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APOD: 2016 August 4 - M63: Sunflower Galaxy Wide Field




The Sunflower Galaxy blooms near the center of this wide field telescopic view. The scene spans about 2 degrees or 4 full moons on the sky toward the loyal constellation Canes Venatici. More formally known as Messier 63, the majestic island universe is nearly 100,000 light-years across, about the size of our own Milky Way Galaxy. Surrounding its bright yellowish core, sweeping spiral arms are streaked with cosmic dust lanes and dotted with star forming regions. A dominant member of a known galaxy group, M63 has faint, extended features that could be the the remains of dwarf satellite galaxies, evidence that large galaxies grow by accreting small ones. M63 shines across the electromagnetic spectrum and is thought to have undergone bursts of intense star formation.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap160804.html

\#astronomy #picture #space #NASA #APOD
 
APOD: 2019 April 19 - Milky Way in Northern Spring




A postcard from planet Earth, this springtime night skyscape looks over Alandan lake in the Alborz mountains. Taken after local midnight on April 17, the central Milky Way is rising over the region's southeast horizon. Its luminous track of stars and nebulae along the plane of our galaxy are reflected in the mirror-like lake. The brightest celestial beacon mingled with the diffuse galactic starlight is Jupiter. Slightly dimmer, Saturn is below and left just above the mountains. As spring brought leaves to the trees and the galactic center to the northern night the photographer found it also gave frogs their voices, heard like a melody across the calm water.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190419.html

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APOD: February 25, 1996 - A High Energy Fleet

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Looking like a fleet of futuristic starcruisers poised over planet Earth, NASA's highly successful series of High Energy Astrophysical Observatory (HEAO) spacecraft appear above in a vintage illustration. Labeled A, B, and C in this conceptual picture, the spacebased telescopes were known as HEAO-1, HEAO-2, and HEAO-3 respectively. HEAO-1 and HEAO-2 were responsible for revealing to earthlings the wonders of the x-ray sky, discovering 1,000s of celestial sources of high-energy radiation. HEAO-2, also known as the Einstein Observatory, was launched near the date of the famous physicist's 100th birthday (November of 1978) and was the first large, fully imaging x-ray telescope in space. HEAO-3, the last in the series, was launched in 1979 and measured high energy cosmic-ray particles and gamma-rays.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap960225.html

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APOD: 2019 April 18 - The Leo Trio




This group is popular in the northern spring. Famous as the Leo Triplet, the three magnificent galaxies gather in one field of view. Crowd pleasers when imaged with even modest telescopes, they can be introduced individually as NGC 3628 (left), M66 (bottom right), and M65 (top). All three are large spiral galaxies but they tend to look dissimilar because their galactic disks are tilted at different angles to our line of sight. NGC 3628, also known as the Hamburger Galaxy, is temptingly seen edge-on, with obscuring dust lanes cutting across its puffy galactic plane. The disks of M66 and M65 are both inclined enough to show off their spiral structure. Gravitational interactions between galaxies in the group have left telltale signs, including the tidal tails and warped, inflated disk of NGC 3628 and the drawn out spiral arms of M66. This gorgeous view of the region spans almost two degrees (four full moons) on the sky. The field covers about a million light-years at the trio's estimated distance of 30 million light-years. Of course the spiky foreground stars lie within our own Milky Way.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190418.html

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APOD: 2014 February 14 - IC 1805: Light from the Heart




Sprawling across almost 200 light-years, emission nebula IC 1805 is a mix of glowing interstellar gas and dark dust clouds about 7,500 light-years away in the Perseus spiral arm of our galaxy. Stars were born in this region whose nickname, the Heart Nebula, derives from its Valentine's-Day-appropriate shape. The clouds themselves are shaped by stellar winds and radiation from massive hot stars in the nebula's newborn star cluster Melotte 15 about 1.5 million years young. This deep telescopic image maps the pervasive light of narrow emission lines from atoms in the nebula to a color palette made popular in Hubble images of star forming regions. The field of view spans about two degrees on the sky or four times the diameter of a full moon. The cosmic heart is found in the constellation of Cassiopeia, the boastful mythical Queen of Aethiopia .

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap140214.html

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APOD: 2019 April 17 - Messier 81




One of the brightest galaxies in planet Earth's sky is similar in size to our Milky Way Galaxy: big, beautiful Messier 81. Also known as NGC 3031 or Bode's galaxy for its 18th century discoverer, this grand spiral can be found toward the northern constellation of Ursa Major, the Great Bear. The detailed telescopic view reveals M81's bright yellow nucleus, blue spiral arms, pink starforming regions, and sweeping cosmic dust lanes. Some dust lanes actually run through the galactic disk (left of center), contrary to other prominent spiral features though. The errant dust lanes may be the lingering result of a close encounter between M81 and its smaller companion galaxy, M82. Scrutiny of variable stars in M81 has yielded one of the best determined distances for an external galaxy -- 11.8 million light-years.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190417.html

