• In cosmic brush strokes of glowing hydrogen gas, this beautiful skyscape unfolds across the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy and the center of the northern constellation Cygnus the Swan. Recorded from a premier remote observatory site (ROSA) in southern France, the image spans about 6 degrees. Bright supergiant star Gamma Cygni near image center lies in the foreground of
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  • You, too, can Zoo. The Galaxy Zoo project has been enabling citizen scientists — inquisitive people like yourself armed with only a web browser– to sort through the universe. Specifically, after a brief training session, volunteers are asked to use the superior image-processing power of their minds to classify and measure properties of galaxies in the vast Sloan Digital Sky
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  • This is the mess that is left when a star explodes. The >Crab Nebula, the result of a >supernova seen in 1054 AD, is filled with mysterious filaments. The filaments are not only tremendously complex, but appear to have less mass than expelled in the original supernova and a higher speed than expected from a free explosion. The above image,
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  • Big, beautiful spiral galaxy NGC 7331 is often touted as an analog to our own Milky Way. About 50 million light-years distant in the northern constellation Pegasus, NGC 7331 was recognized early on as a spiral nebula and is actually one of the brighter galaxies not included in Charles Messier’s famous 18th century catalog. Since the galaxy’s disk is inclined
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  • Driving along on a summer evening, near the small town of Weikersheim in southern Germany, photographer Jens Hackmann had to stop. He couldn’t resist pointing his camera and telephoto lens at this lovely conjunction of a Full Moon and planet Jupiter looming near the steeple of a local church. Of course, 400 years ago, Galileo couldn’t resist pointing his newly
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  • Last Friday, a gathering of three bright planets and the Moon graced the morning sky. With Mercury, Venus, Saturn, and a narrow lunar crescent close to the eastern horizon in the dawn twilight, this picture of the beautiful conjunction was recorded near Noerdlingen, Germany. These planets are wandering apart now and Mercury is sinking closer toward the rising Sun. But
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  • Who’s been marking up Mars? This portion of a recent high-resolution picture from the HiRISE camera on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows twisting dark trails criss-crossing light colored terrain on the martian surface. Newly formed trails like these had presented researchers with a tantalizing martian mystery but are now known to be the work of miniature wind vortices known
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  • What does a solar prominence look like in three dimensions? To help find out, NASA launched the STEREO satellites to keep a steady eye on the Sun from two different vantage points. The STEREO satellites orbit the Sun nearly along Earth’s orbit, but one (dubbed Ahead) currently leads the Earth, while the other (dubbed Behind) currently trails. Three weeks ago,
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  • 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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