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Astronomy Picture Of The Day - Page 2

User Thread
 32yrs • F •
13 September 2012

Cocoon Nebula Wide Field
Image Credit & Copyright: Fabian Neyer
quote:
In this crowded starfield covering over 2 degrees within the high flying constellation Cygnus, the eye is drawn to the Cocoon Nebula. A compact star forming region, the cosmic Cocoon punctuates a long trail of obscuring interstellar dust clouds. Cataloged as IC 5146, the nebula is nearly 15 light-years wide, located some 4,000 light years away. Like other star forming regions, it stands out in red, glowing, hydrogen gas excited by the young, hot stars and blue, dust-reflected starlight at the edge of an otherwise invisible molecular cloud. In fact, the bright star near the center of this nebula is likely only a few hundred thousand years old, powering the nebular glow as it clears out a cavity in the molecular cloud's star forming dust and gas. But the long dusty filaments that appear dark in this visible light image are themselves hiding stars in the process of formation, seen at infrared wavelengths.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 32yrs • F •
14 September 2012

Elliptical M60, Spiral NGC 4647
Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
quote:
Giant elliptical galaxy M60 and spiral galaxy NGC 4647 do look like an odd couple in this sharp cosmic portrait from the Hubble Space Telescope. But they are found in a region of space where galaxies tend to gather, on the eastern side of the nearby Virgo Galaxy Cluster. About 54 million light-years distant, bright M60's simpler egg-like shape is created by its randomly swarming older stars, while NGC 4647's young blue stars, gas and dust are organized into winding arms rotating in a flattened disk. Spiral NGC 4647 is estimated to be more distant than M60, some 63 million light-years away. Also known as Arp 116, the pair of galaxies may be on the verge of a significant gravitational encounter, though. M60 (aka NGC 4649) is about 120,000 light-years across. The smaller NGC 4647 spans around 90,000 light-years, about the size of our own Milky Way.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 32yrs • F •
15 September 2012

Ring Nebula Drawn
Drawing Credit & Copyright: Frédéric Burgeot
quote:
A planetary nebula with a simple symmetry familiar to telescopic sky gazers, the Ring Nebula (M57) is some 2,000 light-years away in the musical constellation Lyra. Hints of changing colors and subtle details are brought out in this remarkable sketch of the cosmic ring. The sketch was made with 800x magnification and excellent seeing conditions directly at the eyepiece of a 40 inch reflecting telescope. Colored pencils on white paper were used to create the original drawing, shown here digitally scanned with an inverted palette applied. About one light-year across, the nebula is composed of outer layers expelled from a dying, once sun-like star. Intense ultraviolet light from the hot central star ionizes atoms in the gas and powers the nebular glow. Ionized hydrogen adds a reddish tint. Ionized oxygen produces a characteristic blue-green color. Difficult to see under average conditions with small telescopes, the Ring Nebula's central star was visible at all times during the artist's study.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 32yrs • F •
16 September 2012

Saturn: Bright Tethys and Ancient Rings
Image Credit: Cassini Imaging Team, SSI, JPL, ESA, NASA
quote:
How old are Saturn's rings? No one is quite sure. One possibility is that the rings formed relatively recently in our Solar System's history, perhaps only about 100 million years ago when a moon-sized object broke up near Saturn. Evidence for a young ring age includes a basic stability analysis for rings, and the fact that the rings are so bright and relatively unaffected by numerous small dark meteor impacts. More recent evidence, however, raises the possibility that some of Saturn's rings may be billions of years old and so almost as old as Saturn itself. Inspection of images by the Saturn-orbiting Cassini spacecraft indicates that some of Saturn's ring particles temporarily bunch and collide, effectively recycling ring particles by bringing fresh bright ices to the surface. Seen here, Saturn's rings were imaged in their true colors by the robotic Cassini in late October. Icy bright Tethys, a moon of Saturn likely brightened by a sandblasting rain of ice from sister moon Enceladus, is visible in front of the darker rings.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 32yrs • F •
17 September 2012

A Solar Filament Erupts
Image Credit: NASA's GSFC, SDO AIA Team
quote:
What's happened to our Sun? Nothing very unusual -- it just threw a filament. At the end of last month, a long standing solar filament suddenly erupted into space producing an energetic Coronal Mass Ejection (CME). The filament had been held up for days by the Sun's ever changing magnetic field and the timing of the eruption was unexpected. Watched closely by the Sun-orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory, the resulting explosion shot electrons and ions into the Solar System, some of which arrived at Earth three days later and impacted Earth's magnetosphere, causing visible aurorae. Loops of plasma surrounding an active region can be seen above the erupting filament in the ultraviolet image. If you missed this auroral display please do not despair -- over the next two years our Sun will be experiencing a solar maximum of activity which promises to produce more CMEs that induce more Earthly auroras.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 32yrs • F •
18 September 2012

