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Astronomy Picture of the Day (APoD)
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Discover the cosmos!
Discover the cosmos!

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IC 1396: Emission Nebula in Cepheus
Image Credit & Copyright: César Blanco González
https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap170720.html

Stunning emission nebula IC 1396 mixes glowing cosmic gas and dark dust clouds in the high and far off constellation of Cepheus. Energized by the bright central star seen here, this star forming region sprawls across hundreds of light-years, spanning over three degrees on the sky while nearly 3,000 light-years from planet Earth. Among the intriguing dark shapes within IC 1396, the winding Elephant's Trunk nebula lies just below center. Stars could still be forming inside the dark shapes by gravitational collapse. But as the denser clouds are eroded away by powerful stellar winds and radiation, any forming stars will ultimately be cutoff from the reservoir of star stuff. The gorgeous color view is a composition of image data from narrowband filters, mapping emission from the nebula's atomic oxygen, hydrogen, and sulfur into blue, green, and red hues.
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Ireson Hill on Mars
Image Credit: +NASA, +NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Caltech, MSSS
https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap170719.html

What created this unusual hill on Mars? Its history has become a topic of research, but its shape and two-tone structure makes it one of the more unusual hills that the robotic Curiosity rover on Mars has rolled near. Dubbed Ireson Hill, the mound rises about 5 meters high and spans about 15 meters across. Ireson Hill is located on the Bagnold Dune field on the slope of Mount Sharp in Gale Crater on Mars. The featured 41-image panorama has been horizontally compressed to include the entire hill. The image was taken on February 2 and released last week. Because Mars is moving behind the Sun as seen from the Earth, NASA will soon stop sending commands to its Martian orbiters and rovers until about August 1.
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Thunder Moon over Pisa
Image Credit & Copyright: Marco Meniero
https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap170718.html

What's wrong with this picture? If you figure it out, you may then realize where the image was taken. The oddity lies actually in one of the buildings -- it leans. The Leaning Tower of Pisa has been an iconic legend since shortly after its construction began in the year 1173. Now part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, folklore holds that Galileo used the leaning tower to dramatically demonstrate the gravitational principle that objects of different mass fall the same. Between the Leaning Tower of Pisa on the right and Pisa Cathedral and the Pisa Baptistery on the left, a full "Thunder" moon was visible last week when the image was taken. Using modern analyses, the tower has been successfully stabilized and, barring the unexpected, should hold its present tilt for the next 200 years.
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Moon Shadow versus Sun Reflection
Image Credit: Himawari-8, +NASA's SVS (GSFC)
https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap170717.html

What are those lights and shadows crossing the Earth? As the featured five-second time-lapse video progresses, a full day on planet Earth is depicted as seen from Japan's Himawari-8 satellite in geostationary orbit high above the Pacific Ocean. The Sun rises to the right and sets to the left, illuminating the half of Earth that is most directly below. A reflected image of the Sun -- a Sun glint -- is visible as a bright spot that moves from right to left. More unusual, though, is the dark spot that moves from the lower left to upper right That is the shadow of the Moon, and it can only appear when the Moon goes directly between the Earth and the Sun. Last year, on the day these images were taken, the most deeply shadowed region experienced a total eclipse of the Sun. Next month a similarly dark shadow will sweep right across the USA.
2017 July 17

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Lightning Eclipse from the Planet of the Goats
Image Credit & Copyright: Chris Kotsiopoulos (GreekSky)
https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap170716.html

Thunderstorms almost spoiled this view of the spectacular 2011 June 15 total lunar eclipse. Instead, storm clouds parted for 10 minutes during the total eclipse phase and lightning bolts contributed to the dramatic sky. Captured with a 30-second exposure the scene also inspired one of the more memorable titles (thanks to the astrophotographer) in APOD's now 22-year history. Of course, the lightning reference clearly makes sense, and the shadow play of the dark lunar eclipse was widely viewed across planet Earth in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. The picture itself, however, was shot from the Greek island of Ikaria at Pezi. That area is known as "the planet of the goats" because of the rough terrain and strange looking rocks.
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Close-up of The Great Red Spot
Image Credit: +NASA, Juno, SwRI, MSSS, Gerald Eichstadt, Sean Doran
https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap170715.html

