Saturday, February 28, 2015


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the conjunction between Mars (dim), Venus (bright) and the Moon (mostly in shadow) over the skies of Quebec City.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Lovejoy and Nebula

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2) and (as a small smudge above) Messier 76 (The "Little Dumbell" Nebula) in the constellation of Perseus. Lovejoy is on the way out of the solar system, on a long slow journey towards the constellation of Cassiopeia.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What Mad Universe

I understand that the official announcement has gone up on The Facebooks, so I can know reveal this. I'm in the process of going through the "onboarding process" to join this organization that supports the Worlds of Weber.

Midnight Rose

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a really wonderful shot of one of my favorite astronomical sights: NGC 2237 in the constellation of Monoceros, The Rosette Nebula.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Coming of the Martians

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is an image of recently discovered plumes appearing in the atmosphere of Mars. Amateur astronomers have been capturing these and speculation runs from outgassing from "recent" fissures to aurora. But we science fiction readers know the truth of the matter!

No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.  With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter.  It is possible that the infusoria under the microscope do the same.  No one gave a thought to the older worlds of space as sources of human danger, or thought of them only to dismiss the idea of life upon them as impossible or improbable.  It is curious to recall some of the mental habits of those departed days.  At most terrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise.  Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.  And early in the twentieth century came the great disillusionment.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Across the Universe

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a lesson in deep time and space. "Mouseover" the image to see distances (and therefore ages) of the stars and other objects in the sky and compare these with the ages of the shale and limestone seen on the ground.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

In the Rivers of the Night

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows "dark nebula" (and bright) around Antares, in the constellation of Taurus. Fantastic work by Jason Jennings!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Meeting Place

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a past conjunction between our Moon and Venus. Tonight will see a similar conjunction, but will also include a faint Mars.

Thursday, February 19, 2015


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows stars in the globular cluster known as Palomar 12 (so called due to it's inclusion in the Palomar Sky Survey). How many galaxies can you spot "among" the stars of this cluster?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

New Face

Growing up, some of the earliest science fiction novels (two in particular by Alan E. Nourse) that I read dealt with the Asteroid Belt. From The Planet Strappers by Raymond Z. Gallun to the stories of Poul Anderson and Larry Niven, the Belt was always a place of mystery and possibility to me.

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day brings us one of the latest images of the Dawn spacecraft, now making an approach to the asteroid (and dwarf planet) Ceres. I can't wait to see what is revealed during this phase of the Dawn mission!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Crunchy Center

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows us the active galaxy that is Messier 106 in the constellation of Canes Venatici. What eldritch horrors lurk at the center?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Other Pale Blue Dot

While Earth is generally known as The Pale Blue Dot, our solar system has more than one planet that could bear that nickname. Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows you the other one.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Family Pictures

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day combines a series of photographs taken this day by Voyager 1 as it peeked over its shoulder one last time. Hidden in there is our Pale Blue Dot.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Green Ice

As above, so below: Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day has green auroral curtains being reflected in the arctic ice of of Iceland. Also present, the Moon, a lunar halo, and Jupiter.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Active Structural Remodeling

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a Hubble Space Telescope and ground-based (Subaru Telescope) combined image of NGC 4038 and NGC 4039, the "Antennae" in the constellation of Corvus. Two galaxies are colliding in slow motion! The "Antennae" are also part of Halton Arp's Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies, a interesting astronomical artifact.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the rich detail and complex structure visible in Messier 100 (in the constellation of Virgo), a grand spiral galaxy.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Longer Lines

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows one of the longest filaments ever seen on the Sun. Clocking in over 700,000 kilometers, it is longer than the radius of the Sun.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Birthing Chamber

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a visible light frequency image courtesy of the Hubble Space Telescope, showing a "small" part of the Carina Nebula.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Triple Shadow

One night in a January, when I still had my Meade LX-200 10" SCT, I observed both a Great Red Spot crossing and a triple-moon transit across the face of Jupiter. When the show was over, I tried to stand up, and realized that my feet were so cold that I would have fallen over if I had succeeded. The "seeing" was so good and the interplay of moons, shadows and the GRS was so amazing that hours passed without me realizing it.

On today's Astronomy Picture of the Day, the Hubble Space Telescope images a recent triple-moon transit across the face of Jupiter. With coloration and details on the moons! Wow!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Hat Trick

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a "stacked" multi-spectral image of Messier 104, the "Sombrero Galaxy" in the constellation of Virgo. Hey, it's February! Almost time for crazed amateur astronomers everywhere to start the Messier Marathons!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Dancing Sprites

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows an evening sky inhabited by brightening stars, auroral activity and...sprites. Something else for my astronomical bucket list!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Armadgeddon Rock

No, sorry, not the Armageddon rock. But today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a nice view of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko as it is observed on it's sunward track by the ESA's Rosetta space probe. Jets of gas are starting to become noticeable as the Sun warms the icy material on the comet. Will increased solar radiation allow the Philae lander to "wake up" and resume functioning? We shall see!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Under the Cloudtops

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the glint of sunlight off of the seas of Titan. Yes, we have a spacecraft imaging Titan (and the rest of the Saturnian system) and there are seas on Titan. We live in an age of wonders.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Interacting Mice

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows NGC 4676 in the constellation of Coma Berenices, or Bernice's Hair. The galaxies pictured have collided and are being deformed as a result, giving them "tails" and the nickname of the "Mice".  The "Mice" are part of Halton Arp's Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies (which is something worth looking at in terms of background).