Tuesday, June 18, 2024


Do dragons fight on the altar of the sky? Although it might appear that way, these dragons are illusions made of thin gas and dust. The emission nebula NGC 6188, home to the glowing clouds, is found about 4,000 light years away near the edge of a large molecular cloud, unseen at visible wavelengths, in the southern constellation Ara (the Altar). Massive, young stars of the embedded Ara OB1 association were formed in that region only a few million years ago, sculpting the dark shapes and powering the nebular glow with stellar winds and intense ultraviolet radiation. The recent star formation itself was likely triggered by winds and supernova explosions from previous generations of massive stars, that swept up and compressed the molecular gas. This impressively detailed image spans over 2 degrees (four full Moons), corresponding to over 150 light years at the estimated distance of NGC 6188.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240619.html ( June 19, 2024)

ISS Daily Summary Report – 6/17/2024

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ISS Reboost: Friday, the ISS performed a reboost using the SM Aft 87P R&D thrusters at 11:40 PM CDT. This is one in a series of reboosts to set up proper phasing conditions for Progress 89P launch in August. The burn duration was 23 minutes 25 seconds with a delta-V of 2.0 m/s. Boeing CST-100 … ...

June 17, 2024 at 12:00PM
From NASA: https://blogs.nasa.gov/stationreport/2024/06/17/iss-daily-summary-report-6-17-2024/

Monday, June 17, 2024


Yes, but can your thunderstorm do this? Pictured here are gigantic jets shooting up from a thunderstorm last week toward the Himalayan Mountains in China and Bhutan. The composite image captured four long jets that occurred only minutes apart. Gigantic jets, documented only in this century, are a type of lightning discharge that occurs between some thunderstorms and the Earth's ionosphere high above them. They are an unusual type of lightning that is much different from regular cloud-to-cloud and cloud-to-ground lightning. The bottoms of gigantic jets appear similar to a cloud-to-above strike called blue jets, while the tops appear similar to upper-atmosphere red sprites. Although the mechanism and trigger that cause gigantic jets remains a topic of research, it is clear that the jets reduce charge imbalance between different parts of Earth's atmosphere. A good way to look for gigantic jets is to watch a powerful but distant thunderstorm from a clear location.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240618.html ( June 18, 2024)

Sunday, June 16, 2024


Squids on Earth aren't this big. This mysterious squid-like cosmic cloud spans nearly three full moons on planet Earth's sky. Discovered in 2011 by French astro-imager Nicolas Outters, the Squid Nebula's bipolar shape is distinguished here by the telltale blue emission from doubly ionized oxygen atoms. Though apparently surrounded by the reddish hydrogen emission region Sh2-129, the true distance and nature of the Squid Nebula have been difficult to determine. Still, one investigation suggests Ou4 really does lie within Sh2-129 some 2,300 light-years away. Consistent with that scenario, the cosmic squid would represent a spectacular outflow of material driven by a triple system of hot, massive stars, cataloged as HR8119, seen near the center of the nebula. If so, this truly giant squid nebula would physically be over 50 light-years across.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240617.html ( June 17, 2024)

Saturday, June 15, 2024


What happens if a star gets too close to a black hole? The black hole can rip it apart -- but how? It's not the high gravitational attraction itself that's the problem -- it's the difference in gravitational pull across the star that creates the destruction. In the featured animated video illustrating this disintegration, you first see a star approaching the black hole. Increasing in orbital speed, the star's outer atmosphere is ripped away during closest approach. Much of the star's atmosphere disperses into deep space, but some continues to orbit the black hole and forms an accretion disk. The animation then takes you into the accretion disk while looking toward the black hole. Including the strange visual effects of gravitational lensing, you can even see the far side of the disk. Finally, you look along one of the jets being expelled along the spin axis. Theoretical models indicate that these jets not only expel energetic gas, but also create energetic neutrinos -- one of which may have been seen recently on Earth.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240616.html ( June 16, 2024)

Friday, June 14, 2024

Prominences and Filaments on the Active Sun


This colorized and sharpened image of the Sun is composed of frames recording emission from hydrogen atoms in the solar chromosphere on May 15. Approaching the maximum of solar cycle 25, a multitude of active regions and twisting, snake-like solar filaments are seen to sprawl across the surface of the active Sun. Suspend in the active regions' strong magnetic fields, the filaments of plasma lofted above the Sun's edge appear as bright solar prominences. The large prominences seen near 4 o'clock, and just before 9 o'clock around the solar limb are post flare loops from two powerful X-class solar flares that both occurred on that day. In fact, the 4 o'clock prominence is associated with the monster active region AR 3664 just rotating off the Sun's edge.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240615.html ( June 15, 2024)

