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APOD: 2019 July 16 - Apollo 11 Launches Humans to the Moon

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Video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/yxer_vweB5g

Everybody saw the Moon. Nobody had ever been there. Humans across planet Earth watched in awe 50 years ago today as a powerful Saturn V rocket attempted to launch humans -- to the Moon. Some in space flight guessed that the machinery was so complex, that so many things had to go right for it to work, that Apollo 11 would end up being another useful dress rehearsal for a later successful Moon-landing mission. But to the Moon they went. The featured video starts by showing astronauts Aldrin, Armstrong, and Collins making their way to the waiting rocket. As the large and mighty Saturn V launched, crowds watched from Cape Canaveral in Florida, USA and on television around the world. The events that unfolded over the next few days, including a dramatic moon walk 50 years ago this Saturday, will forever be remembered as a milestone in human history and an unrivaled demonstration of human ingenuity. This week, many places around the world are planning celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the first humans landing on the Moon.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190716.html

#astronomy #picture #space #NASA #APOD
 
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APOD: February 11, 1998 - Ultra Fast Pulsar

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Pulsars are rotating neutron stars, born in the violent crucibles of supernova explosions. Like cosmic lighthouses, beams of radiation from surface hotspots sweep past our viewpoint creating pulses which reveal the rotation rates of these incredibly dense stellar corpses. The most famous pulsar of all is found in the nearby supernova remnant, the Crab Nebula. The Crab's young pulsar is fast. Rotating at 33 times a second, its radiation energizes the surrounding gaseous stellar debris. But using archival observations from orbiting X-ray telescopes, astronomers have recently identified another "Crab-like" pulsar that is even faster. Located in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), X-ray pulses from this newly discovered pulsar, in the supernova remnant N157B, indicate an even faster rotation rate - 62 times a second - making it the fastest known pulsar associated with a supernova remnant. This contoured, false color X-ray image of a portion of the LMC shows the location of N157B along with the core of the nearby hot star cluster R136, and the site of another Crab-like pulsar in SNR 0540-69.3 (rotating a mere 20 times a second). The image is about 1,500 light-years across.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap980211.html

#astronomy #picture #space #NASA #APOD
 
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APOD: July 6, 1999 - A Sun Pillar

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Have you ever seen a sun pillar? When the air is cold and the Sun is rising or setting, falling ice crystals can reflect sunlight and create an unusual column of light. Ice sometimes forms flat, stop-sign shaped crystals as it falls from high-level clouds. Air resistance causes these crystals to lie nearly flat much of the time as they flutter to the ground. Sunlight reflects off crystals that are properly aligned, creating the sun-pillar effect. In the above picture, the sun-pillar can be traced up to the cloud that is raining the reflecting ice-crystals.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap990706.html

#astronomy #picture #space #NASA #APOD
 
APOD: 2019 July 13 - The Eagle Rises




Get out your red/blue glasses and check out this stereo view from lunar orbit. The 3D anaglyph was created from two photographs (AS11-44-6633, AS11-44-6634) taken by astronaut Michael Collins during the 1969 Apollo 11 mission. It features the lunar module ascent stage, dubbed The Eagle, rising to meet the command module in lunar orbit on July 21. Aboard the ascent stage are Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, the first to walk on the Moon. The smooth, dark area on the lunar surface is Mare Smythii located just below the equator on the extreme eastern edge of the Moon's near side. Poised beyond the lunar horizon is our fair planet Earth.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190713.html

#astronomy #picture #space #NASA #APOD
 
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APOD: 2003 June 25 - Galaxies in the GOODS




This tantalizing view of galaxies scattered near and far is part of the Hubble Space Telescope's contribution to the GOODS - the Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey project. The GOODS' goal is to study galaxy formation and evolution over an unprecedent wide range of cosmic distances, therefore spanning time from the present to the early Universe. Joined by the Chandra X-ray Observatory and soon by the anticipated Space Infrared Telescope Facility along with major ground-based observatories, the project expands greatly on the past Hubble Deep Fields of regions in the northern constellation of Ursa Major and southern constellation Tucana. Across the electromagnetic spectrum, a sample of large nearby galaxies, like the interacting pair at the lower left above, will be compared with distant younger galaxies in a search for clues to the origins of these lighthouses of the cosmos. Preliminary results of the project confirm that the birth rate of stars was higher in the past and that galaxies have indeed been constructed from the "bottom up", growing from mergers and accretion of small infant galaxies to their present day forms.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap030625.html

#astronomy #picture #space #NASA #APOD
 
APOD: 2019 July 10 - 4000 Exoplanets

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Video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/aiFD_LBx2nM

Over 4000 planets are now known to exist outside our Solar System. Known as exoplanets, this milestone was passed last month, as recorded by NASA's Exoplanet Archive. The featured video highlights these exoplanets in sound and light, starting chronologically from the first confirmed detection in 1992. The entire night sky is first shown compressed with the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy making a giant U. Exoplanets detected by slight jiggles in their parents-star's colors (radial velocity) appear in pink, while those detected by slight dips in their parent star's brightness (transit) are shown in purple. Further, those exoplanets imaged directly appear in orange, while those detected by gravitationally magnifying the light of a background star (microlensing) are shown in green. The faster a planet orbits its parent star, the higher the accompanying tone played. The retired Kepler satellite has discovered about half of these first 4000 exoplanets in just one region of the sky, while the new TESS mission is on track to find even more, all over the sky, orbiting the brightest nearby stars. Finding exoplanets not only helps humanity to better understand the potential prevalence of life elsewhere in the universe, but also how our Earth and Solar System were formed.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190710.html

