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Astronomy Picture Of The Day - Page 14

User Thread
 36yrs • F •
9 March 2013

PanSTARRS over Parkes
Image Credit & Copyright: John Sarkissian (CSIRO Parkes Observatory)
quote:
Sweeping quickly through southern skies on March 5, Comet PanSTARRS (C/2011 L4) follows the Sun toward the western horizon in this twilight scene. In the foreground is Australia's CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope, a 64 meter wide steerable dish that is no stranger to the space age exploration of comets. In March of 1986 the Parkes dish tracked ESA's Giotto spacecraft as it flew by Comet Halley and received the first ever closeup images of Halley's nucleus. At naked-eye visibility, Comet PanSTARRS made its closest approach to planet Earth on March 5. Its closest approach to the Sun will be on March 10. Heading north, PanSTARRS now begins a much anticipated appearance low in the northern hemisphere's western skies after sunset. On March 12, look for the comet hugging the western horizon near a young crescent Moon.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 36yrs • F •
10 March 2013

Milky Way Panorama from Mauna Kea
Image Credit & Copyright: Wally Pacholka (TWAN)
quote:
Aloha and welcome to a breathtaking skyscape. The dreamlike panoramic view looks out from the 4,200 meter volcanic summit of Mauna Kea, Hawai'i, across a layer of clouds toward a starry night sky and the rising Milky Way. Anchoring the scene on the far left is the dome of the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT), with north star Polaris shining beyond the dome to the right. Farther right, headed by bright star Deneb, the Northern Cross asterism is embedded along the plane of the Milky Way as it peeks above the horizon. Both Northern Cross and brilliant white Vega hang over a foreground grouping of cinder cones. Near the center are the reddish nebulae, stars and dust clouds of the central Milky Way. Below, illumination from the city lights of Hilo creates an eerie, greenish glow in the clouds. Red supergiant star Antares shines above the Milky Way's central bulge while bright Alpha Centauri lies still farther right, along the dusty galactic plane. Finally, at the far right is the large Gemini North Observatory. The compact group of stars known as the Southern Cross is just left of the telescope dome. Need some help identifying the stars? Just slide your cursor over the picture, or download this smaller, labeled panorama.





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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 36yrs • F •
11 March 2013

Sakurajima Volcano with Lightning
Image Credit & Copyright: Martin Rietze (Alien Landscapes on Planet Earth)
quote:
Why does a volcanic eruption sometimes create lightning? Pictured above, the Sakurajima volcano in southern Japan was caught erupting in early January. Magma bubbles so hot they glow shoot away as liquid rock bursts through the Earth's surface from below. The above image is particularly notable, however, for the lightning bolts caught near the volcano's summit. Why lightning occurs even in common thunderstorms remains a topic of research, and the cause of volcanic lightning is even less clear. Surely, lightning bolts help quench areas of opposite but separated electric charges. One hypothesis holds that catapulting magma bubbles or volcanic ash are themselves electrically charged, and by their motion create these separated areas. Other volcanic lightning episodes may be facilitated by charge-inducing collisions in volcanic dust. Lightning is usually occurring somewhere on Earth, typically over 40 times each second.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 36yrs • F •
12 March 2013

Spin up of a Supermassive Black Hole
Illustration Credit: Robert Hurt, NASA/JPL-Caltech
quote:
How fast can a black hole spin? If any object made of regular matter spins too fast -- it breaks apart. But a black hole might not be able to break apart -- and its maximum spin rate is really unknown. Theorists usually model rapidly rotating black holes with the Kerr solution to Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, which predicts several amazing and unusual things. Perhaps its most easily testable prediction, though, is that matter entering a maximally rotating black hole should be last seen orbiting at near the speed of light, as seen from far away. This prediction was tested recently by NASA's NuSTAR and ESA's XMM satellites by observing the supermassive black hole at the center of spiral galaxy NGC 1365. The near light-speed limit was confirmed by measuring the heating and spectral line broadening of nuclear emissions at the inner edge of the surrounding accretion disk. Pictured above is an artist's illustration depicting an accretion disk of normal matter swirling around a black hole, with a jet emanating from the top. Since matter randomly falling into the black hole should not spin up a black hole this much, the NuSTAR and XMM measurements also validate the existence of the surrounding accretion disk.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 36yrs • F •
13 March 2013

NGC 6751: The Glowing Eye Nebula
Image Credit: Hubble Legacy Archive, ESA, NASA; Processing - Donald Waid
quote:
Planetary nebulae can look simple, round, and planet-like in small telescopes. But images from the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope have become well known for showing these fluorescent gas shrouds of dying Sun-like stars to possess a staggering variety of detailed symmetries and shapes. This composite color Hubble image of NGC 6751, the Glowing Eye Nebula, is a beautiful example of a classic planetary nebula with complex features. It was selected in April of 2000 to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Hubble in orbit, but was reprocessed recently by an amateur as part of the Hubble Legacy program. Winds and radiation from the intensely hot central star (140,000 degrees Celsius) have apparently created the nebula's streamer-like features. The nebula's actual diameter is approximately 0.8 light-years or about 600 times the size of our Solar System. NGC 6751 is 6,500 light-years distant in the high-flying constellation of the Eagle (Aquila).



