The Hill, The Moon, and Saturn
Last Sunday when the Moon was young
its sunlit crescent hung low near the western horizon at sunset.
With strong earthshine it was joined by
in the early
evening sky for a beautiful
conjunction visible to skygazers around our fair planet.
On that clear evening on a hill near
mother, daughter, bright planet, and young Moon
are framed in this quiet night skyscape taken with a telephoto lens.
the Moon ages
too quickly for some,
and by tonight the sunlit part has reached its first quarter phase.
This weekend skygazers spending quality time under
Moon and stars
might expect to see the annual rain of comet dust otherwise
known as the Leonid meteor
Comet 46P Wirtanen
is now the brightest comet in the night sky,
but too faint to be seen by eye.
From dark sky sites it could just become naked-eye visible
though, as it's 5.4 year long looping orbit takes it
closest to Earth
the Sun in mid December.
Fluorescing in sunlight
its spherical coma is about half the
angular size of a full moon in this southern hemisphere telescopic
view from November 7
Then the comet was about 2 light-minutes away or 35 million kilometers
from Earth-bound telescopes, so the pretty greenish coma seen here is
around 150,000 kilometers across.
That makes it about the size of Jupiter.
The stack of digital images also reveals a very faint tail
extending toward 4 o'clock with a distant background galaxy
notable at the upper left.
As a regular visitor to the inner Solar System, comet 46P/Wirtanen was
once the favored rendezvous target for ESA's comet exploring
The Cave Nebula in Hydrogen, Oxygen, and Sulfur
What's inside this cosmic cave?
A stellar nursery 10 light-years deep.
is dominated by dusty
the Cave Nebula.
In the telescopic image, data taken through a
narrowband filters tracks the nebular glow of
colors that together form the
s away, the scene lies along the plane of our
Milky Way Galaxy
toward the royal northern constellation
Astronomical explorations of the region reveal that it has
formed at the boundary of the massive
Cepheus B molecular cloud
and the hot, young stars of the Cepheus OB 3
The bright rim of
is energized by radiation from the hot stars,
dominated by the bright star just to the left of the cave entrance.
Radiation driven ionization front
are likely triggering collapsing cores
and new star formation within
Rotating Asteroid Bennu from OSIRIS REx
Could this close-by asteroid ever hit the Earth?
Eventually yes -- but probably not for a very long time, even though the asteroid is expected to pass inside the orbit of the Moon next century.
the nature and orbit of all near-Earth asteroids, NASA sent the robotic
Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer
(OSIRIS-REx) to investigate this one: the 500-meter across asteroid
is now approaching Bennu, and is first scheduled to map the
's rough surface.
featured time-lapse video
taken earlier this month compacts
's 4.25-hour rotation period into about 7 seconds.
Bennu's diamond-like appearance is similar to
currently being visited by the
The exact future orbit of
due to close passes near the Earth and the
a slight force
created by an object's rotationally-induced, asymmetric
If all goes
according to plan
ORISIS-Rx will actually touch the asteroid in 2020, collect soil samples, and
return them to Earth
in 2023 for detailed analyses.
The Lagoon Nebula is Stars, Gas, and Dust
is filled with hot gas and the home for many young stars.
Spanning 100 light years
across while lying only about 5000 light years distant, the
is so big and bright that it
can be seen
of the Archer
Many bright stars are visible from
formed in the nebula
only several million years ago.
The greater nebula, also known as
is named "Lagoon" for the band of dust seen to the
left of the open cluster's center.
The featured image was taken in three colors with details are brought out by
light emitted by
continues in the
by the many dark dust-laden
that exist there.
Astronaut Exploring: An Apollo 15 Panorama
What would it be like to explore the Moon?
gave humans just this chance in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
In particular, the Apollo 15 mission
was dedicated to better understanding the surface of the
Moon by exploring mountains, valleys,
Astronauts David Scott and James Irwin
spent nearly three days on
orbited above in the
, which blasted off from Earth on 1971 July 26,
was the first to deploy a
Lunar Roving Vehicle
in this digitally stitched mosaic panorama, David Scott,
exploring his surroundings,
examines a boulder
in front of the summit
of Mt. Hadley Delta
The shadow of James Irwin is visible to the right, while
scrolling to the right will reveal a well-lit and diverse
Apollo 15 mission
returned about 76 kilograms of moon rocks for detailed study.
In the future, NASA and other space agencies plan to continue to
exploration of the Moon, Mars, and beyond
The Old Moon in the Young Moon s Arms
Tonight the Moon is
but this stunning image of a young Moon near the western horizon
was taken just after sunset on October 10.
On the lunar disk
reflected from the Moon's night side,
is embraced by
the slim, sunlit crescent just over 2 days old.
Along the horizon fading colors of twilight silhouette
the radio telescope dish antennas of the
Very Large Array
New Mexico, planet Earth.
The view from the Moon would be stunning, too.
When the Moon appears in Earth's sky as a slender crescent,
a dazzlingly bright, nearly full Earth would be seen
from the lunar surface.
