Free Republic 4th Quarter Fundraising Target: $85,000 Receipts & Pledges to-date: $21,195
24%  
Woo hoo!! And the first 24% is in!! Thank you all very much!!

Keyword: astronomy

Brevity: Headers | « Text »
  • Anyone else see the fireball meteor over NJ tonight?

    06/21/2014 7:55:36 PM PDT · by heartwood · 38 replies
    6/21/2014 | self
    About 10 pm, WNW in the sky from central Jersey, moving right to left, split trail, dimming and brightening, biggest one I've ever seen. Probably visible in Eastern PA also.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Lisbon Honey Moon

    06/21/2014 1:46:10 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | June 21, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The Sun set on Friday the 13th as a full Honey Moon rose, captured in this well-planned time-lapse sequence. Lisbon, Portugal's Christ the King monument is in the foreground, about 6 kilometers distant from camera and telephoto lens. During the days surrounding today's solstice (June 21, 10:51 UT) the Sun follows its highest arc through northern hemisphere skies as it travels along the ecliptic plane. At night the ecliptic plane is low, and the Full Moon's path close to the ecliptic was also low, the rising Moon separating more slowly from the distant horizon. Northern moon watchers were likely...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Rio at Night

    06/21/2014 1:39:12 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | June 20, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: In this night skyscape setting stars trail above the western horizon over Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a venue for the 2014 World Cup. Gentle arcs from the bright, colorful stars of Orion are near the center of the frame, while the starfield itself straddles planet Earth's celestial equator during the long exposure. Of course, trails from more local lights seem to create the strident paths through the scene. Air traffic smears an intense glow over an airport at the far right, while helicopters fly above the city and boats cruise near the coast. Striping the waterfront are tantalizing reflections...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Over the Top

    06/19/2014 2:46:13 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | June 19, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The central bulge of our Milky Way Galaxy rises above a sea of clouds in this ethereal scene. An echo of the Milky Way's dark dust lanes, the volcanic peak in foreground silhouette is on France's Réunion Island in the southern Indian Ocean. Taken in February, the photograph was voted the winner of the 2014 International Earth and Sky Photo Contest's Beauty of the Night Sky Category. This and other winning and notable images from the contest were selected from over a thousand entries from 55 countries around planet Earth. Also featured in the contest compilation video (vimeo), the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 6334: The Cat's Paw Nebula

    06/18/2014 7:07:21 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | June 18, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Nebulas are perhaps as famous for being identified with familiar shapes as perhaps cats are for getting into trouble. Still, no known cat could have created the vast Cat's Paw Nebula visible in Scorpius. At 5,500 light years distant, Cat's Paw is an emission nebula with a red color that originates from an abundance of ionized hydrogen atoms. Alternatively known as the Bear Claw Nebula or NGC 6334, stars nearly ten times the mass of our Sun have been born there in only the past few million years. Pictured above is a deep field image of the Cat's Paw...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- V838 Light Echo: The Movie

    06/17/2014 3:07:20 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | June 17, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What caused this outburst of V838 Mon? For reasons unknown, star V838 Mon suddenly became one of the brightest stars in the entire Milky Way Galaxy. Then, just a few months later, it faded. A stellar flash like this has never been seen before -- supernovas and novas expel a tremendous amount of matter out into space. Although the V838 Mon flash appeared to expel some material into space, what is seen in the above eight-frame movie, interpolated for smoothness, is actually an outwardly moving light echo of the flash. The actual time-span of the above movie is from...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- APOD Heatmap

    06/16/2014 2:39:31 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | June 16, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The first APOD appeared 19 years ago today. To help celebrate, APOD brings you today an all-sky heatmap of (nearly) 19 years of APOD entries. The brighter a region appears on the above heatmap, the more APODs that occur in that region. Clicking anywhere on the map will bring up a link to all APODs, if any, that appear nearby. We at APOD again thank our readers, NASA, astrophotographers, volunteers who translate APOD daily into over 20 languages, volunteers who run APOD's over 20 mirror sites, volunteers who answer questions and administer APOD's main discussion board, and volunteers who...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- CMB Dipole: Speeding Through the Universe

