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Keyword: astronomy

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  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- IC 4592: The Blue Horsehead Reflection Nebula

    04/02/2013 5:44:31 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 11 replies
    NASA ^ | April 02, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Do you see the horse's head? What you are seeing is not the famous Horsehead nebula toward Orion but rather a fainter nebula that only takes on a familiar form with deeper imaging. The main part of the above imaged molecular cloud complex is a reflection nebula cataloged as IC 4592. Reflection nebulas are actually made up of very fine dust that normally appears dark but can look quite blue when reflecting the light of energetic nearby stars. In this case, the source of much of the reflected light is a star at the eye of the horse. That...
  • Pope plans stargazing show at St Peter's Basilica

    04/01/2013 11:16:03 AM PDT · by CMB_polarization · 6 replies
    physicsworld.com ^ | Apr 1, 2013 | Ken Hartly-Wright
    The new Pope is considering letting astronomers use the dome of St Peter's Basilica in Vatican City as a makeshift planetarium, in a bold attempt to heal the long-standing rift between science and religion. Pope Francis has already given his blessing to the plan, which would see the constellations being projected onto the dome's interior as they would have appeared around the time of Jesus's death. The Pope's interest in the cosmos is said to have been sparked after he was shown recent images of the cosmic microwave background – dubbed the echo of the Big Bang – obtained by...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Moon or Frying Pan?

    04/01/2013 4:01:55 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 14 replies
    NASA ^ | April 01, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Which is which? Of the two images shown above, one is a moon in our Solar System, while the other is the bottom of frying pan. We are not making this up -- can you tell a pan from a planetoid? Think you got it? To find the answer click here. OK, but there are more! That's right: you, your family, friends, neighbors, and local elected officials can all play "Moon or Frying Pan" with these other image pairs, too. As everyone knows, the fundamental underlying reason why moons and frying pans appear similar is -- OK, we at...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Flying Over the Earth at Night

    03/31/2013 5:50:49 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 18 replies
    NASA ^ | March 31, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Many wonders are visible when flying over the Earth at night. A compilation of such visual spectacles was captured recently from the International Space Station (ISS) and set to rousing music. Passing below are white clouds, orange city lights, lightning flashes in thunderstorms, and dark blue seas. On the horizon is the golden haze of Earth's thin atmosphere, frequently decorated by dancing auroras as the video progresses. The green parts of auroras typically remain below the space station, but the station flies right through the red and purple auroral peaks. Solar panels of the ISS are seen around the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Broad Tail of PanSTARRS

    03/30/2013 7:02:05 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | March 30, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: For northern hemisphere skygazers, fading Comet PanSTARRS (C/2011 L4) still hangs above the western horzion, after sunset but before moonrise in the coming days. Its perspective from planet Earth continues to reveal the comet's broad dust tail. This long exposure tracking the comet, made on March 21, has been enhanced to show remarkable, subtle striations in PanSTARRS' tail. Place your cursor over the image (or click here) to show an overlay of the dust tail with a model network of synchrones and syndynes. Synchrones (long dashed lines) trace the location of dust grains released from the comet nucleus at...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Ringside with Rhea

    03/28/2013 9:19:03 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | March 29, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Orbiting in the plane of Saturn's rings, Saturnian moons have a perpetual ringside view of the gas giant planet. Of course, while passing near the ring plane the Cassini spacecraft also shares their stunning perspective. The thin rings themselves slice across the middle of this Cassini snapshot from April 2011. The scene looks toward the dark night side of Saturn, in the frame at the left, and the still sunlit side of the rings from just above the ringplane. Centered, over 1,500 kilometers across, Rhea is Saturn's second largest moon and is closest to the spacecraft, around 2.2 million...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Unraveling NGC 3169

    03/28/2013 8:09:35 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | March 28, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Bright spiral galaxy NGC 3169 appears to be unraveling in this cosmic scene, played out some 70 million light-years away just below bright star Regulus toward the faint constellation Sextans. Its beautiful spiral arms are distorted into sweeping tidal tails as NGC 3169 (left) and neighboring NGC 3166 interact gravitationally, a common fate even for bright galaxies in the local universe. In fact, drawn out stellar arcs and plumes, indications of gravitational interactions, seem rampant in the deep and colorful galaxy group photo. The picture spans 20 arc minutes, or about 400,000 light-years at the group's estimated distance, and...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Horizon Rainbow in Paris

