09/27/2013 00:30:00 AM
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04/16/2012 04:29:00 AM
From afar, the whole thing looks like an
A closer look at the
however, shows the
region is actually a window into the center of a larger dark shell of
Through this window, a brightly-lit
where a whole open cluster
of stars is being formed.
In this cavity
tall pillars and
round globules of dark dust and cold
04/15/2012 04:22:00 AM
Did this mirage help sink the Titanic?
The optical phenomenon called
Fata Morgana can make
strange shapes or a
false wall of water appear above a watery horizon.
When conditions are right, light reflecting off of cold water will be
bent by an unusual layer of warm air above to arrive at the observer from several different angles.
A conceptually comparable
mirage can make a
04/14/2012 04:44:00 AM
How many moons does Saturn have?
So far 62 have
been discovered, the smallest only a fraction
of a kilometer across.
Six of its largest satellites can be seen here, though, in a sharp
Saturnian family portrait
taken on March 9.
Larger than Earth's Moon and even slightly larger than Mercury,
has a diameter of 5,150 kilometers and starts the line-up
at the lower left.
04/13/2012 04:52:00 AM
It was late in the northern martian spring
when the HiRISE camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
this local denizen.
Tracking south and east (down and right)
across the flat, dust-covered
the core of the
whirling dust devil is about 30 meters in diameter.
Lofting dust into the thin
atmosphere, its plume
reaches more than 800 meters above the surface.
04/12/2012 05:07:00 AM
On another April 12th,
in 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Alexseyevich Gagarin
became the first human
to see planet Earth from space.
Commenting on his
view from orbit
he reported, "The sky is very dark; the Earth is bluish.
Everything is seen very clearly".
To celebrate, consider this recent image from the orbiting
International Space Station.
A stunning view of the planet at night
04/11/2012 05:12:00 AM
Why don't those stars move?
Stars in the sky will typically appear to rise and
set as the Earth turns.
Those far to the north or south will appear to
circle the pole.
If you look closely at the
above time-lapse movie,
however, there are points of light that appear
These objects are not stars but
human-launched robotic spacecraft that remain fixed high above the
04/10/2012 05:30:00 AM
What do the following things have in common: a cone, the fur of a fox, and a Christmas tree?
Answer: they all occur in the constellation of the unicorn
Pictured above as a star forming region
cataloged as NGC 2264, the complex jumble of
cosmic gas and dust is about 2,700 light-years distant and
mixes reddish emission nebulae
excited by energetic light from
04/09/2012 05:38:00 AM
If our Sun were part of M53, the
night sky would glow like a jewel box of bright stars.
M53, also known as NGC 5024, is one of about 250
globular clusters that survive in our Galaxy.
Most of the stars in
are older and redder than our Sun, but some enigmatic stars appear to be bluer and younger.
stars might contradict the hypothesis that all the stars in
M53 formed at
04/08/2012 05:40:00 AM
How big is Jupiter's moon Io?
The most volcanic body in the Solar System,
Io (usually pronounced "EYE-oh") is
3,600 kilometers in diameter, about the size of
planet Earth's single large
at the turn of the millennium, the Cassini spacecraft captured this
inspiring view of active Io
largest gas giant as a backdrop,
offering a stunning
12/23/2011 05:23:00 AM
Similar in size to the Milky Way,
elliptical galaxy NGC 7600 is about 150 thousand light-years distant.
this deep image, spanning about 1/2 degree on
toward the constellation Aquarius, NGC 7600 sports a remarkable
outer halo of nested shells and broad circumgalactic structures.
The tantalizing features can be explained by
the accretion of
dark matter and stars on
12/22/2011 02:54:00 AM
Today the Sun stands still at 05:30 UT.
Halting its steady march toward southern declinations and
begining its annual journey north, the event is known as
In the northern hemisphere
December's solstice marks
the astronomical start of winter.
And if you're in
the Great Basin Desert outside of
Lucin, Utah, USA, near solstice dates you can watch the Sun rise
and set through
12/21/2011 02:47:00 AM
What's large and blue and can wrap itself around an entire galaxy?
A gravitational lens mirage.
the gravity of a luminous red galaxy
the light from a much more distant blue galaxy.
More typically, such light bending results in
two discernible images of the distant galaxy,
but here the
is so precise that the
12/20/2011 02:30:00 AM
NGC 253 is not only one of the brightest
spiral galaxies visible,
it is also one of the
Discovered in 1783 by Caroline Herschel in the constellation of Sculptor,
NGC 253 lies only about ten million light-years distant.
NGC 253 is the largest member of the
Sculptor Group of Galaxies, the nearest group to our own
Local Group of Galaxies.
The dense dark
accompanies a high
12/19/2011 03:56:00 AM
Some beautiful things begin as grains of sand.
