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Astronomy Picture of the Day (General/Chat)

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  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - A Triple View of Comet ZTF

    01/31/2023 12:55:21 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 5 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 31 Jan, 2023 | Image Credit & Copyright: Javier Caldera & Miguel Gracia
    Explanation: Comet ZTF has a distinctive shape. The now bright comet visiting the inner Solar System has been showing not only a common dust tail, ion tail, and green gas coma, but also an uncommonly distinctive antitail. The antitail does not actually lead the comet -- it is just that the head of the comet is seen superposed on part of the fanned-out and trailing dust tail. The giant dirty snowball that is Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) has now passed its closest to the Sun and tomorrow will pass its closest to the Earth. The main panel of the featured...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Globular Star Cluster NGC 6355 from Hubble

    01/30/2023 1:19:14 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 10 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 30 Jan, 2023 | Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, E. Noyola, R. Cohen
    Explanation: Globular clusters once ruled the Milky Way. Back in the old days, back when our Galaxy first formed, perhaps thousands of globular clusters roamed our Galaxy. Today, there are less than 200 left. Over the eons, many globular clusters were destroyed by repeated fateful encounters with each other or the Galactic center. Surviving relics are older than any Earth fossil, older than any other structures in our Galaxy, and limit the universe itself in raw age. There are few, if any, young globular clusters left in our Milky Way Galaxy because conditions are not ripe for more to form....
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Barnard 68: Dark Molecular Cloud

    01/29/2023 12:35:28 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 7 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 29 Jan, 2023 | Image Credit: FORS Team, 8.2-meter VLT Antu, ESO
    Explanation: Where did all the stars go? What used to be considered a hole in the sky is now known to astronomers as a dark molecular cloud. Here, a high concentration of dust and molecular gas absorb practically all the visible light emitted from background stars. The eerily dark surroundings help make the interiors of molecular clouds some of the coldest and most isolated places in the universe. One of the most notable of these dark absorption nebulae is a cloud toward the constellation Ophiuchus known as Barnard 68, pictured here. That no stars are visible in the center indicates...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Comet ZTF over Mount Etna

    01/28/2023 12:19:31 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 11 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 28 Jan, 2023 | Image Credit & Copyright: Dario Giannobile
    Explanation: Comet-like plumes are blowing over the volcanic peaks of Mount Etna in this wintry mountain-and-skyscape from planet Earth. The stacked and blended combination of individual exposures recorded during the cold night of January 23, also capture naked-eye Comet ZTF just above Etna's snowy slopes. Of course the effect of increasing sunlight on the comet's nucleus and the solar wind are responsible for the comet's greenish coma and broad dusty tail. This weekend Comet ZTF is dashing across northern skies between north star Polaris and the Big Dipper. From a dark site you can only just spot it as a...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Comet ZTF: Orbital Plane Crossing

    01/27/2023 12:14:30 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 4 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 27 Jan, 2023 | Image Credit & Copyright: Dan Bartlett
    Explanation: The current darling of the northern night, Comet C/2022 E3 ZTF is captured in this telescopic image from a dark sky location at June Lake, California. Of course Comet ZTF has been growing brighter in recent days, headed for its closest approach to Earth on February 1. But this view was recorded on January 23, very close to the time planet Earth crossed the orbital plane of long-period Comet ZTF. The comet's broad, whitish dust tail is still curved and fanned out away from the Sun as Comet ZTF sweeps along its orbit. Due to perspective near the orbital...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Active Galaxy NGC 1275

    01/26/2023 12:27:58 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 6 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 26 Jan, 2023 | Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage, A. Fabian (University of Cambridge, UK)
    Explanation: Active galaxy NGC 1275 is the central, dominant member of the large and relatively nearby Perseus Cluster of Galaxies. Wild-looking at visible wavelengths, the active galaxy is also a prodigious source of x-rays and radio emission. NGC 1275 accretes matter as entire galaxies fall into it, ultimately feeding a supermassive black hole at the galaxy's core. This color composite image made from Hubble Space Telescope data recorded during 2006. It highlights the resulting galactic debris and filaments of glowing gas, some up to 20,000 light-years long. The filaments persist in NGC 1275, even though the turmoil of galactic collisions...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - LDN 1622: The Boogeyman Nebula

    01/25/2023 5:33:40 AM PST · by MtnClimber · 8 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 24 Jan, 2023 | Image Credit & Copyright: Joshua Carter
    Explanation: To some, the dark shape looks like a mythical boogeyman. Scientifically, Lynds' Dark Nebula (LDN) 1622 appears against a faint background of glowing hydrogen gas only visible in long telescopic exposures of the region. In contrast, the brighter reflection nebula vdB 62 is more easily seen just above and to the right of center in the featured image. LDN 1622 lies near the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy, close on the sky to Barnard's Loop, a large cloud surrounding the rich complex of emission nebulae found in the Belt and Sword of Orion. With swept-back outlines, the obscuring...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - The Colliding Spiral Galaxies of Arp 274