Orbiting Astronaut Self-Portrait
Image Credit: Expedition 32 Crew, International Space Station, NASA
quote:
Is it art? Earlier this month, space station astronaut Aki Hoshide (Japan) recorded this striking image while helping to augment the capabilities of the Earth-orbiting International Space Station (ISS). Visible in this outworldly assemblage is the Sun, the Earth, two portions of a robotic arm, an astronaut's spacesuit, the deep darkness of space, and the unusual camera taking the picture. This image joins other historic -- and possibly artistic -- self-portraits taken previously in space. The Expedition 32 mission ended yesterday when an attached capsule undocked with the ISS and returned some of the crew to Earth.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 32yrs • F •
19 September 2012

Leaving Vesta
Image Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech, UCLA, MPS, DLR, IDA
quote:
Next stop: Ceres. Last week the robotic Dawn spacecraft ended its year-long mission to asteroid Vesta, becoming the first spacecraft ever to visit this far off world located between Mars and Jupiter, in the Solar System's main asteroid belt. Many of the best images taken by Dawn at Vesta have been compiled into the above encompassing view. Vesta shows evidence of being a leftover from the early years of our Solar System, a building block for rocky planets like Earth. Vesta's ancient surface shows heavy cratering and long troughs likely created by huge impacts. The minor planet's low gravity allows for surface features like huge cliffs and a large mountain that reaches twice the height of Earth's Mount Everest, visible at the image bottom. Vesta, however, spanning about 500 kilometers across, is only the second most massive object in the asteroid belt. And so, two weeks ago, Dawn fired its gentle ion rockets and has begun chasing the most massive: Ceres. If everything goes as planned, Dawn will reach Ceres in 2015. Ceres looks quite different to the distant telescope -- but what will Dawn find?



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 32yrs • F •
20 September 2012

Sunrise Analemma (with a little extra)
Image Credit & Copyright: Tunç Tezel (TWAN)
quote:
An analemma is that figure-8 curve that you get when you mark the position of the Sun at the same time each day throughout planet Earth's year. In this case, 17 individual images taken at 0231 UT on dates between April 2 and September 16 follow half the analemma curve, looking east toward the rising sun and the Caspian sea from the boardwalk in the port city of Baku, Azerbaijan. With the sun nearest the horizon, those dates almost span the period between the 2012 equinoxes on March 20 and September 22. The northern summer Solstice on June 20 corresponds to the top of the figure 8 at the left, when the Sun stood at its northernmost declination. Of course, this year the exposure made on June 6 contained a little something extra. Slightly enhanced, the little black spot on the bright solar disk near the top of the frame is planet Venus, caught in a rare transit during this well-planned sunrise analemma project.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 32yrs • F •
21 September 2012

September's Aurora
Image Credit & Copyright: Fredrick Broms (Northern Lights Photography)
quote:
September's equinox arrives tomorrow as the Sun crosses the celestial equator heading south. The event marks the astronomical beginning of spring in the southern hemisphere and autumn in the north. And though the connection is still puzzling, the equinox seasons bring an increase in geomagnetic storms. So as northern nights grow longer, the equinox also heralds the arrival of a good season for aurora hunters. Recorded on September 20, these colorful northern lights were captured with camera and wide-angle lens near the Norwegian Sea coast outside Tromsø in Northern Norway. Shining at altitudes of 100 kilometers or so, the aurora rays are parallel, but perspective makes them appear to radiate from a vanishing point behind the silhouetted pine tree. Stars in this enchanting northern night include Polaris above and right of the tree top, and yellowish giant stars Shedar (Alpha Cassiopiae) to the left and Kochab (Beta Ursae Minoris) to the right. Bright Altair shines through the greenish auroral curtain at the lower left of the scene.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 32yrs • F •
22 September 2012

Austrian Analemma
Image Credit & Copyright: Robert Pölzl
quote:
Today, the Sun crosses the celestial equator heading south at 14:49 Universal Time. An equinox (equal night), this astronomical event marks the first day of autumn in the northern hemisphere and spring in the south. With the Sun on the celestial equator, Earth dwellers will experience nearly 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness. To celebrate, consider this careful record of the Sun's yearly journey through southern Austrian skies. The scene is composed of images made at the same time each day, capturing the Sun's position on dates from September 29, 2011 through September 9, 2012. The multiple suns trace an intersecting curve known as an analemma. In fact, the past year's two equinox dates correspond to the middle (not the intersection point) of the curve. The summer and winter solstices are at the top and bottom. Of course, many would also consider it a good idea to travel the mountain road toward the left, passing the vineyards along the way to reach the nearby town of Kitzeck and toast the equinox with a glass of wine. Near the roadside bench is a windmill-like klapotetz, traditionally used in this wine-growing region to keep the birds away.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 32yrs • F •
23 September 2012

