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Keyword: astronomy

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  • Newfound Comet Could Look Spectacular in 2013 ( Comet ISON )

    12/27/2012 6:32:20 AM PST · by Las Vegas Dave · 16 replies
    space.com ^ | 25 September 2012 | Joe Rao
    A newly discovered comet has the potential to put on a dazzling celestial display late next year, when it will be so bright you may be able to see it briefly in the daytime sky. The discovery of the object named Comet ISON was announced Monday (Sept. 24) by Russians Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok, who detected it in photographs taken three days earlier using a 15.7-inch (0.4-meter) reflecting telescope of the International Scientific Optical Network (ISON), near Kislovodsk. The new comet is officially known as C/2012 S1. When first sighted, Comet ISON was 625 million miles (1 billion kilometers)...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Makemake of the Outer Solar System

    12/26/2012 3:49:45 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | December 26, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Makemake is one of the largest objects known in the outer Solar System. Pronounced MAH-kay MAH-kay, this Kuiper belt object is about two-thirds the size of Pluto, orbits the Sun only slightly further out than Pluto, and appears only slightly dimmer than Pluto. Makemake, however, has an orbit much more tilted to the ecliptic plane of the planets than Pluto. Discovered by a team led by Mike Brown (Caltech) in 2005, the outer Solar System orb was officially named Makemake for the creator of humanity in the Rapa Nui mythology of Easter Island. In 2008, Makemake was classified as...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Yosemite Winter Night

    12/25/2012 8:30:36 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 17 replies
    NASA ^ | December 25, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: In this evocative night skyscape a starry band of the Milky Way climbs over Yosemite Valley, Sierra Nevada Range, planet Earth. Jupiter is the brightest celestial beacon on the wintry scene, though. Standing nearly opposite the Sun in the constellation Taurus, the wandering planet joins yellowish Aldebaran and the Hyades star cluster. Below, Orion always comes up sideways over a fence of mountains. And from there the twin stars of Gemini rise just across the Milky Way. As this peaceful winter night began, they followed Auriga the charioteer, its alpha star Capella near the top of the frame.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Hyades for the Holidays

    12/24/2012 3:46:57 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | December 24, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Recognized since antiquity and depicted on the shield of Achilles according to Homer, stars of the Hyades cluster form the head of the constellation Taurus the Bull. Their general V-shape is anchored by Aldebaran, the eye of the Bull and by far the constellation's brightest star. Yellowish in appearance, red giant Aldebaran is not a Hyades cluster member, though. Modern astronomy puts the Hyades cluster 151 light-years away making it the nearest established open star cluster, while Aldebaran lies at less than half that distance, along the same line-of-sight. Along with colorful Hyades stars, this stellar holiday portrait locates...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Comet Hale-Bopp Over Val Parola Pass

    12/22/2012 9:30:25 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | December 23, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Comet Hale-Bopp, the Great Comet of 1997, became much brighter than any surrounding stars. It was seen even over bright city lights. Away from city lights, however, it put on quite a spectacular show. Here Comet Hale-Bopp was photographed above Val Parola Pass in the Dolomite mountains surrounding Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy. Comet Hale-Bopp's blue ion tail, consisting of ions from the comet's nucleus, is pushed out by the solar wind. The white dust tail is composed of larger particles of dust from the nucleus driven by the pressure of sunlight, that orbit behind the comet. Observations showed that Comet...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Saturn at Night

    12/22/2012 7:09:21 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 15 replies
    NASA ^ | December 22, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Splendors seldom seen are revealed in this glorious picture from Saturn's shadow. Imaged by Cassini on October 17, 2012 during its 174th orbit, the ringed planet's night side is viewed from a perspective 19 degrees below the ring plane at a distance of about 800,000 kilometers with the Sun almost directly behind the planet. A 60 frame mosaic, images made with infrared, red, and violet filters were combined to create an enhanced, false-color view. Strongly backlit, the rings look bright away from the planet but dark in silhouette against the gas giant. Above center, they reflect a faint, eerie...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Orion over El Castillo