#astronomy #picture #space #NASA #APOD
 
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APOD: August 14, 1996 - Galileo Explores Europa

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Details of the crazed cracks criss-crossing Europa's frozen surface are apparent in this mosaic of the Galileo spacecraft's latest images of Jupiter's ice-covered moon. Curious white stripes, also seen by Voyager, are clearly visible marking the center of the wide dark fractures. One theory suggests that "dirty geysers" erupting along the cracks deposited darker material followed by a flow of cleaner water ice which produced the stripe. The above image also shows an impact crater about 18.5 miles in diameter surrounded by white ejecta (lower left) and a curving x-pattern at bottom left which suggests fractures between icy plates filled with slush frozen in place. Is there now or was there ever liquid water beneath Europa's surface? These latest results still hold out that possibility -- and so the possibility of life. Europa, along with Mars and Saturn's moon Titan is considered to be one of the few places in our Solar System, beyond Earth, where primitive life forms could have developed. Galileo's close flyby of this tantalizing moon is scheduled for December of this year.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap960814.html

#astronomy #picture #space #NASA #APOD
 
APOD: 2019 July 8 - The Galactic Center in Radio from MeerKAT




What's happening at the center of our galaxy? It's hard to tell with optical telescopes since visible light is blocked by intervening interstellar dust. In other bands of light, though, such as radio, the galactic center can be imaged and shows itself to be quite an interesting and active place. The featured picture shows the inaugural image of the MeerKAT array of 64 radio dishes just completed in South Africa. Spanning four times the angular size of the Moon (2 degrees), the image is impressively vast, deep, and detailed. Many known sources are shown in clear detail, including many with a prefix of Sgr, since the Galactic Center is in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius. In our Galaxy's Center lies Sgr A, found here just to the right of the image center, which houses the Milky Way's central supermassive black hole. Other sources in the image are not as well understood, including the Arc, just to the left of Sgr A, and numerous filamentary threads. Goals for MeerKAT include searching for radio emission from neutral hydrogen emitted in a much younger universe and brief but distant radio flashes.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190708.html

#astronomy #picture #space #NASA #APOD
 
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APOD: 2014 November 21 - M1: The Crab Nebula




The Crab Nebula is cataloged as M1, the first object on Charles Messier's famous 18th century list of things which are not comets. In fact, the Crab is now known to be a supernova remnant, debris from the death explosion of a massive star, witnessed by astronomers in the year 1054. This sharp, ground-based telescopic view uses narrowband data to track emission from ionized oxygen and hydrogen atoms (in blue and red) and explore the tangled filaments within the still expanding cloud. One of the most exotic objects known to modern astronomers, the Crab Pulsar, a neutron star spinning 30 times a second, is visible as a bright spot near the nebula's center. Like a cosmic dynamo, this collapsed remnant of the stellar core powers the Crab's emission across the electromagnetic spectrum. Spanning about 12 light-years, the Crab Nebula is a mere 6,500 light-years away in the constellation Taurus.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap141121.html

#astronomy #picture #space #NASA #APOD
 
APOD: 2019 July 7 - Crescent Saturn




Saturn never shows a crescent phase -- from Earth. But when viewed from beyond, the majestic giant planet can show an unfamiliar diminutive sliver. This image of crescent Saturn in natural color was taken by the robotic Cassini spacecraft in 2007. The featured image captures Saturn's majestic rings from the side of the ring plane opposite the Sun -- the unilluminated side -- another vista not visible from Earth. Pictured are many of Saturn's photogenic wonders, including the subtle colors of cloud bands, the complex shadows of the rings on the planet, and the shadow of the planet on the rings. A careful eye will find the moons Mimas (2 o'clock) and Janus (4 o'clock), but the real challenge is to find Pandora (8 o'clock). Saturn is now nearly opposite from the Sun in the Earth's sky and so can be seen in the evening starting just after sunset for the rest of the night.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190707.html

#astronomy #picture #space #NASA #APOD
 
APOD: 2019 July 6 - 8 Minute and 30 Second Eclipse




The total phase of the July 2nd solar eclipse lasted about 4 minutes and 30 seconds at the point of maximum eclipse. On the surface of planet Earth, that was about 600 nautical miles north of Easter Island in the Southern Pacific Ocean. But from 37,000 feet above, on a charter flight intercepting the Moon's shadow, the Moon could be seen to completely block the Sun for about 8 minutes and 30 seconds. With a tailwind at the mid-eclipse intercept point, the plane was traveling around 488 nautical miles per hour chasing along the Moon's shadow track. From above the clouds this wide-field image of the totally eclipsed Sun and shimmering solar corona over the wing records the spectacular view from a window seat on the sunward side of the aircraft.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190706.html

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APOD: 2017 July 28 - Noodle Mosaic of Saturn




