Keyword: astronomy

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  • Kepler-62f: A Possible Water World

    01/05/2014 7:42:47 PM PST · by lbryce · 42 replies
    Space.com ^ | January 2, 2014 | Elizabeth Howell
    The artist's conception depicts Kepler-62f,a super-Earth-size planet in the habitable zone of a star smaller and cooler than the sun, located about 1,200 light-years from Earth in the constellation Lyra. The small shining object seen to the right of Kepler-62f is Kepler-62e. Kepler-62f is a remarkably Earth-like planet about 1,200 light-years from our planet. The world is only 1.4 times bigger than Earth and is in orbit around a star that is somewhat dimmer and smaller than the sun. It orbits in what is believed to be the habitable region of its star. The planet was announced in 2013 as...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Galaxy NGC 474: Shells and Star Streams

    01/04/2014 9:59:21 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | January 05, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's happening to galaxy NGC 474? The multiple layers of emission appear strangely complex and unexpected given the relatively featureless appearance of the elliptical galaxy in less deep images. The cause of the shells is currently unknown, but possibly tidal tails related to debris left over from absorbing numerous small galaxies in the past billion years. Alternatively the shells may be like ripples in a pond, where the ongoing collision with the spiral galaxy just above NGC 474 is causing density waves to ripple though the galactic giant. Regardless of the actual cause, the above image dramatically highlights the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Clouds and Crescents

    01/04/2014 12:48:18 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | January 04, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A crescent Venus shines along the western horizon at dusk in this clearing sky. The Earth's sister planet is smiling between the low clouds near the bottom of the frame during its January 2nd conjunction with the slender, young crescent Moon above. Of course the lovely pairing of Moon and Venus crescents could be enjoyed in the new year's skies around the the world. But the twin contrails in this scene belong to an aircraft above Appenzell, Switzerland. Soon to disappear from evening skies, Venus is heading toward its January 11th inferior conjunction and an appearance in predawn skies...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Lovejoy in the New Year

    01/04/2014 12:44:17 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 1 replies
    NASA ^ | January 03, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A rival to vanquished Comet ISON in 2013, Comet Lovejoy (C/2013 R1) still sweeps through early morning skies, captured in this starry scene on New Year's day. The frame stretches some 3.5 degrees (about 7 full moons) across a background of faint stars in the constellation Hercules. Only just visible to the naked eye from dark sites before dawn, Lovejoy remains a good target for the northern hemisphere's binocular equipped skygazers. But this deep exposure shows off Lovejoy's beautiful tails and tantalizing greenish coma better than binocular views. Not a sungrazer, this Comet Lovejoy made its closest approach to...
  • A New Year's Warning

    01/03/2014 6:31:09 AM PST · by NYer · 22 replies
    Catholic in the Ozarks ^ | January 2, 2014
    Four Horsemen of Apocalypse, by Viktor Vasnetsov. Painted in 1887 As I said in my last article in the previous year, I live in two worlds.  I am an Evangelical convert to the Catholic Church through Anglicanism.  I am fully orthodox as a Catholic and fully submit to the teaching authority of the Catholic Church.  At the same time however, I was once an Evangelical Protestant, and I come from a family that his been Protestant for literally 500 years.  I cannot deny my roots or pretend they don't exist.  If I lived in a Catholic country, or in...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Reflections on Planet Earth

    01/02/2014 8:20:51 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | January 02, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Catching sight of your reflection in a store window or shiny hubcap can be entertaining and occasionally even inspire a thoughtful moment. So consider this reflective view from 300 kilometers above planet Earth. The picture is actually a self-portrait taken by astronaut Michael Fossum on July 8, 2006 during a space walk or extravehicular activity while the Discovery orbiter was docked with the International Space Station. Turning his camera to snap a picture of his own helmet visor, he also recorded the reflection of his fellow mission specialist, Piers Sellers, near picture center and one of the space station's...
  • Big-bang-defying giant of astronomy passes away (article)

    01/02/2014 9:11:49 AM PST · by fishtank · 30 replies
    Creation.com ^ | 12-31-13 | John G. Hartnett
    Big-bang-defying giant of astronomy passes away by John G. Hartnett Published: 31 December 2013 (GMT+10) Halton Arp passed away on Saturday morning 28th December 2013 in Munich, Germany. He will be sorely missed by many but not so much by others because of his challenges to the ruling big bang paradigm. With Geoffrey Burbidge and others, Professor Halton Arp was a thorn in the side of those who held to the standard story line of the big bang. In many papers and several books1 he promoted the idea that quasars are born from the nucleus of active galaxiesparent galaxies. In...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A New Year's Crescent

