Tuesday, July 31, 2018
Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the southern polar cap of Mars. Made up of mainly frozen carbon dioxide, the ESA's Mars Express has detected what might be a sizeable body of liquid water over 1 kilometer under the ground. What lies beneath? Salty water? Life? Let's go and see!
Just don't drink the water...
Monday, July 30, 2018
Sunday, July 29, 2018
Saturday, July 28, 2018
Friday, July 27, 2018
Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is the tale of two oppositions: Mars during a close approach in 2016 and in 2018. The globe-trotting dust storms have managed to obscure most of the surface features (can you hear the grinding of teeth of amateur astronomers everywhere?).
Thursday, July 26, 2018
Wednesday, July 25, 2018
Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows us a common celestial object (a spiral galaxy) but seen but a less common vantage (edge on). Think about it. The most famous (or familiar) images of spirals are usually at an angle such that we look over and into the galaxy from above (or below...it's all relative!), not along the side.
Tuesday, July 24, 2018
Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day brings us a merging of our world and the universe beyond: clouds of the skies of Earth (water vapor), clouds of the universe (clusters and streams and spiral arms, oh my).
Monday, July 23, 2018
Sunday, July 22, 2018
Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is an image of data collected by the ESA's Planck satellite which spent 2009 to 2013 to map our universe. As a result, we've been able to stretch the estimated age of the universe back to 13.8 billion years.
Saturday, July 21, 2018
It took a while for us to see the crisp images from Apollo 11, such as today's Astronomy Picture of the Day, as the initial images were somewhat grainy black and white television shots. I still remember that thrill (and the bigger thrill of the audio-only landing in which we ignorant "civilians" did not know of the drama of rocks and craters on the ground and computer overloads and low fuel warnings in the craft) and the thrill when the newspapers and magazines (especially Life and National Geographic) published the beautiful color images.
Drink it in. Dream mighty things.
Friday, July 20, 2018
Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Death Valley (in the United States) at Teakettle Junction (suitably decorated). Adding to the grounded teapots is the asterism found in the constellation of Sagittarius (a great place to explore when it is visible—with either binoculars or telescopes!) known as the Teapot. Saturn and Mars are currently moseying through the area as well.
"Mouseover" the image in the link for a guide. Or look below!
Thursday, July 19, 2018
Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day focuses in on Cerealia Facula, on Dwarf Planet Ceres. As the Dawn vehicle reaches the end of its mission (fuel supplies are not infinite!), it has been put into a lower orbit around Ceres to make the most of the remainder of the mission. The object seen is (alas) not ice (as I had hoped) but deposits of salt (15 kilometers wide)
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day brings us an image from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. What is happening on Mars? Whether it is dust, dry ice or actual liquid water or...spilled ink pots...nobody is 100% sure. Let's go and camp out and see it live!
Tuesday, July 17, 2018
Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the recent conjunction between the Moon and Venus as both head towards setting. Seen in the still "just past new" phase, the Moon will brighten towards full with a eclipse (total, if you're in the path) on July 27.
Monday, July 16, 2018
Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is an artist depiction of a blazing quasar (blazar) where it is thought a neutrino, an elusive odd particle, has been confirmed to have been detected linked to a cosmological event. Neutrino Drive, anyone?
Sunday, July 15, 2018
Saturday, July 14, 2018
Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is from the July 13, 2018 eclipse of the Sun. What? You missed it? Right there! That..nick...
Not all eclipses are total and not all partial eclipses are noticeable! That's part of the fun in eclipse chasing, getting those rarities.
Friday, July 13, 2018
Thursday, July 12, 2018
Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a galaxy that had a bad day and is still in recovery mode. Centaurs A is an "active galaxy". Two galaxies "interacted" and the results can be seen in a jumble of star clusters, dust clouds and more. Top it off with a central black hole that is slowly consuming the dust and other material that comes its way.
Wednesday, July 11, 2018
Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a Hubble Space Telescope view of variable star (stars, actually) R Aquarii. Hubble brings us fine detail such as this, but even a modest pair of binoculars can show the variations in brightness if you track the stars over time.
Variable stars are one area where amateurs can continue to make a contribution. There are so many to observe that there are not enough "professional scale" instruments to observe them. Amateurs have contributed observations for over one hundred years.
Might I recommend a book to you?
Tuesday, July 10, 2018
Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a short video showing noctilucent clouds over the skies of Paris. I was treated last night not only to a nice view of such clouds, but also the Belt of Venus featured here a few days ago.
(The above image is from a prior APOD, by the way.)
Monday, July 9, 2018
Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a desert road at night...seemingly leading straight to Mars. If only we could get up enough speed to make the leap across that gap!
("Mouseover" the image in the link for a guide to some of the things visible in the picture.)
Sunday, July 8, 2018
It appears that the United States is...raising a stink...over some of the sub-systems of the International Space Station that they have purchased from the Russians.
This is not the first time that this sub-system has been an issue. In March 2009, it was involved in a form of brinkmanship. Later that year, when 13 people were on the ISS at once, the US facility broke down, putting strain on the Russian facility.
Let's be honest, it's not like they can pull over at a rest stop.
Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the extended spiral structure found in the same field of view as LL Pegasi. It's not a spiral galaxy. Probably it is a planetary nebula in the making. If seen from the side, perhaps it would resemble a painting by Chesley Bonestell?