    03/27/2013 5:57:33 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | March 27, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Why is this horizon so colorful? Because, opposite the Sun, it is raining. What is pictured above is actually just a common rainbow. It's uncommon appearance is caused by the Sun being unusually high in the sky during the rainbow's creation. Since every rainbow's center must be exactly opposite the Sun, a high Sun reflecting off of a distant rain will produce a low rainbow where only the very top is visible -- because the rest of the rainbow is below the horizon. Furthermore, no two observers can see exactly the same rainbow -- every person finds themselves exactly...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Waterfalls, Auroras, Comet: Iceland

    03/26/2013 2:31:45 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 20 replies
    NASA ^ | March 26, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: If not distracted by the picturesque landscape, waterfalls, stars, and auroras, you might be able to find Comet PANSTARRS. The above image, capturing multiple terrestrial and celestial wonders in a single shot, was taken last week in southwest Iceland. The popular Gullfoss waterfalls are pictured under brilliant auroras that followed a M1-class solar flare and powerful Coronal Mass Ejection two days earlier. Give up on locating the comet? Comet PANSTARRS is faintly visible as a light blip just above the horizon toward the left of the above image. The comet remains more directly visible to northern observers with binoculars...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Planck Maps the Microwave Background

    03/25/2013 5:00:35 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 13 replies
    NASA ^ | March 25, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What is our universe made of? To help find out, ESA launched the Planck satellite to map, in unprecedented detail, slight temperature differences on the oldest surface known -- the background sky left billions of years ago when our universe first became transparent to light. Visible in all directions, this cosmic microwave background is a complex tapestry that could only show the hot and cold patterns observed were the universe to be composed of specific types of energy that evolved in specific ways. The results, reported last week, confirm again that most of our universe is mostly composed of...
  • Did I just see a star go supernova and wink out???

    03/23/2013 8:36:32 PM PDT · by CapnJack · 105 replies
    03/23/2013 | vanity
    Did anybody else here happen to be looking into the north sky and see a star get really bright and then just wink out??? I was standing on my back deck having a cigar and looking up at the north by northeast sky and was looking at a patch of sky (the night sky is very clear tonight here in NH) and saw a star twinkle for a second or two, then it got really bright, brighter than any other star out tonight. Then it just winked out and was gone. If you looked up and find the Big Dipper...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Dust Pillar of the Carina Nebula

    03/23/2013 10:21:56 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 17 replies
    NASA ^ | March 24, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Inside the head of this interstellar monster is a star that is slowly destroying it. The monster, actually an inanimate pillar of gas and dust, measures over a light year in length. The star, not itself visible through the opaque dust, is bursting out partly by ejecting energetic beams of particles. Similar epic battles are being waged all over the star-forming Carina Nebula (NGC 3372). The stars will win in the end, destroying their pillars of creation over the next 100,000 years, and resulting in a new open cluster of stars. The pink dots are newly formed stars that...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Infrared Portrait of the Large Magellanic Cloud

    03/22/2013 9:40:22 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | March 23, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Cosmic dust clouds ripple across this infrared portrait of our Milky Way's satellite galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud. In fact, the remarkable composite image from the Herschel Space Observatory and the Spitzer Space Telescope show that dust clouds fill this neighboring dwarf galaxy, much like dust along the plane of the Milky Way itself. The dust temperatures tend to trace star forming activity. Spitzer data in blue hues indicate warm dust heated by young stars. Herschel's instruments contributed the image data shown in red and green, revealing dust emission from cooler and intermediate regions where star formation is just...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Comet Castle

    03/22/2013 7:29:44 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | March 22, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The broad dust tail of Comet PanSTARRS (C/2011 L4) has become a familiar sight for many northern hemisphere comet watchers, as the comet fades but rises higher above the western horizon after sunset. This view of the popular comet may seem a little fantastic, though. Sweeping away from the Sun and trailing behind the comet's orbit, the curving dust tail also seems to stream away from a shining mountaintop castle. Comet Castle might be an appropriate name in this scene, but its traditional name is Castle Hohenzollern. Taken on March 15 with an extreme telephoto lens, the Comet Castle...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 2736: The Pencil Nebula

