• What’s the matter with this cluster of galaxies? To find out what forms matter takes in the Abell 1689 cluster requires not only deep images from telescopes like the >Hubble Space Telescope, but detailed computer modeling as well. To start, almost every fuzzy yellow patch in the >above image is an entire galaxy. A close inspection, however, shows that many
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  • Have you ever seen the Milky Way’s glow create shadows? To do so, conditions need to be just right. First and foremost, the sky must be relatively clear of clouds so that the long band of the Milky Way’s central disk can be seen. The surroundings must be very near to completely dark, with no bright artificial lights visible anywhere.
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  • Is this one galaxy or two? This question came to light in 1950 when astronomer Art Hoag chanced upon this unusual >extragalactic object. On the outside is a ring dominated by bright blue stars, while near the center lies a ball of much redder stars that are likely much older. Between the two is a gap that appears almost completely
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  • Storms on the distant horizon and comet dust raining through the heavens above are combined in this alluring nightscape. The scene was recorded in the early hours of August 13 from the Keota Star Party site on the Pawnee National Grasslands of northeastern Colorado, USA. Looking east across the prairie, the composite of 8 consecutive exposures each 30 seconds long
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  • Barred spiral galaxy NGC 1365 is truly a majestic island universe some 200,000 light-years across. Located a mere 60 million light-years away toward the chemical constellation Fornax, NGC 1365 is a dominant member of the well-studied Fornax galaxy cluster. This impressively sharp color image shows intense star forming regions at the ends of the bar and along the spiral arms,
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  • The prominent ridge of emission featured in this intensely colorful skyscape is designated IC 5067. Part of a larger emission nebula with a distinctive shape, popularly called The Pelican Nebula, the ridge spans about 10 light-years and follows the curve of the cosmic pelican’s head and neck. Fantastic, dark shapes inhabiting the view are clouds of cool gas and dust
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  • Sometimes, it’s fun to share the sky. Although it might appear that the two sky enthusiasts on the ridge are sharing only a crescent moon between them, three bright planets also stand before them. The brightest point in the sky is the planet Venus, while reddish Mars floats above it, and Saturn shines off to its right. In the foreground
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  • The great variety of star colors in this open cluster underlies its name: The Jewel Box. One of the bright central stars is a red supergiant, in contrast to the many blue stars that surround it. The cluster, also known as Kappa Crucis contains just over 100 stars, and is about 10 million years old. Open clusters are younger, contain
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  • Meteors streaked through the sky above many of Earth’s cities last week, but nobody was hurt, and no damage has been reported. The assault from space appeared to originate from someplace in the constellation of Perseus, and included millions of small projectiles hurtling toward Earth at over 200,000 kilometers per hour. Pictured above, people gathered at ASTROLab du Mont-Megantic in
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  • Why are some hills on Mars so layered? The answer is still under investigation. Clearly, dark windblown sand surrounds outcropping of light sedimentary rock across the floor of crater Arabia Terra. The light rock clearly appears structured into many layers, the lowest of which is likely very old. Although the dark sand forms dunes, rippled dunes of lighter colored sand
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  • On the night of August 12, from moonset until dawn was a good time to see meteors. Enthusiasts watched as comet dust rained on planet Earth, streaking through dark skies during the annual Perseid Meteor Shower. Anticipating the shower approaching its peak, astronomer Marco Verstraaten recorded a series of exposures capturing meteors over a period of 6 hours using a
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  • A remarkable telescopic composition in yellow and blue, this scene features a trio of interacting galaxies almost 90 million light-years away, toward the constellation Virgo. On the left, two, spiky, foreground Milky Way stars echo the trio galaxy hues, a reminder that stars in our own galaxy are like those in the distant island universes. Predominately yellow, with sweeping spiral
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  • Each August, as planet Earth swings through dust trailing along the orbit of periodic comet Swift-Tuttle, skygazers can enjoy the Perseids Meteor Shower. The shower should build to its peak now, best seen from later tonight after moonset, until dawn tomorrow morning when Earth moves through the denser part of the wide dust trail. But shower meteors have been spotted
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  • What could cause such rays of dark? Dark sky rays were caught in spectacular fashion earlier last month from Pentwater, Michigan, USA, looking west over Lake Michigan. The cause is something surprisingly familiar: shadows. Clouds near the horizon can block sunlight from reflecting off air, making columns outward from the Sun appear unusually dark. Cloud shadows can be thought of
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  • Why do some sand dunes on Titan appear backwards? Central Titan, it turns out, is covered by sand, some of which appears strange. Images from the Cassini spacecraft currently orbiting Saturn have uncovered long rows of huge sand dunes near Titan’s equator that rise as high as 300 meters. Shadows indicate that most dune shapes are created by wind blowing
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