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APOD: June 5, 1996 - Sagittarius and the Central Milky Way

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What does the center of our Milky Way Galaxy look like? No one knows! It is not possible to see the Galactic center in light our eyes are sensitive to because the thick dust in the plane of our Galaxy obscures it. If one looks in the direction of our Galaxy's center - which is toward the constellation of Sagittarius - many beautiful wonders become apparent, though. The center of the Milky Way is behind the center of the photo. Large dust lanes and star clouds dominate the picture. As many as 30 Messier Objects are visible, including all types of nebula and star clusters. Two notable nebula include the Lagoon Nebula (M8), a small red patch just above center, and slightly above this is the red and blue Trifid Nebula (M20). The lines through picture were caused by airplanes, and the dark objects in the foreground are trees.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap960605.html

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APOD: 2019 April 16 - In the Vicinity of the Cone Nebula




Strange shapes and textures can be found in neighborhood of the Cone Nebula. The unusual shapes originate from fine interstellar dust reacting in complex ways with the energetic light and hot gas being expelled by the young stars. The brightest star on the right of the featured picture is S Mon, while the region just below it has been nicknamed the Fox Fur Nebula for its color and structure. The blue glow directly surrounding S Mon results from reflection, where neighboring dust reflects light from the bright star. The red glow that encompasses the whole region results not only from dust reflection but also emission from hydrogen gas ionized by starlight. S Mon is part of a young open cluster of stars named NGC 2264, located about 2500 light years away toward the constellation of the Unicorn (Monoceros). Even though it points right at S Mon, details of the origin of the mysterious geometric Cone Nebula, visible on the far left, remain a mystery.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190416.html

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APOD: 2011 March 25 - Auroral Substorm over Yellowknife




Intense auroral activity flooded the night with shimmering colors on February 24, captured here from a lodge near the city of Yellowknife in northern Canada. The stunning sequence (left to right) of three all-sky exposures, taken at 30 second intervals, shows rapid changes in dancing curtains of northern lights against a starry background. What makes the northern lights dance? Measurements by NASA's fleet of THEMIS spacecraft indicate that these explosions of auroral activity are driven by sudden releases of energy in the Earth's magnetosphere called magnetic reconnection events. The reconnection events release energy when magnetic field lines snap like rubber bands, driving charged particles into the upper atmosphere. Stretching into space, these reconnection events occur in the magnetosphere on the Earth's night side at a distance about 1/3 of the way to the Moon.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap110325.html

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APOD: 2019 April 15 - Enhanced: The Dolphin Cloud on Jupiter




Do you see the dolphin-shaped cloud on Jupiter? The cloud was visible last year during perijove 16, the sixteenth time that NASA's robotic spacecraft Juno passed near Jupiter since it arrived in mid-2016. During each perijove, Juno passes near a slightly different part of Jupiter's cloud tops. The dolphin shape may be surprising but is not scientifically significant -- clouds on Jupiter and Earth are constantly shifting and can temporarily mimic many familiar shapes. The cloud appears in Jupiter's South Temperate Belt (STB), a band of dark and dropping clouds that rings the planet and also contains Oval BA, dubbed Red Spot Jr. The featured image was digitally processed to enhance color and contrast. Juno's next swoop near Jupiter -- perijove 20 -- will occur on late May.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190415.html

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APOD: 2015 May 24 - Space Shuttle Rising




What's that rising from the clouds? The space shuttle. Sometimes, if you looked out the window of an airplane at just the right place and time, you could have seen something very unusual -- a space shuttle launching to orbit. Images of the rising shuttle and its plume became widely circulated over the web shortly after Endeavour's final launch in 2011 May. The above image was taken from a shuttle training aircraft by NASA and is not copyrighted. Taken well above the clouds, the image can be matched with similar images of the same shuttle plume taken below the clouds. Hot glowing gasses expelled by the engines are visible near the rising shuttle, as well as a long smoke plume. A shadow of the plume appears on the cloud deck, indicating the direction of the Sun. The US Space Shuttle program concluded in 2011, and Endeavour can now be visited at the California Science Center.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap150524.html

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APOD: 2019 April 14 - Simulation: Two Black Holes Merge

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Video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/I_88S8DWbcU

Sit back and watch two black holes merge. Inspired by the first direct detection of gravitational waves in 2015, this simulation video plays in slow motion but would take about one third of a second if run in real time. Set on a cosmic stage the black holes are posed in front of stars, gas, and dust. Their extreme gravity lenses the light from behind them into Einstein rings as they spiral closer and finally merge into one. The otherwise invisible gravitational waves generated as the massive objects rapidly coalesce cause the visible image to ripple and slosh both inside and outside the Einstein rings even after the black holes have merged. Dubbed GW150914, the gravitational waves detected by LIGO are consistent with the merger of 36 and 31 solar mass black holes at a distance of 1.3 billion light-years. The final, single black hole has 63 times the mass of the Sun, with the remaining 3 solar masses converted into energy in gravitational waves. Since then the LIGO and VIRGO gravitational wave observatories have reported several more detections of merging massive systems, while last week the Event Horizon Telescope reported the first horizon-scale image of a black hole.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190414.html