On April 26 the Cassini spacecraft swooped toward Saturn on the first of its Grand Finale dives between Saturn and rings. In this long, thin, noodle mosaic, a rapid series of 137 low resolution images captured by Cassini's wide-angle camera track its progress across the gas giant's swirling cloud tops. The mosaic projection maps the arc along Saturn's atmospheric curve on to a flat image plane. At top, the first mosaic panel is centered at 90 degrees north, about 72,400 kilometers above Saturn's dark north polar vortex. As the mosaic progresses it narrows, the pixel scale shrinking from 8.7 kilometers to 1 kilometer per pixel. For the last panel, the spacecraft is 8,374 kilometers above a region 18 degrees north of Saturn's equator. Frame orientation changes near the bottom as Cassini rotates to maneuver its large, dish-shaped, high-gain antenna forward, providing a shield before crossing Saturn's ring plane.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap170728.html

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APOD: 2019 June 28 - A Solstice Night in Paris




The night of June 21 was the shortest night for planet Earth's northern latitudes, so at latitude 48.9 degrees north, Paris was no exception. Still, the City of Light had an exceptionally luminous evening. Its skies were flooded with silvery night shining or noctilucent clouds after the solstice sunset. Hovering at the edge of space, the icy condensations on meteoric dust or volcanic ash are still in full sunlight at the extreme altitudes of the mesophere. Seen at high latitudes in summer months, stunning, wide spread displays of northern noctilucent clouds are now being reported.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190628.html

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APOD: November 21, 1995 - M42: Orion Nebula Mosaic

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The Great Nebula in Orion is one of the most interesting of all astronomical nebulae known. Here fifteen pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope have been merged to show the great expanse and diverse nature of the nebula. In addition to housing a bright open cluster of stars known as the Trapezium, the Orion Nebula contains many stellar nurseries. These nurseries contain hydrogen gas, hot young stars, proplyds, and stellar jets spewing material at high speeds. Much of the filamentary structure visible in this image are actually shock waves - fronts where fast moving material encounters slow moving gas. Some shock waves are visible near one of the bright stars in the lower left of the picture. The Orion Nebula is located in the same spiral arm of our Galaxy as is our Sun. It takes light about 1500 years to reach us from there.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap951121.html

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spettacolo!!

APOD: 2019 June 27 - The Longer Days




This persistent six month long exposure compresses the time from solstice to solstice (December 21, 2018 to June 16, 2019) into a single point of view. Dubbed a solargraph, the unconventional picture was recorded with a tall, tube-shaped pinhole camera using a piece of photographic paper. Fixed to a single spot at Casarano, Italy for the entire exposure, the simple camera continuously records the Sun's daily path as a glowing trail burned into the photosensitive paper. Breaks and gaps in the trails are caused by cloud cover. At the end of the exposure, the paper was scanned to create the digital image. Of course, starting in December the Sun trails peak lower in the sky, near the northern hemisphere's winter solstice. The trails trails climb higher as the days grow longer and the June 21st summer solstice approaches.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190627.html

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APOD: 2019 June 27 - The Longer Days




This persistent six month long exposure compresses the time from solstice to solstice (December 21, 2018 to June 16, 2019) into a single point of view. Dubbed a solargraph, the unconventional picture was recorded with a tall, tube-shaped pinhole camera using a piece of photographic paper. Fixed to a single spot at Casarano, Italy for the entire exposure, the simple camera continuously records the Sun's daily path as a glowing trail burned into the photosensitive paper. Breaks and gaps in the trails are caused by cloud cover. At the end of the exposure, the paper was scanned to create the digital image. Of course, starting in December the Sun trails peak lower in the sky, near the northern hemisphere's winter solstice. The trails trails climb higher as the days grow longer and the June 21st summer solstice approaches.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190627.html

#astronomy #picture #space #NASA #APOD
 
APOD: 2019 June 26 - Noctilucent Clouds, Reflections, and Silhouettes




Sometimes it's night on the ground but day in the air. As the Earth rotates to eclipse the Sun, sunset rises up from the ground. Therefore, at sunset on the ground, sunlight still shines on clouds above. Under usual circumstances, a pretty sunset might be visible, but unusual noctilucent clouds float so high up they can be seen well after dark. Normally too dim to be seen, they may become visible just after sunset during the summer when illuminated by sunlight from below. Noctilucent clouds are the highest clouds known and thought to be part of polar mesospheric clouds. Featured here as they appeared two weeks ago, a network of noctilucent clouds was captured not only in the distant sky but in reflection from a small lake just north of Zwolle, Netherlands, with trees in stark silhouette across the horizon. Unusually bright noctilucent clouds continue to appear over much of northern Europe. Much about noctilucent clouds has been discovered only over the past decade, while how they form and evolve remains a topic of active research.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190626.html

#astronomy #picture #space #NASA #APOD
 
APOD: 2019 June 25 - 25 Brightest Stars in the Night Sky




Do you know the names of some of the brightest stars? It's likely that you do, even though some bright stars have names so old they date back to near the beginning of written language. Many world cultures have their own names for the brightest stars, and it is culturally and historically important to remember them. In the interest of clear global communication, however, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) has begun to designate standardized star names. Featured above in true color are the 25 brightest stars in the night sky, currently as seen by humans, coupled with their IAU-recognized names. Some star names have interesting meanings, including Sirius ("the scorcher" in Latin), Vega ("falling" in Arabic), and Antares ("rival to Mars" in Greek). It's also likely that other of these bright star names are not familiar to you, even though familiar Polaris is too dim to make this list.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190625.html

