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Astronomy Picture of the Day (General/Chat)

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  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - The Mountains of NGC 2174

    01/16/2021 2:14:49 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 13 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 16 Jan, 2021 | Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
    Explanation: This fantastic skyscape lies near the edge of NGC 2174 a star forming region about 6,400 light-years away in the nebula-rich constellation of Orion. It follows mountainous clouds of gas and dust carved by winds and radiation from the region's newborn stars, now found scattered in open star clusters embedded around the center of NGC 2174, off the top of the frame. Though star formation continues within these dusty cosmic clouds they will likely be dispersed by the energetic newborn stars within a few million years. Recorded at infrared wavelengths by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2014, the interstellar...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - A Plutonian Landscape

    01/15/2021 3:27:04 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 21 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 15 Jan, 2021 | Image Credit: NASA, Johns Hopkins Univ./APL, Southwest Research Institute
    Explanation: This shadowy landscape of majestic mountains and icy plains stretches toward the horizon on a small, distant world. It was captured from a range of about 18,000 kilometers when New Horizons looked back toward Pluto, 15 minutes after the spacecraft's closest approach on July 14, 2015. The dramatic, low-angle, near-twilight scene follows rugged mountains formally known as Norgay Montes from foreground left, and Hillary Montes along the horizon, giving way to smooth Sputnik Planum at right. Layers of Pluto's tenuous atmosphere are also revealed in the backlit view. With a strangely familiar appearance, the frigid terrain likely includes ices...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Dat - Aurora Slathers Up the Sky (Space Station Photo)

    01/14/2021 6:13:40 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 12 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 14 Jan, 2021 | Image Credit: Jack Fischer, Expedition 52, NASA
    Explanation: Like salsa verde on your favorite burrito, a green aurora slathers up the sky in this 2017 June 25 snapshot from the International Space Station. About 400 kilometers (250 miles) above Earth, the orbiting station is itself within the upper realm of the auroral displays. Aurorae have the signature colors of excited molecules and atoms at the low densities found at extreme altitudes. Emission from atomic oxygen dominates this view. The tantalizing glow is green at lower altitudes, but rarer reddish bands extend above the space station's horizon. The orbital scene was captured while passing over a point south...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Arches Across an Arctic Sky

    01/13/2021 2:45:49 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 13 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 13 Jan, 2021 | Image Credit & Copyright: Giulio Cobianchi
    Explanation: What are these two giant arches across the sky? Perhaps the more familiar one, on the left, is the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy. This grand disk of stars and nebulas here appears to encircle much of the southern sky. Visible below the stellar arch is the rusty-orange planet Mars and the extended Andromeda galaxy. For a few minutes during this cold arctic night, a second giant arch appeared to the right, encircling part of the northern sky: an aurora. Auroras are much closer than stars as they are composed of glowing air high in Earth's atmosphere....
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - A Historic Brazilian Constellation

    01/12/2021 3:46:28 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 10 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 12 Jan, 2021 | Image Credit & Copyright: Rodrigo Guerra
    Note: move your cursor over the photo at the link to see the line diagram of the constellation displayed. Explanation: The night sky is filled with stories. Cultures throughout history have projected some of their most enduring legends onto the stars above. Generations of people see these stellar constellations, hear the associated stories, and pass them down. Featured here is the perhaps unfamiliar constellation of the Old Man, long recognized by the Tupi peoples native to regions of South America now known as Brazil. The Old Man, in more modern vernacular, may be composed of the Hyades star cluster as...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Moon Phases in 2021

    01/11/2021 4:22:36 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 3 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 11 Jan, 2021 | Video Credit: Data: Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter ; Animation: NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio
    The image today is a video (at the link) showing Moon phases all year and the locations of the Apollo moon landings. The posted image is from the Apollo 11 landing. Explanation: What will the Moon phase be on your birthday this year? It is hard to predict because the Moon's appearance changes nightly. As the Moon orbits the Earth, the half illuminated by the Sun first becomes increasingly visible, then decreasingly visible. The featured video animates images taken by NASA's Moon-orbiting Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to show all 12 lunations that appear this year, 2021. A single lunation describes one...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Titan: Moon over Saturn

    01/09/2021 3:12:29 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 5 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 9 Jan, 2021 | Image Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech, Space Science Institute
    Explanation: Like Earth's moon, Saturn's largest moon Titan is locked in synchronous rotation. This mosaic of images recorded by the Cassini spacecraft in May of 2012 shows its anti-Saturn side, the side always facing away from the ringed gas giant. The only moon in the solar system with a dense atmosphere, Titan is the only solar system world besides Earth known to have standing bodies of liquid on its surface and an earthlike cycle of liquid rain and evaporation. Its high altitude layer of atmospheric haze is evident in the Cassini view of the 5,000 kilometer diameter moon over Saturn's...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - NGC 1365: Majestic Island Universe