    06/15/2014 3:20:44 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 13 replies
    NASA ^ | June 15, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Our Earth is not at rest. The Earth moves around the Sun. The Sun orbits the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. The Milky Way Galaxy orbits in the Local Group of Galaxies. The Local Group falls toward the Virgo Cluster of Galaxies. But these speeds are less than the speed that all of these objects together move relative to the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMBR). In the above all-sky map from the COBE satellite, radiation in the Earth's direction of motion appears blueshifted and hence hotter, while radiation on the opposite side of the sky is redshifted and...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- New York to London Milky Way

    06/14/2014 5:23:26 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | June 14, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Bright stars of Sagittarius and the center of our Milky Way Galaxy lie just off the wing of a Boeing 747 in this astronomical travel photo. The stratospheric scene was captured earlier this month during a flight from New York to London, 11,0000 meters above the Atlantic Ocean. Of course the sky was clear and dark at that altitude, ideal conditions for astronomical imaging. But there were challenges to overcome while looking out a passenger window of the aircraft moving at nearly 1,000 kilometers per hour (600 mph). Over 90 exposures of 30 seconds or less were attempted with...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Strawberry Moon

    06/13/2014 3:54:00 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | June 13, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: June's Full Moon (full phase on June 13, 0411 UT) is traditionally known as the Strawberry Moon or Rose Moon. Of course those names might also describe the appearance of this Full Moon, rising last month over the small Swedish village of Marieby. The Moon looks large in the image because the scene was captured with a long focal length lens from a place about 8 kilometers from the foreground houses. But just by eye a Full Moon rising, even on Friday the 13th, will appear to loom impossibly large near the horizon. That effect has long been recognized...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Tarantula Zone

    06/12/2014 4:06:01 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | June 12, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The Tarantula Nebula is more than 1,000 light-years in diameter, a giant star forming region within our neighboring galaxy the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). That cosmic arachnid lies toward the upper left in this deep and colorful telescopic view made through broad-band and narrow-band filters. The image spans nearly 2 degrees (4 full moons) on the sky and covers a part of the LMC over 8,000 light-years across. Within the Tarantula (NGC 2070), intense radiation, stellar winds and supernova shocks from the central young cluster of massive stars, cataloged as R136, energize the nebular glow and shape the spidery...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Three Galaxies over New Zealand

    06/12/2014 4:03:25 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | June 11, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: No, radio dishes cannot broadcast galaxies. Although they can detect them, the above image features a photogenic superposition during a dark night in New Zealand about two weeks ago. As pictured above, the central part of our Milky Way Galaxy is seen rising to the east on the image left and arching high overhead. Beneath the Galactic arc and just above the horizon are the two brightest satellite galaxies of our Milky Way, with the Small Magellanic Cloud to the left and the Large Magellanic Cloud on the right. The radio dish is the Warkworth Satellite Station located just...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M51: X-Rays from the Whirlpool

    06/10/2014 1:56:23 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 16 replies
    NASA ^ | June 10, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What if we X-rayed an entire spiral galaxy? This was done (again) recently by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory for the nearby interacting galaxies known as the Whirlpool (M51). Hundreds of glittering x-ray stars are present in the above Chandra image of the spiral and its neighbor. The image is a conglomerate of X-ray light from Chandra and visible light from the Hubble Space Telescope. The number of luminous x-ray sources, likely neutron star and black hole binary systems within the confines of M51, is unusually high for normal spiral or elliptical galaxies and suggests this cosmic whirlpool has experienced...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- How to Identify that Light in the Sky

    06/10/2014 1:54:16 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 16 replies
    NASA ^ | June 09, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What is that light in the sky? Perhaps one of humanity's more common questions, an answer may result from a few quick observations. For example -- is it moving or blinking? If so, and if you live near a city, the answer is typically an airplane, since planes are so numerous and so few stars and satellites are bright enough to be seen over the din of artificial city lights. If not, and if you live far from a city, that bright light is likely a planet such as Venus or Mars -- the former of which is constrained...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Open Cluster NGC 290: A Stellar Jewel Box

    06/08/2014 6:51:38 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | June 08, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Jewels don't shine this bright -- only stars do. Like gems in a jewel box, though, the stars of open cluster NGC 290 glitter in a beautiful display of brightness and color. The photogenic cluster, pictured above, was captured recently by the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope. Open clusters of stars are younger, contain few stars, and contain a much higher fraction of blue stars than do globular clusters of stars. NGC 290 lies about 200,000 light-years distant in a neighboring galaxy called the Small Cloud of Magellan (SMC). The open cluster contains hundreds of stars and spans about 65...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M16 and the Eagle Nebula