    01/01/2014 1:40:20 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | January 01, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: That's not the young crescent Moon poised above the western horizon at sunset. Instead it's Venus in a crescent phase, captured with a long telephoto lens from Quebec City, Canada, planet Earth on a chilly December 30th evening. The very bright celestial beacon is droping lower into the evening twilight every day. But it also grows larger in apparent size and becomes a steadily thinner crescent in binocular views as it heads toward an inferior conjunction, positioned between the Earth and the Sun on January 11. The next few evenings will see a young crescent Moon join the crescent...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Horsehead Nebula

    12/31/2013 12:55:42 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | December 31, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The Horsehead Nebula is one of the most famous nebulae on the sky. It is visible as the dark indentation to the red emission nebula in the center of the above photograph. The horse-head feature is dark because it is really an opaque dust cloud that lies in front of the bright red emission nebula. Like clouds in Earth's atmosphere, this cosmic cloud has assumed a recognizable shape by chance. After many thousands of years, the internal motions of the cloud will alter its appearance. The emission nebula's red color is caused by electrons recombining with protons to form...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Quantum Streampunk Fantasy Fractal Landscape

    12/30/2013 10:06:59 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 24 replies
    NASA ^ | December 30, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What strange world is this? Pictured above is no real place but rather a purely mathematical visualization of a generalization of a fractal into three dimensions. Classical fractal diagrams are typically confined to the two dimensions inherent in the complex number plane, demarking regions where an iterative function diverges. Recently explored additions expand the Mandelbrot set of fractals to three dimensions with prescriptions dubbed Mandelbox and Mandelbulb sets. The results are often visually stunning creations of virtual worlds with limitless detail, some of which you can fly through. Pictured above is one such mathematical fantasy, possibly reminiscent of some...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Time-Lapse Auroras Over Norway

    12/29/2013 8:45:18 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 28 replies
    NASA ^ | December 29, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Sometimes, after your eyes adapt to the dark, a spectacular sky appears. Such was the case in 2011 March when one of the largest auroral displays in recent years appeared over northern locations like the border between Norway and Russia. Pictured in the above time-lapse movie, auroras flow over snow covered landscapes, trees, clouds, mountains and lakes found near Kirkenes, Norway. Many times the auroras are green, as high energy particles strike the Earth's atmosphere, causing the air to glow as electrons resettle into their oxygen hosts. Other colors are occasionally noticeable as atmospheric nitrogen also becomes affected. In...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Alaska Aurora Sequence

    12/28/2013 5:28:45 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | December 28, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A remarkably intense auroral band flooded the northern night with shimmering colors on December 7. The stunning sequence captured here was made with a camera fixed to a tripod under cold, clear skies near Ester, just outside of Fairbanks, Alaska. Left to right, spanning a period of about 30 minutes, the panels follow changes in the dancing curtains of northern lights extending to altitudes of over 100 kilometers in a band arcing directly overhead. The panels span 150 degrees vertically, covering about 500 kilometers of aurora laying across the sky from edge to edge. The auroral activity was triggered...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Melotte 15 in the Heart

    12/27/2013 1:09:13 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | December 27, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Cosmic clouds seem to form fantastic shapes in the central regions of emission nebula IC 1805. Of course, the clouds are sculpted by stellar winds and radiation from massive hot stars in the nebula's newborn star cluster, Melotte 15. About 1.5 million years young, the cluster stars are near the center of this colorful skyscape, along with dark dust clouds in silhouette. Dominated by emission from atomic hydrogen, the telescopic view spans about 30 light-years. But wider field images reveal that IC 1805's simpler, overall outline suggests its popular name - The Heart Nebula. IC 1805 is located along...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Hydrogen Clouds of M33

    12/27/2013 1:05:16 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | December 26, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Gorgeous spiral galaxy M33 seems to have more than its fair share of glowing hydrogen gas. A prominent member of the local group of galaxies, M33 is also known as the Triangulum Galaxy and lies about 3 million light-years distant. Its inner 30,000 light-years are shown in this telescopic galaxy portrait that enhances the reddish ionized hydrogen clouds or HII regions. Sprawling along loose spiral arms that wind toward the core, M33's giant HII regions are some of the largest known stellar nurseries, sites of the formation of short-lived but very massive stars. Intense ultraviolet radiation from the luminous,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Phobos 360