    01/23/2023 2:45:19 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 8 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 23 Jan, 2023 | Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble; Processing & Copyright: Mehmet Hakan Özsaraç
    Explanation: Two galaxies are squaring off in Virgo and here are the latest pictures. When two galaxies collide, the stars that compose them usually do not. This is because galaxies are mostly empty space and, however bright, stars only take up only a small fraction of that space. But during the collision, one galaxy can rip the other apart gravitationally, and dust and gas common to both galaxies does collide. If the two galaxies merge, black holes that likely resided in each galaxy center may eventually merge. Because the distances are so large, the whole thing takes place in slow...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - In Green Company: Aurora over Norway

    01/22/2023 1:49:30 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 10 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 22 Jan, 2023 | Image Credit & Copyright: Max Rive
    Explanation: Raise your arms if you see an aurora. With those instructions, two nights went by with, well, clouds -- mostly. On the third night of returning to same peaks, though, the sky not only cleared up but lit up with a spectacular auroral display. Arms went high in the air, patience and experience paid off, and the creative featured image was captured as a composite from three separate exposures. The setting is a summit of the Austnesfjorden fjord close to the town of Svolvear on the Lofoten islands in northern Norway. The time was early 2014. Although our Sun...
  • Naked-eye Comet ZTF -

    01/21/2023 12:44:31 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 13 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 21 Jan, 2023 | Image Credit & Copyright: Óscar Martín Mesonero (Organización Salmantina de la Astronáutica y el Esp
    Explanation: Comet C/2022E3 (ZTF) no longer requires a telescope for viewing. By January 19, it could just be seen with the naked eye in this rural sky with little light pollution from a location about 20 kilometers from Salamanca, Spain. Still, telescopic images are needed to show any hint of the comet's pretty green coma, stubby whitish dust tail, and long ion tail. Its faint ion tail has been buffeted by recent solar activity. This visitor from the distant Oort cloud rounded the Sun on January 12. and is now sweeping through stars near the northern boundary of the constellation...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Galaxy Wars: M81 and M82

    01/20/2023 12:44:44 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 22 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 20 Jan, 2023 | Image Credit & Copyright: Andreas Aufschnaiter
    Explanation: The two dominant galaxies near center are far far away, 12 million light-years distant toward the northern constellation of the Great Bear. On the right, with grand spiral arms and bright yellow core is spiral galaxy M81. Also known as Bode's galaxy, M81 spans some 100,000 light-years. On the left is cigar-shaped irregular galaxy M82. The pair have been locked in gravitational combat for a billion years. Gravity from each galaxy has profoundly affected the other during a series of cosmic close encounters. Their last go-round lasted about 100 million years and likely raised density waves rippling around M81,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - The Seagull Nebula

    01/19/2023 1:49:15 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 16 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 19 Jan, 2023 | Image Credit & Copyright: Carlos Taylor
    Explanation: A broad expanse of glowing gas and dust presents a bird-like visage to astronomers from planet Earth, suggesting its popular moniker - The Seagull Nebula. Using narrowband image data, this 3-panel mosaic of the cosmic bird covers a 2.5 degree swath across the plane of the Milky Way, near the direction of Sirius, alpha star of the constellation Canis Major. Likely part of a larger shell structure swept up by successive supernova explosions, the broad Seagull Nebula is cataloged as Sh2-296 and IC 2177. The prominent bluish arc below and right of center is a bow shock from runaway...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - MACS0647: Gravitational Lensing of the Early Universe by Webb

    01/18/2023 3:30:12 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 6 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 18 Jan, 2023 | Image Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, Dan Coe (STScI), Rebecca Larson (UT), Yu-Yang Hsiao (JHU); Processing:
    Explanation: Gravitational lensing by the galaxy cluster MACS0647 -- in which the massive foreground cluster distorts and lenses the light emitted by distant background galaxies along the line of sight — is on vivid display here in this recent multi-color infrared image from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). In particular, the background source MACS0647-JD is seen to be lensed three times by the cluster. When first discovered with the Hubble Space Telescope, MACS0647-JD was observed as an amorphous blob. With Webb though, this single source is revealed to be a pair or small group of galaxies. The colors of...
  • Astronomy picture of the Day - Unexpected Clouds Toward the Andromeda Galaxy