#astronomy #picture #space #NASA #APOD
 
APOD: 2019 June 23 - Carina Nebula Panorama from Hubble




How do violent stars affect their surroundings? To help find out, astronomers created a 48-frame high-resolution, controlled-color panorama of the center of the Carina Nebula, one of the largest star forming regions on the night sky. The featured image, taken in 2007, was the most detailed image of the Carina Nebula yet taken. Cataloged as NGC 3372, the Carina Nebula is home to streams of hot gas, pools of cool gas, knots of dark globules, and pillars of dense dusty interstellar matter. The Keyhole Nebula, visible left of center, houses several of the most massive stars known. These large and violent stars likely formed in dark globules and continually reshape the nebula with their energetic light, outflowing stellar winds, and ultimately by ending their lives in supernova explosions. Visible to the unaided eye, the entire Carina Nebula spans over 450 light years and lies about 8,500 light-years away toward the constellation of Ship's Keel (Carina).

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190623.html

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APOD: 2018 February 1 - Moonset Eclipse




Near the closest point in its orbit, the second Full Moon of the month occurred on January 31. So did the first Total Lunar Eclipse of 2018, as the Moon slid through planet Earth's shadow. In a postcard from planet Earth, this telescopic snapshot captures the totally eclipsed Moon as it set above the western horizon and the Chiricahua Mountains of southern Arizona. The Moon's evocative reddened hue is due to sunlight scattered into the shadow. Still, the planet's shadow visibly grows darker near the center, toward the top of the lunar disk.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap180201.html

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APOD: 2019 June 22 - Ares 3 Landing Site: The Martian Revisited




This close-up from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's HiRISE camera shows weathered craters and windblown deposits in southern Acidalia Planitia. A striking shade of blue in standard HiRISE image colors, to the human eye the area would probably look grey or a little reddish. But human eyes have not gazed across this terrain, unless you count the eyes of NASA astronauts in the scifi novel The Martian by Andy Weir. The novel chronicles the adventures of Mark Watney, an astronaut stranded at the fictional Mars mission Ares 3 landing site corresponding to the coordinates of this cropped HiRISE frame. For scale Watney's 6-meter-diameter habitat at the site would be about 1/10th the diameter of the large crater. Of course, the Ares 3 landing coordinates are only about 800 kilometers north of the (real life) Carl Sagan Memorial Station, the 1997 Pathfinder landing site.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190622.html

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APOD: 2012 June 4 - Milky Way Galaxy Doomed: Collision with Andromeda Pending




Will our Milky Way Galaxy collide one day with its larger neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy? Most likely, yes. Careful plotting of slight displacements of M31's stars relative to background galaxies on recent Hubble Space Telescope images indicate that the center of M31 could be on a direct collision course with the center of our home galaxy. Still, the errors in sideways velocity appear sufficiently large to admit a good chance that the central parts of the two galaxies will miss, slightly, but will become close enough for their outer halos to become gravitationally entangled. Once that happens, the two galaxies will become bound, dance around, and eventually merge to become one large elliptical galaxy -- over the next few billion years. Pictured above is an artist's illustration of the sky of a world in the distant future when the central parts of each galaxy begin to destroy each other. The exact future of our Milky Way and the entire surrounding Local Group of Galaxies is likely to remain an active topic of research for years to come.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap120604.html

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APOD: 2003 August 24 - Valles Marineris: The Grand Canyon of Mars




The largest canyon in the Solar System cuts a wide swath across the face of Mars. Named Valles Marineris, the grand valley extends over 3,000 kilometers long, spans as much as 600 kilometers across, and delves as much as 8 kilometers deep. By comparison, the Earth's Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA is 800 kilometers long, 30 kilometers across, and 1.8 kilometers deep. The origin of the Valles Marineris remains unknown, although a leading hypothesis holds that it started as a crack billions of years ago as the planet cooled. Recently, several geologic processes have been identified in the canyon. The above mosaic was created from over 100 images of Mars taken by Viking Orbiters in the 1970s.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap030824.html

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APOD: 2019 June 20 - A View Toward M106




Big, bright, beautiful spiral, Messier 106 dominates this cosmic vista. The nearly two degree wide telescopic field of view looks toward the well-trained constellation Canes Venatici, near the handle of the Big Dipper. Also known as NGC 4258, M106 is about 80,000 light-years across and 23.5 million light-years away, the largest member of the Canes II galaxy group. For a far away galaxy, the distance to M106 is well-known in part because it can be directly measured by tracking this galaxy's remarkable maser, or microwave laser emission. Very rare but naturally occurring, the maser emission is produced by water molecules in molecular clouds orbiting its active galactic nucleus. Another prominent spiral galaxy on the scene, viewed nearly edge-on, is NGC 4217 below and right of M106. The distance to NGC 4217 is much less well-known, estimated to be about 60 million light-years.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190620.html