    12/24/2013 9:13:13 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 77 replies
    NASA ^ | December 25, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What does the Martian moon Phobos look like? To better visualize this unusual object, images from ESA's Mars Express orbiter have been combined into a virtual rotation movie. The rotation is actually a digital illusion -- tidally-locked Phobos always keeps the same face toward its home planet, as does Earth's moon. The above video highlights Phobos' chunky shape and an unusually dark surface covered with craters and grooves. What lies beneath the surface is a topic of research since the moon is not dense enough to be filled with solid rock. Phobos is losing about of centimeter of altitude...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Sharpless 308: Star Bubble

    12/24/2013 7:46:27 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | December 24, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Blown by fast winds from a hot, massive star, this cosmic bubble is huge. Cataloged as Sharpless 2-308 it lies some 5,200 light-years away toward the constellation of the Big Dog (Canis Major) and covers slightly more of the sky than a Full Moon. That corresponds to a diameter of 60 light-years at its estimated distance. The massive star that created the bubble, a Wolf-Rayet star, is the bright one near the center of the nebula. Wolf-Rayet stars have over 20 times the mass of the Sun and are thought to be in a brief, pre-supernova phase of massive...
  • Tis the Season to Spot Jupiter: A Guide to the 2014 Opposition

    12/23/2013 9:47:23 AM PST · by BenLurkin · 34 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | December 23, 2013 | David Dickinson on
    Orbiting the Sun once every 11.9 years, oppositions of Jupiter occur about once every 13 months or about 400 days, as the speedy Earth overtakes the gas giant on the inside track. This means that successive oppositions of the planet move roughly one astronomical constellation eastward. In fact, this years opposition is its northernmost in 12 years, occurring in the constellation Gemini. Opposition means that an outer planet is rising opposite to the setting Sun. As this opposition of Jupiter occurs just weeks after the southward solstice, Jupiter now lies in the direction that the Sun will occupy six months...
  • 2013's Best and Most Beautiful Photos of the Universe

    12/23/2013 11:57:19 AM PST · by lbryce · 35 replies
    Bad Astronomy Via Slate ^ | December 23, 2013 | Phil Platt
    I love astronomy. I have my whole life. Part of that is the wonder and awe it generates, learning about the Universe and our place in it. But of course, there is great beauty in the skies as well. From our nearest neighbors to the most distant galaxies, the cosmos is a wonder to behold. Every year I collect my favorite pictureschosen both for their beauty and their importance to scienceand put them together in a gallery to delight your brain (youll find links to previous galleries at the end of this article). Picking only a few is always a...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Geminid Meteors over Chile

    12/23/2013 4:00:30 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | December 23, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: From a radiant point in the constellation of the Twins, the annual Geminid meteor shower rained down on planet Earth over the past few weeks. Recorded near the shower's peak over the night of December 13 and 14, the above skyscape captures Gemini's shooting stars in a four-hour composite from the dark skies of the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile. In the foreground the 2.5-meter du Pont Telescope is visible as well as the 1-meter SWOPE telescope. The skies beyond the meteors are highlighted by Jupiter, seen as the bright spot near the image center, the central band of...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Tutulemma: Solar Eclipse Analemma

    12/22/2013 8:27:30 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 19 replies
    NASA ^ | December 22, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: If you went outside at exactly the same time every day and took a picture that included the Sun, how would the Sun's position change? With great planning and effort, such a series of images can be taken. The figure-8 path the Sun follows over the course of a year is called an analemma. Yesterday, the Winter Solstice day in Earth's northern hemisphere, the Sun appeared at the bottom of the analemma. Analemmas created from different latitudes would appear at least slightly different, as well as analemmas created at a different time each day. With even greater planning and...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- SDO's Multiwavelength Sun

    12/21/2013 6:55:56 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | December 21, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Today, the solstice is at 17:11 Universal Time, the Sun reaching the southernmost declination in its yearly journey through planet Earth's sky. The December solstice marks the astronomical beginning of winter in the northern hemisphere and summer in the south. To celebrate, explore this creative visualization of the Sun from visible to extreme ultraviolet wavelengths, using image data from the orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). Against a base image made at a visible wavelengths, the wedge-shaped segments show the solar disk at increasingly shorter ultraviolet and extreme ultraviolet wavelengths. Shown in false-color and rotating in a clockwise direction, the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Titan's Land of Lakes