    01/17/2023 1:36:35 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 19 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 17 Jan, 2023 | Image Credit & Copyright: Yann Sainty & Marcel Drechsler
    Explanation: Why are there oxygen-emitting arcs near the direction of the Andromeda galaxy? No one is sure. The gas arcs, shown in blue, were discovered and first confirmed by amateur astronomers just last year. The two main origin hypotheses for the arcs are that they really are close to Andromeda (M31), or that they are just coincidentally placed gas filaments in our Milky Way galaxy. Adding to the mystery is that arcs were not seen in previous deep images of M31 taken primarily in light emitted by hydrogen, and that other, more distant galaxies have not been generally noted as...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Moon Enhanced

    01/16/2023 1:00:01 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 9 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 16 Jan, 2023 | Image Credit & Copyright: Darya Kawa Mirza
    Explanation: Our Moon doesn't really look like this. Earth's Moon, Luna, doesn't naturally show this rich texture, and its colors are more subtle. But this digital creation is based on reality. The featured image is a composite of multiple images and enhanced to bring up real surface features. The enhancements, for example, show more clearly craters that illustrate the tremendous bombardment our Moon has been through during its 4.6-billion-year history. The dark areas, called maria, have fewer craters and were once seas of molten lava. Additionally, the image colors, although based on the moon's real composition, are changed and exaggerated....
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - M1: The Crab Nebula from Hubble

    01/15/2023 2:03:47 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 8 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 15 Jan, 2023 | Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble, J. Hester, A. Loll (ASU)
    Explanation: This is the mess that is left when a star explodes. The Crab Nebula, the result of a supernova seen in 1054 AD, is filled with mysterious filaments. The filaments are not only tremendously complex, but appear to have less mass than expelled in the original supernova and a higher speed than expected from a free explosion. The featured image, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, is presented in three colors chosen for scientific interest. The Crab Nebula spans about 10 light-years. In the nebula's very center lies a pulsar: a neutron star as massive as the Sun but...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Perihelion Sun 2023

    01/14/2023 11:50:06 AM PST · by MtnClimber · 3 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 14 Jan, 2023 | Image Credit & Copyright: Peter Ward (Barden Ridge Observatory)
    Explanation: Perihelion for 2023, Earth's closest approach to the Sun, was on January 4 at 16:17 UTC. That was less than 24 hours after this sharp image of the Sun's disk was recorded with telescope and H-alpha filter from Sydney, Australia, planet Earth. An H-alpha filter transmits a characteristic red light from hydrogen atoms. In views of the Sun it emphasizes the Sun's chromosphere, a region just above the solar photosphere or normally visible solar surface. In this H-alpha image of the increasingly active Sun planet-sized sunspot regions are dominated by bright splotches called plages. Dark filaments of plasma snaking...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Young Star Cluster NGC 346

    01/13/2023 12:24:30 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 4 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 13 Jan,, 2023 | Image Credit: Science - NASA, ESA, CSA, Olivia C. Jones (UK ATC), Guido De Marchi (ESTEC), Margaret
    Explanation: The most massive young star cluster in the Small Magellanic Cloud is NGC 346, embedded in our small satellite galaxy's largest star forming region some 210,000 light-years distant. Of course the massive stars of NGC 346 are short lived, but very energetic. Their winds and radiation sculpt the edges of the region's dusty molecular cloud triggering star-formation within. The star forming region also appears to contain a large population of infant stars. A mere 3 to 5 million years old and not yet burning hydrogen in their cores, the infant stars are strewn about the embedded star cluster. This...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Stardust in Perseus

    01/12/2023 1:08:27 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 10 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 12 Jan, 2023 | Image Credit & Copyright: Jack Groves
    Explanation: This cosmic expanse of dust, gas, and stars covers some 6 degrees on the sky in the heroic constellation Perseus. At upper left in the gorgeous skyscape is the intriguing young star cluster IC 348 and neighboring Flying Ghost Nebula with clouds of obscuring interstellar dust cataloged as Barnard 3 and 4. At right, another active star forming region NGC 1333 is connected by dark and dusty tendrils on the outskirts of the giant Perseus Molecular Cloud, about 850 light-years away. Other dusty nebulae are scattered around the field of view, along with the faint reddish glow of hydrogen...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Spiral Aurora over Iceland

    01/11/2023 1:27:09 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 4 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 11 Jan, 2023 | Image Credit & Copyright: Stefano Pellegrini
    Explanation: The scene may look like a fantasy, but it's really Iceland. The rock arch is named Gatklettur and located on the island's northwest coast. Some of the larger rocks in the foreground span a meter across. The fog over the rocks is really moving waves averaged over long exposures. The featured image is a composite of several foreground and background shots taken with the same camera and from the same location on the same night last November. The location was picked for its picturesque foreground, but the timing was planned for its colorful background: aurora. The spiral aurora, far...