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Astronomy Pic of the Day


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Author Topic: Astronomy Pic of the Day  (Read 550 times)
The Universeable
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« Reply #44 on: July 23, 2009, 02:02:26 am »


2009 July 23

Jupiter's New Impact Scar



Explanation: In July of 1994 pieces of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 collided with planet Jupiter. The explosive impacts sent plumes of debris high into the Jovian atmosphere creating dark markings or scars, visible for a time against the cloud bands. Remarkably, 15 years later, another impact scar was discovered in the Jovian atmosphere by amateur astronomer Anthony Wesley as he examined images of the gas giant taken from his home observatory just outside Murrumbateman NSW Australia. Jupiter's south pole is at the top in this July 19 discovery image, with Jupiter rotating from right to left. The dark marking, also likely caused by a comet or asteroid impact, is near the top of the view, left of a pre-existing, whitish, oval-shaped storm. NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility images from Mauna Kea, Hawaii later confirmed the likely impact site's dark scar and plume of particles in Jupiter's upper atmosphere. Since 2006, major discovery observations by amateur astronomers have also included two red spots on Jupiter.

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« Reply #43 on: July 22, 2009, 11:03:49 am »

I love browsing through this thread.
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« Reply #42 on: July 22, 2009, 08:16:13 am »


2009 July 22

The Lagoon Nebula in Gas, Dust, and Stars



Explanation: Stars are battling gas and dust in the Lagoon Nebula but the photographers are winning. Also known as M8, this photogenic nebula is visible even without binoculars towards the constellation of Sagittarius. The energetic processes of star formation create not only the colors but the chaos. The red-glowing gas, shown on the above left in re-assigned colors, results from high-energy starlight striking interstellar hydrogen gas. The Trifid nebula is visible on the far right. The dark dust filaments that lace M8 were created in the atmospheres of cool giant stars and in the debris from supernovae explosions. The light from M8 we see today left about 5,000 years ago. Light takes about 50 years to cross this section of M8.
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« Reply #41 on: July 22, 2009, 08:13:51 am »


2009 July 21

The Horsehead Nebula



Explanation: One of the most identifiable nebulae in the sky, the Horsehead Nebula in Orion, is part of a large, dark, molecular cloud. Also known as Barnard 33, the unusual shape was first discovered on a photographic plate in the late 1800s. The red glow originates from hydrogen gas predominantly behind the nebula, ionized by the nearby bright star Sigma Orionis. The darkness of the Horsehead is caused mostly by thick dust, although the lower part of the Horsehead's neck casts a shadow to the left. Streams of gas leaving the nebula are funneled by a strong magnetic field. Bright spots in the Horsehead Nebula's base are young stars just in the process of forming. Light takes about 1,500 years to reach us from the Horsehead Nebula. The above image was taken with the 0.9-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory.
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« Reply #40 on: July 22, 2009, 08:12:31 am »


2009 July 20

Apollo 11: Onto a New World



Explanation: A human first set foot on another world on July 20, 1969. This world was Earth's own Moon. In honor of today's 40th anniversary, NASA has released a digitally restored video of this milestone in human history. Pictured above is Neil Armstrong preparing to take the historic first step. On the way down the Lunar Module ladder, Armstrong released equipment which included the television camera that recorded this fuzzy image. Pictures and voice transmissions were broadcast live to a world wide audience estimated at one fifth of the world's population. The Apollo Moon landings have since been described as the greatest technological achievement the world has known.
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« Reply #39 on: July 22, 2009, 08:10:32 am »


2009 July 19

From the Moon to the Earth



Explanation: After the most famous voyage of modern times, it was time to go home. After proving that humanity has the ability to go beyond the confines of planet Earth, the first humans to walk on another world -- Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin -- flew the ascent stage of their Lunar Module back to meet Michael Collins in the moon-orbiting Command and Service Module. Pictured above on 1969 July 21, the ascending spaceship was captured by Collins making its approach, with the Moon below, and Earth far in the distance. Tomorrow marks the 40th anniversary of the first human moon landing. Recently, NASA's moon-orbiting Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter sent back the first pictures of most of the Apollo landing sites -- including Apollo 11 -- with enough resolution to see the Lunar Module descent stages left behind.
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« Reply #38 on: July 22, 2009, 08:07:26 am »


2009 July 18

Planets, Great Wall, and Solar Eclipse



Explanation: This dramatic skyscape was recorded during the August 2008 total solar eclipse. The Moon's silhouette surrounded by a glistening solar corona hangs above the Jiayuguan Fort along the western edge of the Great Wall of China. Lined-up along the ecliptic plane, all the planets of the inner solar system, Mercury, Venus, Mars, (and Earth!) can also be seen along with Saturn and bright star Regulus, as the Moon's shadow tracks across the landscape. Beyond the Moon's shadow, outside the total eclipse track, sunlight still brightens the sky over mountains on the horizon 30 - 50 kilometers away. Much anticipated, the 2009 July 22nd total solar eclipse will again be visible from China. Planets and bright stars will briefly appear in darkened daytime skies, though a total eclipse won't be seen from the Great Wall. Still, major cities and populated areas lie along the 2009 total eclipse track that begins in India and sweeps eastward across Asia and into the Pacific Ocean.
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« Reply #37 on: July 22, 2009, 08:05:35 am »