    12/21/2013 6:53:05 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 15 replies
    NASA ^ | December 20, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Saturn's large moon Titan would be unique in our solar system, the only world with stable liquid lakes and seas on its surface ... except for planet Earth of course. Centered on the north pole, this colorized map shows Titan's bodies of methane and ethane in blue and black, still liquid at frigid surface temperatures of -180 degrees C (-292 degrees F). The map is based on data from the Cassini spacecraft's radar, taken during flybys between 2004 and 2013. Roughly heart-shaped, the lake above and right of the pole is Ligeia Mare, the second largest known body of...
  • Visualizing the size and scale of Earth

    Understanding the size of Earth in comparison to the rest of our solar system an amazing illustration to visualize the size and scale of our world: Read more at http://all-that-is-interesting.com/post/896793977/visualizing-the-size-and-scale-of-our-world#KWgVlVGxdiXd408S.99
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Colorful Moon

    12/19/2013 12:01:14 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 15 replies
    NASA ^ | December 19, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The Moon is normally seen in subtle shades of grey or yellow. But small, measurable color differences have been greatly exaggerated to make this telescopic, multicolored, moonscape captured during the Moon's full phase. The different colors are recognized to correspond to real differences in the chemical makeup of the lunar surface. Blue hues reveal titanium rich areas while orange and purple colors show regions relatively poor in titanium and iron. The familiar Sea of Tranquility, or Mare Tranquillitatis, is the blue area in the upper right corner of the frame. White lines radiate across the orange-hued southern lunar highlands...
  • Best Creation News of 2013: Astronomy

    12/18/2013 8:42:40 AM PST · by fishtank · 72 replies
    Institute for Creation Research ^ | 12-18-13 | Brian Thomas
    Best Creation News of 2013: Astronomy by Brian Thomas, M.S. * This year science has challenged the popular idea that the universe developed all by itself over billions of years. Astronomical discoveries from 2013 confirm creationstarting with the moon and reaching to the farthest galaxies. If the moon was formed over four billion years ago by some colossal impact as secularists assert, then it should be dry as a bone. The violent impact would have melted all the minerals and thus would have ejected any water from its magma. But this year researchers reported discovering water within the minerals of...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Light Pillars over Finland

    12/18/2013 3:50:19 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | December 18, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's happening behind those houses? Pictured above are not aurora but nearby light pillars, a local phenomenon that can appear as a distant one. In most places on Earth, a lucky viewer can see a Sun-pillar, a column of light appearing to extend up from the Sun caused by flat fluttering ice-crystals reflecting sunlight from the upper atmosphere. Usually these ice crystals evaporate before reaching the ground. During freezing temperatures, however, flat fluttering ice crystals may form near the ground in a form of light snow, sometimes known as a crystal fog. These ice crystals may then reflect ground...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Geminid Meteors over Teide Volcano Image

    12/17/2013 6:03:45 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | December 17, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: On some nights it rains meteors. Peaking two nights ago, asteroid dust streaked through the dark skies of Earth, showering down during the annual Geminids meteor shower. Astrophotographer Juan Carlos Casado captured the space weather event, as pictured above, in a series of exposures spanning about 2.3 hours using a wide angle lens. The snowcapped Teide volcano of the Canary Islands of Spain towers in the foreground, while the picturesque constellation of Orion highlights the background. The star appearing just near the top of the volcano is Rigel. Although the asteroid dust particles are traveling parallel to each other,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Yutu Rover Rolls onto the Moon

    12/16/2013 8:18:38 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 20 replies
    NASA ^ | December 16, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A new desk-sized rover has begun exploring the Moon. Launched two weeks ago by the Chinese National Space Administration, the Chang'e 3 spacecraft landed on the Moon yesterday and deployed the robotic rover. Yutu, named for a folklore lunar Jade Rabbit, has a scheduled three-month mission to explore several kilometers inside the Sinus Iridum (Latin for "Bay of Rainbows") impact crater. Yutu's cameras and spectrometers will investigate surface features and composition while ground penetrating radar will investigate deep soil structure. Chang'e 3 achieved the first soft Moon landing since the Soviet Union's Luna 24 in 1976, and Yutu is...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Gibbous Europa