A description of earthshine, in terms of sunlight
reflected by Earth's oceans in turn illuminating
the Moon's dark surface, was written 500 years ago by
Leonardo da Vinci
Little Planet Lookout
This little planet projection looks confusing,
but it's actually just a digitally warped and stitched,
mosaic of images that covers nearly 360x180 degrees.
The images were taken on the night of October 31
from a 30 meter tall hill-top
near Tatabanya, Hungary, planet Earth.
The laticed lookout tower construction was converted from a
local mine elevator.
Since planet Earth is rotating,
the 126 frames of 75 second long exposures also show warped,
concentric star trails with the north celestial pole at the left.
Of course at this location the south celestial pole is just right
of center but below the
the little planet's horizon
Mars in the Loop
This composite of images spaced some 5 to 9 days apart,
from late April (bottom right) through November 5 (top left),
traces the retrograde motion of
planet Earth's night sky
To connect the dots and dates in this 2018 Mars retrograde loop,
just slide your cursor over the picture
(and check out this animation
But Mars didn't actually reverse the direction of its orbit.
Instead, the apparent backwards motion with respect to the background
stars is a reflection of the motion of the Earth itself.
each time Earth overtakes
and laps planets orbiting farther from the Sun, the
Earth moving more rapidly through its own relatively close-in orbit.
On July 27, Mars was near its favorable 2018 parihelic opposition,
when Mars was closest to the Sun in its orbit
opposite the Sun
in Earth's sky.
For that date, the frame used in this composite was taken during the
total lunar eclipse
NGC 6188: The Dragons of Ara
Dark shapes with bright edges winging their way through dusty
NGC 6188 are tens of light-years long.
The emission nebula
is found near the edge of an
otherwise dark large molecular cloud in the southern
, about 4,000 light-years away.
that region only a few million years ago, the massive young
the embedded Ara
sculpt the fantastic shapes and power the nebular glow with
stellar winds and intense ultraviolet radiation.
itself was likely triggered by
winds and supernova explosions, from previous generations of massive
stars, that swept up and compressed the molecular gas.
With image data from the
a false-color Hubble palette
was used to create
this gorgeous wide-field image
and shows emission from sulfur, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms
in red, green, and blue hues.
The field of view spans about four full Moons, corresponding to about 150 light
years at the estimated distance
of NGC 6188.
NGC 1499: The California Nebula
There's even a California in space.
Drifting through the Orion Arm of the spiral Milky Way Galaxy,
by chance echoes the outline of
on the west coast of the
Our own Sun
also lies within the Milky Way's
, only about 1,500 light-years from the
Also known as NGC 1499
the classic emission nebula is around 100
On the featured image,
the most prominent glow of the California Nebula is the red light characteristic of
atoms recombining with long
electrons, stripped away
) by energetic starlight.
The star most likely providing the
much of the nebular gas is the bright, hot, bluish
just to the right of the nebula.
A regular target for astrophotographers, the California Nebula
can be spotted
with a wide-field telescope under a dark sky
toward the constellation of
not far from the Pleiades
IC 4592: The Blue Horsehead Reflection Nebula
Do you see the horse's head?
What you are seeing is not the famous
rather a fainter nebula that only takes on a familiar form with deeper imaging.
The main part of the
complex is a
Reflection nebulas are actually made up of very fine
that normally appears dark but can
look quite blue when reflecting the
of energetic nearby stars.
In this case, the source of much of the reflected light is a star
at the eye
That star is part of
one of the brighter star systems toward the constellation of the Scorpion
is visible surrounding two stars to the right of the image center.
Flying Saucer Crash Lands in Utah Desert
A flying saucer from outer space crash-landed in the Utah desert after being tracked by radar and chased by helicopters.
The year was 2004, and no space aliens
The saucer, pictured here
, was the
sample return capsule, part of a human-made robot
in 2001 by NASA itself to study the Sun.
at over 300 kilometers per hour occurred because the
parachutes did not open as planned.
The Genesis mission
had been orbiting the
particles that are
usually deflected away by
Earth's magnetic field
Despite the crash landing, many return samples remained in good enough condition to analyze.
-related discoveries include new details about the
and how the abundance of some types of elements
differ across the Solar System
results have provided intriguing clues
into details of how the
Sun and planets formed
billions of years ago.
Lunar LOVE - 17Nov2018 11:21:09
search by a group of amateur astronomers
in the Ehime Prefecture of Shikoku Island, Japan has found
Their secret was an examination of this sharp image of the
First Quarter Moon.
To discover it for yourself
you'll need to look closely
at details of the shadow and light along the terminator,
the line between lunar night and day
Created by the contrast of shadowed crater floors
with sunlit walls and ridges, the letter V is not too hard
to find near the center of the image.
Letters L and E are a bit more challenging though, but
can be teased out of shadow and light along the terminator at the bottom.
Of course, on the cratered surface
of the Moon the O is easy ... .
Moonwatchers on planet Earth
that like the famous
, also seen here,
these lunar letters are transient and only appear
along the terminator in the hours around the Moon's first quarter phase.