    12/21/2012 4:02:17 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 11 replies
    NASA ^ | December 21, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Welcome to the December solstice, a day the world does not end ... even according to the Mayan Calendar. To celebrate, consider this dramatic picture of Orion rising over El Castillo, the central pyramid at Chichén Itzá, one of the great Mayan centers on the Yucatán peninsula. Also known as the Temple of Kukulkan it stands 30 meters tall and 55 meters wide at the base. Built up as a series of square terraces by the pre-Columbian civilization between the 9th and 12th century, the structure can be used as a calendar and is noted for astronomical alignments. In...
  • Several Nights Only- All Seven Planets Visible in One Night

    12/20/2012 8:30:00 AM PST · by virgil283 · 52 replies
    "For those of you with even a small refractor telescope, the next few nights present a once in a blue moon opportunity to spot all seven planets in the same evening. Five of them are visible without even binoculars, while the other two will require you to reference the charts below. While Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn will "move" faster in the sky, Uranus and Neptune will stay relatively fixed in their positions in Pisces and Aquarius for some time. The closest five planets all yield some features through a small amateur telescope, the largest, Saturn and Jupiter, even...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M33: Triangulum Galaxy

    12/19/2012 9:29:54 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | December 20, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The small, northern constellation Triangulum harbors this magnificent face-on spiral galaxy, M33. Its popular names include the Pinwheel Galaxy or just the Triangulum Galaxy. M33 is over 50,000 light-years in diameter, third largest in the Local Group of galaxies after the Andromeda Galaxy (M31), and our own Milky Way. About 3 million light-years from the Milky Way, M33 is itself thought to be a satellite of the Andromeda Galaxy and astronomers in these two galaxies would likely have spectacular views of each other's grand spiral star systems. As for the view from planet Earth, this sharp composite image, a...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 5189: An Unusually Complex Planetary Nebula

    12/19/2012 3:46:15 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | December 19, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Why is this nebula so complex? When a star like our Sun is dying, it will cast off its outer layers, usually into a simple overall shape. Sometimes this shape is a sphere, sometimes a double lobe, and sometimes a ring or a helix. In the case of planetary nebula NGC 5189, however, no such simple structure has emerged. To help find out why, the Earth-orbiting Hubble Space Telescope recently observed NGC 5189 in great detail. Previous findings indicated the existence of multiple epochs of material outflow, including a recent one that created a bright but distorted torus running...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Sun Pillar Over Sweden

    12/18/2012 7:03:07 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 19 replies
    NASA ^ | December 18, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Have you ever seen a sun pillar? When the air is cold and the Sun is rising or setting, falling ice crystals can reflect sunlight and create an unusual column of light. Ice sometimes forms flat, six-sided shaped crystals as it falls from high-level clouds. Air resistance causes these crystals to lie nearly flat much of the time as they flutter to the ground. Sunlight reflects off crystals that are properly aligned, creating the sun-pillar effect. In the above picture taken last week, a sun-pillar reflects light from a Sun setting over Östersund, Sweden.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 922: Collisional Ring Galaxy

    12/18/2012 6:58:33 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | December 17, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Why does this galaxy have so many big black holes? No one is sure. What is sure is that NGC 922 is a ring galaxy created by the collision of a large and small galaxy about 300 million years ago. Like a rock thrown into a pond, the ancient collision sent ripples of high density gas out from the impact point near the center that partly condensed into stars. Pictured above is NGC 922 with its beautifully complex ring along the left side, as imaged recently by the Hubble Space Telescope. Observations of NGC 922 with the Chandra X-ray...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- MWC 922: The Red Square Nebula

    12/16/2012 1:01:56 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | December 16, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What could cause a nebula to appear square? No one is quite sure. The hot star system known as MWC 922, however, appears to be embedded in a nebula with just such a shape. The above image combines infrared exposures from the Hale Telescope on Mt. Palomar in California, and the Keck-2 Telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii. A leading progenitor hypothesis for the square nebula is that the central star or stars somehow expelled cones of gas during a late developmental stage. For MWC 922, these cones happen to incorporate nearly right angles and be visible from the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- When Gemini Sends Stars to Paranal