Locked in an oyster, a granule grows into an iridescent
lustrous and lovely to behold.
through the atmosphere at 35 kilometers per second, a generous cosmic
sand grain becomes an awe-inspiring meteor, its transient
beauty displayed for any who care to watch.
Geminid meteor shower peaked last week with
12/18/2011 03:53:00 AM
Why do objects have mass?
To help find out,
CERN has built the
Large Hadron Collider
(LHC), the most powerful
yet created by
Since 2008, the
LHC has smashed protons into each other with unprecedented impact speeds.
The LHC is exploring the leading explanation that mass arises from
ordinary particles slogging through an otherwise
12/17/2011 03:51:00 AM
Like most other sungrazing comets, Comet Lovejoy (C/2011 W3)
was not expected to survive its
close encounter with the Sun.
But it did.
from a coronograph
onboard the sun-staring SOHO spacecraft identifies the still
remnants of the tail, with the brilliant head or coma
the solar glare on December 16.
The Sun's position, behind an occulting disk to block the
12/16/2011 04:29:00 AM
This surreal, wintry scene is a composite picture recorded on December 10 as the Moonrose behind the Zagros Mountains of Iran. A total lunar eclipse was already in progress. The image combines nearly 500 successive frames taken over 1.5 hours beginning in twilight as the eclipsed Moon steadily climbed above the rugged landscape. The reddened lunar disk and deep blue twilight make for a
12/15/2011 04:22:00 AM
The dark, inner shadow of planet Earth is called the umbra. Shaped like a cone extending into space, it has a circular cross section most easily seen during a lunar eclipse. For example, last Saturday the Full Moon slid across the southern half of Earth's umbral shadow, entertaining moonwatchers around much of the planet. In the total phase of the eclipse, the Moon was completely within the
12/14/2011 23:50:00 PM
Our Moon turned red last week. The reason was that during December 10, a total lunar eclipse occurred. The above digitally superimposed image mosaic captured the Moon many times during the eclipse, from before the Moon entered Earth's shadow until after the Moon exited. The image sequence was recorded over a Shanti Stupa Peace Pagota near the center of New Delhi, India, where the
04/04/2011 07:55:00 AM
This globethe BBC has a spinnable versionshows you how the strength of gravitational pull differs in different places around the Earth. The yellow areas were where gravity is strongest. The blue spots is where it is weakest.
The picture yo
01/03/2011 06:50:00 AM
A team of up to 20 Bank of America Corp officials, led by the chief risk officer, Bruce Thompson, have been reviewing thousands of documents amid a threat that it may be a target of WikiLeaks, The New York Times reported on Sunday.
The director of W
01/03/2011 06:36:00 AM
Of Whales and WikiLeaks: Activists clash with hunting boat as US, Japan talks revealed
01/01/2011 03:13:00 AM
Astronomy Picture of the Day Archive
Astronomy Picture of the Day 2011 Archives
Click Here for Astronomy Picture of the Day Archive 2009
Click Here for Astronomy Picture of the Day Archive 2010
2011 May 10: Gravity Probe B Confirms
12/27/2010 02:00:00 AM
Are the nearest galaxies distributed randomly? A plot of over one million of the brightest "extended sources" detected by the Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS) shows that they are not. The vast majority of these infrared extended sources are galaxies
12/27/2010 01:45:00 AM
Orion always comes up sideways ... and was caught in the act earlier this month by over a snowy landscape in Donegal, Ireland. To compose this serene picture, the photographer found a picturesque setting to the east, waited until after sunset, an
12/26/2010 01:28:00 AM
Bright stars, clouds of dust and glowing nebulae decorate this cosmic scene, a skyscape just north of Orion's belt. Close to the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy, the wide field view spans about 5.5 degrees. Striking bluish M78, a reflection nebula, i
12/25/2010 02:10:00 AM
Christmas Eve, 1968. As one of the most turbulent, tragic years in American history drew to a close, millions around the world were watching and listening as the Apollo 8 astronauts -- Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders -- became the first huma
12/25/2010 01:24:00 AM
Pointing skyward, the wall of this ruined Viking church still stands after a thousand winters, near the town of Vallentuna, Sweden. The time exposure records the scene on December 14th as stars leave graceful arcing trails during a long night, refle
12/23/2010 11:47:00 AM
NASA will give 100 of its Twitter followers an insider look at its planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft and the agency's Ames Research Center on Feb. 11 in Moffett Field in California.
For the first time, NASA's Twitter followers are being invited to
12/23/2010 10:30:00 AM
Data from the GOES-13 and GOES-11 satellites were used to create a full image of the continental U.S. on Dec. 23 at 1145 UTC (6:45 a.m. EST) as travelers make their way across the country to their holiday destinations. The area clouds from the
12/23/2010 10:09:00 AM
A big, bright, beautiful Full Moon slid into planet Earth's shadow early Tuesday morning. Remarkably, the total lunar eclipse coincided with the date of the December Solstice. During the eclipse, the best viewing in North America found the coppery