    12/15/2013 4:12:25 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 13 replies
    NASA ^ | December 15, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Although the phase of this moon might appear familiar, the moon itself might not. In fact, this gibbous phase shows part of Jupiter's moon Europa. The robot spacecraft Galileo captured this image mosaic during its mission orbiting Jupiter from 1995 - 2003. Visible are plains of bright ice, cracks that run to the horizon, and dark patches that likely contain both ice and dirt. Raised terrain is particularly apparent near the terminator, where it casts shadows. Europa is nearly the same size as Earth's Moon, but much smoother, showing few highlands or large impact craters. Evidence and images from...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Bubble Nebula

    12/14/2013 5:52:25 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | December 14, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Blown by the wind from a massive star, this interstellar apparition has a surprisingly familiar shape. Cataloged as NGC 7635, it is also known simply as The Bubble Nebula. Although it looks delicate, the 10 light-year diameter bubble offers evidence of violent processes at work. Above and right of the Bubble's center is a hot, O star, several hundred thousand times more luminous and around 45 times more massive than the Sun. A fierce stellar wind and intense radiation from that star has blasted out the structure of glowing gas against denser material in a surrounding molecular cloud. The...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Geminid Meteor Shower over Dashanbao Wetlands

    12/13/2013 3:52:47 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | December 13, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The annual Geminid meteor shower is raining down on planet Earth this week. And despite the waxing gibbous moonlight, the reliable Geminids should be enjoyable tonight (night of December 13/14) near the shower's peak. Recorded near last year's peak in the early hours of December 14, 2012, this skyscape captures many of Gemini's lovely shooting stars. The careful composite of exposures was made during a three hour period overlooking the Dashanbao Wetlands in central China. Dark skies above are shared with bright Jupiter (right), Orion, (right of center) and the faint band of the Milky Way. The shower's radiant...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Alnitak, Alnilam, Mintaka

    12/12/2013 4:37:10 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | December 12, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka, are the bright bluish stars from east to west (lower right to upper left) along the diagonal in this gorgeous cosmic vista. Otherwise known as the Belt of Orion, these three blue supergiant stars are hotter and much more massive than the Sun. They lie about 1,500 light-years away, born of Orion's well-studied interstellar clouds. In fact, clouds of gas and dust adrift in this region have intriguing and some surprisingly familiar shapes, including the dark Horsehead Nebula and Flame Nebula near Alnitak at the lower right. The famous Orion Nebula itself is off the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Coldest Place on Earth

    12/11/2013 3:55:50 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 52 replies
    NASA ^ | December 11, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: How cold can it get on Earth? In the interior of the Antarctica, a record low temperature of -93.2 C (-135.8 F) has been recorded. This is about 25 C (45 F) colder than the coldest lows noted for any place humans live permanently. The record temperature occurred in 2010 August -- winter in Antarctica -- and was found by scientists sifting through decades of climate data taken by Earth-orbiting satellites. The coldest spots were found near peaks because higher air is generally colder, although specifically in depressions near these peaks because relatively dense cold air settled there and...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Seyfert's Sextet

    12/10/2013 7:45:27 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 23 replies
    NASA ^ | December 10, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What will survive this battle of the galaxies? Known as Seyfert's Sextet, this intriguing group of galaxies lies in the head portion of the split constellation of the Snake (Serpens). The sextet actually contains only four interacting galaxies, though. Near the center of this Hubble Space Telescope picture, the small face-on spiral galaxy lies in the distant background and appears only by chance aligned with the main group. Also, the prominent condensation on the upper left is likely not a separate galaxy at all, but a tidal tail of stars flung out by the galaxies' gravitational interactions. About 190...
  • Vintage PHOTOS: c. 1911 ... Cat Drinking from a Bottle and Looking Through a Telescope

    12/10/2013 7:08:00 PM PST · by DogByte6RER · 12 replies
    Gallica via Europeana ^ | 1911 | Agence Rol. Agence photographique
    Circa 1911: Cat drinking from a bottle and looking through a telescope
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Comet Lovejoy Over a Windmill

    12/09/2013 5:28:01 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 21 replies
    NASA ^ | December 09, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Lovejoy continues to be an impressive camera comet. Pictured above, Comet C/2013 R1 (Lovejoy) was imaged above the windmill in Saint-Michel-l'Observatoire in southern France with a six-second exposure. In the foreground is a field of lavender. Comet Lovejoy should remain available for photo opportunities for northern observers during much of December and during much of the night, although it will be fading as the month progresses and highest in the sky before sunrise. In person, the comet will be best viewed with binoculars. A giant dirty snowball, Comet Lovejoy last visited the inner Solar System about 7,000 years ago,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Everest Panorama from Mars