So your next chance for lunar L-O-V-E is the first quarter Moon on
Cygnus Shell Supernova Remnant W63
The ghost of
a long-dead star
the W63 supernova remnant shines
like a faint cosmic smoke-ring along the plane of the Milky Way
galaxy toward the northern
Its wraithlike appearance is traced against the
rich complex of interstellar
clouds and dust by an eerie blue glow.
Spanning over four full moons on the sky,
the beautiful image
is a telescopic mosaic in twelve panels
that combines 100 hours of exposure time using narrow band filters.
It shows characteristic light from ionized atoms of sulfur, hydrogen and
oxygen in red, green, and blue hues.
Likely over 5,000 light-years away, the visible part of the
shell supernova remnant is around 150 light-years in diameter.
So far no source has been identified as with
of W63's original star.
Light from the star's
would have reached Earth over 15,000 years
Hayabusa2 Ascends from Asteroid Ryugu
Will spacecraft Hayabusa2 be able to land safely on asteroid Ryugu?
Since arriving in June, pictures show that the surface of kilometer-sized
is covered with boulder
so that finding a flat enough area for the
to touch down is
proving a challenge
, the shadow of
can be seen on the rugged face of
while ascending last week from a touchdown rehearsal
only 20 meters over the surface.
landers detached from Hayabusa2, made contact with the diamond-shaped
and started hopping
not only about the
's surface and interior,
but about what materials were available in the early
development of life
The touchdown of the Hayabusa2 mother ship is
early next year, hopefully followed by a soil sample collection for return to Earth.
R Leporis: A Vampire's Star
Better known as
, R Leporis is a rare star in planet Earth's night sky.
It's also a shocking shade of red.
The star's discoverer,
19th century English astronomer
, reported that it appeared
in a telescope "... like a drop of blood on a black field."
1,360 light-years away in the
the star is a Mira-type
changing its brightness over a period of about 14 months.
R Leporis is now recognized as
a carbon star
a very cool and highly evolved
with an extreme abundance of carbon.
Extra carbon in carbon stars is created by
near the dying stellar core and dredged up into the
stars' outer layers.
The dredge-up results in an overabundance of simple carbon molecules,
like CO, CH, CN, and C2.
While it's true
that cool stars radiate most of their energy in
red and infrared light, the carbon molecules
strongly absorb what little blue light is left and give
carbon stars an exceptionally deep red color.
R Leporis is losing its carbon-rich atmosphere into the surrounding
interstellar material through a strong stellar wind though,
and could be near the transition to a
Oh, and Happy Halloween
from the folks at APOD.
Orionids Meteors over Inner Mongolia
Meteors have been shooting out from the constellation of Orion.
This was expected, as October is the time of year for the
Orionids Meteor Shower
Pictured here, over two dozen meteors were caught in successively
added exposures last October over
The featured image shows
multiple meteor streaks
that can all be connected to a single small region on the sky called the
here visible just above and to the left of the
belt of Orion
meteors started as sand sized bits expelled from
during one of its trips to the inner
known meteor showers
the other known as the
An Orionids image featured on
year ago today
from the same location shows the same car.
Next month, the
Leonids Meteor Shower
from Comet Tempel-Tuttle
should also result in
some bright meteor streaks.
Shells of Stars in Elliptical Galaxy PGC 42871
How do galaxies grow?
To help find out, the
Hubble Space Telescope
was deployed to image the unusual
How this galaxy came to be surrounded by
numerous shells of stars
may give clues about how it evolved.
Embedded in the
globular clusters of stars
stars which analyses show were born during three different epochs.
This and other
has been in at least two
at least one of which might have been with a former
The remaining spiral galaxy on the far left is at the same distance as
and may have been involved in some of the collisions.
PGC 42871 spans about 20 thousand
and lies about 270 million light years away
the constellation of
Ultraviolet Earth from an Observatory on the Moon
Which planet is this?
false color picture
shows how the Earth shines in
The image is historic because it was
taken from the surface of the Moon
only lunar observatory
Although very little
is transmitted through the
Earth's atmosphere, what sunlight does make it through might cause a
The part of the Earth facing the
reflects much UV light,
but perhaps more interesting is the side facing away from the Sun.
Here bands of UV emission
are the result of
and are caused by
expelled by the Sun.
Other planets showing auroras in the UV include
The best known
asterism in northern skies hangs over the Canadian
Rockies in this mountain and night skyscape taken last week from
Banff National Park.
But most remarkable is the amazing greenish airglow.
With airglow visible to the eye, but not in color,
in two exposures with a single camera,
one exposure made while tracking the stars and one fixed to a tripod.
Airglow emission is predominately from atmospheric oxygen atoms at extremely
Commonly recorded in color by sensitive digital cameras the eerie,
diffuse light is seen here in
the northern night.
Originating at an altitude similar to aurorae, the luminous airglow is
, the production of light through
chemical excitation and radiative decay.
Energy for the chemical excitation is provided during daytime by the
Unlike aurorae which are limited to
airglow can be found
around the globe