Thursday, May 24, 2018

Hidden in the Dark



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a good example of some of the wonders that are hidden in our night sky. The Gum Nebula, covering areas of the constellations of Vela and Puppis, covers such a large field of view that it ought to be visible to the unaided eye, but is so dim that it needs to be teased out with aid.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Trainwreck



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows NGC 4038 and NGC 4039. Two spiral galaxies are in the process of a very slow collison (or an aggressive merger). More popularly known as The Antennae, it can be found in the constellation of Corvus.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Waning Moon



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a waning last quarter Moon. The terminator (the line between day and night) shows the jagged surface into sharp detail thanks to shadows. Is the Moon grey? Is the Moon white? Look carefully and you'll see a variety of colors in this image.

Is the Moon a boring object in the night sky? Not at all! It's a great target for the backyard amateur. As the level of light changes, different details appear and change. The Moon "rocks" slightly, so from time to time you'll see objects on the edge (or limb) that are normally hidden. Give it a try!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Cloudtops

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a short video taken from the Juno Orbiter. The clouds of Jupiter: infinite patterns and fractals. Makes you wish for a continuous feed along with an ambient Brian Eno soundtrack!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Spider



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day uses our space-based astronomical resources to peer into the heart of the Tarantula Nebula, NGC 2070.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Reflections Of



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the Moon and Venus (both in crescent phase) above the Atlantic in the skies of Italy. Below each is a reflection in the water.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Attacking the Guide Star



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the European Southern Observatory apparently firing lasers into the sky. Yes, that's what is happening: the observatory is employing a method of firing a laser at the sky in order to determine sky conditions and allow for adjustment of atmospheric blurring.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Galaxy vs. Atmosphere



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the sky above Las Campanas Observatory. The arch of the Milky Way competes with "sky glow" over what is a dark sky location.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Clockwise Counterclockwise



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day takes data gathered from the Gaia satellite depicting the rotation of stars in one of our galactic satellites, the Large Cloud of Magellan.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Monday, May 14, 2018

Pumice Moon



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Saturn's icy moon Hyperion. Somewhat potato-shaped, it has the appearance of a sponge or a piece of pumice.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Dark Swarms



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a swarm of singularities (black holes) observed in the x-ray bands at the heart of the Milky Way.

Friday, May 11, 2018

A Sign of Spring



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day brings us an egg in a cosmic nest. NGC 1360, found in the constellation of Fornax is more commonly known as the Robin's Egg Nebula.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Take Me to the River



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a flood of galaxies in the constellation of Eridanus (The River). Two are "interacting" (in other words, one is being absorbed by the other).

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Red, Red Skies



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a Hubble Space Telescope image of  the Red Rectangle Nebula in Monoceros. We're looking at a short-lived (only a few million years) phenomena, down the timestream we will probably see it blossom into a more "ordinary" planetary nebula.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

To the Edge



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day stretches from our solar system to the edges of the observable universe. Quite a lot of landscape!

Monday, May 7, 2018

Don't Throw Rocks



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a wonderful image courtesy of the overlooked Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (launched to pave the wave for one of the previous returns to the Moon, which then was backwatered because we were going to Mars, then we were going to capture an asteroid, but now we're going back to the Moon, but let's not mention the cancellation of a mission which could have been a key to a sustained effort there...). We zoom in on Tycho, one of the easiest to spot of craters (you see it every time you look at the Moon near at at full phase). What's that sitting there in Tycho? One heck of a boulder!

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Summer Triangle



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the sky above Bryce Canyon in Utah. The arch of the Milky Way leaps above the deeps of the canyon.

That Which Is Not Dead...



On Episode 49 of The Three Hoarsemen, Jeff Patterson (in person), John Stevens (in spirit) and I talk to returning guests Paul Weimer and Patrick Hester about what they've been up to since they last appeared on the podcast.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Cratered Potato



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is an image of Phobos, one of the tiny moons of Mars, centering on Stickney Crater. Named for Chloe Angeline Stickney, mathematician, it was imaged by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Meddle



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Messier 101 in the constellation of Ursa Major. As you look at this beautiful spiral seen from above, can you spot other extra-galactic objects in the field of view?

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Evening Glow



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the light of the rising Moon through the trees, the green Belt of Venus and the Evening Star of Jupiter (with three Galilean moons visible).

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Heart of the Sunrise



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day brings a new perspective to auroral activity. From the perch of the International Space Station, astronauts and cosmonauts can look down at the thin layer of atmosphere and the play of the aurora.

Monday, April 30, 2018

High Resolution Eclipse



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a combination of over 70 images of the 2017 total solar eclipse. What a view of the corona!

Saturday, April 28, 2018

The Mountain and the Magellans



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a volcanic mountain in Chile flanked by the Milky Way's two Magellanic Clouds (satellite galaxies to our own spiral galaxy).

Friday, April 27, 2018

The Galactic Data Dump



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a photograph representing data on 1.7 billion stars. The ESA's Gaia satellite has been making measurements and has accumulated so much data that it is being released in order to take care of the wider scientific resources of those trained—but also to enable citizen-scientists to work with the data as well.

