• It was along the way. The robotic rover Opportunity currently rolling across the Meridiani Plain on Mars has a destination of Endeavour Crater, a large crater over 20 kilometers across which may yield additional clues about the cryptic past of ancient Mars. Besides passing open fields of dark soil and light rock, Opportunity has chanced upon several interesting features. One
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  • Towering pillars of cold gas and dark dust adorn the center star forming region of Sharpless 171. An open cluster of stars is forming there from the gas in cold molecular clouds. As energetic light emitted by young massive stars boils away the opaque dust, the region fragments and picturesque pillars of the remnant gas and dust form and slowly
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  • Gorgeous spiral galaxy M33 seems to have more than its fair share of bright emission nebulae. In fact, narrow-band and broad-band image data are combined in this beautifully detailed composite to trace the reddish emission nebulae, star forming HII regions, sprawling along loose spiral arms that wind toward the galaxy’s core. Historically of great interest to astronomers, M33’s giant HII
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  • With a 3.5 meter diameter mirror, larger than the Hubble Space Telescope, Herschel is ESA’s new infrared observatory. The space-based telescope is named for German-born British astronomer Frederick William Herschel who discovered infrared light over 200 years ago. In initial tests, Herschel’s cameras have combined to deliver this spectacular view along the plane of the Milky Way in the constellation
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  • The brilliant fireball meteor captured in this snapshot was a startling visitor to Tuesday evening’s twilight skies over the city of Groningen. In fact, sightings of the meteor, as bright as the Full Moon, were widely reported throughout the Netherlands and Germany at approximately 17:00 UT. Accompanied by sonic booms and rumbling sounds, the meteor was seen to break up
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  • Have you ever seen the Pleiades star cluster? Perhaps the most famous star cluster on the sky, the Pleiades can be seen without binoculars from even the depths of a light-polluted city. Also known as the Seven Sisters and M45, the Pleiades is one of the brightest and closest open clusters. Hurtling through a cosmic dust cloud a mere 400
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  • What has created a large dust ring around Saturn? At over 200 times the radius of Saturn and over 50 times the radius of Saturn’s expansive E ring, the >newly discovered dust ring is the largest planetary ring yet imaged. The ring was found in infrared light by the Earth-orbiting Spitzer Space Telescope. A leading hypothesis for its origin is
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  • Why were the statues on Easter Island built? No one is sure. What is sure is that over 800 large stone statues exist there. The Easter Island statues, stand, on the average, over twice as tall as a person and have over 200 times as much mass. Few specifics are known about the history or meaning of the unusual statues,
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  • The painting Starry Night is one of the most famous icons of the night sky ever created. The scene was painted by Vincent van Gogh in southern France in 1889. The swirling style of Starry Night appears, to many, to make the night sky come alive. Although van Gogh frequently portrayed real settings in his paintings, art historians do not
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  • This mid-infrared image was taken in the last minutes of the LCROSS flight mission to the Moon. The small white spot (enlarged in the insets) seen within the dark shadow of lunar crater walls is the initial flash created by the impact of a spent Centaur upper stage rocket. Traveling at 1.5 miles per second, the Centaur rocket hit the
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  • Lurking behind dust and stars near the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy, IC 10 is a mere 2.3 million light-years distant. Its light dimmed by the intervening dust, the irregular dwarf galaxy still shows off vigorous star-forming regions that shine with a telltale reddish glow in this colorful skyscape. In fact, also a member of the Local Group of
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  • About 100 kilometers from the Moon’s South Pole, 100 kilometer wide crater Cabeus is the target for two LCROSS mission spacecraft on course to impact the Moon tomorrow. The shadowed crater is strongly foreshortened in this mosaic, a representative view of the region for earthbound telescopes. The impacts are intended to create billowing debris plumes extending into the sunlight above
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  • What created the internal second ring of this double ringed basin on Mercury? No one is sure. The unusual feature spans 160 kilometers and was imaged during the robotic MESSENGER spacecraft’s swing past our Solar System’s innermost planet last week. Double and multiple ringed basins, although rare, have also been imaged in years past on Mars, Venus, Earth, and Earth’s
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  • The large majestic Lagoon Nebula is home for many young stars and hot gas. Spanning 100 light years across while lying only about 5000 light years distant, the Lagoon Nebulae is so big and bright that it can be seen without a telescope toward the constellation of Sagittarius. Many bright stars are visible from >NGC 6530, an open cluster that
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  • After undocking, the space shuttle Discovery crew got a memorable view of the developing International Space Station (ISS). Pictured orbiting high above Earth last month, numerous solar panels, trusses, and science modules of the ISS were visible. The Discovery crew brought mission specialist Nicole Stott to the ISS, and returned astronaut Timothy Kopra to Earth. Among the many mission and
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