    12/14/2012 9:40:15 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 1 replies
    NASA ^ | December 15, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: From a radiant point in the constellation of the Twins, the annual Geminid meteor shower rained down on planet Earth this week. Recorded near the shower's peak in the early hours of December 14, this skyscape captures Gemini's lovely shooting stars in a careful composite of 30 exposures, each 20 seconds long, from the dark of the Chilean Atacama Desert over ESO's Paranal Observatory. In the foreground Paranal's four Very Large Telescopes, four Auxillary Telescopes, and the VLT Survey telescope are all open and observing. The skies above are shared with bright Jupiter (left), Orion, (top left), and the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Umbra World

    12/14/2012 9:35:39 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 11 replies
    NASA ^ | December 14, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: On the morning of November 14, sky gazers from around the world gathered on this little planet to stand in the dark umbral shadow of the Moon. Of course, the Moon cast the shadow during last month's total solar eclipse, and the little planet is actually a beach on Green Island off the coast of Queensland, Australia. The picture itself, the first little planet projection of a total solar eclipse, is a digitally warped and stitched wrap-around of 8 images covering 360x180 degrees. To make it, the intrepid photographer had to remember to shoot both toward and away(!) from...
  • Geminids Rain Down Shooting Stars

    12/14/2012 5:24:29 AM PST · by Mozilla · 12 replies
    Slate ^ | 12/14/12 | Phil Plait
    As I wrote a couple of days ago, the annual Geminid meteor shower peaked last night, raining down a magnificent display of shooting stars. Did you go out and watch? A lot of photographers did. One was John Chumack, an accomplished astrophotographer, who captured this amazing shot of three meteors: Chumack was in Yellow Springs, Ohio on the evening of the 12th (the day before the peak!) using a simple DSLR camera and a fisheye lens. This was a 25-second exposure, enough to see Orion, Jupiter (the bright “star” above Orion), Gemini—the direction from which the eponymous meteors appear to...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Apollo 17: A Stereo View from Lunar Orbit [3D]

    12/13/2012 8:55:00 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | December 13, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Get out your red/blue glasses and check out this awesome stereo view of another world. The scene was recorded by Apollo 17 mission commander Eugene Cernan on December 11, 1972, one orbit before descending to land on the Moon. The stereo anaglyph was assembled from two photographs (AS17-147-22465, AS17-147-22466) captured from his vantage point on board the Lunar Module Challenger as he and Dr. Harrison Schmitt flew over Apollo 17's landing site in the Taurus-Littrow Valley. The broad, sunlit face of the mountain dubbed South Massif rises near the center of the frame, above the dark floor of Taurus-Littrow...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Milky Way Over Quiver Tree Forest

    12/11/2012 9:40:55 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | December 12, 2012 | (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...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 604: Giant Stellar Nursery

    12/11/2012 4:15:16 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | December 11, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Stars are sometimes born in the midst of chaos. About 3 million years ago in the nearby galaxy M33, a large cloud of gas spawned dense internal knots which gravitationally collapsed to form stars. NGC 604 was so large, however, it could form enough stars to make a globular cluster. Many young stars from this cloud are visible in the above image from the Hubble Space Telescope, along with what is left of the initial gas cloud. Some stars were so massive they have already evolved and exploded in a supernova. The brightest stars that are left emit light...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Time-Lapse: A Total Solar Eclipse

    12/10/2012 7:17:29 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | December 10, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Have you ever experienced a total eclipse of the Sun? The above time-lapse movie depicts such an eclipse in dramatic detail as visible from Australia last month. As the video begins, a slight dimming of the Sun and the surrounding Earth is barely perceptible. Suddenly, as the Moon moves to cover nearly the entire Sun, darkness sweeps in from the left -- the fully blocked part of the Sun. At totality, only the bright solar corona extends past the edges of the Moon, and darkness surrounds you. Distant horizons are still bright, though, as they are not in the...