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  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - NGC 6188: Dragons of Ara

    06/19/2024 12:20:25 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | 19 Jun, 2024 | Image Credit & Copyright: Carlos Taylor
    Explanation: Do dragons fight on the altar of the sky? Although it might appear that way, these dragons are illusions made of thin gas and dust. The emission nebula NGC 6188, home to the glowing clouds, is found about 4,000 light years away near the edge of a large molecular cloud, unseen at visible wavelengths, in the southern constellation Ara (the Altar). Massive, young stars of the embedded Ara OB1 association were formed in that region only a few million years ago, sculpting the dark shapes and powering the nebular glow with stellar winds and intense ultraviolet radiation. The recent...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Gigantic Jets over Himalayan Mountains

    06/18/2024 11:45:47 AM PDT · by MtnClimber · 27 replies
    NASA ^ | 18 Jun, 2024 | Image Credit & Copyright: Li Xuanhua
    Explanation: Yes, but can your thunderstorm do this? Pictured here are gigantic jets shooting up from a thunderstorm last week toward the Himalayan Mountains in China and Bhutan. The composite image captured four long jets that occurred only minutes apart. Gigantic jets, documented only in this century, are a type of lightning discharge that occurs between some thunderstorms and the Earth's ionosphere high above them. They are an unusual type of lightning that is much different from regular cloud-to-cloud and cloud-to-ground lightning. The bottoms of gigantic jets appear similar to a cloud-to-above strike called blue jets, while the tops appear...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Ou4: The Giant Squid Nebula

    06/17/2024 12:01:19 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | 17 Jun, 2024 | Image Credit & Copyright: Alex Linde
    Explanation: Squids on Earth aren't this big. This mysterious squid-like cosmic cloud spans nearly three full moons on planet Earth's sky. Discovered in 2011 by French astro-imager Nicolas Outters, the Squid Nebula's bipolar shape is distinguished here by the telltale blue emission from doubly ionized oxygen atoms. Though apparently surrounded by the reddish hydrogen emission region Sh2-129, the true distance and nature of the Squid Nebula have been difficult to determine. Still, one investigation suggests Ou4 really does lie within Sh2-129 some 2,300 light-years away. Consistent with that scenario, the cosmic squid would represent a spectacular outflow of material driven...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Prominences and Filaments on the Active Sun

    06/15/2024 2:45:20 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | 15 Jun, 2024 | Image Credit & Copyright: Steen Søndergaard
    Explanation: This colorized and digitally sharpened image of the Sun is composed of frames recording emission from hydrogen atoms in the solar chromosphere on May 15. Approaching the maximum of solar cycle 25, a multitude of planet-dwarfing active regions and twisting, snake-like solar filaments are seen to sprawl across the surface of the active Sun. Suspended in the active regions' strong magnetic fields, the filaments of plasma lofted beyond the Sun's edge appear as bright solar prominences. The large prominences seen near 4 o'clock, and just before 9 o'clock around the solar limb are post flare loops from two powerful...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - RCW 85

    06/14/2024 12:15:41 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | 14 Jun, 2024 | Image Credit & Copyright: Martin Pugh
    Explanation: From the 1960 astronomical catalog of Rodgers, Campbell and Whiteoak, emission region RCW 85 shines in southern night skies between bright stars Alpha and Beta Centauri. About 5,000 light years distant, the hazy interstellar cloud of glowing hydrogen gas and dust is faint. But detailed structures along well-defined rims within RCW 85 are traced in this cosmic skyscape composed of 28 hours of narrow and broadband exposures. Suggestive of dramatic shapes in other stellar nurseries where natal clouds of gas and dust are sculpted by energetic winds and radiation from newborn stars, the tantalizing nebula has been called the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Messier 66 Close Up

    06/13/2024 11:45:28 AM PDT · by MtnClimber · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | 13 Jun, 2024 | Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration. Acknowledgement: Dav
    Explanation: Big, beautiful spiral galaxy Messier 66 lies a mere 35 million light-years away. The gorgeous island universe is about 100 thousand light-years across, similar in size to the Milky Way. This Hubble Space Telescope close-up view spans a region about 30,000 light-years wide around the galactic core. It shows the galaxy's disk dramatically inclined to our line-of-sight. Surrounding its bright core, the likely home of a supermassive black hole, obscuring dust lanes and young, blue star clusters sweep along spiral arms dotted with the tell-tale glow of pinkish star forming regions. Messier 66, also known as NGC 3627, is...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Aurora over Karkonosze Mountains

