skyscape. Its well-composed field of view covers about 2 Full Moons on the sky toward the constellation Pegasus. Of course the brighter stars show diffraction spikes, the commonly seen effect of internal supports in reflecting telescopes, and lie well within our own Milky Way galaxy. The faint but pervasive clouds of interstellar dust ride above the galactic plane and dimly reflect the Milky Way's combined starlight. Known as high latitude cirrus or integrated flux nebulae they are associated with molecular clouds. In this case, the diffuse cloud cataloged as...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Pan-STARRS and Nebulae

    10/12/2012 3:08:20 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | October 12, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A single image from the world's most powerful survey instrument captured this spectacular skyview. Looking toward Sagittarius, the scene spans nearly 3 degrees or six times the width of the Full Moon. At bottom, upper right, and lower left it covers the Lagoon Nebula (M8), the Trifid Nebula (M20), and NGC 6559, in the crowded, dusty starfields of the central Milky Way. The adopted color scheme shows dust reddened starlight in red hues and normally red emission from hydrogen atoms in green. Built and operated by the Pan-STARRS project, the instrument features a 1.4 gigapixel (billion pixel) digital camera...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Aurorae over Planet Earth

    10/11/2012 4:14:24 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | October 11, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: North America at night is easy to recognize in this view of our fair planet from orbit, acquired by the Suomi-NPP satellite on October 8. The spectacular waves of visible light emission rolling above the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario in the upper half of the frame are the Aurora Borealis or northern lights. Encircling the poles and extending to lower latitudes, impressive aurorae seen during the past few days are due to strong geomagnetic storms. The storms were triggered by a solar coronal mass ejection on October 4/5, impacting Earth's magnetosphere some three days later. The curtains...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Nauset Light Star Trails

    10/10/2012 6:01:53 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | October 10, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: In myth, Atlas holds up the heavens, but in this scene they seem to pivot around a lighthouse beacon. Photographed with a camera fixed to a tripod, the well-planned 30 minute exposure records star trails in the northern sky, reflecting the daily rotation of planet Earth. Hidden behind the top of the prominent Nauset Lighthouse on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA, the North Celestial Pole is at the center of all the star trail arcs. Making a complete circle, 360 degrees, in 24 hours, the star trail arcs cover 15 degrees each hour or 7.5 degrees in thirty minutes. Foreground...
  • Mystery Behind Supernova SN 1006 Solved?

    10/09/2012 3:49:42 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    Discovery News ^ | Monday, October 8, 2012 | Jennifer Ouellette
    Historical accounts from all over the world describe a spectacularly bright "guest star" in the night sky during the spring of 1006 -- what we now know as a supernova (SN 1006). Now astronomers think they have pinpointed the probable cause of that massive explosion, one thousand years later: a merging of two white dwarf stars. SN 1006 made quite a splash on its debut around May 1, 1006, in the constellation Lupus (the Wolf) just south of Scorpio. The critics raved! Monks in a Benedictine abbey in Switzerland marveled at the star's brightness, and commented on the variability of...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Simeis 147: Supernova Remnant

    10/09/2012 3:52:11 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | October 09, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: It's easy to get lost following the intricate filaments in this detailed mosaic image of faint supernova remnant Simeis 147 (S147). Also cataloged as Sh2-240, it covers nearly 3 degrees or 6 full moons on the sky. That's about 150 light-years at the stellar debris cloud's estimated distance of 3,000 light-years. Anchoring the frame at the right, bright star Elnath (Beta Tauri) is seen towards the boundary of the constellations Taurus and Auriga, almost exactly opposite the galactic center in planet Earth's sky. This sharp composite includes image data taken through a narrow-band filter to highlight emission from hydrogen...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Spherical Planetary Nebula Abell 39

    10/08/2012 8:17:39 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | October 08, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Ghostly in appearance, Abell 39 is a remarkably simple, spherical nebula about five light-years across. Well within our own Milky Way galaxy, the cosmic sphere is roughly 7,000 light-years distant toward the constellation Hercules. Abell 39 is a planetary nebula, formed as a once sun-like star's outer atmosphere was expelled over a period of thousands of years. Still visible, the nebula's central star is evolving into a hot white dwarf. Although faint, the nebula's simple geometry has proven to be a boon to astronomers exploring the chemical abundances and life cycles of stars. In this deep image recorded under...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Same Color Illusion

    10/06/2012 9:43:54 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 19 replies
    NASA ^ | October 07, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Are square A and B the same color? They are! To verify this, either run your cursor over the image or click here to see them connected. The above illusion, called the same color illusion, illustrates that purely human observations in science may be ambiguous or inaccurate. Even such a seemingly direct perception as relative color. Similar illusions exist on the sky, such as the size of the Moon near the horizon, or the apparent shapes of astronomical objects. The advent of automated, reproducible, measuring devices such as CCDs have made science in general and astronomy in particular less...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- At the Heart of Orion

    10/06/2012 1:07:39 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | October 06, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Near the center of this sharp cosmic portrait, at the heart of the Orion Nebula, are four hot, massive stars known as the Trapezium. Gathered within a region about 1.5 light-years in radius, they dominate the core of the dense Orion Nebula Star Cluster. Ultraviolet ionizing radiation from the Trapezium stars, mostly from the brightest star Theta 1 Orionis C powers the complex star forming region's entire visible glow. About three million years old, the Orion Nebula Cluster was even more compact in its younger years and a recent dynamical study indicates that runaway stellar collisions at an earlier...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Aurora and Fireball Over Norway

    10/05/2012 4:40:53 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | October 05, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's happening behind that mountain? A convergence of variable sky spectacles. One night in mid-September near Tromsø, Norway, high red aurora could be seen shimmering through lower green aurora in a way that created a striking and somewhat unusual violet glow. Suddenly, though, the sky flashed with the brightest fireball the astrophotographer had ever seen, as a small pebble from outer space violently crashed into the Earth's atmosphere. The glow illuminated the distant mountain peak known as Otertinden of the Lyngen Alps. The bright meteor, which coincidently disappeared behind the same mountain, was also reflected in the foreground Signalelva...