    01/08/2021 1:47:35 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 9 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 8 Jan, 2021 | Image Credit & Copyright: Mike Selby, Leonardo Orazi
    Explanation: Barred spiral galaxy NGC 1365 is truly a majestic island universe some 200,000 light-years across. Located a mere 60 million light-years away toward the chemical constellation Fornax, NGC 1365 is a dominant member of the well-studied Fornax Cluster of galaxies. This impressively sharp color image shows the intense, reddish star forming regions near the ends of central bar and along the spiral arms, with details of the obscuring dust lanes cutting across the galaxy's bright core. At the core lies a supermassive black hole. Astronomers think NGC 1365's prominent bar plays a crucial role in the galaxy's evolution, drawing...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Total Solar Eclipse 2020

    01/07/2021 2:38:54 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 16 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 7 Jan, 2021 | Image Credit & Copyright: Miloslav Druckmuller, Andreas Moller, (Brno University of Technology)
    Explanation: Along a narrow path crossing southern South America through Chile and Argentina, the final New Moon of 2020 moved in front of the Sun on December 14 in the year's only total solar eclipse. Within about 2 days of perigee, the closest point in its elliptical orbit, the New Moon's surface is faintly lit by earthshine in this dramatic composite view. The image is a processed composite of 55 calibrated exposures ranging from 1/640 to 3 seconds. Covering a large range in brightness during totality, it reveals the dim lunar surface and faint background stars, along with planet-sized prominences...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Striped Sand Dunes on Mars

    01/06/2021 3:30:58 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 11 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 6 Jan, 2021 | Image Credit: HiRISE, MRO, LPL (U. Arizona), NASA; Processing: Włodek Głażewski; Text: Alex R. Howe
    Explanation: Why are these sand dunes on Mars striped? No one is sure. The featured image shows striped dunes in Kunowsky Crater on Mars, photographed recently with the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s HiRISE Camera. Many Martian dunes are known to be covered unevenly with carbon dioxide (dry ice) frost, creating patterns of light and dark areas. Carbon dioxide doesn’t melt, but sublimates, turning directly into a gas. Carbon dioxide is also a greenhouse material even as a solid, so it can trap heat under the ice and sublimate from the bottom up, causing geyser-like eruptions. During Martian spring, these eruptions can...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - The Small Cloud of Magellan

    01/05/2021 3:18:41 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 22 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 5 Jan, 2021 | Image Credit & Copyright: José Mtanous
    Explanation: What is the Small Magellanic Cloud? It has turned out to be a galaxy. People who have wondered about this little fuzzy patch in the southern sky included Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan and his crew, who had plenty of time to study the unfamiliar night sky of the south during the first circumnavigation of planet Earth in the early 1500s. As a result, two celestial wonders easily visible for southern hemisphere skygazers are now known in Western culture as the Clouds of Magellan. Within the past 100 years, research has shown that these cosmic clouds are dwarf irregular galaxies,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Sprite Lightning at 100,000 Frames Per Second

    01/04/2021 3:18:32 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 12 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 4 Jan, 2021 | Video Credit & Copyright: Matthew G McHarg, Jacob L Harley, Thomas Ashcraft, Hans Nielsen
    Explanation: What causes sprite lightning? Mysterious bursts of light in the sky that momentarily resemble gigantic jellyfish have been recorded for over 30 years, but apart from a general association with positive cloud-to-ground lightning, their root cause remains unknown. Some thunderstorms have them -- most don't. Recently, however, high speed videos are better detailing how sprites actually develop. The featured video, captured in mid-2019, is fast enough -- at about 100,000 frames per second -- to time-resolve several sprite "bombs" dropping and developing into the multi-pronged streamers that appear on still images. Unfortunately, the visual clues provided by videos like...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - A Phoenix Aurora over Iceland

    01/03/2021 4:13:02 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 25 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 3 Jan, 2021 | Image Credit & Copyright: Hallgrimur P. Helgason; Rollover Annotation: Judy Schmidt
    Explanation: All of the other aurora watchers had gone home. By 3:30 am in Iceland, on a quiet September night, much of that night's auroras had died down. Suddenly, unexpectedly, a new burst of particles streamed down from space, lighting up the Earth's atmosphere once again. This time, surprisingly, pareidoliacally, the night lit up with an amazing shape reminiscent of a giant phoenix. With camera equipment at the ready, two quick sky images were taken, followed immediately by a third of the land. The mountain in the background is Helgafell, while the small foreground river is called Kaldá, both located...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - 21st Century Wet Collodion Moon