    06/07/2014 9:55:52 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | June 07, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A star cluster around 2 million years young, M16 is surrounded by natal clouds of dust and glowing gas also known as The Eagle Nebula. This beautifully detailed image of the region includes cosmic sculptures made famous in Hubble Space Telescope close-ups of the starforming complex. Described as elephant trunks or Pillars of Creation, dense, dusty columns rising near the center are light-years in length but are gravitationally contracting to form stars. Energetic radiation from the cluster stars erodes material near the tips, eventually exposing the embedded new stars. Extending from the left edge of the frame is another...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Comet PanSTARRS with Galaxy

    06/06/2014 4:11:11 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | June 06, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Sweeping slowly through northern skies, the comet PanSTARRS C/2012 K1 posed for this telescopic portrait on June 2nd in the constellation Ursa Major. Now within the inner solar system, the icy body from the Oort cloud sports two tails, a lighter broad dust tail and crooked ion tail extending below and right. The comet's condensed greenish coma makes a nice contrast with the spiky yellowish background star above. NGC 3319 appears at the upper left of the frame that spans almost twice the apparent diameter of the full Moon. The spiral galaxy is about 47 million light-years away, far...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Hubble Ultra Deep Field 2014

    06/05/2014 3:59:52 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 36 replies
    NASA ^ | June 05, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Galaxies like colorful pieces of candy fill the Hubble Ultra Deep Field 2014. The dimmest galaxies are more than 10 billion times fainter than stars visible to the unaided eye and represent the Universe in the extreme past, a few 100 million years after the Big Bang. The image itself was made with the significant addition of ultraviolet data to the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, an update of Hubble's famous most distant gaze toward the southern constellation of Fornax. It now covers the entire range of wavelengths available to Hubble's cameras, from ultraviolet through visible to near-infrared. Ultraviolet data...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Green Flash from the Sun

    06/04/2014 9:53:09 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 18 replies
    NASA ^ | June 04, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Many think it is just a myth. Others think it is true but its cause isn't known. Adventurers pride themselves on having seen it. It's a green flash from the Sun. The truth is the green flash does exist and its cause is well understood. Just as the setting Sun disappears completely from view, a last glimmer appears startlingly green. The effect is typically visible only from locations with a low, distant horizon, and lasts just a few seconds. A green flash is also visible for a rising Sun, but takes better timing to spot. A dramatic green flash,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- WR 104: A Pinwheel Star System

    06/04/2014 9:49:53 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | June 03, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Might this giant pinwheel one-day destroy us? Probably not, but investigation of the unusual star system Wolf-Rayet 104 has turned up an unexpected threat. The unusual pinwheel pattern has been found to be created by energetic winds of gas and dust that are expelled and intertwine as two massive stars orbit each other. One system component is a Wolf-Rayet star, a tumultuous orb in the last stage of evolution before it explodes in a supernova -- an event possible anytime in the next million years. Research into the spiral pattern of the emitted dust, however, indicates the we are...
  • Hubble unveils a colorful view of the universe

    06/03/2014 1:04:30 PM PDT · by Red Badger · 94 replies
    Phys.Org ^ | 06-03-2014 | Provided by ESA/Hubble Information Centre
    Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have captured the most comprehensive picture ever assembled of the evolving universe—and one of the most colorful. The study is called the Ultraviolet Coverage of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field project. Prior to this survey, astronomers were in a curious position. They knew a lot about star formation occurring in nearby galaxies thanks to UV telescope facilities such as NASA's Galex observatory, which operated from 2003 to 2013. And, thanks to Hubble's near-infrared and visible capability, they had also studied star birth in the most distant galaxies. We see these distant galaxies in their...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Space Station Captures a Dragon Capsule

    06/02/2014 1:14:25 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | June 02, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The space station has caught a dragon. Specifically, in mid-April, the International Space Station captured the unmanned SpaceX Dragon capsule sent to resupply the orbiting outpost. Pictured above, the station's Canadarm2 had just grabbed the commercial spaceship. The Dragon capsule was filled with over 5000 lbs (2260 kilos) of supplies and experiments to be used by the current band of six ISS astronauts that compose Expedition 39, as well as the six astronauts that compose Expedition 40. After docking with the ISS, the Dragon capsule was unloaded and eventually released, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean on May 18....
  • NASA: Humans on Mars by 2035 is 'primary focus'