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APOD: 2004 December 12 - Atlantis to Orbit




Birds don't fly this high. Airplanes don't go this fast. The Statue of Liberty weighs less. No species other than human can even comprehend what is going on, nor could any human just a millennium ago. The launch of a rocket bound for space is an event that inspires awe and challenges description. Pictured above, the Space Shuttle Atlantis lifted off to visit the International Space Station during the early morning hours of 2001 July 12. From a standing start, the two million kilogram rocket ship left to circle the Earth where the outside air is too thin to breathe and where there is little noticeable onboard gravity. Rockets bound for space are now launched from somewhere on Earth about once a week.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap041212.html

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APOD: 2019 April 13 - Rigil Kentaurus and Sandqvist 169




Rigil Kentaurus is the bright star near the top of this broad southern skyscape. Of course it's probably better known as Alpha Centauri, nearest star system to the Sun. Below it sprawls a dark nebula complex. The obscuring interstellar dust clouds include Sandqvist catalog clouds 169 and 172 in silhouette against the rich starfields along the southern Milky Way. Rigil Kent is a mere 4.37 light-years away, but the dusty dark nebulae lie at the edge of the starforming Circinus-West molecular cloud about 2,500 light-years distant. The wide-field of view spans over 12 degrees (24 full moons) across southern skies.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190413.html

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APOD: 2000 March 9 - Sun Storm: A Coronal Mass Ejection

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Late last month another erupting filament lifted off the active solar surface and blasted this enormous bubble of magnetic plasma into space. Direct light from the sun is blocked in this picture of the event with the sun's relative position and size indicated by a white half circle at bottom center. The field of view extends 2 million kilometers or more from the solar surface. While hints of these explosive events, called coronal mass ejections or CMEs, were discovered by spacecraft in the early 70s this dramatic image is part of a detailed record of this CME's development from the presently operating SOlar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft. Near the minimum of the solar activity cycle CMEs occur about once a week, but as we approach solar maximum rates of two or more per day are anticipated. Though this CME was clearly not headed for Earth, strong CMEs are seen to profoundly influence space weather, and those directed toward our planet and can have serious effects.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap000309.html

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APOD: 2019 April 12 - A Cosmic Rose: The Rosette Nebula in Monoceros




The Rosette Nebula, NGC 2237, is not the only cosmic cloud of gas and dust to evoke the imagery of flowers, but it is the most famous. At the edge of a large molecular cloud in Monoceros some 5,000 light years away, the petals of this cosmic rose are actually a stellar nursery. The lovely, symmetric shape is sculpted by the winds and radiation from its central cluster of hot young, O-type stars. Stars in the energetic cluster, cataloged as NGC 2244, are only a few million years young, while the central cavity in the Rosette Nebula, is about 50 light-years in diameter. The nebula can be seen with a small telescope toward the constellation of Monoceros, the Unicorn. This natural appearing telescopic portrait of the Rosette Nebula was made using broadband and narrowband filters, because sometimes roses aren't red.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190412.html

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APOD: 2005 June 7 - Galaxies in View




Galaxies abound in this cosmic scene, a well chosen telescopic view toward the northern constellation of Ursa Major. Most noticeable are the striking pair of spiral galaxies - NGC 3718 (above, right) and NGC 3729 (below center) - a mere 52 million light-years distant. In particular, NGC 3718 has dramatic dust lanes sweeping through its bright central region and extensive but faint spiral arms. Seen about 150 thousand light-years apart, these two galaxies are likely interacting gravitationally, accounting for the warped and peculiar appearance of NGC 3718. While a careful study of the deep image reveals a number of fainter and more distant background galaxies, another remarkable galaxy grouping known as Hickson Group 56 can be found just to the right of NGC 3718. Hickson Group 56 contains five interacting galaxies and lies over 400 million light-years away.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap050607.html

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APOD: 2019 April 11 - First Horizon Scale Image of a Black Hole




What does a black hole look like? To find out, radio telescopes from around the Earth coordinated observations of black holes with the largest known event horizons on the sky. Alone, black holes are just black, but these monster attractors are known to be surrounded by glowing gas. The first image was released yesterday and resolved the area around the black hole at the center of galaxy M87 on a scale below that expected for its event horizon. Pictured, the dark central region is not the event horizon, but rather the black hole's shadow -- the central region of emitting gas darkened by the central black hole's gravity. The size and shape of the shadow is determined by bright gas near the event horizon, by strong gravitational lensing deflections, and by the black hole's spin. In resolving this black hole's shadow, the Event Horizon Telescope (ETH) bolstered evidence that Einstein's gravity works even in extreme regions, and gave clear evidence that M87 has a central spinning black hole of about 6 billion solar masses. The EHT is not done -- future observations will be geared toward even higher resolution, better tracking of variability, and exploring the immediate vicinity of the black hole in the center of our Milky Way Galaxy.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190411.html