Equinox: The Sun from Solstice to Solstice
Credit & Copyright: Tunç Tezel (TWAN)
quote:
Yesterday was an equinox, a date when day and night are equal. Today, and every day until the next equinox, the night will be longer than the day in Earth's northern hemisphere, and the day will be longer than the night in Earth's southern hemisphere. An equinox occurs midway between the two solstices, when the days and nights are the least equal. The picture is a composite of hourly images taken of the Sun above Bursa, Turkey on key days from solstice to equinox to solstice. The bottom Sun band was taken during the winter solstice in 2007 December, when the Sun could not rise very high in the sky nor stay above the horizon very long. This lack of Sun caused winter. The top Sun band was taken during the summer solstice in 2008 June, when the Sun rose highest in the sky and stayed above the horizon for more than 12 hours. This abundance of Sun caused summer. The middle band was taken during the Vernal Equinox in 2008 March, but it is the same sun band that Earthlings saw yesterday, the day of the Autumnal Equinox.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 32yrs • F •
24 September 2012

NGC 2736: The Pencil Nebula
Image Credit: ESO
quote:
This shock wave plows through space at over 500,000 kilometers per hour. Moving toward to bottom of this beautifully detailed color composite, the thin, braided filaments are actually long ripples in a sheet of glowing gas seen almost edge on. Cataloged as NGC 2736, its narrow appearance suggests its popular name, the Pencil Nebula. About 5 light-years long and a mere 800 light-years away, the Pencil Nebula is only a small part of the Vela supernova remnant. The Vela remnant itself is around 100 light-years in diameter and is the expanding debris cloud of a star that was seen to explode about 11,000 years ago. Initially, the shock wave was moving at millions of kilometers per hour but has slowed considerably, sweeping up surrounding interstellar gas.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 32yrs • F •
25 September 2012

Unusual Spheres on Mars
Image Credit: Mars Exploration Rover Mission, Cornell, JPL, NASA
quote:
Why are these strange little spheres on Mars? The robotic rover Opportunity chanced across these unusually shaped beads earlier this month while exploring a place named Kirkwood near the rim of Mars' Endeavour Crater. The above image taken by Opportunity's Microscopic Imager shows that some ground near the rover is filled with these unusual spheres, each spanning only about 3 millimeters. At first glance, the sometimes-fractured balls appear similar to the small rocks dubbed blueberries seen by Opportunity eight years ago, but these spheres are densely compacted and have little iron content. Although it is thought that these orbs formed naturally, which natural processes formed them remain unknown. Opportunity, an older sibling to the recently deployed Curiosity rover, will continue to study these spheres with the hope that they will provide a new clue to the ancient history of the surface of the red planet.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 32yrs • F •
26 September 2012

A Space Shuttle Over Los Angeles
Image Credit & Copyright: Stephen Confer
quote:
It's not every day that a space shuttle lands at LAX. Although this was a first for the major Los Angeles airport hub, it was a last for the space shuttle Endeavour, as it completed its tour of California skies and landed, albeit atop a 747, for the last time. During its last flight the iconic shuttle and its chase planes were photographed near several of California's own icons including the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the Hollywood Sign, and the skyline of Los Angeles. Previously, in May, the space shuttle Enterprise was captured passing behind several of New York City's icons on its way to the Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Museum. Pictured above, the piggybacking shuttle was snapped on approach last week to LAX as it crossed above and beyond a major Los Angeles street. Now retired, the space shuttles are all museum pieces, with the above shuttle scheduled to be towed along the streets of LA to the California Science Center.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 32yrs • F •
27 September 2012

Stars and Dust Across Corona Australis
Image Credit & Copyright: Marco Lorenzi (Glittering Lights)
quote:
Cosmic dust clouds sprawl across a rich field of stars in this sweeping telescopic vista near the northern boundary of Corona Australis, the Southern Crown. Probably less than 500 light-years away and effectively blocking light from more distant, background stars in the Milky Way, the densest part of the dust cloud is about 8 light-years long. At its tip (upper right) is a group of lovely reflection nebulae cataloged as NGC 6726, 6727, 6729, and IC 4812. A characteristic blue color is produced as light from hot stars is reflected by the cosmic dust. The smaller yellowish nebula (NGC 6729) surrounds young variable star R Coronae Australis. Magnificent globular star cluster NGC 6723 is toward the upper right corner of the view. While NGC 6723 appears to be part of the group, it actually lies nearly 30,000 light-years away, far beyond the Corona Australis dust clouds.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
Astronomy Picture Of The Day - Page 2
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