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Jeffrey Lapin
66,077 followers -
Attorney- Owner of Lapin Law Offices - Personal Injury Lawyer - Workers' Compensation Lawyer - Disability Lawyer
Attorney- Owner of Lapin Law Offices - Personal Injury Lawyer - Workers' Compensation Lawyer - Disability Lawyer

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The Kepler-90 Planetary System
Illustration Credit: NASA Ames, Wendy Stenzel
https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap171218.html

Do other stars have planetary systems like our own? Yes -- one such system is Kepler-90. Cataloged by the orbiting Kepler satellite, an eighth planet has now been discovered giving Kepler-90 the same number of known planets as our Solar System. Similarities between Kepler-90 and our system include a G-type star comparable to our Sun, rocky planets comparable to our Earth, and large planets comparable in size to Jupiter and Saturn. Differences include that all of the known Kepler-90 planets orbit relatively close in -- closer than Earth's orbit around the Sun -- making them possibly too hot to harbor life. However, observations over longer time periods may discover cooler planets further out. Kepler-90 lies about 2,500 light years away, and at magnitude 14 is visible with a medium-sized telescope toward the constellation of the Dragon (Draco). Exoplanet-finding missions planned for launch in the next decade include TESS, JWST, WFIRST, and PLATO.
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The Einstein Cross Gravitational Lens
Image Credit & Copyright: J. Rhoads (Arizona State U.) et al., WIYN, AURA, NOAO, NSF
https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap171217.html

Most galaxies have a single nucleus -- does this galaxy have four? The strange answer leads astronomers to conclude that the nucleus of the surrounding galaxy is not even visible in this image. The central cloverleaf is rather light emitted from a background quasar. The gravitational field of the visible foreground galaxy breaks light from this distant quasar into four distinct images. The quasar must be properly aligned behind the center of a massive galaxy for a mirage like this to be evident. The general effect is known as gravitational lensing, and this specific case is known as the Einstein Cross. Stranger still, the images of the Einstein Cross vary in relative brightness, enhanced occasionally by the additional gravitational microlensing effect of specific stars in the foreground galaxy.
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Geminids of the North
Image Credit & Copyright: Yin Hao
https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap171215.html

Earth's annual Geminid meteor shower did not disappoint as our fair planet plowed through dust from active asteroid 3200 Phaethon. Captured in this northern hemisphere nightscape, the meteors stream away from the shower's radiant in Gemini. To create the image, 37 individual frames recording meteor streaks were taken over period of 8.5 hours during the night of December 12/13. In the final composite they were selected and registered against the starry sky above a radio telescope dish of MUSER, a solar-dedicated radio telescope array at astronomically-named Mingantu Station in Inner Mongolia, China, about 400 kilometers from Beijing. Sirius, alpha star of Canis Major, shines brightly just above the radio dish and the Milky Way stretches toward the zenith. Yellowish Betelgeuse is a standout in Orion to the right of the northen Milky Way. The shower's radiant is at top left, high above the horizon near Castor and Pollux the twin stars of Gemini. The radiant effect is due to perspective as the parallel meteor tracks appear to converge in the distance. Gemini's meteors enter Earth's atmosphere traveling at about 22 kilometers per second.
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Jupiter Diving
Image Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech, SwRI, MSSS, Gerald Eichstadt, Justin Cowart
https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap171214.html

Take this simulated plunge and dive into the upper atmosphere of Jupiter, the Solar System's ruling gas giant. The awesome animation is based on image data from JunoCam, and the microwave radiometer on board the Jupiter-orbiting Juno spacecraft. You're view will start about 3,000 kilometers above the southern Jovian cloud tops, but you can track your progress on the display at the left. As altitude decreases, temperature increases while you dive deeper at the location of Jupiter's famous Great Red Spot. In fact, Juno data indicates the Great Red Spot, the Solar System's largest storm system, penetrates some 300 kilometers into the giant planet's atmosphere. For comparison, the deepest point for planet Earth's oceans is just under 11 kilometers down. Don't panic though, you'll fly back out again.
2017 December 14

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Meteors over Inner Mongolia
Image Credit & Copyright: Haitong Yu
https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap171213.html