    06/01/2014 1:02:02 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 23 replies
    chron.com ^ | May 29, 2014 | Carol Christian |
    NASA has been talking about sending people to Mars by 2035. That goal is still on the books, despite recent upheaval in the space program, according to two of the agency's top scientists. "In the near term, Mars remains our primary focus," Ellen Stofan, NASA's chief scientist said May 15 in a talk at the Royal Institution in London ... ....scientists [also] decided to "redirect" an asteroid into an orbit of the moon and are searching for an asteroid that's an appropriate candidate. "Once we find the right one, we'll use all the technology we've got," he said. "We'll snag...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Halo of the Cat's Eye

    06/01/2014 12:08:32 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | June 01, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The Cat's Eye Nebula (NGC 6543) is one of the best known planetary nebulae in the sky. Its haunting symmetries are seen in the very central region of this stunning false-color picture, processed to reveal the enormous but extremely faint halo of gaseous material, over three light-years across, which surrounds the brighter, familiar planetary nebula. Made with data from the Nordic Optical Telescope in the Canary Islands, the composite picture shows extended emission from the nebula. Planetary nebulae have long been appreciated as a final phase in the life of a sun-like star. Only much more recently however, have...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Satellite Station and Southern Skies

    05/31/2014 4:30:02 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | May 31, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This clear night skyscape captures the colorful glow of aurora australis, the southern lights, just outside the port city of Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, planet Earth. As if staring into the dreamlike scene, the Tasmanian Earth Resources Satellite Station poses in the center, illuminated by nearby city lights. Used to receive data from spacebased Earth observing instruments, including NASA's MODIS and SeaWiFS, the station was decommissioned in 2011 and dismantled only recently, shortly after the picture was taken on April 30. Still shining in southern skies though, the central bulge of our Milky Way galaxy and two bright satellite galaxies...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Planetary Nebula Abell 36

    05/30/2014 6:49:55 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | May 30, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The gorgeous, gaseous shroud of a dying sunlike star, planetary nebula Abell 36 lies a mere 800 light-years away in the constellation of Virgo. At that distance it spans over 1.5 light-years in this sharp telescopic view. Shrugging off its outer layers, the nebula's central star is contracting and becoming hotter, evolving towards a final white dwarf phase. In fact, in Abell 36, the central star is estimated to have a surface temperature of over 73,000 K, compared to the Sun's present 6,000 K temperature. As a result, the intensely hot star is much brighter in ultraviolet light, compared...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Millions of Stars in Omega Centauri

    05/29/2014 4:13:47 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | May 29, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Globular star cluster Omega Centauri, also known as NGC 5139, is some 15,000 light-years away. The cluster is packed with about 10 million stars much older than the Sun within a volume about 150 light-years in diameter, the largest and brightest of 200 or so known globular clusters that roam the halo of our Milky Way galaxy. Though most star clusters consist of stars with the same age and composition, the enigmatic Omega Cen exhibits the presence of different stellar populations with a spread of ages and chemical abundances. In fact, Omega Cen may be the remnant core of...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Cone Nebula from Hubble

    05/28/2014 5:06:42 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 11 replies
    NASA ^ | May 28, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Stars are forming in the gigantic dust pillar called the Cone Nebula. Cones, pillars, and majestic flowing shapes abound in stellar nurseries where natal clouds of gas and dust are buffeted by energetic winds from newborn stars. The Cone Nebula, a well-known example, lies within the bright galactic star-forming region NGC 2264. The Cone was captured in unprecedented detail in this close-up composite of several observations from the Earth-orbiting Hubble Space Telescope. While the Cone Nebula, about 2,500 light-years away in Monoceros, is around 7 light-years long, the region pictured here surrounding the cone's blunted head is a mere...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Star Factory Messier 17

    05/26/2014 10:20:59 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 13 replies
    NASA ^ | May 27, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's happening at the center of this nebula? Sculpted by stellar winds and radiation, the star factory known as Messier 17 lies some 5,500 light-years away in the nebula-rich constellation Sagittarius. At that distance, this degree wide field of view spans almost 100 light-years. The sharp, composite, color image utilizing data from space and ground based telescopes, follows faint details of the region's gas and dust clouds against a backdrop of central Milky Way stars. Stellar winds and energetic light from hot, massive stars formed from M17's stock of cosmic gas and dust have slowly carved away at the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- An ALMA Telescope Array Time-Lapse