Thursday, June 13, 2024

RCW 85


From the 1960 astronomical catalog of Rodgers, Campbell and Whiteoak, emission region RCW 85 shines in southern night skies between bright stars Alpha and Beta Centauri. About 5,000 light years distant, the hazy interstellar cloud of glowing hydrogen gas and dust is faint. But detailed structures along well-defined rims within RCW 85 are traced in this cosmic skyscape composed of 28 hours of narrow and broadband exposures. Suggestive of dramatic shapes in other stellar nurseries where natal clouds of gas and dust are sculpted by energetic winds and radiation from newborn stars, the tantalizing nebula has been called the Devil's Tower. This telescopic frame would span around 100 light-years at the estimated distance of RCW 85.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240614.html ( June 14, 2024)

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Messier 66 Close Up


Big, beautiful spiral galaxy Messier 66 lies a mere 35 million light-years away. The gorgeous island universe is about 100 thousand light-years across, similar in size to the Milky Way. This Hubble Space Telescope close-up view spans a region about 30,000 light-years wide around the galactic core. It shows the galaxy's disk dramatically inclined to our line-of-sight. Surrounding its bright core, the likely home of a supermassive black hole, obscuring dust lanes and young, blue star clusters sweep along spiral arms dotted with the tell-tale glow of pinkish star forming regions. Messier 66, also known as NGC 3627, is the brightest of the three galaxies in the gravitationally interacting Leo Triplet.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240613.html ( June 13, 2024)

Tuesday, June 11, 2024


It was the first time ever. At least, the first time this photographer had ever seen aurora from his home mountains. And what a spectacular aurora it was. The Karkonosze Mountains in Poland are usually too far south to see any auroras. But on the amazing night of May 10 - 11, purple and green colors lit up much of the night sky, a surprising spectacle that also appeared over many mid-latitude locations around the Earth. The featured image is a composite of six vertical exposures taken during the auroral peak. The futuristic buildings on the right are part of a meteorological observatory located on the highest peak of the Karkonosze Mountains. The purple color is primarily due to Sun-triggered, high-energy electrons impacting nitrogen molecules in Earth's atmosphere. Our Sun is reaching its maximum surface activity over the next two years, and although many more auroras are predicted, most will occur over regions closer to the Earth's poles.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240612.html ( June 12, 2024)

Monday, June 10, 2024


Why is the sky near Antares and Rho Ophiuchi so colorful, yet dusty? The colors result from a mixture of objects and processes. Fine dust -- illuminated by starlight -- produces blue reflection nebulae. Gaseous clouds whose atoms are excited by ultraviolet starlight produce reddish emission nebulae. Backlit dust clouds block starlight and so appear dark. Antares, a red supergiant and one of the brighter stars in the night sky, lights up the yellow-red clouds on the upper right of the featured image. The Rho Ophiuchi star system lies at the center of the blue reflection nebula on the left, while a different reflection nebula, IC 4605, lies just below and right of the image center. These star clouds are even more colorful than humans can see, emitting light across the electromagnetic spectrum.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240611.html ( June 11, 2024)

Sunday, June 9, 2024


Is the Lion Nebula the real ruler of the constellation Cepheus? This powerful feline appearing nebula is powered by two massive stars, each with a mass over 20 times greater than our Sun. Formed from shells of ionized gas that have expanded, the nebula's energetic matter not only glows, but is dense enough to contract gravitationally and form stars. The angular size of the Lion Nebula, officially named Sh2-132, is slightly greater than that of the full moon. The gaseous iconic region resides about 10,000 light years away in a constellation named after the King of Aethopia in Greek mythology.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240610.html ( June 10, 2024)

Saturday, June 8, 2024


What is that light in the sky? The answer to one of humanity's more common questions may emerge from a few quick observations. For example -- is it moving or blinking? If so, and if you live near a city, the answer is typically an airplane, since planes are so numerous and so few stars and satellites are bright enough to be seen over the glare of artificial city lights. If not, and if you live far from a city, that bright light is likely a planet such as Venus or Mars -- the former of which is constrained to appear near the horizon just before dawn or after dusk. Sometimes the low apparent motion of a distant airplane near the horizon makes it hard to tell from a bright planet, but even this can usually be discerned by the plane's motion over a few minutes. Still unsure? The featured chart gives a sometimes-humorous but mostly-accurate assessment. Dedicated sky enthusiasts will likely note -- and are encouraged to provide -- polite corrections.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240609.html ( June 09, 2024)

Friday, June 7, 2024

Pandora's Cluster of Galaxies


This deep field mosaicked image presents a stunning view of galaxy cluster Abell 2744 recorded by the James Webb Space Telescope's NIRCam. Also dubbed Pandora's Cluster, Abell 2744 itself appears to be a ponderous merger of three different massive galaxy clusters. It lies some 3.5 billion light-years away, toward the constellation Sculptor. Dominated by dark matter, the mega-cluster warps and distorts the fabric of spacetime, gravitationally lensing even more distant objects. Redder than the Pandora cluster galaxies many of the lensed sources are very distant galaxies in the early Universe, their lensed images stretched and distorted into arcs. Of course distinctive diffraction spikes mark foreground Milky Way stars. At the Pandora Cluster's estimated distance this cosmic box spans about 6 million light-years. But don't panic. You can explore the tantalizing region in a 2 minute video tour.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240608.html ( June 08, 2024)

ISS Daily Summary Report – 6/06/2024

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Boeing CST-100 Crewed Flight Test (CFT) Docking: Boeing Starliner Calypso successfully hard-docked to the ISS on Thursday, June 6th, at 12:56 PM CDT. The ISS crew welcomed aboard NASA astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Suni Williams. The ISS crew complement has officially increased from seven to nine. Payloads: Immunity Assay (IA): The crew gathered and … ...