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APOD: 2019 June 2 - A Live View from the International Space Station

If you were floating above the Earth right now, this is what you might see. In 2014, a robotic SpaceX Dragon capsule that delivered supplies to the Earth-orbiting International Space Station (ISS) also delivered High Definition Earth Viewing (HDEV) cameras that take and transmit live views of Earth. Pictured here, when working, is the live video feed that switches between four cameras, each pointed differently. Watch white clouds, tan land, and blue oceans drift by. The featured live view will appear black when it is nighttime on the Earth below, but the space station's rapid 90-minute orbit compresses this dark time into only 45 minutes. The present location of the ISS above the Earth can be found on the web. If the video appears gray, this indicates that the view is either being switched between cameras, or communications with the ISS is temporarily unavailable. As the HDEV project continues, video quality will be monitored to assess the effects of high energy radiation, which types of cameras work best, and which Earth views are the most popular.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190602.html

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APOD: 2019 June 19 - Our Galaxys Magnetic Center




What's the magnetic field like in the center of our Milky Way Galaxy? To help find out, NASA's SOFIA -- an observatory flying in a modified 747 -- imaged the central region with an instrument known as HAWC+. HAWC+ maps magnetism by observing polarized infrared light emitted by elongated dust grains rotating in alignment with the local magnetic field. Now at our Milky Way's center is a supermassive black hole with a hobby of absorbing gas from stars it has recently destroyed. Our galaxy's black hole, though, is relatively quiet compared to the absorption rate of the central black holes in active galaxies. The featured image gives a clue as to why -- a surrounding magnetic field may either channel gas into the black hole -- which lights up its exterior, or forces gas into an accretion-disk holding pattern, causing it to be less active -- at least temporarily. Inspection of the featured image -- appearing perhaps like a surreal mashup of impasto art and gravitational astrophysics -- brings out this telling clue by detailing the magnetic field in and around a dusty ring surrounding Sagittarius A*, the black hole in our Milky Way's center.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190619.html

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APOD: 2017 October 23 - NGC 4993: The Galactic Home of an Historic Explosion




That reddish dot -- it wasn't there before. It's the dot to the upper left of galaxy NGC 4993's center, do you see it? When scanning the large field of possible locations of an optical counterpart to the unprecedented gravitational wave event GW170817 in August, the appearance of this fading dot quickly became of historic importance. It pinpointed GW170817's exact location, thereby enabling humanity's major telescopes to examine the first ever electromagnetic wave counterpart to a gravitational wave event, an event giving strong evidence of being a short gamma-ray burst kilonova, the element-forming explosion that occurs after two neutron stars merge. The featured image of lenticular galaxy NGC 4993 by Hubble shows the fading dot several days after it was discovered. Analyses, continuing, include the physics of the explosion, what heavy elements formed, the similarity of the speeds of gravitational radiation and light, and calibrating a new method for determining the distance scale of our universe.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap171023.html

#astronomy #picture #space #NASA #APOD
 
APOD: 2019 June 18 - Strawberry Moon over the Temple of Poseidon




Did you see the full moon last night? If not, tonight's nearly full moon should be almost as good. Because full moons are opposite the Sun, they are visible in the sky when the Sun is not -- which should be nearly all night long tonight, clouds permitting. One nickname for June's full moon is the Strawberry Moon, named for when wild strawberries start to ripen in parts of Earth's northern hemisphere. Different cultures around the globe give this full moon different names, though, including Honey Moon and Rose Moon. In the foreground of this featured image, taken yesterday in Cape Sounion, Greece, is the 2,400 year-old Temple of Poseidon. Next month will the 50th anniversary of the time humans first landed on the Moon.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190618.html

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APOD: 2002 September 16 - An Atlas V Rocket Prepares to Launch




The first launch of an Atlas V rocket occurred last month. The Atlas V, built by Lockheed Martin, is the first rocket in the U. S. Air Force's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program. Rockets in this program can carry increasingly heavy payloads by just adding more boosters. In fact, the only US expendable rocket capable of lifting more was the Saturn V that carried people to the Moon. Atlas rockets have a reputation for being extremely reliable -- the current launch was the 61st consecutive successful launch for an Atlas. Highlighted in the inset is the small RocketCam camera that sent back pictures from the rocket during launch.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap020916.html

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APOD: 2015 January 6 - 100 Million Stars in the Andromeda Galaxy




What stars compose the Andromeda galaxy? To better understand, a group of researchers studied the nearby spiral by composing the largest image ever taken with the Hubble Space Telescope. The result, called the Panchromatic Hubble Andromeda Treasury (PHAT), involved thousands of observations, hundreds of fields, spanned about a third of the galaxy, and resolved over 100 million stars. In the featured composite image, the central part of the galaxy is seen on the far left, while a blue spiral arm is prominent on the right. The brightest stars, scattered over the frame, are actually Milky Way foreground stars. The PHAT data is being analyzed to better understand where and how stars have formed in M31 in contrast to our Milky Way Galaxy, and to identify and characterize Andromeda's stellar clusters and obscuring dust.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap150106.html

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APOD: 2019 June 16 - Unusual Mountain Ahuna Mons on Asteroid Ceres