    03/21/2013 3:48:41 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | March 21, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Moving left to right near the center of this beautifully detailed color composite, the thin, bright, braided filaments are actually long ripples in a sheet of glowing gas seen almost edge on. The interstellar shock wave plows through space at over 500,000 kilometers per hour. Cataloged as NGC 2736, its elongated appearance suggests its popular name, the Pencil Nebula. The Pencil Nebula is about 5 light-years long and 800 light-years away, but represents only a small part of the Vela supernova remnant. The Vela remnant itself is around 100 light-years in diameter, the expanding debris cloud of a star...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M42: Inside the Orion Nebula

    03/20/2013 3:37:27 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | March 20, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The Great Nebula in Orion, an immense, nearby starbirth region, is probably the most famous of all astronomical nebulas. Here, glowing gas surrounds hot young stars at the edge of an immense interstellar molecular cloud only 1500 light-years away. In the above deep image in assigned colors highlighted by emission in oxygen and hydrogen, wisps and sheets of dust and gas are particularly evident. The Great Nebula in Orion can be found with the unaided eye near the easily identifiable belt of three stars in the popular constellation Orion. In addition to housing a bright open cluster of stars...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- GRAIL Maps the Moon's Gravity

    03/19/2013 2:55:46 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 14 replies
    NASA ^ | March 19, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: How did the Moon form? To help find out, NASA launched the twin Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) satellites in 2011 to orbit and map the Moon's surface gravity in unprecedented detail. Pictured above is a resulting GRAIL gravity map, with regions of slightly lighter gravity shown in blue and regions of slightly stronger gravity shown in red. Analysis of GRAIL data indicates that the moon has an unexpectedly shallow crust than runs about 40 kilometers deep, and an overall composition similar to the Earth. Although other surprising structures have been discovered that will continue to be investigated,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Comet PANSTARRS Just After Sunset

    03/18/2013 7:13:19 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | March 18, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Have you seen the comet? As Comet PANSTARRS fades, careful observers -- even with unaided eyes -- should still be able to find the shedding ice ball on the western horizon just after sunset. Pictured above, Comet PANSTARRS (C/2011 L4) was pointed out from a hilltop last week on First Encounter Beach in Massachusetts, USA. The comet was discovered by -- and is named for -- the Pan-STARRS astronomical sky survey that discovered it. As the comet now recedes from both the Earth and the Sun, it will remain visible further into the night, although binoculars or a small...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- PanSTARRS from France

    03/15/2013 10:14:06 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | March 16, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Still looking for that comet? Comet PanSTARRS (C/2011 L4) naked-eye appearance in the northern hemisphere is described by successful comet spotters as a dim star with faint a tail. If you want to catch it the next few days could be your best bet. Start looking low and almost due west about 45 minutes after sunset. Of course, clear skies and a pair of binoculars should help a lot. Sky photographer Jean-Luc Dauvergne found suitable weather and western horizon for this comet and crescent Moon portrait after a road trip on March 13. Seeing PanSTARRS for the first time,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- CME, Comet and Planet Earth

    03/15/2013 6:26:50 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 13 replies
    NASA ^ | March 15, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: After appearing in a popular photo opportunity with a young crescent Moon near sunset, naked-eye Comet PanSTARRS continues to rise in northern hemisphere skies. But this remarkable interplanetary perspective from March 13, finds the comet posing with our fair planet itself -- as seen from the STEREO Behind spacecraft. Following in Earth's orbit, the spacecraft is nearly opposite the Sun and looks back toward the comet and Earth, with the Sun just off the left side of the frame. At the left an enormous coronal mass ejection (CME) is erupting from a solar active region. Of course, CME, comet,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Clouds, Comet and Crescent Moon

    03/14/2013 7:59:46 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | March 14, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: In silhouette against the colorful evening twilight, clouds part for this much anticipated magic moment. The scene captures naked-eye Comet PanSTARRS peeking into northern hemisphere skies on March 12. The comet stands over the western horizon after sunset, joined by the thin, flattened crescent of a day old Moon. Posing for its own beauty shot, the subtly lit dome of the 4.2 meter William Herschel Telescope is perched above cloud banks on the Canary Island of La Palma. While PanSTARRS has not quite developed into the spectacular comet once hoped for, it is still growing easier to see in...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 6751: The Glowing Eye Nebula

    03/13/2013 4:35:27 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 15 replies
    NASA ^ | March 13, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Planetary nebulae can look simple, round, and planet-like in small telescopes. But images from the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope have become well known for showing these fluorescent gas shrouds of dying Sun-like stars to possess a staggering variety of detailed symmetries and shapes. This composite color Hubble image of NGC 6751, the Glowing Eye Nebula, is a beautiful example of a classic planetary nebula with complex features. It was selected in April of 2000 to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Hubble in orbit, but was reprocessed recently by an amateur as part of the Hubble Legacy program. Winds and...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Spin up of a Supermassive Black Hole