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APOD: 2000 November 28 - BZ Cam Bow Shock

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BZ Cam is a binary star system that is not well understood. In most cataclysmic variables, matter from a normal star accumulates on the surface of the companion white dwarf star, eventually causing a nova-like flare as the material becomes hot enough to ignite nuclear fusion. In BZ Cam, however, light appears to flicker unpredictably, and an unusually large wind of particles is being expelled. Pictured above, BZ Cam's wind creates a large bow-shock as the system moves through surrounding interstellar gas. BZ Cam lies about 2500 light-years away toward the constellation of Camelopardalis.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap001128.html

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APOD: 2019 April 10 - Martian Moon Phobos Crosses the Sun

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Video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/Ce21mE1nXaU

What's that passing in front of the Sun? It looks like a moon, but it can't be Earth's Moon, because it isn't round. It's the Martian moon Phobos. The featured video was taken from the surface of Mars late last month by the Curiosity rover. Phobos, at 11.5 kilometers across, is 150 times smaller than Luna (our moon) in diameter, but also 50 times closer to its parent planet. In fact, Phobos is so close to Mars that it is expected to break up and crash into Mars within the next 50 million years. In the near term, the low orbit of Phobos results in more rapid solar eclipses than seen from Earth. The featured video has been sped up -- the actual transit took about 35 seconds. A similar video was taken of Mars' smaller and most distant moon Diemos transiting the Sun. The videographer -- the robotic rover Curiosity -- continues to explore Gale crater, most recently an area with stunning vistas and unusual rocks dubbed Glen Torridon.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190410.html

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APOD: 2000 March 23 - Inside Mars

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What's inside Mars? From orbit, the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) spacecraft has recorded detailed images of the red planet since July 1997. Still, its cameras can not look beneath the surface. But minute changes in the spacecraft's orbital velocity are produced by variations in the planet's gravitational field, and these changes are related to interior density fluctuations. When the subtle orbital changes were measured using MGS radio science experiments and combined with the accurate Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter topographical data, researchers were able to produce a map of the thickness of the martian crust. In this color cut-away diagram of the results, red colors correspond to thin and blue to thick areas of the crust which rides above the martian mantle. From the global map, the crust is seen to range from about 20 to 50 miles thick and shows a dramatic difference between the generally thinner northern hemisphere to thicker southern hemisphere crust. For the newly formed planet, the thin crust would have promoted rapid cooling and may have given rise to a large northern ocean on early Mars.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap000323.html

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APOD: 2019 April 9 - Moon Occults Saturn




Sometimes Saturn disappears. It doesn't really go away, though, it just disappears from view when our Moon moves in front. Such a Saturnian eclipse was visible along a small swath of Earth -- from Brazil to Sri Lanka -- near the end of last month. The featured color image is a digital fusion of the clearest images captured by successive videos of the event taken in red, green, and blue, and taken separately for Saturn and the comparative bright Moon. The exposures were taken from South Africa just before occultation -- and also just before sunrise. When Saturn re-appeared on the other side of the Moon almost two hours later, the Sun had risen. This year, eclipses of Saturn by the Moon occur almost monthly, but, unfortunately, are visible only to those with the right location and with clear and dark skies.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190409.html

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APOD: 2017 February 2 - NGC 1316: After Galaxies Collide




An example of violence on a cosmic scale, enormous elliptical galaxy NGC 1316 lies about 75 million light-years away toward Fornax, the southern constellation of the Furnace. Investigating the startling sight, astronomers suspect the giant galaxy of colliding with smaller neighbor NGC 1317 seen just above, causing far flung loops and shells of stars. Light from their close encounter would have reached Earth some 100 million years ago. In the deep, sharp image, the central regions of NGC 1316 and NGC 1317 appear separated by over 100,000 light-years. Complex dust lanes visible within also indicate that NGC 1316 is itself the result of a merger of galaxies in the distant past. Found on the outskirts of the Fornax galaxy cluster, NGC 1316 is known as Fornax A. One of the visually brightest of the Fornax cluster galaxies it is one of the strongest and largest radio sources with radio emission extending well beyond this telescopic field-of-view, over several degrees on the sky.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap170202.html

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APOD: 2019 April 8 - AZURE Vapor Tracers over Norway




What's happening in the sky? The atmosphere over northern Norway appeared quite strange for about 30 minutes last Friday when colorful clouds, dots, and plumes suddenly appeared. The colors were actually created by the NASA-funded Auroral Zone Upwelling Rocket Experiment (AZURE) which dispersed gas tracers to probe winds in Earth's upper atmosphere. AZURE's tracers originated from two short-lived sounding rockets launched from the Andøya Space Center in Norway. The harmless gases, trimethylaluminum and a barium/strontium mixture, were released into the ionosphere at altitudes of 115 and 250 km. The vapor trails were observed dispersing from several ground stations. Mapping how AZURE's vapors dispersed should increase humanity's understanding of how the solar wind transfers energy to the Earth and powers aurora.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190408.html