What created this unusual mountain? There is a new theory. Ahuna Mons is the largest mountain on the largest known asteroid in our Solar System, Ceres, which orbits our Sun in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Ahuna Mons, though, is like nothing that humanity has ever seen before. For one thing, its slopes are garnished not with old craters but young vertical streaks. The new hypothesis, based on numerous gravity measurements, holds that a bubble of mud rose from deep within the dwarf planet and pushed through the icy surface at a weak point rich in reflective salt -- and then froze. The bright streaks are thought to be similar to other recently surfaced material such as visible in Ceres' famous bright spots. The featured double-height digital image was constructed from surface maps taken of Ceres in 2016 by the robotic Dawn mission. Successfully completing its mission in 2018, Dawn continues to orbit Ceres even though it has exhausted the fuel needed to keep its antennas pointed toward Earth.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190616.html

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APOD: November 8, 1995 - Simulating the Universe

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The above cube represents a chunk of our universe as simulated by the Grand Challenge Cosmology Consortium (GC3). The cube is huge - it would take light 500 million years to cross it. Low density gas is shown as blue, and high density gas as red. In the beginning of the universe, matter and gas were spread quite uniformly. As this computer universe evolved, gravity caused high density areas to be created. This simulation hypothesized that 1/3 of the universe is composed of slow moving "cold dark matter", and 2/3 composed of fast moving "hot dark matter." The areas of high and low density resulting from this computer simulation are similar to those observed by astronomers in the real universe.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap951108.html

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APOD: 2019 June 10 - Jupiter Abyss




What's that black spot on Jupiter? No one is sure. During the latest pass of NASA's Juno around Jupiter, the robotic spacecraft imaged an usually dark cloud feature informally dubbed the Abyss. Surrounding cloud patterns show the Abyss to be at the center of a vortex. Since dark features on Jupiter's atmosphere tend to run deeper than light features, the Abyss may really be the deep hole that it appears -- but without more evidence that remains conjecture. The Abyss is surrounded by a complex of meandering clouds and other swirling storm systems, some of which are topped by light colored, high-altitude clouds. The featured image was captured last month while Juno passed only about 15,000 kilometers above Jupiter's cloud tops. The next close pass of Juno near Jupiter will be in July.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190610.html

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APOD: 2014 November 14 - Welcome to a Comet




The Rosetta Mission lander is safely on a comet. One of Philae's feet appears at the bottom left of this spectacular image of the surface of C67/P Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Still a happy lander, Philae bounced twice before settling and returning images from the surface, traveling a kilometer or so after initially touching at the targeted site Agilkia. A surface panorama suggests that the lander has come to rest tilted and near a shadowing wall, with its solar panels getting less illumination than hoped. Philae's science instruments are working as planned and data is being relayed during communications windows, when the Rosetta spacecraft is above the lander's new horizon.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap141114.html

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APOD: 2019 June 9 - A Triangular Shadow of a Large Volcano




Why does the shadow of this volcano look like a triangle? The Mount Teide volcano itself does not have the strictly pyramidal shape that its geometric shadow might suggest. The triangle shadow phenomena is not unique to the Mt. Teide, though, and is commonly seen from the tops of other large mountains and volcanoes. A key reason for the strange dark shape is that the observer is looking down the long corridor of a sunset (or sunrise) shadow that extends to the horizon. Even if the huge volcano were a perfect cube and the resulting shadow were a long rectangular box, that box would appear to taper off at its top as its shadow extended far into the distance, just as parallel train tracks do. The featured spectacular image shows Pico Viejo crater in the foreground, located on Tenerife in the Canary Islands of Spain. The nearly full moon is seen nearby shortly after its total lunar eclipse.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190609.html

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APOD: 2011 January 6 - Sunrise, Moonrise




For many Europeans, the Sun and New Moon rose together on January 4 in a partial solar eclipse. Arriving close on the heels of the new year, it was the first of a series of four(!) partial solar eclipses due in 2011. This composite image documents the graceful celestial event in colorful morning skies over Graz, Austria. Beginning before sunrise, frames were taken to record the position and progress of the eclipse every 15 minutes. As Sun and Moon rose above the eastern horizon, the town of Graz is seen bathed in warming sunlight only partially blocked by the New Moon, spreading beneath the town's landmark clock tower.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap110106.html

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APOD: 2019 June 8 - On the Beach with Mars




At the end of last year's northern summer, after its dazzling opposition, Mars still shone brightly in the night. The celestial beacon easily attracted the attention of these two night skygazers who stood still for just a while, but long enough to be captured in the sea and night skyscape from Big Sur, planet Earth. Its central bulge near the southwestern horizon, the Milky Way runs through the scene too, while the long exposure also reveals a faint blue bioluminescence blooming in the waves along Pfeiffer Beach. Now much fainter, Mars can be spotted near the western horizon after sunset, but this month Jupiter is near its closest and brightest, reaching its own opposition on June 10. Night skygazers can spot brilliant Jupiter over southern horizons, glaring next to the stars toward the central Milky Way.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190608.html

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APOD: 2019 June 6 - The Planet and the Pipe




