Monday, February 19, 2018

Satie's Formations

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a short video (soundtrack courtesy of Erik Satie!) depicting galaxy formation in the early universe.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Into Orion



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day peers deep into the interior of Messier 42, the Great Nebula in Orion to look at variable star LL Orionis and the stellar wind it causes.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Not Quite the Hayden Planetarium



I remember as a kid going to the Hayden Planetarium where they had painted the skyline from Central Park around the edge of the dome and watching a star show (years later I returned to listen to Pink Floyd and watch lasers). Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows today's sky over New York City: a few scattered star trails and a lucky ISS pass, but the lights drown out all else!

Friday, February 16, 2018

Spot the Comet



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a bit of a puzzle. Can you spot Comet C/2016 R2 PanSTARRS? You probably could if this was a "naked eye" view through a low power/rich field telescope, but thanks to the light-gathering power of the digital camera used, the sky is almost "too busy" to find the comet. (Hint: examine the lower left corner!)

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Moon that Skates



Seeming to be skating on an ice rink, today's Astronomy Picture of the Day actually shows Enceladus (and those jets of vapor!) and the rings of Saturn. Caught in "saturnlight" is another moon, Pandora. Image courtesy of the Cassini orbiter.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Deep in the Heart



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day brings IC 1805 in the constellation of Cassiopeia to showcase the holiday (Valentine's Day).

Mocha: 2008 (Adoption) to 2018



I will say more when I can, but yesterday we had to say goodbye to our friend Mocha. My heart has broken and I can write no more. Born 2006 (our guess), adopted 2008, died February 13, 2018.

All our dogs have been rescue dogs: Java, Saffron, Cosmo, Mocha. All were wonderful dogs. Do a rescue dog a favor. Adopt a lonely rescue dog.


Addendum/Update:


It’s difficult to talk about it. She developed what is called a “soft tissue sarcoma”, essentially a cancer inside a bone. It’s a very bad cancer in animals, life expectancy is very short, even with aggressive treatment such as chemotherapy and amputation, neither of which was really recommended for her at the point we finally figured out what was going on.



She had trouble walking, until she developed a way of doing a “bunny hop”, we also had a sling for her to get up and down the steps, made four beds for her in various rooms so she could lie down wherever she wanted to, bought a lot of high-end food (she lost about 40 pounds before we figured out a combination of drugs and food to counteract the pain and the way the disease was eating into muscle mass), and had her on several different pain medications.

It was clear as of last week that we were talking days, weeks if we were lucky, not months after we had our last conference with the vet. In fact, to be honest, at that point they were amazed that she had lasted that long.

The weekend had more drama in the extended family. And even more drama by today, so, I went home at noon to make sure Mocha was all right and to give her the noon prescription.



When I sat down next to her, I noticed an odd smell, then looked at her leg and saw that a patch we had noticed there had turned into an infected area, specifically gangrene. Which is hard enough to treat normally without a person or an animal being as sick as she was. She was also panting heavily and shivering, seeing that she was on so much pain medication already, I knew that she must have hit a new level and even six different prescriptions were useless.



So, we called the vet’s office and brought her over. They couldn’t have been nicer (we’ve been going there for about twenty years, this is our third dog who has been a patient of theirs). They had a room prepared with blankets to make her comfortable and explained the procedure and gave us time to say goodbye.



This is the first time, other than a week between Java (our first dog) and Saffron (our second), that we haven’t had one or more dogs in the house. They’ve all been great dogs, but Mocha was very special to us. She had a wonderful personality, was always happy, always wagging her tail, even at the sickest, in the most pain, and to the end.



It’s been very hard to handle.


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Electric Shuttle



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is another image of Starman in a Tesla, orbital view courtesy of the recent test of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Picasso's Blue Period



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows blue-tinged Comet C/2016 R2 (PanSTARRS) "approaching" (apparently) the Pleiades cluster, encased in blue nebulosity.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Starman



Love it or hate it, there seems to be no middle ground. Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is the payload for the test of SpaceX's first Falcon Heavy launch vehicle: a Tesla Roadster (with an instrument panel reading DON'T PANIC in large, friendly letters) with a mannequin named Starman.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Dual Eclipse



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a pretty incredible processed and composited image of the 2018 lunar eclipse and the 2017 solar eclipse rolled into one!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Tree of Stars



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows star trails (caused by long photographic exposure) over a lonely tree in Hebei Province in China.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Spiral Clouds



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day comes courtesy of the far-sighted Hubble Space Telescope: NGC 7331, a magnificent spiral galaxy in the constellation of Pegasus (well suited for early evening viewing in the northern hemisphere).