    05/26/2014 10:17:43 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | May 26, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: It is the most expensive and complex ground-based astronomy project ever -- what will it see tonight? The Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) project consists of 66 dishes, many the size of a small house, situated in the high altitude Atacama Desert in Northern Chile. Together, ALMA observes the skies in high-frequency radio light, a band usually used only for local communication due to considerable absorption by humid air. The thin atmosphere and low humidity above ALMA, however, enable it to see deep into our universe in new and unique ways that allow, for example, explorations of the early...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Camelopardalids and ISS

    05/25/2014 1:29:44 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | May 25, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: From a camp on the northern shores of the Great Lake Erie, three short bright meteor streaks were captured in this composited night skyscape. Recorded over the early morning hours of May 24, the meteors are elusive Camelopardalids. Their trails point back to the meteor shower's radiant near Polaris, in the large but faint constellation Camelopardalis the camel leopard, or in modern terms the Giraffe. While a few meteors did appear, the shower was not an active one as the Earth crossed through the predicted debris trail of periodic comet 209P/LINEAR. Of course, the long bright streak in the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Circumhorizontal Arc Over Ohio

    05/23/2014 9:51:32 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | May 24, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Why would clouds appear to be different colors? The reason here is that ice crystals in distant cirrus clouds are acting like little floating prisms. Sometimes known as a fire rainbow for its flame-like appearance, a circumhorizon arc lies parallel to the horizon. For a circumhorizontal arc to be visible, the Sun must be at least 58 degrees high in a sky where cirrus clouds are present. Furthermore, the numerous, flat, hexagonal ice-crystals that compose the cirrus cloud must be aligned horizontally to properly refract sunlight in a collectively similar manner. Therefore, circumhorizontal arcs are quite unusual to see....
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Rosetta's Target Comet

    05/23/2014 1:23:01 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | May 23, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The Rosetta spacecraft captured this remarkable series of 9 frames between March 27 and May 4, as it closed from 5 million to 2 million kilometers of its target comet. Cruising along a 6.5 year orbit toward closest approach to the Sun next year, periodic comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is seen moving past a distant background of stars in Ophiuchus and globular star cluster M107. The comet's developing coma is actually visible by the end of the sequence, extending for some 1300 km into space. Rosetta is scheduled for an early August rendezvous with the comet's nucleus. Now clearly active, the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Halo for NGC 6164

    05/22/2014 3:36:16 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | May 22, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Beautiful emission nebula NGC 6164 was created by a rare, hot, luminous O-type star, some 40 times as massive as the Sun. Seen at the center of the cosmic cloud, the star is a mere 3 to 4 million years old. In another three to four million years the massive star will end its life in a supernova explosion. Spanning around 4 light-years, the nebula itself has a bipolar symmetry. That makes it similar in appearance to more common and familiar planetary nebulae - the gaseous shrouds surrounding dying sun-like stars. Also like many planetary nebulae, NGC 6164 has...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Supercell Storm Cloud Forming over Wyoming

    05/22/2014 3:32:49 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | May 21, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: How do supercell storm clouds form? Pictured above is a time-lapse video taken last Sunday detailing the formation of one such violent supercell in eastern Wyoming, USA. Starting as part of a large and dark thunderstorm complex, the supercell comes together along with a large rotating updraft of air known as a mesocyclone. Mesocyclones form during rapid changes in wind speed and direction with height and can produce torrential rain, damaging hail, swirling winds, and sometimes tornadoes. Storm watchers are seen studying, imaging, and ultimately running from the developing storm cloud during the video. During the middle part of...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- In the Center of Spiral Galaxy M61

    05/20/2014 4:19:50 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | May 20, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: M61 is a barred spiral galaxy located in the nearby Virgo Cluster of Galaxies. Visible in M61 are a host of features common to spiral galaxies: bright spiral arms, a central bar, dust lanes, and bright knots of stars. M61, also known as NGC 4303, in similar to our own Milky Way Galaxy. M61 was discovered by telescope in 1779 twice on the same day, but one observer initially mistook the galaxy for a comet. Light from M61 takes about 55 million years to reach us. The above image of the central regions of M61 was taken with the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Meteors, Planes, and a Galaxy over Bryce Canyon