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APOD: August 31, 1995 - X-Raying the Moon

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Above is a picture of the Moon taken in X-rays by the Roentgen Observatory Satellite ROSAT in 1990. This famous picture shows three distinct regions: a bright X-ray sky, a bright part of the Moon, and a relatively dark part of the Moon. The bright X-ray region is exemplary of the mysterious X-ray background that is seen everywhere on the sky. The bright lunar crescent shines because it reflects X-rays emitted by the Sun. The dark lunar face is surprising because it is not completely dark, and its slight emission is thought to result from energetic particles from the solar wind striking the Moon.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap950831.html

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APOD: 2019 April 7 - A Scorpius Sky Spectacular




If Scorpius looked this good to the unaided eye, humans might remember it better. Scorpius more typically appears as a few bright stars in a well-known but rarely pointed out zodiacal constellation. To get a spectacular image like this, though, one needs a good camera, color filters, and a digital image processor. To bring out detail, the featured image not only involved long duration exposures taken in several colors, but one exposure in a very specific red color emitted by hydrogen. The resulting image shows many breathtaking features. Vertically across the image left is part of the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy. Visible there are vast clouds of bright stars and long filaments of dark dust. Jutting out diagonally from the Milky Way in the image center are dark dust bands known as the Dark River. This river connects to several bright stars on the right that are part of Scorpius' head and claws, and include the bright star Antares. Above and right of Antares is an even brighter planet: Jupiter. Numerous red emission nebulas and blue reflection nebulas are visible throughout the image. Scorpius appears prominently in southern skies after sunset during the middle of the year.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190407.html

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APOD: 2016 May 25 - NGC 5078 and Friends




This sharp telescopic field of view holds two bright galaxies. Barred spiral NGC 5101 (top right) and nearly edge-on system NGC 5078 are separated on the sky by about 0.5 degrees or about the apparent width of a full moon. Found within the boundaries of the serpentine constellation Hydra, both are estimated to be around 90 million light-years away and similar in size to our own large Milky Way galaxy. In fact, if they both lie at the same distance their projected separation would be only 800,000 light-years or so. That's easily less than half the distance between the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy. NGC 5078 is interacting with a smaller companion galaxy, cataloged as IC 879, seen just left of the larger galaxy's bright core. Even more distant background galaxies are scattered around the colorful field. Some are even visible right through the face-on disk of NGC 5101. But the prominent spiky stars are in the foreground, well within our own Milky Way.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap160525.html

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APOD: 2019 April 6 - ISS from Wallasey




After sunset on March 28, the International Space Station climbed above the western horizon, as seen from Wallasey, England at the mouth of the River Mersey. Still glinting in the sunlight some 400 kilometers above planet Earth, the fast moving ISS was followed by hand with a small backyard telescope and high frame rate digital camera. A total of 2500 frames were recorded during the 7 minute long visible ISS passage and 100 of them captured images of the space station. These are the four best frames showing remarkable details of the ISS in low Earth orbit. Near the peak of its track, about 60 degrees above the horizon, the ISS was brighter than the brightest star in the sky and as close as 468 kilometers to the Wallasey backyard.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190406.html

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APOD: May 11, 1999 - Molecular Cloud Barnard 68

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Where did all the stars go? What used to be considered a hole in the sky is now known to astronomers as a dark molecular cloud. Here, a high concentration of dust and molecular gas absorb practically all the visible light emitted from background stars. The eerily dark surroundings help make the interiors of molecular clouds some of the coldest and most isolated places in the universe. One of the most notable of these dark absorption nebulae is a cloud toward the constellation Ophiuchus known as Barnard 68, pictured above. That no stars are visible in the center indicates that Barnard 68 is relatively nearby, with measurements placing it about 500 light-years away and half a light-year across. It is not known exactly how molecular clouds like Barnard 68 form, but it is known that these clouds are themselves likely places for new stars to form.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap990511.html

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APOD: 2019 April 5 - Pan STARRS Across the Sky




This astronomical sky spanning view is a mosaic from the Pan-STARRS observatory. The images were recorded with its 1.8 meter telescope at the summit of Haleakala on planet Earth's island of Maui. In fact, Earth's north celestial pole is centered in this across-the-sky projection. A declination of -30 degrees, the southern horizon limit as seen from the Hawaiian Valley Isle, defines the circular outer edge. Crowded starfields and cosmic dust clouds along the plane of our Milky Way galaxy stretch across the scene with the bright bulge of the galactic center at the bottom. Compiled over four years, the image data represent the second edition of data from Pan-STARRS (Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System), currently the planet's largest digital sky survey. In 2017 Pan-STARRS was used to first recognize the interstellar voyage of 'Oumuamua, visitor to our Solar System.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190405.html

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APOD: 2005 January 5 - Comet Machholz in View

