• Interstellar dust clouds and glowing nebulae abound in the fertile constellation of Orion. One of the brightest, M78, is centered in this colorful, wide field view, covering an area north of Orion’s belt. At a distance of about 1,500 light-years, the bluish reflection nebula is around 5 light-years across. Its tint is due to dust preferentially reflecting the blue light
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  • If you could go far away from the Earth and look around the entire sky — what would you see? Such was the goal of the All-Sky Milky Way Panorama 2.0 project of Axel Mellinger. Presented above is the result: a digital compilation of over 3,000 images comprising the highest resolution digital panorama of the entire night sky yet created.
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  • What’s happening on the surface of Saturn’s moon Enceladus? Enormous ice jets are erupting. Giant plumes of ice have been photographed in dramatic fashion by the robotic Cassini spacecraft during this past weekend’s flyby of Saturn’s moon Enceladus. Pictured above, numerous plumes are seen rising from long tiger-stripe canyons across Enceladus’ craggy surface. Several ice jets are even visible in
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  • Spotlight On Mars – Image Team Sets Plan for Third Extrication Drive November 20, 2009 Read the Spotlight ‘Team Sets Plan for Third Extrication Drive’ Another drive is planned for Spirit on Sol 2092 (Saturday, Nov. 21). As in the previous drive, the rover will be instructed to drive straight ahead in two 2.5-meter (8.2-foot) steps. This time, however, the
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  • What caused this outburst of V838 Mon? For reasons unknown, star V838 Mon‘s outer surface suddenly greatly expanded with the result that it became the brightest star in the entire Milky Way Galaxy in January 2002. Then, just as suddenly, it faded. A stellar flash like this has never been seen before — supernovas and novas expel matter out into
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  • Shiny NGC 253 Galaxy, is one of the brightest spiral galaxies visible, and also one of the dustiest. Some call it the Silver Dollar Galaxy for its appearance in small telescopes, or just the Sculptor Galaxy for its location within the boundaries of the southern constellation Sculptor. First swept up in 1783 by mathematician and astronomer Caroline Herschel, the dusty
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  • This bright meteor streaked through dark night skies over Sutherland, South Africa on November 15. Potentially part of the annual Leonid meteor shower, its sudden, brilliant appearance, likened to a camera’s flash, was captured by chance as it passed between two clouds. Of course, the two clouds are also visible to the eye in dark southern skies – the Large
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  • Eerie spires of rock rise from shore of Mono Lake in the foreground of this early morning skyscape. The salty, mineral-laden lake is located in California’s eastern Sierra Nevada mountain range and the spindly rock formations are naturally formed limestone towers called tufa. In the scene, recorded near the peak of the annual Leonid meteor shower (now subsiding) on November
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  • Why is there water on the Moon? Last month, the >LCROSS mission crashed a large impactor into a permanently shadowed crater near the Moon’s South Pole. A plume of dust rose that was visible to the satellite, although hard to discern from Earth. The plume is “http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LCROSS/main/prelim_water_results.html” >shown above in visible light. Last week, the results of a preliminary chemical
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  • Will this dawn bring another nova? Such dilemmas might be pondered one day by future humans living on a planet orbiting a cataclysmic variable binary star system. Cataclysmic variables involve gas falling from a large star onto an accretion disk surrounding a massive but compact white dwarf star. Explosive cataclysmic events such as a dwarf nova can occur when a
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  • What’s happening at the center of spiral galaxy M83? Just about everything, from the looks of it. >M83 is one of the closest spiral galaxies to our own >Milky Way Galaxy and from a distance of 15 million >light-years, appears to be relatively normal. Zooming in on M83‘s nucleus with the latest telescopes, however, shows the center to be an
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  • It looks like a ring on the sky. Hundreds of years ago astronomers noticed a nebula with a most unusual shape. Now known as M57 or NGC 6720, the gas cloud became popularly known as the Ring Nebula. It is now known to be a planetary nebula, a gas cloud emitted at the end of a Sun-like star’s existence. As
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  • What’s 93 million miles away and still hurts your eyes when you look at it? The answer is not the Denver International Airport, known to some travelers as DIA. But DIA does appear in dramatic silhouette in the foreground of this telephoto image. The view looks east toward the airport terminal’s characteristic multi-peaked roof and the rising October Sun. The
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  • Cosmic dust clouds and embedded newborn stars glow at infrared wavelengths in this tantalizing false-color view from the Spitzer Space Telescope. Pictured is of one of the closest star forming regions, part of the Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex some 400 light-years distant near the southern edge of the pronounceable constellation Ophiuchus. The view spans about 5 light-years at that estimated
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  • This beautiful telescopic skyscape features spiral galaxy NGC 981. The island universe is about 50,000 light-years across and lies some 60 million light-years away toward the constellation Aries. An artistic presentation, the image shows spiky foreground stars in our own Milky Way Galaxy and convoluted dust clouds that hang above our galactic plane, dimly reflecting starlight. It also captures NGC
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