Now posing against our galaxy's rich starfields and nebulae, brilliant planet Jupiter shines in the night sky. Its almost overwhelming glow is near the top of the frame in this colorful telephoto portrait of the central Milky Way. Spanning about 20 degrees on the sky, the scene includes the silhouette of LDN 1773 against the starlight, also know by the popular moniker the Pipe Nebula for its apparent outline of stem and bowl. The Pipe Nebula is part of the galaxy's Ophiuchus dark cloud complex. Located at a distance of about 450 light-years, dense cores of gas and dust within are collapsing to form stars. Approaching its opposition, opposite the Sun in the sky on June 12, Jupiter is only about 36 light-minutes from planet Earth. Fans of dark markings on the sky can probably spot the Snake Nebula below and left of Jupiter's glare.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190607.html

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APOD: 2019 June 6 - Messier 63: The Sunflower Galaxy




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 telescopic portrait. 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.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190606.html

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APOD: 2009 July 2 - Lyman Alpha Blob




Dubbed a Lyman-alpha blob, an enormous cloud of hydrogen gas spans several hundred thousand light-years in this remarkable image (left), a composite of x-ray, optical, and infrared data from space and ground based observatories. The gigantic, amoeba-like structure is seen as it was when the universe was a mere 2 billion years old (about 12 billion years ago). Lyman-alpha blobs are so called because they strongly emit radiation due to the Lyman-alpha emission line of hydrogen gas. Normally, Lyman-alpha emission is in the ultraviolet part of the spectrum, but Lyman-apha blobs are so distant, their light is redshifted to (longer) optical wavelengths. X-ray data (blue) indicates the presence of a supermassive black hole feeding at the center of an active galaxy embedded in the blob. Illustrated close up in the right hand panel, radiation and outflows from the active galaxy are thought to be a source for energizing and heating the blob's hydrogen gas. In fact, Lyman-alpha blobs could represent an early phase in galaxy formation where the heating is so great it begins to limit further rapid growth of active galaxies and their supermassive black holes.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap090702.html

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APOD: 2019 June 5 - The Interstellar Clouds of Orion




The constellation of Orion is much more than three stars in a row. It is a direction in space that is rich with impressive nebulas. To better appreciate this well-known swath of sky, a new long exposure image was taken over several clear nights in January, February and March. After 23 hours of camera time and untold hours of image processing, the featured collage in the light of hydrogen, oxygen, and sulfur was produced spanning over 40 times the angular diameter of the Moon. Of the many interesting details that have become visible, one that particularly draws the eye is Barnard's Loop, the bright red orange arc just to the right of the image center. The Rosette Nebula is not the giant orange nebula just to the left of the image center -- that is larger but lesser known nebula known as the Meissa Ring. The Rosette Nebula is visible, though: it is the bright orange, blue and white nebula near the image bottom. The bright orange star just left of the frame center is Betelgeuse, while the bright blue star on the upper right is Rigel. About those famous three stars that cross the belt of Orion the Hunter -- in this busy frame they can be hard to locate, but a discerning eye will find them just to the right of the image center.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190605.html

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APOD: 2011 February 21 - Milky Way Over Switzerland




What's visible in the night sky during this time of year? To help illustrate the answer, a beautiful land, cloud, and skyscape was captured earlier this month over Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Visible in the foreground were the snow covered cliffs of the amphitheater shaped Creux du Van, as well as distant trees, and town-lit clouds. Visible in the night sky (at midnight) were galaxies including the long arch of the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy, the Andromeda galaxy (M31), and the Triangulum galaxy (M33). Star clusters visible included NGC 752, M34, M35, M41, the double cluster, and the Beehive (M44). Nebulas visible included the Orion Nebula (M42), NGC 7822, IC 1396, the Rosette Nebula, the Flaming Star Nebula, the California Nebula, the Heart and Soul Nebulas, and the Pacman Nebula. Rolling your cursor over the above image will bring up labels for all of these. But the above wide angle sky image captured even more sky wonders. What other nebulas can you find in the above images

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap110221.html

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APOD: 2019 June 4 - SEIS: Listening for Marsquakes




If you put your ear to Mars, what would you hear? To find out, and to explore the unknown interior of Mars, NASA's Insight Lander deployed SEIS late last year, a sensitive seismometer that can detect marsquakes. In early April, after hearing the wind and motions initiated by the lander itself, SEIS recorded an unprecedented event that matches what was expected for a marsquake. This event can be heard on this YouTube video. Although Mars is not thought to have tectonic plates like the Earth, numerous faults are visible on the Martian surface which likely occurred as the hot interior of Mars cooled -- and continues to cool. Were strong enough marsquakes to occur, SEIS could hear their rumbles reflected from large structures internal to Mars, like a liquid core, if one exists. Pictured last week, SEIS sits quietly on the Martian surface, taking in some Sun while light clouds are visible over the horizon.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190604.html

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APOD: 2005 November 17 - Young Stars of NGC 346

Bild/Foto

Star cluster NGC 346 is embedded in the largest star forming region in the Small Magellanic Cloud, some 210,000 light-years distant. The massive stars of NGC 346 are short lived, but very energetic. Their winds and radiation sweep out an interstellar cavern in the gas and dust cloud about 200 light-years across, triggering star formation and sculpting the region's dense inner edge. Cataloged as N66, the star forming region also appears to contain a large population of infant stars. A mere 3 to 5 million years old and not yet burning hydrogen in their cores, the infant stars are strewn about the embedded star cluster. In the false-color Hubble Space Telescope image, visible and near-infrared light are seen as blue and green, while light from atomic hydrogen emission is red.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap051117.html