    03/12/2013 7:07:02 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 24 replies
    NASA ^ | March 12, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: How fast can a black hole spin? If any object made of regular matter spins too fast -- it breaks apart. But a black hole might not be able to break apart -- and its maximum spin rate is really unknown. Theorists usually model rapidly rotating black holes with the Kerr solution to Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, which predicts several amazing and unusual things. Perhaps its most easily testable prediction, though, is that matter entering a maximally rotating black hole should be last seen orbiting at near the speed of light, as seen from far away. This prediction...
  • Vanity: Looking for First Telescope/Astronomical Binoculars (Under $200)

    03/11/2013 10:23:47 AM PDT · by C19fan · 26 replies
    Vanity | March 11, 2013 | Me
    I am looking at buying my first astronomical instrument. I have a budget of under $150. I was thinking of these two as possibilities: 1: Celestron SkyMaster 20x80 Binoculars2: Orion SkyScanner 100mm TableTop Reflector Telescope Any recommendations would be appreciated. Thanks.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Sakurajima Volcano with Lightning

    03/11/2013 4:17:46 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | March 11, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Why does a volcanic eruption sometimes create lightning? Pictured above, the Sakurajima volcano in southern Japan was caught erupting in early January. Magma bubbles so hot they glow shoot away as liquid rock bursts through the Earth's surface from below. The above image is particularly notable, however, for the lightning bolts caught near the volcano's summit. Why lightning occurs even in common thunderstorms remains a topic of research, and the cause of volcanic lightning is even less clear. Surely, lightning bolts help quench areas of opposite but separated electric charges. One hypothesis holds that catapulting magma bubbles or volcanic...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Milky Way Panorama from Mauna Kea

    03/10/2013 4:03:35 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 14 replies
    NASA ^ | March 10, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Aloha and welcome to a breathtaking skyscape. The dreamlike panoramic view looks out from the 4,200 meter volcanic summit of Mauna Kea, Hawai'i, across a layer of clouds toward a starry night sky and the rising Milky Way. Anchoring the scene on the far left is the dome of the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT), with north star Polaris shining beyond the dome to the right. Farther right, headed by bright star Deneb, the Northern Cross asterism is embedded along the plane of the Milky Way as it peeks above the horizon. Both Northern Cross and brilliant white Vega hang over...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- PanSTARRS over Parkes

    03/09/2013 5:22:59 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 17 replies
    NASA ^ | March 09, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Sweeping quickly through southern skies on March 5, Comet PanSTARRS (C/2011 L4) follows the Sun toward the western horizon in this twilight scene. In the foreground is Australia's CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope, a 64 meter wide steerable dish that is no stranger to the space age exploration of comets. In March of 1986 the Parkes dish tracked ESA's Giotto spacecraft as it flew by Comet Halley and received the first ever closeup images of Halley's nucleus. At naked-eye visibility, Comet PanSTARRS made its closest approach to planet Earth on March 5. Its closest approach to the Sun will be...
  • The Calm Before The Solar Storm? NASA Warns "Something Unexpected Is Happening To The Sun'"

    03/08/2013 3:49:49 PM PST · by Biggirl · 88 replies
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/ ^ | March 8, 2013 | Mark Prigg
    'Something unexpected' is happening on the Sun, Nasa has warned. This year was supposed to be the year of 'solar maximum,' the peak of the 11-year sunspot cycle. But as this image reveals, solar activity is relatively low.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Looking Through Abell 68

    03/08/2013 2:45:07 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | March 08, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Want to use a cluster of galaxies as a telescope? It's easier than you might think as distant galaxy clusters naturally act as strong gravitional lenses. In accordance with Einstein's theory of general relativity, the cluster gravitational mass, dominated by dark matter, bends light and creates magnified, distorted images of even more distant background galaxies. This sharp infrared Hubble image illustrates the case for galaxy cluster Abell 68 as a gravitational telescope, explored by amateur astronomer Nick Rose during the ESA-Hubble Hidden Treasures image processing competition. Putting your cursor over the picture will label highlights in the scene. Labels...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Thor's Helmet