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 36yrs • F •
14 March 2013

Clouds, Comet and Crescent Moon
Image Credit & Copyright: Babak Tafreshi (TWAN)
quote:
In silhouette against the colorful evening twilight, clouds part for this much anticipated magic moment. The scene captures naked-eye Comet PanSTARRS peeking into northern hemisphere skies on March 12. The comet stands over the western horizon after sunset, joined by the thin, flattened crescent of a day old Moon. Posing for its own beauty shot, the subtly lit dome of the 4.2 meter William Herschel Telescope is perched above cloud banks on the Canary Island of La Palma. While PanSTARRS has not quite developed into the spectacular comet once hoped for, it is still growing easier to see in the north. In coming days it will steadily climb north, farther from the Sun into darker western evening skies.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 36yrs • F •
15 March 2013

CME, Comet and Planet Earth
Image Credit: NRL / SECCHI / STEREO / NASA
Processing - Karl Battams (NRL and @SungrazerComets)

quote:
After appearing in a popular photo opportunity with a young crescent Moon near sunset, naked-eye Comet PanSTARRS continues to rise in northern hemisphere skies. But this remarkable interplanetary perspective from March 13, finds the comet posing with our fair planet itself - as seen from the STEREO Behind spacecraft. Following in Earth's orbit, the spacecraft is nearly opposite the Sun and looks back toward the comet and Earth, with the Sun just off the left side of the frame. At the left an enormous coronal mass ejection (CME) is erupting from a solar active region. Of course, CME, comet, and planet Earth are all at different distances from the spacecraft. (The comet is closest.) The processed digital image is the difference between two consecutive frames from the spacecraft's SECCHI Heliospheric Imager, causing the strong shadowing effect for objects that move between frames. Objects that are too bright create the sharp vertical lines. The processing reveals complicated feather-like structures in Comet PanSTARRS's extensive dust tail.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 36yrs • F •
16 March 2013

PanSTARRS from France
Image Credit & Copyright: Jean-Luc Dauvergne
quote:
Still looking for that comet? Comet PanSTARRS (C/2011 L4) naked-eye appearance in the northern hemisphere is described by successful comet spotters as a dim star with a faint tail. If you want to catch it the next few days could be your best bet. Start looking low and almost due west about 45 minutes after sunset. Of course, clear skies and a pair of binoculars should help a lot. Sky photographer Jean-Luc Dauvergne found suitable weather and western horizon for this comet and crescent Moon portrait after a road trip on March 13. Seeing PanSTARRS for the first time, he recorded the beautiful twilight scene with a telephoto lens near historical Alesia in France.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 36yrs • F •
17 March 2013

Light Echoes from V838 Mon
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, H. E. Bond (STScI)
quote:
What caused this outburst of V838 Mon? For reasons unknown, star V838 Mon's outer surface suddenly greatly expanded with the result that it became the brightest star in the entire Milky Way Galaxy in January 2002. Then, just as suddenly, it faded. A stellar flash like this had never been seen before -- supernovas and novas expel matter out into space. Although the V838 Mon flash appears to expel material into space, what is seen in the above image from the Hubble Space Telescope is actually an outwardly moving light echo of the bright flash. In a light echo, light from the flash is reflected by successively more distant rings in the complex array of ambient interstellar dust that already surrounded the star. V838 Mon lies about 20,000 light years away toward the constellation of the unicorn (Monoceros), while the light echo above spans about six light years in diameter.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 36yrs • F •
18 March 2013

Comet PANSTARRS Just After Sunset
Image Credit & Copyright: Chris Cook
quote:
Have you seen the comet? As Comet PANSTARRS fades, careful observers -- even with unaided eyes -- should still be able to find the shedding ice ball on the western horizon just after sunset. Pictured above, Comet PANSTARRS (C/2011 L4) was pointed out from a hilltop last week on First Encounter Beach in Massachusetts, USA. The comet was discovered by -- and is named for -- the Pan-STARRS astronomical sky survey that discovered it. As the comet now recedes from both the Earth and the Sun, it will remain visible further into the night, although binoculars or a small telescope will soon to be needed to find it.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 36yrs • F •
19 March 2013