    06/12/2024 11:13:51 AM PDT · by MtnClimber · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | 12 Jun, 2024 | Image Credit & Copyright: Daniel Koszela
    Explanation: It was the first time ever. At least, the first time this photographer had ever seen aurora from his home mountains. And what a spectacular aurora it was. The Karkonosze Mountains in Poland are usually too far south to see any auroras. But on the amazing night of May 10 - 11, purple and green colors lit up much of the night sky, a surprising spectacle that also appeared over many mid-latitude locations around the Earth. The featured image is a composite of six vertical exposures taken during the auroral peak. The futuristic buildings on the right are part...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Colorful Stars and Clouds near Rho Ophiuchi

    06/11/2024 12:49:27 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | 11 Jun, 2024 | Image Credit & Copyright: Craig Stocks
    Explanation: Why is the sky near Antares and Rho Ophiuchi so colorful, yet dusty? The colors result from a mixture of objects and processes. Fine dust -- illuminated by starlight -- produces blue reflection nebulae. Gaseous clouds whose atoms are excited by ultraviolet starlight produce reddish emission nebulae. Backlit dust clouds block starlight and so appear dark. Antares, a red supergiant and one of the brighter stars in the night sky, lights up the yellow-red clouds on the upper right of the featured image. The Rho Ophiuchi star system lies at the center of the blue reflection nebula on the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Sh2-132: The Lion Nebula

    06/10/2024 11:15:09 AM PDT · by MtnClimber · 11 replies
    NASA ^ | 10 Jun, 2024 | Image Credit & Copyright: Imran Badr; Text: Natalia Lewandowska (SUNY Oswego)
    Explanation: Is the Lion Nebula the real ruler of the constellation Cepheus? This powerful feline appearing nebula is powered by two massive stars, each with a mass over 20 times greater than our Sun. Formed from shells of ionized gas that have expanded, the nebula's energetic matter not only glows, but is dense enough to contract gravitationally and form stars. The angular size of the Lion Nebula, officially named Sh2-132, is slightly greater than that of the full moon. The gaseous iconic region resides about 10,000 light years away in a constellation named after the King of Aethopia in Greek...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Pandora's Cluster of Galaxies

    06/08/2024 12:07:45 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | 8 Jun, 2024 | Image Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, Ivo Labbe (Swinburne), Rachel Bezanson (University of Pittsburgh), Pro
    Explanation: This deep field mosaicked image presents a stunning view of galaxy cluster Abell 2744 recorded by the James Webb Space Telescope's NIRCam. Also dubbed Pandora's Cluster, Abell 2744 itself appears to be a ponderous merger of three different massive galaxy clusters. It lies some 3.5 billion light-years away, toward the constellation Sculptor. Dominated by dark matter, the mega-cluster warps and distorts the fabric of spacetime, gravitationally lensing even more distant objects. Redder than the Pandora cluster galaxies many of the lensed sources are very distant galaxies in the early Universe, their lensed images stretched and distorted into arcs. Of...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - SH2-308: The Dolphin Head Nebula

    06/07/2024 1:05:24 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | 7 Jun, 2024 | Image Credit & Copyright: Prabhu Kutti
    Explanation: Blown by fast winds from a hot, massive star, this cosmic bubble is huge. Cataloged as Sharpless 2-308 it lies some 5,000 light-years away toward the well-trained constellation 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 star evolution. Fast...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - NGC 4565: Galaxy on Edge

    06/06/2024 12:02:01 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 11 replies
    NASA ^ | 6 Jun, 2024 | Image Credit & Copyright: Lóránd Fényes
    Explanation: Magnificent spiral galaxy NGC 4565 is viewed edge-on from planet Earth. Also known as the Needle Galaxy for its narrow profile, bright NGC 4565 is a stop on many telescopic tours of the northern sky, in the faint but well-groomed constellation Coma Berenices. This sharp, colorful image reveals the galaxy's boxy, bulging central core cut by obscuring dust lanes that lace NGC 4565's thin galactic plane. NGC 4565 itself lies about 40 million light-years distant and spans some 100,000 light-years. Easily spotted with small telescopes, sky enthusiasts consider NGC 4565 to be a prominent celestial masterpiece Messier missed.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Shadow of a Martian Robot

    06/05/2024 11:34:01 AM PDT · by MtnClimber · 16 replies
    NASA ^ | 5 Jun, 2024 | Image Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech, MSSS, ASU, NeV-T, Perseverance Rover; Processing & Copyright: Nevil
    Explanation: What if you saw your shadow on Mars and it wasn't human? Then you might be the Perseverance rover exploring Mars. Perseverance has been examining the Red Planet since 2021, finding evidence of its complex history of volcanism and ancient flowing water, and sending breathtaking images across the inner Solar System. Pictured here in February of 2024, Perseverance looks opposite the Sun and across Neretva Vallis in Jezero Crater, with a local hill visible at the top of the frame. The distinctively non-human shadow of the car-sized rover is visible below center, superposed on scattered rocks. Perseverance, now working...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Comet Pons-Brooks Develops Opposing Tails