    03/07/2013 7:10:52 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 18 replies
    NASA ^ | March 07, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This helmet-shaped cosmic cloud with wing-like appendages is popularly called Thor's Helmet. Heroically sized even for a Norse god, Thor's Helmet is about 30 light-years across. In fact, the helmet is actually more like an interstellar bubble, blown as a fast wind from the bright, massive star near the bubble's center sweeps through a surrounding molecular cloud. Known as a Wolf-Rayet star, the central star is an extremely hot giant thought to be in a brief, pre-supernova stage of evolution. Cataloged as NGC 2359, the nebula is located about 15,000 light-years away in the constellation Canis Major. The sharp...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Tardigrade in Moss

    03/06/2013 4:58:16 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 31 replies
    NASA ^ | March 06, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Is this an alien? Probably not, but of all the animals on Earth, the tardigrade might be the best candidate. That's because tardigrades are known to be able to go for decades without food or water, to survive temperatures from near absolute zero to well above the boiling point of water, to survive pressures from near zero to well above that on ocean floors, and to survive direct exposure to dangerous radiations. The far-ranging survivability of these extremophiles was tested in 2011 outside an orbiting space shuttle. Tardigrades are so durable partly because they can repair their own DNA...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Comets Lemmon and PanSTARRS Peaking

    03/05/2013 4:41:44 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | March 05, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Two impressive comets will both reach their peak brightness during the next two weeks. Taking advantage of a rare imaging opportunity, both of these comets were captured in the sky together last week over the Atacama desert in South America. Comet C/2012 F6 (Lemmon), visible on the upper left of the above image, is sporting a long tail dominated by glowing green ions. Comet C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS), visible near the horizon on the lower right, is showing a bright tail dominated by dust reflecting sunlight. The tails of both comets point approximately toward the recently set Sun. Comet Lemmon...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- IC 1805: The Heart Nebula

    03/04/2013 7:47:15 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | March 04, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Sprawling across almost 200 light-years, emission nebula IC 1805 is a mix of glowing interstellar gas and dark dust clouds. Derived from its Valentine's-Day-approved shape, its nickname is the Heart Nebula. About 7,500 light-years away in the Perseus spiral arm of our galaxy, stars were born in IC 1805. In fact, near the cosmic heart's center are the massive hot stars of a newborn star cluster also known as Melotte 15, about 1.5 million years young. A little ironically, the Heart Nebula is located in the constellation of the mythical Queen of Aethiopia (Cassiopeia). This deep view of the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Grand Canyon Star Trails

    03/02/2013 10:25:49 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | March 03, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: One of the natural wonders of planet Earth, the Grand Canyon in the American southwest stretches across this early evening skyscape. The digitally stacked sequence reveals the canyon's layers of sedimentary rock in bright moonlight. Exposed sedimentary rock layers range in age from about 200 million to 2 billion years old, a window to history on a geological timescale. A recent study has found evidence that the canyon itself may have been carved by erosion as much as 70 million years ago. With the camera fixed to a tripod while Earth rotates, each star above carves a graceful arc...
  • Best photos of the Universe, 2012

    03/02/2013 9:21:12 AM PST · by Ernest_at_the_Beach · 18 replies
    technewspedia.com ^ | Jan 1, 2013 | Michael Taylor
    Best photos of the Universe, 2012 Phil Plait, American astronomer and Science writer-is responsible for the interesting blog about the latest news in astronomy and Space ” Bad Astronomy “(which this year moved to Slate.com), and also led the Discovery Channel program Bad Universe whose episode about asteroids was indispensable to our special article on the destruction of Earth . As 2012 ends, Plait made a huge article in your blog with the most beautiful images related to astronomy that have taken this year. It is clear that the article includes Photographs of events ‘land’ as northern lights or even...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Miass River Sunrise

    03/01/2013 9:21:37 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | March 02, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Each day on planet Earth can have a serene beginning at sunrise as the sky gently grows bright over a golden eastern horizon. This sunrise panorama seems to show such a moment on the winter morning of February 15. In the mist, a calm, mirror-like stretch of the Miass River flows through the foreground along a frosty landscape near Chelyabinsk, Russia. But the long cloud wafting through the blue sky above is the evolving persistent train of the Chelyabinsk Meteor. The vapor trail was left by the space rock that exploded over the city only 18 minutes earlier, causing...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Colors of Mercury