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Good views of Comet Machholz are in store for northern hemisphere comet watchers in January. Now making its closest approach to planet Earth, the comet will pass near the lovely Pleiades star cluster on January 7th and the double star cluster in Perseus on January 27th as Machholz moves relatively quickly through the evening sky. Currently just visible to the unaided eye from dark locations, the comet should be an easy target in binoculars or a small telescope. In fact, this telephoto time exposure from January 1 shows Comet Machholz sporting two lovely tails in skies over Colorado, USA. Extending to the left, strands of the comet's ion or gas tail are readily affected by the solar breeze and point away from the Sun. Dust, which tends to trail along the comet's orbit, forms the tail jutting down and to the right.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap050105.html

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APOD: 2019 April 4 - Messier 2




After the Crab Nebula, M1, this giant star cluster is the second entry in 18th century astronomer Charles Messier's famous list of things with are not comets. M2 is one of the largest globular star clusters now known to roam the halo of our Milky Way galaxy. Though Messier originally described it a nebula without stars, this stunning Hubble image resolves stars across the central 40 light-years of M2. Its population of stars numbers close to 150,000, concentrated within a total diameter of around 175 light-years. About 55,000 light-years distant toward the constellation Aquarius, this ancient denizen of the Milky Way, also known as NGC 7089, is 13 billion years old.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190404.html

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APOD: September 4, 1997 - Rivers in the Sun

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The surface of the Sun is shifting. By watching sunspots, it has long been known that our Sun rotates. It was also known that the center of the Sun rotates faster than the poles. Now, recent measurements by the Solar Oscillations Investigations group of the SOHO Observatory have found that the surface of the sun moves in other ways, too. Hot, electrically charged gas flows along and beneath the Sun's surface as depicted in the above computer generated diagram. The speed of these solar rivers is false-color coded with red hydrogen moving faster than blue. Over the course of a year plasma moves from the equator to the poles, while internal eddies circulate gas from deep inside the Sun. One surprise is the similarity to the motion of air in the Earth's atmosphere - indicating that scientists might learn more about Earth's global weather by studying the Sun.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap970904.html

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APOD: 2019 April 3 - Wisps Surrounding the Horsehead Nebula




The famous Horsehead Nebula in Orion is not alone. A deep exposure shows that the dark familiar shaped indentation, visible just below center, is part of a vast complex of absorbing dust and glowing gas. To bring out details of the Horsehead's pasture, an amateur astronomer used a backyard telescope in Austria to accumulate and artistically combine 7.5 hours of images in the light of Hydrogen (red), Oxygen (green), and Sulfur (blue). The resulting spectacular picture details an intricate tapestry of gaseous wisps and dust-laden filaments that were created and sculpted over eons by stellar winds and ancient supernovas. The Flame Nebula is visible just to the left of the Horsehead, while the bright star on the upper left is Alnilam, the central star in Orion's Belt. The Horsehead Nebula lies 1,500 light years distant towards the constellation of Orion.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190403.html

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APOD: December 30, 1998 - Supernova 1994D and the Unexpected Universe

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Far away, long ago, a star exploded. Supernova 1994D, visible as the bright spot on the lower left, occurred in the outskirts of disk galaxy NGC 4526. Supernova 1994D was not of interest for how different it was, but rather for how similar it was to other supernovae. In fact, the light emitted during the weeks after its explosion caused it to be given the familiar designation of a Type Ia supernova. If all Type 1a supernovae have the same intrinsic brightness, then the dimmer a supernova appears, the farther away it must be. By calibrating a precise brightness-distance relation, astronomers are able to estimate not only the expansion rate of the universe (parameterized by the Hubble Constant), but also the geometry of the universe we live in (parameterized by Omega and Lambda). The large number and great distances to supernovae measured in 1998 have been interpreted as indicating that we live in a previously unexpected universe.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap981230.html

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APOD: 2019 April 1 - Astronaut Kicks Lunar Field Goal




Score three points for NASA. With time running out late in Apollo 15's mission to the Moon in 1971, Astronaut David Scott prepared to split the uprights and bring about yet another dramatic end-of-the-mission victory for NASA. Scott used a special lunar football designed for the rugged games held on the Moon. R1-D1, a predecessor to R2-D2, cheered from the sideline. Happy April Fools' Day from the folks at APOD. In reality, Astronaut Scott placed a drill that measured how temperature changed with lunar depth. The foreground device actually detected high-energy particles that escaped from the Sun.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190401.html

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APOD: 2019 April 2 - Space Station Silhouette on the Moon




What's that unusual spot on the Moon? It's the International Space Station. Using precise timing, the Earth-orbiting space platform was photographed in front of a partially lit gibbous Moon last month. The featured image was taken from Palo Alto, California, USA with an exposure time of only 1/667 of a second. In contrast, the duration of the transit of the ISS across the entire Moon was about half a second. A close inspection of this unusually crisp ISS silhouette will reveal the outlines of numerous solar panels and trusses. The bright crater Tycho is visible on the lower left, as well as comparatively rough, light colored terrain known as highlands, and relatively smooth, dark colored areas known as maria. On-line tools can tell you when the International Space Station will be visible from your area.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190402.html