    05/19/2014 3:51:18 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 16 replies
    NASA ^ | May 19, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Sometimes land and sky are both busy and beautiful. The landscape pictured in the foreground encompasses Bryce Canyon in Utah, USA, famous for its many interesting rock structures eroded over millions of years. The skyscape above, photogenic in its own right, encompasses the arching central disk of our Milky Way Galaxy, streaks that include three passing airplanes and at least four Eta Aquariid meteors, and bright stars that include the Summer Triangle. The above image is a digital panorama created from 12 smaller images earlier this month on the night May 6. If you missed the recent Eta Aquariids...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Jupiter's Great Red Spot from Voyager 1

    05/18/2014 10:06:01 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 27 replies
    NASA ^ | May 18, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What will become of Jupiter's Great Red Spot? Recorded as shrinking since the 1930s, the rate of the Great Red Spot's size appears to have accelerated just in the past few years. A hurricane larger than Earth, the Great Red Spot has been raging at least as long as telescopes could see it. Like most astronomical phenomena, the Great Red Spot was neither predicted nor immediately understood after its discovery. Although small eddies that feed into the storm system seem to play a role, a more full understanding of the gigantic storm cloud remains a topic of continued research,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Hubble's Jupiter and the Amazing Shrinking Great Red Spot

    05/17/2014 5:30:04 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | May 17, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Gas giant Jupiter is the solar system's largest world with about 320 times the mass of planet Earth. It's also known for a giant swirling storm system, the Great Red Spot, featured in this sharp Hubble image from April 21. Nestled between Jupiter-girdling cloud bands, the Great Red Spot itself could still easily swallow Earth, but lately it has been shrinking. The most recent Hubble observations measure the spot to be about 10,250 miles (16,500 kilometers) across. That's the smallest ever measured by Hubble and particularly dramatic when compared to 14,500 miles measured by the Voyager 1 and 2...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Opportunity's Mars Analemma

    05/15/2014 9:34:33 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | May 16, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Staring up into the martian sky, the Opportunity rover captured an image at 11:02 AM local mean time nearly every 3rd sol, or martian day, for 1 martian year. Of course, the result is this martian analemma, a curve tracing the Sun's motion through the sky in the course of a year (668 sols) on the Red Planet. Spanning Earth dates from July, 16, 2006 to June 2, 2008 the images are shown composited in this zenith-centered, fisheye projection. North is at the top surrounded by a panoramic sky and landscape made in late 2007 from inside Victoria crater....
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Voyager's Neptune

    05/15/2014 9:34:26 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | May 15, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Cruising through the outer solar system, the Voyager 2 spacecraft made its closest approach to Neptune on August 25, 1989, the only spacecraft to visit the most distant gas giant. Based on the images recorded during its close encounter and in the following days, this inspired composited scene covers the dim outer planet, largest moon Triton, and faint system of rings. From just beyond Neptune's orbit, the interplanetary perspective looks back toward the Sun, capturing the planet and Triton as thin sunlit crescents. Cirrus clouds and a dark band circle Neptune's south polar region, with a cloudy vortex above...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Live View from the International Space Station

    05/14/2014 7:04:17 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | May 14, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: If you were floating above the Earth right now, this is what you might see. Two weeks ago, the robotic SpaceX Dragon capsule that delivered supplies to the Earth-orbiting International Space Station (ISS) also delivered High Definition Earth Viewing (HDEV) cameras that take and transmit live views of Earth. Pictured above, when working, is the live video feed that switches between four cameras, each pointed differently. Watch white clouds, tan land, and blue oceans drift by. The above video will appear black when it is nighttime on the Earth below, but the space station's rapid 90-minute orbit compresses this...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- CG4: A Ruptured Cometary Globule

    05/12/2014 9:09:25 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | May 13, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Can a gas cloud grab a galaxy? It's not even close. The "claw" of this odd looking "creature" in the above photo is a gas cloud known as a cometary globule. This globule, however, has ruptured. Cometary globules are typically characterized by dusty heads and elongated tails. These features cause cometary globules to have visual similarities to comets, but in reality they are very much different. Globules are frequently the birthplaces of stars, and many show very young stars in their heads. The reason for the rupture in the head of this object is not completely known. The galaxy...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Illustris Simulation of the Universe