On July 11, the Juno spacecraft once again swung near to Jupiter's turbulent cloud tops in its looping 53 day orbit around the Solar System's ruling gas giant. About 11 minutes after perijove 7, its closest approach on this orbit, it passed directly above Jupiter's Great Red Spot. During the much anticipated fly over, it captured this close-up image data from a distance of less than 10,000 kilometers. The raw JunoCam data was subsequently processed by citizen scientists. Very long-lived but found to be shrinking, the Solar System's largest storm system was measure to be 16,350 kilometers wide on April 15. That's about 1.3 times the diameter of planet Earth.
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NGC 4449: Close-up of a Small Galaxy
Image Credit & Copyright: Data - Hubble Legacy Archive, +European Space Agency, ESA, +NASA; Processing - Domingo Pestana Galvan, Raul Villaverde Fraile
https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap170714.html

(xxxedit and linkxxx) Grand spiral galaxies often seem to get all the glory. Their young, blue star clusters and pink star forming regions along sweeping spiral arms are guaranteed to attract attention. But small irregular galaxies form stars too, like NGC 4449, about 12 million light-years distant. Less than 20,000 light-years across, the small island universe is similar in size, and often compared to our Milky Way's satellite galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). This remarkable Hubble Space Telescope close-up of the well-studied galaxy was reprocessed to highlight the telltale reddish glow of hydrogen gas. The glow traces NGC 4449's widespread star forming regions, some even larger than those in the LMC, with enormous interstellar arcs and bubbles blown by short-lived, massive stars. NGC 4449 is a member of a group of galaxies found in the constellation Canes Venatici. It also holds the distinction of being the first dwarf galaxy with an identified tidal star stream.
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Full Moon and Boston Light
Image Credit & Copyright: Babak Tafreshi (TWAN)
https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap170713.html

This well-planned telephoto timelapse captures July's Full Moon rise across outer Boston Harbor, Massachusetts, planet Earth. In the foreground, the historic terrestrial beacon is known as Boston Light. July's Full Moon is known to some as a Thunder Moon, likely a reference to the sounds of the northern summer month's typically stormy weather. But the eastern sky was clear for this video sequence. Near the horizon, the long sight-line through atmospheric layers filters and refracts the moonlight, causing the rising Moon's reddened color, ragged edges and distorted shape.
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Messier 63: The Sunflower Galaxy
Image Credit & Copyright: Data - Hubble Legacy Archive, Subaru Telescope (NAOJ), Don Goldman; Processing - Robert Gendler, Roberto Colombari, Don Goldman
https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap170712.html

A bright spiral galaxy of the northern sky, Messier 63 is about 25 million light-years distant in the loyal constellation Canes Venatici. Also cataloged as NGC 5055, the majestic island universe is nearly 100,000 light-years across. That's about the size of our own Milky Way Galaxy. Known by the popular moniker, The Sunflower Galaxy, M63 sports a bright yellowish core in this sharp composite image from space- and ground-based telescopes. Its sweeping blue spiral arms are streaked with cosmic dust lanes and dotted with pink star forming regions. A dominant member of a known galaxy group, M63 has faint, extended features that are likely star streams from tidally disrupted satellite galaxies. M63 shines across the electromagnetic spectrum and is thought to have undergone bursts of intense star formation.
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Star Cluster Omega Centauri in HDR
Image Credit & Copyright: Mike O'Day
https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap170711.html

Behold the largest ball of stars in our galaxy. Omega Centauri is packed with about 10 million stars, many older than our Sun and packed within a volume of only about 150 light-years in diameter. The star cluster is 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 a small galaxy merging with the Milky Way. The featured image shows so many stars because it merged different exposures with high dynamic range (HDR) techniques. Omega Centauri, also known as NGC 5139, lies about 15,000 light-years away toward the southern constellation of the Centaurus.
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