Thursday, February 28, 2019

Monday, February 25, 2019

Dancing Sprites

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the atmospheric phenomenon known as Red Sprites dancing above thunderclouds over Western Australia. 

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Friday, February 22, 2019

Side Eye

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows NGC 4565, a spiral galaxy in the constellation of Coma Berenices. Instead of the more familiar or oblique view of a spiral, we are treated to a side view. The central bulge and even the dust lanes are visible even in this view.

Thursday, February 21, 2019


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows vdB 9, part of Sidney van den Bergh's catalog of reflection nebula. vdB 9 can be found in Cassiopeia, the "W"-shaped constellation in the northern skies, especially well-placed for viewing this time of year.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Cosmic Doom

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Eta Carinae as imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope. Despite appearances, this star has not exploded...yet. No boom today. But boom tomorrow (some tomorrow). There's always boom tomorrow.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Friday, February 15, 2019

Best 90 Day Mission Ever

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day marks the end of the mission for Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. Designed to last 90 days (or Sols), the mission stretched for...fifteen...years.

It's a sad time, but it's a time of pride as well. Well done, little rover.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

The Pale Blue Dot

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is an image transmitted by the Voyager 1 craft, four billion miles out, on February 14, 1990. A portrait of our home system (minus those planets too "close" to the Sun to be imaged (Mercury, and by dint of position, Mars) or too small and dim to be captured (Pluto).

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Old Blue Eyes

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows NGC 7293, the Helix Nebula, in the constellation of Aquarius. Fantastic picture, no? It was done over a 74 hour period by a "amateur" in Melbourne, Australia.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Across the Bright Face

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows an airplane crossing the bright face of the Moon. In my area, this is a pretty common event but can be quite startling when you're observing through a telescope and your field of view is suddenly obscured for an instant!

Monday, February 11, 2019

Data Trickle

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day brings us more results from the New Horizons 2015 flyby of Ultima Thule (2014 MU69). Our view has evolved from a pair of spheres that have joined to a pair or...thin Oreo cookies that have joined.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

What Lies Beneath

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows what lies beneath the perpetual clouds of Venus. Our sister planet, it is shown here side by side with Earth so that you can see how large some of the features are.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

The Cometeers Return

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows greenish Comet Iwamoto (C/2018 Y1) in the constellation of Virgo. Comet Iwamoto should be visible through a decent set of binoculars: look for a fuzzy object in your field of view.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Directed by Alan Smithee

A look behind the David Lynch effort to bring Frank Herbert's Dune to the screen. If you take this movie, add in everything that was cut or never filmed from the production, mix in the SyFy miniseries and follow-up, you might be halfway to the potential of the original book.

Perhaps some things just can't be filmed? Or, will not satisfy our vision of the work?

(There's a new version in the making. I'm avoiding reading on it, just expecting that I will be disappointed. That way I can also be pleasantly surprised if it is good!)

Some nice (if somewhat fuzzy) images here, including one showing a previous (unfilmed) effort to bring the book to the screen. It would be nice if there was some textual context to what is going on. Maybe someday we'll get a definitive behind-the-scenes look at the film, along the line of Future Noir, the look at BladeRunner. In the meantime, have a look at this behind-the-scenes look at an unfilmed effort. If you are lucky enough to spot this issue of Cinefantastique, that's the best in print look at the film process we have (so far).

Information Flow

You know the old saying, "A picture is worth a thousand words." That is, however, only viable when there's some thought to the picture. Many a meeting has ground to a halt thanks to a slide that doesn't work artistically, let alone as a conduit for information.

Here's a take on Euclid's Elements, by way of Oliver Byrne, and turned into a poster by Nicholas Rougeux.

Cosmic Emu

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the arch of the Milky Way in the skies of Australia. Can you see the emu? "Mouseover" the image in the link for a look!

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Cosmic Forest Scene

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows rich star and nebula fields in the constellation of Monoceros. Among the structures nicknamed here we have the Fox Fur Nebula, the Cone Nebula and the Christmas Tree Cluster. What a view!

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Venusian Appulse

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the waning Moon and a bright Venus in an apparent close conjunction, or appulse. (If you had zoomed out from this image, you would have seen Jupiter as well, further to the right from the Moon, my extremely amateur image of that is below). It's a coincidence of angles, but it's a wonderful thing to see in the morning or evening sky.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Jovian Zoom

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a short video from the Juno orbiter stitching together snapshots of the sixteenth close pass (perijove) into a dramatic short video. If it weren't for the radiation, I think we've have a very successful interplanetary amusement ride here!

(The image above is from a previous APOD, 2018-12-14.)

Monday, February 4, 2019

Sunday, February 3, 2019


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day brings us the arch of the Milky Way over the skies of Utah. The scene is disturbed by a glow. A city? No, "airglow", a chemical reaction that is ramped up in this case by gravity waves creating the patterns in the sky. "Mouseover" the image in the link to get a constellation guide.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

The Dark Among the Stars

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows that there's more dark in the sky than our local night. Lynd's Dark Nebula 1622 is a cloud of dust set among clouds of glowing gas, making it appear as if the night sky has tattered here.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Pairs in Collison

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows NGC 4567 and NGC 4568 in the rich Virgo Galaxy Cluster (NGC 4564 also is in the view). More than just being a pair of spirals, they are a pair that is "interacting" with each other. Galaxies in Collision! Sounds dramatic! Well, in actuality, it's a lot slower and a lot less dramatic as a result in the short term. Over the long term, both galaxies can end up dramatically altered.