Coming down the road: an even bigger data dump!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Blizzard



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is of a very rarely caught snow event. It's a view from the ESA's Rosetta vehicle of "snow" around Comet 67P, Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Click on the image in the link to see a short loop of the snowfall.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Shrinkage



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a detailed view (courtesy of the Hubble Space Telescope, long may it operate!) of Jupiter. What's that blemish on the face? It's the Great Red Spot, a massive storm system that has been observed for 150 years. Alas, of late, the Great Red Spot has faded and shrunk and seems to be going away. As you can see from the image, it is not the only storm that you can see when observing Jupiter (and maybe one of them would grow), but the loss of the GRS would be a sad thing for all of us who have observed it.

One of my most intense times observing as an amateur was a night when the atmosphere on our planet coincided with a observation of Jupiter that included the GRS transiting the face of Jupiter with bonus appearances of both moons and moon shadows across the face. I watched, fascinated, and then wondered why I was so cold and my legs were so stiff. It turned out that I had spent most of a cold January night outside, watching the skies.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Cosmic Strings

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is an interactive look at data collected by the Cassini Orbiter during the epic exploration of the mini planetary system that is Saturn. "Mouseover" the image in the link to "play" the rings (!).

Monday, April 23, 2018

More of an Autumn



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day peeks with the infrared end of the spectrum at the Horsehead Nebula (IC 4592) in the constellation of Orion. The normally blue-tinted nebula takes on distinctly "warmer Fall" colors as a result.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Falling Water



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day captures a Lyrid meteor falling through the summer constellations during a snowy late spring night. "Mouseover" the image in the link for a constellation guide.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Throttling Up



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a SpaceX Falcon 9 launching from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station earlier in the week. The launch was to deliver the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) into space to begin checkout and movement to science operations.

Friday, April 20, 2018

In the Horns of the Bull



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day puts the waxing crescent in the "v" of the Hyades cluster, part of the horns of Taurus. Click on the APOD link for a constellation guide.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Red Bubble



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a detailed look at NGC 7635, The Bubble Nebula. Wisps of red and white against a red-black background. Imagine cruising the interstellar void and chancing upon such a sight!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Arch and the Trees



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day has the arch of the Milky Way stretched over the dunes of Deadvlei in Namibia. Dessicated trees from a wetter time show themselves between the sand and the stars.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Eye in the Sky



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a Hubble Space Telescope look at Messier 57, The Ring Nebula (found in the constellation of Lyra. Visible even in small telescopes (the view is enhanced with a special filter), along with others such as the Dumbbell Nebula (Messier 27), it is a favorite target of mine.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Flyover

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a short video that takes data from the Juno orbiter and postulates what a flyover of Jupiter's pole would look like in infrared.

Phoenix



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Space Shuttle Endeavour rising from the clouds during it's final ascent in 2011. Dream mighty things, earthers, dream mighty things.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Flying Over Mars



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is the view from 250 kilometers up courtesy of the NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Shadows and peaks, seasonal frost and so much to explore.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Face Forward



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows spiral galaxy NGC 3344 in the constellation of Leo Minor. The Hubble Space Telescope provides a deep look from core to arms.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Towards the Center



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows you my early morning view as I walk our (still new) dog, Mr. Jasper. Saturn and Mars are passing through the densest part of the night sky, the region of Sagittarius (with a view towards the galactic center). Also visible is one of the real treasures in a region full of treasures, Messier 22, a globular cluster.

Whether it is with a low-power, rich-field telescope or "just" a pair of binoculars, this region of the sky is worth exploring. A higher power telescope will bring out details of the planets passing through (even a modest scope will bring a view of the rings of Saturn that will take your breathe away), but a low power view can bring you hours of delight.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Lucky Strike



Does today's Astronomy Picture of the Day show us the furthest star ever detected? Thanks to gravitational lensing, the Hubble Space Telescope (still ticking along!) may have spotted a supergiant 100 times further away than any previously detected star.

Note the dates: first image on the right, 2011. Second image on the right, 2016. Astronomers are swimming in data. Perhaps this is another case where "citizen science" as well as AI would be of assistance?

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Dragon Awakes



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows auroral activity in the skies of Norway. You've heard of an aurora named Steve? How about an aurora that is a dragon?

Monday, April 9, 2018

Filaments and Traceries

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a short video from our solar weather satellite: the Solar Dynamics Observatory observes a delicate filament from our home star.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Clean Sweep



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows NGC 6960, more popularly known as the Witch's Broom Nebula. This nebula is part of the much larger Veil Nebula, a supernova remnant that provides many nooks and crannies such as this for astronomers to seek out.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Jovian Swirls



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a JunoCam image that has been processed to make it more "artlike". With or without enhancement, the images coming from the Juno orbiter are pretty amazing.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Find the Face



What is it about us that makes us want to humanize cosmic objects? I don't know about you, but today's Astronomy Picture of the Day had a human touch for me. Do you see it?

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Classic Spiral



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows NGC 289 in the constellation of Sculptor. Larger than our home galaxy, NGC 289 is nicely placed to show us from the trailing wisps of the arms to the heart of the core.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

5,000 Sols and Climbing



Pictured in the current Astronomy Picture of the Day is Intrepid Crater on Mars. This was imaged in 2010 by Mars Rover Opportunity. Originally planned as a 90 day mission, Opportunity recently passed 5,000 (!!!) days of operations on Mars.

Five thousand days into a ninety day mission. What an achievement!

Click on that image in the link. It's worth a long look.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Seven Dwarves



Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the Seven Strong Men in the Ural Mountains. However, if you look at what lies beyond, the Seven Strong Men are actually seven very small men compared to the rest of the universe.