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Shells and Streams



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is one of those you see and have trouble grasping because of the visual confusion. NGC 474, an elliptical galaxy, seems to emitting shells of matter. What causes this? (Zoom in on the image: how many other galaxies can you spot?)

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a transit of Venus across the face of the Sun. Taken in 2012, our next view of such an event won't be until 2117.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Shadow and Hive



No, today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is not the title of a new work by Gene Wolfe. Instead we have a sequence of the eclipsed Moon (from January 31) passing near Praesepe (Messier 44), popularly known as The Beehive.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Setting Eclipse 01



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the setting Moon over the mountains of Arizona. The first full Moon of the year was also the first lunar eclipse of the year.

Image courtesy of...Mr. Eclipse (!).

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Early Bird



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the launch of Explorer 1 in 1958. Explorer 1 was not only the first successful satellite launched by the United States of America, but the first purely scientific vehicle, starting a long line of more Explorers, Pioneers, Vikings and more.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Venus on the Half Shell



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day brings us a nightside view of one of our most enigmatic planets: Venus, as viewed by JAXA's Akatsuki orbiter.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Nebular Webs



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows IC 417 and NGC 1931 in the constellation of Auriga. Will this cosmic meal ever come to be?

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Mirrorverse



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day brings us skies above and skies below, as the Milky Way is reflected in a laguana in the Atacama Desert.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Dang Tourists



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day brings us another tourist selfie from the surface of Mars. MSL Curiosity is climbing Vera Rubin Ridge!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Wagon Wheels of Stars



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows ESO 350-40, popularly known as The Cartwheel Galaxy in the constellation of Sculptor. It's distinct look is thanks to a collision, which has rippled through and distorted the spiral into a ring.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Cosmic Younglings



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows "tadpoles" (sites of star formation) inside nebula IC 410 in the constellation of Auriga.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Ribbons and Pearls



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day comes courtesy of the European Southern Observatory, spiral galaxy NGC 1398 in Fomax. Star formation in action!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Old and New



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the old Moon in the arms of the new Moon over a dramatic sky of the Earth.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Blue Interloper



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows blue comet C/2016 R2 PanSTARRS cruising through open cluster Hyades in the constellation of Taurus.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Nebular View



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day brings a dramatically new look to an old friend. Combining data from the Hubble Space Telescope and the Spitzer Space Telescope, take a look at a video which creates a flight through the Great Nebula of Orion!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Trunk Route



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows IC 1396, the Elephant's Trunk Nebula in the constellation of Cepheus. The nebula is a complex of cool gas and dust, stretching over 50 light years, and is a site for stellar formation.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Cosmic Encounters



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day brings the arch of our own home galaxy, the Milky Way, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (satellite galaxies to our own) and close visitor, Comet McNaught, over the skies of Patagonia.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Launch and Landing



While it may be getting routine for some viewers, today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a sight that still thrills me. The launch of a Falcon 9, and, in the same frame, the successful landing of the first stage for reuse.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Interloper



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Comet PanSTARRS C/2016 R2 displaying shades of blue courtesy of excited carbon monoxide molecules.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Heartlight



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day peers into the heart of the constellation of Ara. Be careful when you peer into the dragon!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Interacting Arp 243



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows NGC 2623, a pair of galaxies undergoing a vast and slow collision. Also known as Arp 243, this object has been studied to see what happens during such a cosmic catastrophe.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

What's in a Name?



Possibly due to it's less than prominent place in the sky for amateur observers, today's Astronomy Picture of the Day, planetary nebula NGC 7027, hasn't been tagged with a popular name. Taking a look at this image from the Hubble Space Telescope, what would you call it?

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Clouds of Andromeda



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day brings us a "denser" look at Messier 31, the Andromeda Galaxy. Reddish clouds of ionized hydrogen surround the galaxy, amazingly (to me), called "interstellar cirrus clouds"!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Tether



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Tethered Satellite System 1, an attempt to use a tether going from the Space Shuttle Atlantis to a satellite. What would such a thing be used for? Possibly (at the large scale) a space elevator. Or generating power. Changing orbits. Cleaning "space junk".

I think my first encounter with tethers was in the science fiction of the late Robert L. Forward, who even had a company exploring the concept.