Did you ever get caught in a meteor shower? If yes, then every minute or so the sky sparked with fleeting flashes of light. This was the fate of the pictured astrophotographer during last year's Perseids meteor shower. During the featured three-hour image composite, about 90 Perseids rained down above Lake Duolun of Inner Mongolia, China. If you trace back the meteor streaks, you will find that most of them appear to radiate from a single constellation -- in this case Perseus. In fact, you can even tell which meteors are not Perseids because they track differently. Tonight promises to be another good night to get caught in a meteor shower because it is the peak for the Geminids. Gemini, the shower radiant, should rise shortly after sunset and be visible most of the night.
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Mercury Visualized from MESSENGER
Video Credit: NASA, JHUAPL, CIW; Processing: Roman Tkachenko; Music: Open Sea Morning by Puddle of Infinity
https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap171211.html

What would it be like to fly over the planet Mercury? Images and data taken from NASA's robotic MESSENGER spacecraft that orbited Mercury from 2011 to 2015 have been digitally combined to envision a virtual flight that highlights much of the hot planet's surface. In general, the Solar System's innermost world appears similar to Earth's Moon as it is covered by a heavily cratered gray terrain. MESSENGER discovered much about Mercury including that shadows near its poles likely host water ice. The featured video opens as Mercury is viewed from the Sun-facing side and concludes with the virtual spacecraft retreating into Mercury's night. Mercury actually rotates so slowly that it only completes three rotations for every two trips around the Sun. In 2018, Europe and Japan plan to launch BepiColombo to better map Mercury's surface and probe its magnetic field.
2017 December 11

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In Green Company: Aurora over Norway
Image Credit & Copyright: Max Rive
https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap171210.html

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 is nearing Solar Minimum and hence showing relatively little surface activity, holes in the upper corona have provided some nice auroral displays over the last few months.
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Stardust in Aries
Image Credit & Copyright: Rogelio Bernal Andreo (Deep Sky Colors)
https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap171209.html

This composition in stardust covers over 8 degrees on the northern sky. The mosaicked field of view is west of the familiar Pleiades star cluster, toward the zodiacal constellation Aries and the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy. At right in the deep skyscape is bluish Epsilon Arietis, a star visible to the naked-eye and about 330 light-years away. Reflecting starlight in the region, dusty nebulae LBN762, LBN753, and LBN743 sprawl left to right across the field, but are likely some 1,000 light-years away. At that estimated distance, the cosmic canvas is over 140 light-years across. Near the edge of a large molecular cloud, their dark interiors can hide newly formed stars and young stellar objects or protostars from prying optical telescopes. Collapsing due to self-gravity, the protostars form around dense cores embedded in the molecular cloud.
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Alpine Superga Moonset
Image Credit & Copyright: Stefano De Rosa
https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap171208.html

December's Full Moon phase occurred near perigee, the closest point in its orbit around our fair planet. Big and bright, the fully illuminated lunar disk sets over rugged mountains in this early morningscape from Turin, Italy. Captured just before sunrise on the opposite horizon, scattered sunlight near the edge of Earth's shadow provides the beautiful reddish glow of the alpine peaks. Hills in the foreground are still in shadow. But the scattered sunlight just illuminates the dome and towers of Turin's historic Basilica of Superga on a hilltop near the lower right in the telephoto frame.
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All the Eclipses of 2017
Image Credit & Copyright: Petr Horálek
https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap171207.html

As seen from planet Earth, all the lunar and solar eclipses of 2017 are represented at the same scale in these four panels. The year's celestial shadow play was followed through four different countries by one adventurous eclipse chaser. To kick off the eclipse season, at top left February's Full Moon was captured from the Czech Republic. Its subtle shading, a penumbral lunar eclipse, is due to Earth's lighter outer shadow. Later that month the New Moon at top right was surrounded by a ring of fire, recorded on film from Argentina near the midpoint of striking annular solar eclipse. The August eclipse pairing below finds the Earth's dark umbral shadow in a partial eclipse from Germany at left, and the vibrant solar corona surrounding a totally eclipsed Sun from the western USA. If you're keeping score, the Saros numbers (eclipse cycles) for all the 2017 eclipses are at bottom left in each panel.
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