• This fire-breathing Dragon can fly. Pictured above yesterday, SpaceX Corporation’s Falcon 9 rocket capped with a Dragon spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA. The successful launch was significant not only because it demonstrated that a private company has the ability to re-supply the International Space Station (ISS), but also that spaceflight has taken a significant step away from being an endeavor that only big governments can do with public money. If all continues as planned, the
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  • It was a typical Texas sunset except that most of the Sun was missing. The location of the missing piece of the Sun was not a mystery — it was behind the Moon. Sunday night’s partial eclipse of the Sun by the Moon turned into one of the best photographed astronomical events in history. Gallery after online gallery is posting
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  • What’s that past Dione? When making its closest pass yet of Saturn’s moon Dione late last year, the robotic Cassini spacecraft snapped this far-ranging picture featuring Dione, Saturn’s rings, and the two small moons Epimetheus and Prometheus. The above image captures part of the heavily cratered snow-white surface of the 1,100 kilometer wide Dione, the thinness of Saturn’s rings, and
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  • What’s happened to the setting Sun? An eclipse! In early 2009, the Moon eclipsed part of the Sun as visible from parts of Africa, Australia, and Asia. In particular the above image, taken from the Mall of Asia seawall, caught a partially eclipsed Sun setting over Manila Bay in the Philippines. Piers are visible in silhouette in the foreground. Eclipse
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  • Tomorrow, May 20, the Moon’s shadow will race across planet Earth. Observers within the 240-300 kilometer wide shadow track will be able to witness an annular solar eclipse as the Moon’s apparent size is presently too small to completely cover the Sun. Heading east over a period of 3.5 hours, the shadow path will begin in southern China, cross the
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  • A mere 2.5 million light-years away, the Andromeda Galaxy really is just next door as large galaxy’s go. So close, and spanning some 260,000 light-years, it took 11 different image fields from the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) satellite’s telescope to produce this gorgeous portrait of the spiral galaxy in ultraviolet light. While its spiral arms stand out in visible light
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  • The Herschel Space Observatory’s infrared view of Cygnus X spans some 6×2 degrees across one of the closest, massive star forming regions in the plane of our Milky Way galaxy. In fact, the rich stellar nursery already holds the massive star cluster known as the Cygnus OB2 association. But those stars are more evident by the region cleared by their
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  • The largest, most violent star forming region known in the whole Local Group of galaxies lies in our neighboring galaxy the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). Were the Tarantula Nebula at the distance of the Orion Nebula — a local star forming region — it would take up fully half the sky. Also called 30 Doradus, the red and pink gas
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  • How much of planet Earth is made of water? Very little, actually. Although oceans of water cover about 70 percent of Earth’s surface, these oceans are shallow compared to the Earth’s radius. The above illustration shows what would happen is all of the water on or near the surface of the Earth were bunched up into a ball. The radius
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  • What would it be like to fly over the asteroid Vesta? Animators from the German Aerospace Center recently took actual images and height data from NASA’s Dawn mission currently visiting Vesta to generate such a virtual movie. The above video begins with a sequence above Divalia Fossa, an unusual pair of troughs running parallel over heavily cratered terrain. Next, the
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  • Many spiral galaxies have bars across their centers. Even our own Milky Way Galaxy is thought to have a modest central bar. Prominently barred spiral galaxy NGC 1672, pictured above, was captured in spectacular detail in image taken by the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope. Visible are dark filamentary dust lanes, young clusters of bright blue stars, red emission nebulas of
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  • Two stars within our own Milky Way galaxy anchor the foreground of this cosmic snapshot. Beyond them lie the galaxies of the Hydra Cluster. In fact, while the spiky foreground stars are hundreds of light-years distant, the Hydra Cluster galaxies are over 100 million light-years away. Three large galaxies near the cluster center, two yellow ellipticals (NGC 3311, NGC 3309)
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  • The Super Moon wins, by just a little, when its apparent size is compared to the Sun in this ingenious composite picture. To make it, the Full Moon on May 6 was photographed with the same camera and telescope used to image the Sun (with a dense solar filter!) on the following day. Of course, on May 6 the Moon
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  • It was really not about superheroes as on May 6 the much touted Super Moon, the largest Full Moon of 2012, rose over this otherwise peaceful harbor. And no supervillains were present either as boats gently rocked at their moorings near the checkerboard La Perdrix lighthouse on the coast of Brittany, France. But the rise of the Super Moon was
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  • What’s that in the background? Two famous New York City icons stand tall in the above photo taken last week. On the left looms the Statue of Liberty, a universal symbol of freedom, while on the right rises the Empire State Building, now the second largest building in the city. What’s unique about this once-in-a-lifetime photograph, though, is the third
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