2009 July 17

Starburst Galaxy M94



Explanation: Beautiful island universe M94 lies a mere 15 million light-years distant in the northern constellation of the hunting dogs, Canes Venatici. A popular target for earth-based astronomers, the face-on spiral galaxy is about 30,000 light-years across. Its remarkable features include prominent dust lanes, a bright, point-like nucleus, and a bright, bluish ring dominated by the light of young, massive stars. The massive stars in the ring are all likely less than 10 million years old, indicating the galaxy experienced a well-defined era of rapid star formation. As a result, while the small, bright nucleus is typical of the Seyfert class of active galaxies, M94 is also known as a starburst galaxy. Because M94 is relatively nearby, astronomers can explore in detail reasons for the galaxy's burst of star formation.
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« Reply #36 on: July 22, 2009, 08:03:08 am »

2009 July 16

The Hercules Cluster of Galaxies



Explanation: These are galaxies of the Hercules Cluster, an archipelago of island universes a mere 500 million light-years away. Also known as Abell 2151, this cluster is loaded with gas and dust rich, star-forming spiral galaxies but has relatively few elliptical galaxies, which lack gas and dust and the associated newborn stars. The colors in this remarkably deep composite image clearly show the star forming galaxies with a blue tint and galaxies with older stellar populations with a yellowish cast. The sharp picture spans about 3/4 degree across the cluster center, corresponding to over 6 million light-years at the cluster's estimated distance. In the cosmic vista many galaxies seem to be colliding or merging while others seem distorted - clear evidence that cluster galaxies commonly interact. In fact, the Hercules Cluster itself may be seen as the result of ongoing mergers of smaller galaxy clusters and is thought to be similar to young galaxy clusters in the much more distant, early Universe.
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« Reply #35 on: July 22, 2009, 08:00:40 am »


2009 July 15

The Chameleon's Dark Nebulae



Explanation: The Chameleon is a small constellation near the south celestial pole. Boasting no bright stars, it blends inconspicuously with the starry southern sky. But, taken in dark skies over Namibia, this image reveals a stunning aspect of the shy constellation -- a field of dusty nebulae and colorful stars. Blue reflection nebulae are scattered through the scene, but most eye-catching is the complex of silvery dust clouds that only faintly reflect starlight, punctuated by dense dark nebulae. The dark nebulae stand out because they block out background stars. This view of the cosmic dust clouds spans about 4 degrees on the sky.
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« Reply #34 on: July 22, 2009, 07:59:04 am »


2009 July 14

Moons and Jupiter



Explanation: Earth's Moon and planet Jupiter made a beautiful pairing in the night sky late last week. This skyscape recorded on July 11 from Brittany in north western France captures the bright conjunction through a cloud bank. The clouds add drama and mystery to the scene but they were also positioned to reduce the intense moonlight. As a result, the exposure captures Jupiter's own Galilean moons (lower right) as tiny pinpricks of light, lined up and hugging both sides of the solar system's ruling gas giant. Later this week, the Moon is headed for a conjunction with Mars and Venus in the dawn sky.
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« Reply #33 on: July 22, 2009, 07:56:40 am »


2009 July 13

Erupting Volcano Anak Krakatau



Explanation: A volcano on Krakatoa is still erupting. Perhaps most famous for the powerfully explosive eruption in 1883 that killed tens of thousands of people, ash from a violent eruption might also have temporarily altered Earth's climate as long as 1500 years ago. In 1927, eruptions caused smaller Anak Krakatau to rise from the sea, and the emerging volcanic island continues to grow at an average rate of 2 cm per day. The latest eruption of Anak Krakatau started in 2008 April and continues today. In this picture, Anak Krakatau is seen erupting from Rakata, the main island of the Krakatoai group. High above, stars including the Big Dipper are clearly apparent.
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« Reply #32 on: July 22, 2009, 07:53:53 am »

2009 July 12

A Cosmic Cellphone to Nearby Stars



Explanation: If Earth received this message from deep space, could we decode it? The people from the Cosmic Cellphone project sent the above image as the first page of a longer message. The message was broadcast toward local stars by radio telescope during the summer of 1999. Another message was sent in 2003. The single-dish, 70-meter diameter telescope that send the messages is located in Ukraine on the Crimean peninsula near the town of Yevpatoria. This first page of the Cosmic Cellphone 1999 message, shown above, involves only numbers and so is easier for puzzle solvers to decode than a more famous message broadcast toward distant star cluster M13 in 1974.

The solution is here - http://library.thinkquest.org/C003763/pdf/interview01.pdf
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« Reply #31 on: July 22, 2009, 07:49:07 am »


2009 July 11

Noctilucent Cloud Storm Panorama



Explanation: Noctilucent or night-shining clouds lie near the edge of space. From about 80 kilometers above Earth's surface, the icy clouds can still reflect sunlight even though the Sun itself is below the horizon as seen from the ground. Usually occurring at high latitudes in summer months, the diaphanous apparitions are also known as polar mesospheric clouds and may be connected to global change in the lower atmosphere. This impressive 360 degree panorama made from 34 separate images captures an impressive display of noctilucent clouds all over the sky. It was recorded last month from Vallentuna, Sweden. The photographer reports that the display was like a noctilucent cloud storm, one of the best he's ever witnessed.
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« Reply #30 on: July 22, 2009, 07:47:45 am »


2009 July 10

The Pillars of Eagle Castle



Explanation: What lights up this castle of star formation? The familiar Eagle Nebula glows bright in many colors at once. The above image is a composite of three of these glowing gas colors. Pillars of dark dust nicely outline some of the denser towers of star formation. Energetic light from young massive stars causes the gas to glow and effectively boils away part of the dust and gas from its birth pillar. Many of these stars will explode after several million years, returning most of their elements back to the nebula which formed them. This process is forming an open cluster of stars known as M16.
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