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APOD: 2010 April 11 - IC 418: The Spirograph Nebula




What is creating the strange texture of IC 418? Dubbed the Spirograph Nebula for its resemblance to drawings from a cyclical drawing tool, planetary nebula IC 418 shows patterns that are not well understood. Perhaps they are related to chaotic winds from the variable central star, which changes brightness unpredictably in just a few hours. By contrast, evidence indicates that only a few million years ago, IC 418 was probably a well-understood star similar to our Sun. Only a few thousand years ago, IC 418 was probably a common red giant star. Since running out of nuclear fuel, though, the outer envelope has begun expanding outward leaving a hot remnant core destined to become a white-dwarf star, visible in the image center. The light from the central core excites surrounding atoms in the nebula causing them to glow. IC 418 lies about 2000 light-years away and spans 0.3 light-years across. This false-color image taken from the Hubble Space Telescope reveals the unusual details.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap100411.html

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APOD: December 23, 1995 - Prometheus, Pandora and Saturn's F Ring

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The third and fourth innermost moons of Saturn were unexpectedly discovered to be gravitational "shepards." The inner moon Prometheus and the outer moon Pandora use their gravitational attraction to define Saturn's outermost ring. Were any of the smaller chunks of ice and rock that compose Saturn's F Ring to stray, the ring particle would be gravitationally pulled back into place by one of these passing moons. This complex interaction creates a ring structure with two narrow braids and several unusual knots.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap951223.html

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APOD: 2019 March 31 - Markarians Chain of Galaxies




Across the heart of the Virgo Cluster of Galaxies lies a striking string of galaxies known as Markarian's Chain. The chain, pictured here, is highlighted on the right with two large but featureless lenticular galaxies, M84 and M86. Prominent to their lower left is a pair of interacting galaxies known as The Eyes. The home Virgo Cluster is the nearest cluster of galaxies, contains over 2000 galaxies, and has a noticeable gravitational pull on the galaxies of the Local Group of Galaxies surrounding our Milky Way Galaxy. The center of the Virgo Cluster is located about 70 million light years away toward the constellation of Virgo. At least seven galaxies in the chain appear to move coherently, although others appear to be superposed by chance.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190331.html

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APOD: 2001 April 24 - NGC 2264: Stars, Dust, and Gas

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The nebula surrounding bright star S Mon is filled with dark dust and glowing gas. The strange shapes that haunt this star forming region originate from fine interstellar dust reacting in complex ways to the energetic light and hot gas being expelled by the young stars. The above picture, in representative color, isolates the northern part of a greater nebula designated NGC 2264, which lies about 2500 light-years away and includes the Cone Nebula. The blue glow directly surrounding S Mon results from reflection, where neighboring dust reflects light from the bright star. The more diffuse red glow results from emission, where starlight ionizes hydrogen gas. Pink areas are lit by a combination of the two processes. A small group of stars surrounds S Mon, the brightest star in the picture and a star visible with the naked eye toward the constellation of Monoceros.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap010424.html

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APOD: 2019 March 30 - 3D 67P




Put on your red/cyan glasses and float next to the jagged and double-lobed nucleus of Churyumov-Gerasimenko, also known as Comet 67P. The stereo anaglyph was created by combining two images from the Rosetta spacecraft's narrow angle OSIRIS camera taken on July 25, 2015 from a distance of 184 kilometers. Numerous jets are emanating from the small solar system world's active surface near its closest approach to the Sun. The larger lobe is around 4 kilometers in diameter, joined to a smaller, 2.5 kilometer diameter lobe by a narrow neck. Rosetta's mission to the comet ended in September 2016 when the spacecraft was commanded to a controlled impact with the comet's surface. Keep those 3D glasses on though. You can check out a new catalog of nearly 1400 stereo anaglyphs created from Rosetta image data on this website.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190330.html

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APOD: 2016 September 24 - Heart and Soul and Double Cluster




This rich starfield spans almost 10 degrees across the sky toward the northern constellations Cassiopeia and Perseus. On the left, heart-shaped cosmic cloud IC 1805 and IC 1848 are popularly known as the Heart and Soul nebulae. Easy to spot on the right are star clusters NGC 869 and NGC 884 also known as h and Chi Perseii, or just the Double Cluster. Heart and Soul, with their own embedded clusters of young stars a million or so years old, are each over 200 light-years across and 6 to 7 thousand light-years away. In fact, they are part of a large, active star forming complex sprawling along the Perseus spiral arm of our Milky Way Galaxy. The Double Cluster is located at about the same distance as the Heart and Soul nebulae. Separated by only a few hundred light-years, h and Chi Perseii are physically close together, and both clusters are estimated to be about 13 million years old. Their proximity and similar stellar ages suggest both clusters are likely a product of the same star-forming region.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap160924.html

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APOD: 2019 March 29 - M104: The Sombrero Galaxy




