Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day gives you a nice view of why the planets drove the ancient astronomers nuts: images of Mars, taken over a period of time, are stacked to show you the progress of the planet through the sky. It loops! How to explain this? Gears? "Mouseover" the image to get a constellation guide.

Monday, October 27, 2014


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows us the near and the far. The Sun heads toward setting, partially-eclipsed. Sunspot Group AR 2192 appears as a blotch across the face. Closer in, clouds partially eclipse the eclipse and a small airplane crosses the Sun "near" the sunspots.

Light the Candle

At dawn on Sunday, the latest Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares launch vehicle, topped with the Cygnus cargo orbiter stands at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Launch is scheduled for 1845 Eastern, tonight. Fingers crossed, if there are no clouds, I'll get to see it on the flight (including, based on previous launches, staging).

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Still No Hair

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day gives us a view that many would rather not see: how light is bent as you get closer and closer to a singularity (black hole or frozen star).

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Slice and Spots

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows this week's partial solar eclipse and sunspot group AR 2192 (plus several other smaller sunspots). Goodness, it's big!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Wild Horses

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a deep look into the constellation of Pegasus. Stephan's Quintet (star of screen and wide field), NGC 7331, wisps of nebulosity and more. The Fall sky is full of wonders, if you are patient.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What's Up, Hong Kong?

Urban explorers penetrate building, explore roof, hack into a electronic sign and use a drone to film the whole thing. It could be a William Gibson story. It's actually Hong Kong.

Quiet Sun

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a short video showing AR 2192, a sunspot group on our home star. If you've been lucky (as I have!), you've managed to see some of the auroral activity that the Sun has been producing for us this year. No, knock on wood, Carrington Event (yet).

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Still Life of Wobble

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is brought to us courtesy of the venerable (and still working, long may it do so!) Cassini orbiter around Saturn. Pictured here is Saturn's icy moon Mimas, almost like the Death Star with Herschel Crater dominating the landscape. Mimas has a bit of a wobble, leading to the possibility of a liquid center "ocean".

Monday, October 20, 2014

Siding Spring (02)

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a nice image (courtesy of the ever amazing Damian Peach) of Comet C/2013 A1, Siding Spring, as it approached Mars. This presented us with a nice chance to study the comet as Mars happens to be orbited by five active spacecraft (and has two active rovers on its surface). I can't wait to see what the orbiters and the rovers saw!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Southern Skies

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Comet McNaught over the spectacular skies of New Zealand (featuring, in addition to a wonderful comet, the Milky Way and one satellite galaxy). What will the fleet of space-and-ground-based observers have seen from Mars during today's flyby of Comet Siding Spring?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Into the Heart

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day takes us inside IC 1805, The Heart Nebula (in Cassiopeia, a wonderful constellation to observe this time of year in the northern hemisphere) to Melotte 15, a star cluster of young stars born among the gas and dust of the larger nebula.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Thursday, October 16, 2014

World War I

Photos from the War to End All Wars. That didn't stick, did it?

Bees Do It, Birds Do It

Apparently even wide-ranging interplanetary probes do it! We've had numerous "selfies" from rovers on the red planet and other locations, even astronauts have been doing it since the 1960's. Now, in today's Astronomy Picture of the Day, the ESA's Rosetta probe, only 16 kilometers from Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, takes time out from preparing to detach the Philae lander, to snap a selfie.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Changing Landscape

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows changes on the surface of Saturn's moon Titan. What's going on down there?

“Damn,” said the geologist who had been handling the sled with such effortless skill. “I was afraid of that. Something tells me I’m never going to catch a worm on the run.”

Only a few kilometers away, coming out of the mist that always enveloped the flanks of Mount Shackelton, was a thin white line, like a piece of rope laid across the landscape. It stretched away downhill until it disappeared over the horizon, and the driver swung the sled around to follow its track. But Duncan already knew that they were too late to achieve their main objective; they were much too close to World’s End. Minutes later, they were there, and the sled came to a stop at a respectful distance.

(Arthur C. Clarke, Imperial Earth)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Monday, October 13, 2014

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Walled City

It could be science fiction. It could be the setting of a new movie based on a young adult dystopian trilogy. But it was real.


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows NGC 7293, a planetary nebula in the constellation of Aquarius. Imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope in space and the four-meter wide (!) ground-based Blanco Telescope, we're starting to see the layers and layers of detail in this "mere" gas bubble.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Lunar Streak

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a time-exposure of the recent lunar eclipse. In China, we went from totality at moonrise to an uneclipsed Moon.

Friday, October 10, 2014


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day brings us the eclipsed Moon of earlier this week. Near the Moon was a much further member of our system, Uranus. "Mouseover" the image to be guided not only to Uranus, but to three of that gas giant's own moons.

Thursday, October 9, 2014


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the total lunar eclipse that graced the skies yesterday morning. I was lucky enough to catch it from waning crescent to totality while walking Miss Mocha and it was "streamed" by NASA as well. A beautiful sight for naked eye and telescope!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day takes us to the constellation of Vulpecula and open cluster NGC 6823 and emission nebula NGC 6820. You are made of the same stuff.