GRAIL Maps the Moon's Gravity
Image Credit & Copyright: NASA, JPL-Caltech, MIT, GSFC
quote:
How did the Moon form? To help find out, NASA launched the twin Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) satellites in 2011 to orbit and map the Moon's surface gravity in unprecedented detail. Pictured above is a resulting GRAIL gravity map, with regions of slightly lighter gravity shown in blue and regions of slightly stronger gravity shown in red. Analysis of GRAIL data indicates that the moon has an unexpectedly shallow crust than runs about 40 kilometers deep, and an overall composition similar to the Earth. Although other surprising structures have been discovered that will continue to be investigated, the results generally bolster the hypothesis that the Moon formed mostly from Earth material following a tremendous collision in the early years of our Solar System, about 4.5 billion years ago. After completing their mission and running low on fuel, the two GRAIL satellites, Ebb and Flow, were crashed into a lunar crater at about 6,000 kilometer per hour.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 36yrs • F •
20 March 2013

M42: Inside the Orion Nebula
Image Credit & Copyright: Reinhold Wittich
quote:
The Great Nebula in Orion, an immense, nearby starbirth region, is probably the most famous of all astronomical nebulas. Here, glowing gas surrounds hot young stars at the edge of an immense interstellar molecular cloud only 1500 light-years away. In the above deep image in assigned colors highlighted by emission in oxygen and hydrogen, wisps and sheets of dust and gas are particularly evident. The Great Nebula in Orion can be found with the unaided eye near the easily identifiable belt of three stars in the popular constellation Orion. In addition to housing a bright open cluster of stars known as the Trapezium, the Orion Nebula contains many stellar nurseries. These nurseries contain much hydrogen gas, hot young stars, proplyds, and stellar jets spewing material at high speeds. Also known as M42, the Orion Nebula spans about 40 light years and is located in the same spiral arm of our Galaxy as the Sun.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 36yrs • F •
21 March 2013

NGC 2736: The Pencil Nebula
Image Credit & Copyright: Martin Pugh
quote:
Moving left to right near the center of this beautifully detailed color composite, the thin, bright, braided filaments are actually long ripples in a sheet of glowing gas seen almost edge on. The interstellar shock wave plows through space at over 500,000 kilometers per hour. Cataloged as NGC 2736, its elongated appearance suggests its popular name, the Pencil Nebula. The Pencil Nebula is about 5 light-years long and 800 light-years away, but represents only a small part of the Vela supernova remnant. The Vela remnant itself is around 100 light-years in diameter, 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 material. In the narrowband, wide field image, red and blue-green colors track the characteristic glow of ionized hydrogen and oxygen atoms.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 36yrs • F •
22 March 2013

Comet Castle
Image Credit & Copyright: Stefan Seip (TWAN)
quote:
The broad dust tail of Comet PanSTARRS (C/2011 L4) has become a familiar sight for many northern hemisphere comet watchers, as the comet fades but rises higher above the western horizon after sunset. This view of the popular comet may seem a little fantastic, though. Sweeping away from the Sun and trailing behind the comet's orbit, the curving dust tail also seems to stream away from a shining mountaintop castle. Comet Castle might be an appropriate name in this scene, but its traditional name is Castle Hohenzollern. Taken on March 15 with an extreme telephoto lens, the Comet Castle image was captured in exceptionally clear skies about 80 kilometers away from Stuttgart, Germany.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 36yrs • F •
23 March 2013

Infrared Portrait of the Large Magellanic Cloud
Credit: ESA / NASA / JPL-Caltech / STScI
quote:
Cosmic dust clouds ripple across this infrared portrait of our Milky Way's satellite galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud. In fact, the remarkable composite image from the Herschel Space Observatory and the Spitzer Space Telescope show that dust clouds fill this neighboring dwarf galaxy, much like dust along the plane of the Milky Way itself. The dust temperatures tend to trace star forming activity. Spitzer data in blue hues indicate warm dust heated by young stars. Herschel's instruments contributed the image data shown in red and green, revealing dust emission from cooler and intermediate regions where star formation is just beginning or has stopped. Dominated by dust emission, the Large Magellanic Cloud's infrared appearance is different from views in optical images. But this galaxy's well-known Tarantula Nebula still stands out, easily seen here as the brightest region to the left of center. A mere 160,000 light-years distant, the Large Cloud of Magellan is about 30,000 light-years across.



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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 14
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