    03/01/2013 9:20:56 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | March 01, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The colors of the solar system's innermost planet are enhanced in this tantalizing view, based on global image data from the Mercury-orbiting MESSENGER spacecraft. Human eyes would not discern the clear color differences but they are real none the less, indicating distinct chemical, mineralogical, and physical regions across the cratered surface. Notable at the upper right, Mercury's large, circular, tan colored feature known as the Caloris basin was created by an impacting comet or asteroid during the solar system's early years. The ancient basin was subsequently flooded with lava from volcanic activity, analogous to the formation of the lunar...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Snow Moon for a Snowy Planet

    02/28/2013 3:41:27 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | February 28, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The alarmingly tall inhabitants of this small, snowy planet cast long shadows in bright moonlight. Of course, the snowy planet is actually planet Earth and the wide-angle mosaic, shown as a little planet projection, was recorded on February 25 during the long northern night of the Full Snow Moon. The second brightest celestial beacon is Jupiter, on the right above the little planet's horizon. Lights near Östersund, Sweden glow along the horizon, surrounding the snow covered lake Storsjön. The photographer reports that the journey out onto the frozen lake by sled to capture the evocative Full Snow Moon scene...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Asperatus Clouds Over New Zealand

    02/27/2013 4:08:27 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 13 replies
    NASA ^ | February 27, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What kind of clouds are these? Although their cause is presently unknown, such unusual atmospheric structures, as menacing as they might seem, do not appear to be harbingers of meteorological doom. Known informally as Undulatus asperatus clouds, they can be stunning in appearance, unusual in occurrence, are relatively unstudied, and have even been suggested as a new type of cloud. Whereas most low cloud decks are flat bottomed, asperatus clouds appear to have significant vertical structure underneath. Speculation therefore holds that asperatus clouds might be related to lenticular clouds that form near mountains, or mammatus clouds associated with thunderstorms,...
  • Where exactly did the Russian meteor come from?

    02/26/2013 4:19:06 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 63 replies
    thewee.comk ^ | 4:22pm EST | Chris Gayomali |
    Poring over crowd-sourced footage, researchers Jorge Zuluaga and Ignacio Ferrin from the University of Antioquia in Medellin, Colombia, were able to use "simple trigonometry to calculate the height, speed, and position of the rock as it fell to Earth," says BBC News. More importantly, the duo was able to find out where Russia's most famous meteor was likely born. Using astronomy software developed by the U.S. Naval Observatory, Zuluaga and Ferrin gathered enough data to trace the meteoroid's origins in outer space. The information included the meteor's relative angle to the horizon, the shadows it cast, and video timestamps of...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Coronal Rain on the Sun

    02/26/2013 4:02:25 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | February 26, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Does it rain on the Sun? Yes, although what falls is not water but extremely hot plasma. An example occurred in mid-July 2012 after an eruption on the Sun that produced both a Coronal Mass Ejection and a moderate solar flare. What was more unusual, however, was what happened next. Plasma in the nearby solar corona was imaged cooling and falling back, a phenomenon known as coronal rain. Because they are electrically charged, electrons, protons, and ions in the rain were gracefully channeled along existing magnetic loops near the Sun's surface, making the scene appear as a surreal three-dimensional...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Fly Me to the Moons

    02/25/2013 8:24:40 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | February 25, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Sometimes the Moon is a busy direction. Last week, for example, our very Moon passed in front of the planet Jupiter. While capturing this unusual spectacle from New South Wales, Australia, a quick-thinking astrophotographer realized that a nearby plane might itself pass in front of the Moon, and so quickly reset his camera to take a continuous series of short duration shots. As hoped, for a brief instant, that airplane, the Moon, and Jupiter were all visible in a single exposure, which is shown above. But the project was not complete -- a longer exposure was then taken to...
  • Hint of 150 MHz radio emission from the Neptune-mass extrasolar transiting planet HAT-P-11b

    02/25/2013 10:34:07 AM PST · by Red Badger · 57 replies
    Next Big Future ^ | 2/24/2013 | Brian Wang
    ince the radio-frequency emission from planets is expected to be strongly influenced by their interaction with the magnetic field and corona of the host star, the physics of this process can be effectively constrained by making sensitive measurements of the planetary radio emission. Up to now, however, numerous searches for radio emission from extrasolar planets at radio wavelengths have only yielded negative results. Here we report deep radio observations of the nearby Neptune-mass extrasolar transiting planet HAT-P-11b at 150 MHz, using the Giant Meterwave Radio Telescope (GMRT). On July 16, 2009, we detected a 3σ emission whose light curve is...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M51: The Whirlpool Galaxy in Dust and Stars