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APOD: 2019 June 3 - Stephan's Quintet from Hubble




When did these big galaxies first begin to dance? Really only four of the five of Stephan's Quintet are locked in a cosmic tango of repeated close encounters taking place some 300 million light-years away. The odd galaxy out is easy to spot in this recently reprocessed image by the Hubble Space Telescope -- the interacting galaxies, NGC 7319, 7318B, 7318A, and 7317 (left to right), have a more dominant yellowish cast. They also tend to have distorted loops and tails, grown under the influence of disruptive gravitational tides. The mostly bluish galaxy, large NGC 7320 on the lower left, is in the foreground at about 40 million light-years distant, and so is not part of the interacting group. Data and modeling indicate that NGC 7318B is a relatively new intruder. A recently-discovered halo of old red stars surrounding Stephan's Quintet indicate that at least some of these galaxies started tangling over a billion years. Stephan's Quintet is visible with a moderate sized-telescope toward the constellation of Winged Horse (Pegasus).

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190603.html

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APOD: 2009 August 24 - Morning Glory Clouds Over Australia




What causes these long, strange clouds? No one is sure. A rare type of cloud known as a Morning Glory cloud can stretch 1,000 kilometers long and occur at altitudes up to two kilometers high. Although similar roll clouds have been seen at specific places across the world, the ones over Burketown, Queensland Australia occur predictably every spring. Long, horizontal, circulating tubes of air might form when flowing, moist, cooling air encounters an inversion layer, an atmospheric layer where air temperature atypically increases with height. These tubes and surrounding air could cause dangerous turbulence for airplanes when clear. Morning Glory clouds can reportedly achieve an airspeed of 60 kilometers per hour over a surface with little discernible wind. Pictured above, photographer Mick Petroff photographed some Morning Glory clouds from his airplane near the Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap090824.html

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APOD: 2019 June 2 - A Live View from the International Space Station

If you were floating above the Earth right now, this is what you might see. In 2014, a robotic SpaceX Dragon capsule that delivered supplies to the Earth-orbiting International Space Station (ISS) also delivered High Definition Earth Viewing (HDEV) cameras that take and transmit live views of Earth. Pictured here, when working, is the live video feed that switches between four cameras, each pointed differently. Watch white clouds, tan land, and blue oceans drift by. The featured live view will appear black when it is nighttime on the Earth below, but the space station's rapid 90-minute orbit compresses this dark time into only 45 minutes. The present location of the ISS above the Earth can be found on the web. If the video appears gray, this indicates that the view is either being switched between cameras, or communications with the ISS is temporarily unavailable. As the HDEV project continues, video quality will be monitored to assess the effects of high energy radiation, which types of cameras work best, and which Earth views are the most popular.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190602.html

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APOD: 2004 March 25 - An Orion of a Different Color




Look up into the sky tonight, and even with a good telescope you won't come across a sight quite like this one. It is a familiar object though, the grand stellar nursery known as the Orion Nebula. But the striking picture combines images taken through three separate filters, each designed to record different emission lines - light from Sulfur, Oxygen, and Hydrogen atoms glowing in the tenuous nebular gas. At such low densities, Sulfur and Hydrogen atoms emit red colors while Oxygen glows green. To distinguish their contributions in the final image, Sulfur was assigned to red, Hydrogen to green, and Oxygen to blue, a color scheme used in mapped-color images of other astronomical nebulae as well. While the result is very different from what the eye might see, the image is still both beautiful and scientifically valuable, tracing elements and conditions within the nearby star forming region.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap040325.html

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APOD: 2019 June 1 - NICER at Night




A payload on board the International Space Station, the Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) twists and turns to track cosmic sources of X-rays as the station orbits planet Earth every 93 minutes. During orbit nighttime, its X-ray detectors remain on. So as NICER slews from target to target bright arcs and loops are traced across this all-sky map made from 22 months of NICER data. The arcs tend to converge on prominent bright spots, pulsars in the X-ray sky that NICER regularly targets and monitors. The pulsars are spinning neutron stars that emit clock-like pulses of X-rays. Their timing is so precise it can be used for navigation, determining spacecraft speed and position. This NICER X-ray, all-sky, map is composed in coordinates with the celestial equator horizontally across the center.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190601.html

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APOD: 2008 May 11 - Retrograde Mars




Why would Mars appear to move backwards? Most of the time, the apparent motion of Mars in Earth's sky is in one direction, slow but steady in front of the far distant stars. About every two years, however, the Earth passes Mars as they orbit around the Sun. During the most recent such pass over the last year, the proximity of Mars made the red planet appear larger and brighter than usual. Also during this time, Mars appeared to move backwards in the sky, a phenomenon called retrograde motion. Pictured above is a series of images digitally stacked so that all of the stars images coincide. Here, Mars appears to trace out a loop in the sky. Near the top of the loop, Earth passed Mars and the retrograde motion was the highest. Retrograde motion can also be seen for other Solar System planets.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap080511.html

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