    12/08/2013 3:35:09 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 20 replies
    NASA ^ | December 08, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: If you could stand on Mars -- what might you see? Scroll right to find out. The robotic Spirit rover that rolled around Mars from 2004 to 2009 Mars climbed to the top of a hill in 2005 and took a series of images over three days that were then digitally combined into a 360 degree panorama. Spirit was instructed to take images having the same resolution as a human with 20-20 eyesight. The full panoramic result can be found by clicking on the above image and has a level of detail unparalleled in the history of Martian surface...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Naked Eye Nova Centauri 2013

    12/07/2013 5:42:43 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 13 replies
    NASA ^ | December 07, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Brightest stellar beacons of the constellation Centaurus, Alpha and Beta Centauri are easy to spot from the southern hemisphere. For now, so is new naked eye Nova Centauri 2013. In this night skyscape recorded near Las Campanas Observatory in the Chilean southern Atacama desert on December 5, the new star joins the old in the expansive constellation, seen at early morning hours through a greenish airglow. Caught by nova hunter John Seach from Australia on December 2 as it approached near naked eye brightness, Nova Cen 2013 has been spectroscopically identified as a classical nova, an interacting binary star...
  • Alien planet 11 times bigger than Jupiter found in bizarre, massive orbit

    12/06/2013 8:16:03 PM PST · by NYer · 37 replies
    Fox News ^ | December 6, 2013 | Denise Chow
    An enormous alien planet one that is 11 times more massive than Jupiter was discovered in the most distant orbit yet found around a single parent star. The newfound exoplanet, dubbed HD 106906 b, dwarfs any planetary body in the solar system, and circles its star at a distance that is 650 times the average distance between the Earth and the sun. The existence of such a massive and distantly orbiting planet raises new questions about how these bizarre worlds are formed, the researchers said. "This system is especially fascinating because no model of either planet or star...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Gamma-Ray Earth and Sky

    12/06/2013 2:45:32 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | December 06, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: For an Earth-orbiting gamma-ray telescope, Earth is actually the brightest source of gamma-rays, the most energetic form of light. Gamma-rays from Earth are produced when high energy particles, cosmic rays from space, crash into the atmosphere. While that interaction blocks harmful radiation from reaching the surface, those gamma-rays dominate in this remarkable Earth and sky view from the orbiting Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope's Large Area Telescope. The image was constructed using only observations made when the center of our Milky Way galaxy was near the zenith, directly above the Fermi satellite. The zenith is mapped to the center of...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Planetary Nebula Abell 7

    12/05/2013 2:46:28 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 11 replies
    NASA ^ | December 05, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Very faint planetary nebula Abell 7 is some 1,800 light-years distant, just south of Orion in planet Earth's skies in the constellation Lepus, The Hare. Surrounded by Milky Way stars and near the line-of-sight to distant background galaxies, its generally simple spherical shape, about 8 light-years in diameter, is outlined in this deep telescopic image. Within its confines are beautiful, more complex details enhanced by the use of narrowband filters. Emission from hydrogen and nitrogen is shown in reddish hues with oxygen emission mapped to a bluish-green color, giving Abell 7 a more natural appearance that would otherwise be...
  • A Naked Eye Nova Erupts in Centaurus

    12/04/2013 7:25:43 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 13 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | December 4, 2013 | David Dickinson on
    If you live in the southern hemisphere, the southern sky constellation of Centaurus may look a little different to you tonight, as a bright nova has been identified in the region early this week. The initial discovery of Nova Centauri 2013 (Nova Cen 2013) was made by observer John Seach based out of Chatsworth Island in New South Wales Australia. The preliminary discovery magnitude for Nova Cen 2013 was magnitude +5.5, just above naked eye visibility from a good dark sky site. Estimates by observers over the past 24 hours place Nova Cen 2013 between magnitudes +4 and +5 with...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Comet Lovejoy through Mrby Castle Ruins