The striking spiral galaxy M104 is famous for its nearly edge-on profile featuring a broad ring of obscuring dust lanes. Seen in silhouette against an extensive central bulge of stars, the swath of cosmic dust lends a broad brimmed hat-like appearance to the galaxy suggesting a more popular moniker, The Sombrero Galaxy. Hubble Space Telescope data have been used to to create this sharp view of the well-known galaxy. The processing results in a natural color appearance and preserves details often lost in overwhelming glare of M104's bright central bulge when viewed with smaller ground-based telescopes. Also known as NGC 4594, the Sombrero galaxy can be seen across the spectrum and is host to a central supermassive black hole. About 50,000 light-years across and 28 million light-years away, M104 is one of the largest galaxies at the southern edge of the Virgo Galaxy Cluster.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190329.html

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APOD: November 10, 1996 - Columbia Launches

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Rocket engines blazing, the Space Shuttle Columbia arcs into Florida's morning sky after lifting off from pad 39-A at Kennedy Space Center. Seen here in January of 1996, this space shuttle has been operational for more than 15 years -- racking up 20 flights and over 77 million miles in orbit while spending 177 days in space. The first member of NASA's shuttle fleet, Columbia shares it name with another famous spacecraft launched from pad 39-A, the Apollo 11 command module. Having begun its career with STS-1 in April of 1981, Columbia, also kown as orbiter vehicle 102 (OV-102), is now being prepared for the STS-80 mission scheduled to launch this month.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap961110.html

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APOD: 2019 March 28 - The Gaia Stars of M15




Messier 15 is a 13 billion year old relic of the early formative years of our galaxy, one of about 170 globular star clusters that still roam the halo of the Milky Way. About 200 light-years in diameter, it lies about 35,000 light years away toward the constellation Pegasus. But this realistic looking view of the ancient globular star cluster is not a photograph. Instead it's an animated gif image constructed from remarkably precise individual measurements of star positions, brightness, and color. The astronomically rich data set used was made by the sky-scanning Gaia satellite which also determined parallax distances for 1.3 billion Milky Way stars. In the animated gif, twinkling stars are M15's identified RR Lyrae stars. Plentiful in M15, RR Lyrae stars are evolved pulsating variable stars whose brightness and pulsation period, typically less than a day, are related.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190328.html

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APOD: October 16, 1995 - Starburst Galaxy M94

Bild/Foto

The spiral galaxy M94 is somewhat unusual in that it shows a great ring of bright young stars particularly apparent when observed in ultraviolet light, as shown above. Such a high abundance of these young blue stars may cause a galaxy to be designated a starburst galaxy. It is likely that many of the stars seen in the above ring were created when a density wave moving in the galaxy compressed existing galactic gas. The above picture was taken by the Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope during the Astro-2 mission in March 1995.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap951016.html

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APOD: 2019 March 27 - NGC 1333: Stellar Nursery in Perseus




NGC 1333 is seen in visible light as a reflection nebula, dominated by bluish hues characteristic of starlight reflected by interstellar dust. A mere 1,000 light-years distant toward the heroic constellation Perseus, it lies at the edge of a large, star-forming molecular cloud. This striking close-up spans about two full moons on the sky or just over 15 light-years at the estimated distance of NGC 1333. It shows details of the dusty region along with telltale hints of contrasty red emission from Herbig-Haro objects, jets and shocked glowing gas emanating from recently formed stars. In fact, NGC 1333 contains hundreds of stars less than a million years old, most still hidden from optical telescopes by the pervasive stardust. The chaotic environment may be similar to one in which our own Sun formed over 4.5 billion years ago.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190327.html

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APOD: 2011 June 15 - Millions of Stars in Omega Centauri




Featured in this sharp telescopic image, globular star cluster Omega Centauri (NGC 5139) is some 15,000 light-years away. Some 150 light-years in diameter, the cluster is packed with about 10 million stars much older than the Sun. Omega Cen is the largest 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.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap110615.html

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APOD: 2019 March 26 - AE Aurigae and the Flaming Star Nebula




Is star AE Aurigae on fire? No. Even though AE Aurigae is named the flaming star, the surrounding nebula IC 405 is named the Flaming Star Nebula, and the region shape gives the appearance of fire, there is no fire. Fire, typically defined as the rapid molecular acquisition of oxygen, happens only when sufficient oxygen is present and is not important in such high-energy, low-oxygen environments such as stars. The material that appears as smoke is mostly interstellar hydrogen, but does contain smoke-like dark filaments of carbon-rich dust grains. The bright star AE Aurigae, visible just to the lower right of the image center, is so hot it glows blue, emitting light so energetic it knocks electrons away from surrounding gas. When a proton recaptures an electron, light is emitted, as seen in the surrounding emission nebula. Featured here, the Flaming Star nebula lies about 1,500 light years distant, spans about 5 light years, and is visible with a small telescope toward the constellation of the Charioteer (Auriga).

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190326.html

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