    01/02/2021 2:55:26 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 19 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 2 Jan, 2021 | Image Credit & Copyright: Mike Smolinsky
    Explanation: In the mid 19th century, one of the first photographic technologies used to record the lunar surface was the wet-plate collodion process, notably employed by British astronomer Warren De la Rue. To capture an image, a thick, transparent mixture was used to coat a glass plate, sensitized with silver nitrate, exposed at the telescope, and then developed to create a negative image on the plate. To maintain photographic sensitivity, the entire process, from coating to exposure to developing, had to be completed before the plate dried, in a span of about 10 to 15 minutes. This modern version of...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Galaxies and the South Celestial Pole

    01/01/2021 4:30:22 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 18 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 1 Jan, 2020 | Image Credit & Copyright: Petr Horalek, Josef Kujal
    Explanation: The South Celestial Pole is easy to spot in star trail images of the southern sky. The extension of Earth's axis of rotation to the south, it's at the center of all the southern star trail arcs. In this starry panorama streching about 60 degrees across deep southern skies the South Celestial Pole is somewhere near the middle though, flanked by bright galaxies and southern celestial gems. Across the top of the frame are the stars and nebulae along the plane of our own Milky Way Galaxy. Gamma Crucis, a yellowish giant star heads the Southern Cross near top...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Trail of the Returner

    12/31/2020 3:06:17 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 2 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 31 Dec, 2020 | Image Credit & Copyright: Zhuoxiao Wang
    Explanation: Familiar stars of a northern winter's night shine in this night skyview, taken near Zhangye, Gansu, China and the border with Inner Mongolia. During the early hours of December 17 Orion is near center in the single exposure that captures a fireball streaking across the sky, almost as bright as yellowish Mars shining on the right. Splitting Gemini's twin bright stars Castor and Pollux near the top of the frame, the fireball's trail and timing are consistent with the second skipping atmospheric entry of the Chang'e 5 mission's returner capsule. The returner capsule was successfully recovered after landing in...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Jupiter and Saturn Great Conjunction: The Movie

    12/30/2020 2:55:26 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 4 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 30 Dec, 2020 | Video Credit: Thanakrit Santikunaporn (National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand); Text:
    Today's image is a video at link. Explanation: Yes, but have you seen a movie of Jupiter and Saturn's Great Conjunction? The featured time-lapse video was composed from a series of images taken from Thailand and shows the two giant planets as they angularly passed about a tenth of a degree from each other. The first Great Conjunction sequence shows a relative close up over five days with moons and cloud bands easily visible, followed by a second video sequence, zoomed out, over 9 days. Even though Jupiter and Saturn appeared to pass unusually close together on the sky on...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Earth During a Total Solar Eclipse

    12/29/2020 2:49:33 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 16 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 29 Dec, 2020 | Video Credit: GOES-16, ABI, NOAA, NASA
    Video of December 14, 2020 eclipse shadow at link. Explanation: What does the Earth look like during a total solar eclipse? It appears dark in the region where people see the eclipse, because that's where the shadow of the Moon falls. The shadow spot rapidly shoots across the Earth at nearly 2,000 kilometers per hour, darkening locations in its path -- typically for only a few minutes -- before moving on. The featured video shows the Earth during the total solar eclipse earlier this month. The time-lapse sequence, taken from a geostationary satellite, starts with the Earth below showing night...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Dat - M16: Inside the Eagle Nebula

    12/28/2020 2:33:16 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 12 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 28 Dec, 2020 | Image Credit & Copyright: Nicolas Paladini
    Explanation: From afar, the whole thing looks like an Eagle. A closer look at the Eagle Nebula, however, shows the bright region is actually a window into the center of a larger dark shell of dust. Through this window, a brightly-lit workshop appears where a whole open cluster of stars is being formed. In this cavity tall pillars and round globules of dark dust and cold molecular gas remain where stars are still forming. Already visible are several young bright blue stars whose light and winds are burning away and pushing back the remaining filaments and walls of gas and...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Cosmic Latte: The Average Color of the Universe

    12/27/2020 4:23:59 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 17 replies
    APOD.NASA.gov ^ | 27 Dec, 2020 | Color Credit: Karl Glazebrook & Ivan Baldry (JHU)
    (OK, this is the real picture that NASA posted today. The explanation is interesting, but scroll down to the photo and you will see what I mean. I will post some other photos below so the thread will have a real photo in it!) Explanation: What color is the universe? More precisely, if the entire sky were smeared out, what color would the final mix be? This whimsical question came up when trying to determine what stars are commonplace in nearby galaxies. The answer, depicted above, is a conditionally perceived shade of beige. In computer parlance: #FFF8E7. To determine this,...