    06/04/2024 12:19:19 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | 4 Jun, 2024 | Image Credit & Copyright: Rolando Ligustri & Lukas Demetz
    Explanation: Why does Comet Pons-Brooks now have tails pointing in opposite directions? The most spectacular tail is the blue-glowing ion tail that is visible flowing down the image. The ion tail is pushed directly out from the Sun by the solar wind. On the upper right is the glowing central coma of Comet 12P/Pons–Brooks. Fanning out from the coma, mostly to the left, is the comet's dust tail. Pushed out and slowed down by the pressure of sunlight, the dust tail tends to trail the comet along its orbit and, from some viewing angles, can appear opposite to the ion...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - NGC 2403 in Camelopardalis

    06/03/2024 12:16:36 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | 3 Jun, 2024 | Image Credit & Copyright: (Team F.A.C.T.) Lilian Lbt - Cyrille Malo - Maxime Martin - Clément Daniel
    Explanation: Magnificent island universe NGC 2403 stands within the boundaries of the long-necked constellation Camelopardalis. Some 10 million light-years distant and about 50,000 light-years across, the spiral galaxy also seems to have more than its fair share of giant star forming HII regions, marked by the telltale reddish glow of atomic hydrogen gas. The giant HII regions are energized by clusters of hot, massive stars that explode as bright supernovae at the end of their short and furious lives. A member of the M81 group of galaxies, NGC 2403 closely resembles a galaxy in our own local galaxy group with...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Rotating Moon from LRO

    06/02/2024 1:53:13 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | 2 Jun, 2024 | Video Credit: NASA, LRO, Arizona State U.
    Explanation: No one, presently, sees the Moon rotate like this. That's because the Earth's moon is tidally locked to the Earth, showing us only one side. Given modern digital technology, however, combined with many detailed images returned by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), a high resolution virtual Moon rotation movie has been composed. The featured time-lapse video starts with the standard Earth view of the Moon. Quickly, though, Mare Orientale, a large crater with a dark center that is difficult to see from the Earth, rotates into view just below the equator. From an entire lunar month condensed into 24...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - The Nebulous Realm of WR 134

    05/31/2024 1:17:57 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | 31 May, 2024 | Image Credit & Copyright: Xin Long
    Explanation: Made with narrowband filters, this cosmic snapshot covers a field of view over twice as wide as the full Moon within the boundaries of the constellation Cygnus. It highlights the bright edge of a ring-like nebula traced by the glow of ionized hydrogen and oxygen gas. Embedded in the region's expanse of interstellar clouds, the complex, glowing arcs are sections of shells of material swept up by the wind from Wolf-Rayet star WR 134, brightest star near the center of the frame. Distance estimates put WR 134 about 6,000 light-years away, making the frame over 100 light-years across. Shedding...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - A Lunar Corona over Paris

    05/30/2024 12:18:52 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | 30 May, 2024 | Image Credit & Copyright: Valter Binotto
    Explanation: Why does a cloudy moon sometimes appear colorful? The effect, called a lunar corona, is created by the quantum mechanical diffraction of light around individual, similarly-sized water droplets in an intervening but mostly-transparent cloud. Since light of different colors has different wavelengths, each color diffracts differently. Lunar coronae are one of the few quantum mechanical color effects that can be easily seen with the unaided eye. Solar coronae are also sometimes evident. The featured image was taken last month from Paris, France. The blue beacon emanating from the Eiffel Tower did not affect the colorful lunar corona.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Stairway to the Milky Way

    05/29/2024 12:48:59 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | 29 May, 2024 | Image Credit & Copyright: Marcin Rosadziński
    Explanation: What happens if you ascend this stairway to the Milky Way? Before answering that, let's understand the beautiful sky you will see. Most eye-catching is the grand arch of the Milky Way Galaxy, the band that is the central disk of our galaxy which is straight but distorted by the wide-angle nature of this composite image. Many stars well in front of the Milk Way will be visible, with the bright white star just below the stellar arch being Altair, and the bright blue star above it being Vega. The air glows green on the left, just above the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Solar X Flare as Famous Active Region Returns

    05/28/2024 1:33:40 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 28 replies
    NASA ^ | 28 May, 2024 | Video Credit: NASA, Solar Dynamics Observatory
    Explanation: It's back. The famous active region on the Sun that created auroras visible around the Earth earlier this month has survived its rotation around the far side of the Sun -- and returned. Yesterday, as it was beginning to reappear on the Earth-facing side, the region formerly labeled AR 3664 threw another major solar flare, again in the highest-energy X-class range. The featured video shows the emerging active region on the lower left, as it was captured by NASA's Earth-orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory yesterday in ultraviolet light. The video is a time-lapse of the entire Sun rotating over 24...