    12/04/2013 8:11:38 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | December 04, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This new comet is quite photogenic. Comet Lovejoy, discovered only three months ago, was imaged through ruins of ancient Mrby Castle in Sweden last week sporting a green-glowing coma and tails trailing several degrees. The past few weeks have been an unusually active time for comet watchers as four comets were visible simultaneously with binoculars: ISON, Lovejoy, Encke, and LINEAR. C/2013 R1 (Lovejoy) comet is currently visible to the unaided eye from a dark location. As Monday's new Moon will provide little glare, the next few days provide a good time to see Comet Lovejoy as it reaches its...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Colorful Clouds of Rho Ophiuchi

    12/02/2013 9:12:23 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | December 03, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    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 star Rho Ophiuchi 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 the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Comet Lovejoy Before Galaxy M63

    12/02/2013 8:49:44 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | December 02, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Comet Lovejoy was captured last week passing well in front of spiral galaxy M63. Discovered only three months ago and currently near its maximum brightness, Comet Lovejoy can be seen near the Big Dipper from dark northerly locations before dawn with the unaided eye. An unexpected rival to Comet ISON, C/2013 R1 (Lovejoy), pictured above, is currently sporting a large green coma and a beautifully textured ion tail. Comet Lovejoy is now headed back to the outer Solar System but should remain a good sight in binoculars for another few weeks. Conversely, spiral galaxy M63, lies far in the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Laser Strike at the Galactic Center

    12/01/2013 7:40:00 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 13 replies
    NASA ^ | December 01, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Why are these people shooting a powerful laser into the center of our Galaxy? Fortunately, this is not meant to be the first step in a Galactic war. Rather, astronomers at the Very Large Telescope (VLT) site in Chile are trying to measure the distortions of Earth's ever changing atmosphere. Constant imaging of high-altitude atoms excited by the laser -- which appear like an artificial star -- allow astronomers to instantly measure atmospheric blurring. This information is fed back to a VLT telescope mirror which is then slightly deformed to minimize this blurring. In this case, a VLT was...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Surprising Comet ISON

    12/01/2013 7:37:42 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 34 replies
    NASA ^ | November 30, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: After failing to appear for Sun staring spacecraft at perihelion, its harrowing closest approach to the Sun, sungrazing Comet ISON was presumed lost. But ISON surprised observers yesterday as material still traveling along the comet's trajectory became visible and even developed an extensive fan-shaped dust tail. Edited and processed to HD format, this video (vimeo, youtube) is composed of frames from the SOHO spacecraft's coronographs. It follows the comet in view of the wide (blue tint) and narrow (red tint) field cameras in the hours both before and after perihelion passage. In both fields, overwhelming sunlight is blocked by...
  • Faster Than the Speed of Light?

    11/29/2013 7:58:18 PM PST · by Star Traveler · 65 replies
    The New York Times ^ | July 22, 2013 | Danny Hakim
    HOUSTON Beyond the security gate at the Johnson Space Centers 1960s-era campus here, inside a two-story glass and concrete building with winding corridors, there is a floating laboratory. Harold G. White, a physicist and advanced propulsion engineer at NASA, beckoned toward a table full of equipment there on a recent afternoon: a laser, a camera, some small mirrors, a ring made of ceramic capacitors and a few other objects. He and other NASA engineers have been designing and redesigning these instruments, with the goal of using them to slightly warp the trajectory of a photon, changing the distance it...
  • COMET ISON LIVES (UPDATED)[Video at link]

    11/29/2013 4:35:15 PM PST · by Islander7 · 14 replies
    SpaceWeather.com ^ | Nov 29, 2013 | Staff
    COMET ISON LIVES (UPDATED): Cancel the funeral. Comet ISON is back from the dead. Yesterday, Nov. 28th, Comet ISON flew through the sun's atmosphere and appeared to disintegrate before the cameras of several NASA and ESA spacecraft. This prompted reports of the comet's demise. Today, the comet has revived and is rapidly brightening. Click to view a SOHO coronagraph movie of the solar flyby
  • Did Comet ISON survive? Scientists see tiny hope

    11/29/2013 8:20:34 AM PST · by Brad from Tennessee · 50 replies
    AP via Washington Post ^ | November 29, 2013 | Associated Press
    STOCKHOLM A comet that gained an earthly following because of its bright tail visible from space was initially declared dead after essentially grazing the sun. Now, there is a silver of hope that Comet ISON may have survived. New images, basically faint smudges on a screen, being analyzed Friday showed a streak of light moving away from the sun that some said could indicate it wasnt game over just yet. It certainly appears as if there is an object there that is emitting material, said Alan Fitzsimmons, an astronomer at Queens University in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Basically a dirty...