    05/12/2014 8:58:46 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | May 12, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: How did we get here? Click play, sit back, and watch. A new computer simulation of the evolution of the universe -- the largest and most sophisticated yet produced -- provides new insight into how galaxies formed and new perspectives into humanity's place in the universe. The Illustris project -- the largest of its type yet -- exhausted 20 million CPU hours following 12 billion resolution elements spanning a cube 35 million light years on a side as it evolved over 13 billion years. The simulation is the first to track matter into the formation of a wide variety...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Valles Marineris: The Grand Canyon of Mars

    05/12/2014 8:54:54 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | May 11, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The largest canyon in the Solar System cuts a wide swath across the face of Mars. Named Valles Marineris, the grand valley extends over 3,000 kilometers long, spans as much as 600 kilometers across, and delves as much as 8 kilometers deep. By comparison, the Earth's Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA is 800 kilometers long, 30 kilometers across, and 1.8 kilometers deep. The origin of the Valles Marineris remains unknown, although a leading hypothesis holds that it started as a crack billions of years ago as the planet cooled. Several geologic processes have been identified in the canyon. The...
  • Can Super-Fast Stars Unveil Dark Matter’s Secrets?

    05/12/2014 11:38:24 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 13 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | May 12, 2014 | Elizabeth Howell on
    A star was recently spotted speeding at 1.4 million miles an hour (2.2 million km/hr), which happened to be the closest and second-brightest of the so-called “hypervelocity” stars found so far. ... LAMOST-HVS1 (as the object is called, after the Chinese Large Sky Area Multi-Object Fiber Spectroscopic Telescope that discovered it) is about three times faster than most other stars found. It’s in a cluster of similar hypervelocity stars above the Milky Way’s disk and from its motion, scientists suspect it actually came from our galaxy’s center. What’s interesting about the star, besides its pure speed, is it is travelling...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Inside the Flame Nebula

    05/10/2014 5:52:52 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | May 10, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The Flame Nebula stands out in this optical image of the dusty, crowded star forming regions toward Orion's belt, a mere 1,400 light-years away. X-ray data from the Chandra Observatory and infrared images from the Spitzer Space Telescope can take you inside the glowing gas and obscuring dust clouds though. Swiping your cursor (or clicking the image) will reveal many stars of the recently formed, embedded cluster NGC 2024, ranging in age from 200,000 years to 1.5 million years young. The X-ray/infrared composite image overlay spans about 15 light-years across the Flame's center. The X-ray/infrared data also indicate that...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Halley Dust and Milky Way

    05/10/2014 5:49:02 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | May 09, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The early morning hours of May 6 were moonless when grains of cosmic dust streaked through dark skies. Swept up as planet Earth plows through dusty debris streams left behind periodic Comet Halley, the annual meteor shower is known as the Eta Aquarids. This inspired exposure captures a meteor streak moving left to right through the frame. Its trail points back across the arc of the Milky Way to the shower's radiant above the local horizon in the constellation Aquarius. Known for speed Eta Aquarid meteors move fast, entering the atmosphere at about 66 kilometers per second. Still waters...
  • Astronomers find Sun's 'long-lost brother,' pave way for family reunion

    05/09/2014 1:21:14 PM PDT · by Red Badger · 8 replies
    Phys.Org ^ | 05-09-2014 | Provided by University of Texas at Austin
    (Phys.org) —A team of researchers led by astronomer Ivan Ramirez of The University of Texas at Austin has identified the first "sibling" of the sun—a star almost certainly born from the same cloud of gas and dust as our star. Ramirez's methods will help astronomers find other solar siblings, which could lead to an understanding of how and where our sun formed, and how our solar system became hospitable for life. The work appears in the June 1 issue of The Astrophysical Journal. "We want to know where we were born," Ramirez said. "If we can figure out in what...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Tail of the Hamburger Galaxy

    05/08/2014 4:10:53 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 20 replies
    NASA ^ | May 08, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Sharp telescopic views of NGC 3628 show a puffy galactic disk divided by dark dust lanes. Of course, this deep portrait of the magnificent, edge-on spiral galaxy puts some astronomers in mind of its popular moniker, the Hamburger Galaxy. It also reveals a small galaxy nearby, likely a satellite of NGC 3628, and a faint but extensive tidal tail. The tantalizing island universe itself is about 100,000 light-years across and 35 million light-years away in the northern springtime constellation Leo. Its drawn out tail stretches for about 300,000 light-years, even beyond the left edge of the wide frame. NGC...