    02/24/2013 3:59:38 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | February 24, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The Whirlpool Galaxy is a classic spiral galaxy. At only 30 million light years distant and fully 60 thousand light years across, M51, also known as NGC 5194, is one of the brightest and most picturesque galaxies on the sky. The above image is a digital combination of a ground-based image from the 0.9-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory and a space-based image from the Hubble Space Telescope highlighting sharp features normally too red to be seen. Anyone with a good pair of binoculars, however, can see this Whirlpool toward the constellation of the Hunting Dogs (Canes Venatici....
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Chelyabinsk Meteor Flash

    02/23/2013 10:16:24 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 49 replies
    NASA ^ | February 23, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A meteoroid fell to Earth on February 15, streaking some 20 to 30 kilometers above the city of Chelyabinsk, Russia at 9:20am local time. Initially traveling at about 20 kilometers per second, its explosive deceleration after impact with the lower atmosphere created a flash brighter than the Sun. This picture of the brilliant bolide (and others of its persistent trail) was captured by photographer Marat Ametvaleev, surprised during his morning sunrise session creating panoramic images of the nearby frosty landscape. An estimated 500 kilotons of energy was released by the explosion of the 17 meter wide space rock with...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Curiosity Self-Portrait Panorama

    02/23/2013 10:10:25 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 11 replies
    NASA ^ | February 22, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This remarkable self-portrait of NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover includes a sweeping panoramic view of its current location in the Yellowknife Bay region of the Red Planet's Gale Crater. The rover's flat, rocky perch, known as "John Klein", served as the site for Curiosity's first rock drilling activity. At the foot of the proud looking rover, a shallow drill test hole and a sample collection hole are 1.6 centimeters in diameter. The impressive mosaic was constructed using frames from the rover's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) and Mastcam. Used to take in the panoramic landscape frames, the Mastcam is standing...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Gravitational Tractor

    02/23/2013 10:02:55 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | February 21, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: How would you change the course of an Earth-threatening asteroid? One possibility - a massive spacecraft that uses gravity as a towline - is illustrated in this artist's vision of a gravitational tractor in action. In the hypothetical scenario worked out in 2005 by Edward Lu and Stanley Love at NASA's Johnson Space Center, a 20 ton nuclear-electric spacecraft tows a 200 meter diameter asteroid by simply hovering near the asteroid. The spacecraft's ion drive thrusters are canted away from the surface. Their slight but steady thrust would gradually and predictably alter the course of the tug and asteroid,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Saturn's Hexagon and Rings

    02/23/2013 9:59:48 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | February 20, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Why would clouds form a hexagon on Saturn? Nobody is sure. Originally discovered during the Voyager flybys of Saturn in the 1980s, nobody has ever seen anything like it anywhere else in the Solar System. If Saturn's South Pole wasn't strange enough with its rotating vortex, Saturn's North Pole might be considered even stranger. The bizarre cloud pattern is shown above in great detail by a recent image taken by the Saturn-orbiting Cassini spacecraft. This and similar images show the stability of the hexagon even 20+ years after Voyager. Movies of Saturn's North Pole show the cloud structure maintaining...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Mercury on the Horizon

    02/23/2013 9:51:02 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 17 replies
    NASA ^ | February 19, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Have you ever seen the planet Mercury? Because Mercury orbits so close to the Sun, it never wanders far from the Sun in Earth's sky. If trailing the Sun, Mercury will be visible low on the horizon for only a short while after sunset. If leading the Sun, Mercury will be visible only shortly before sunrise. So at certain times of the year an informed skygazer with a little determination can usually pick Mercury out from a site with an unobscured horizon. Above, a lot of determination has been combined with a little digital manipulation to show Mercury's successive...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Great Russian Meteor of 2013

    02/17/2013 11:18:37 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 19 replies
    NASA ^ | February 18, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What in heaven's blazes is that? Thousands of people living near the Ural Mountains in Russia saw last Friday morning one of the more spectacular meteors of modern times streak across the sky. Forceful sound waves arrived at the ground minutes later, knocking people over and breaking windows for hundreds of kilometers. The above video is a compilation of several car dashcams and includes real time footage of the meteor rampaging, smoke trails drifting, shadows quickly shifting, and even the meteor's light reflecting off the back of a bus. The fireball is thought to have been caused by a...