June 06, 2024 at 12:00PM
From NASA: https://blogs.nasa.gov/stationreport/2024/06/06/iss-daily-summary-report-6-06-2024/

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Sharpless 308: The Dolphin Head Nebula


Blown by fast winds from a hot, massive star, this cosmic bubble is huge. Cataloged as Sharpless 2-308 it lies some 5,000 light-years away toward the well-trained constellation Canis Major and covers slightly more of the sky than a Full Moon. That corresponds to a diameter of 60 light-years at its estimated distance. The massive star that created the bubble, a Wolf-Rayet star, is the bright one near the center of the nebula. Wolf-Rayet stars have over 20 times the mass of the Sun and are thought to be in a brief, pre-supernova phase of massive star evolution. Fast winds from this Wolf-Rayet star create the bubble-shaped nebula as they sweep up slower moving material from an earlier phase of evolution. The windblown nebula has an age of about 70,000 years. Relatively faint emission captured by narrowband filters in the deep image is dominated by the glow of ionized oxygen atoms mapped to a blue hue. Presenting a mostly harmless outline, SH2-308 is also known as The Dolphin-head Nebula.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240607.html ( June 07, 2024)

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

NGC 4565: Galaxy on Edge


Magnificent spiral galaxy NGC 4565 is viewed edge-on from planet Earth. Also known as the Needle Galaxy for its narrow profile, bright NGC 4565 is a stop on many telescopic tours of the northern sky, in the faint but well-groomed constellation Coma Berenices. This sharp, colorful image reveals the galaxy's boxy, bulging central core cut by obscuring dust lanes that lace NGC 4565's thin galactic plane. NGC 4565 itself lies about 40 million light-years distant and spans some 100,000 light-years. Easily spotted with small telescopes, sky enthusiasts consider NGC 4565 to be a prominent celestial masterpiece Messier missed.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240606.html ( June 06, 2024)

Tuesday, June 4, 2024


What if you saw your shadow on Mars and it wasn't human? Then you might be the Perseverance rover exploring Mars. Perseverance has been examining the Red Planet since 2021, finding evidence of its complex history of volcanism and ancient flowing water, and sending breathtaking images across the inner Solar System. Pictured here in February of 2024, Perseverance looks opposite the Sun and across Neretva Vallis in Jezero Crater, with a local hill visible at the top of the frame. The distinctively non-human shadow of the car-sized rover is visible below center, superposed on scattered rocks. Perseverance, now working without its flying companion Ingenuity, continues to search Mars for signs of ancient life.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240605.html ( June 05, 2024)

Monday, June 3, 2024


Why does Comet Pons-Brooks now have tails pointing in opposite directions? The most spectacular tail is the blue-glowing ion tail that is visible flowing down the image. The ion tail is pushed directly out from the Sun by the solar wind. On the upper right is the glowing central coma of Comet 12P/Pons–Brooks. Fanning out from the coma, mostly to the left, is the comet's dust tail. Pushed out and slowed down by the pressure of sunlight, the dust tail tends to trail the comet along its orbit and, from some viewing angles, can appear opposite to the ion tail. The distant, bright star Alpha Leporis is seen at the bottom of the featured image captured last week from Namibia. Two days ago, the comet passed its closest to the Earth and is now best visible from southern skies as it dims and glides back to the outer Solar System.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240604.html ( June 04, 2024)

Sunday, June 2, 2024

NGC 2403 in Camelopardalis


Magnificent island universe NGC 2403 stands within the boundaries of the long-necked constellation Camelopardalis. Some 10 million light-years distant and about 50,000 light-years across, the spiral galaxy also seems to have more than its fair share of giant star forming HII regions, marked by the telltale reddish glow of atomic hydrogen gas. The giant HII regions are energized by clusters of hot, massive stars that explode as bright supernovae at the end of their short and furious lives. A member of the M81 group of galaxies, NGC 2403 closely resembles a galaxy in our own local galaxy group with an abundance of star forming regions, M33, the Triangulum Galaxy. Spiky in appearance, bright stars in this portrait of NGC 2403 are in the foreground, within our own Milky Way. Also in the foreground of the deep, wide-field, telescopic image are the Milky Way's dim and dusty interstellar clouds also known as galactic cirrus or integrated flux nebulae. But faint features that seem to extend from NGC 2403 itself are likely tidal stellar streams drawn out by gravitational interactions with neighboring galaxies.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240603.html ( June 03, 2024)

Saturday, June 1, 2024


No one, presently, sees the Moon rotate like this. That's because the Earth's moon is tidally locked to the Earth, showing us only one side. Given modern digital technology, however, combined with many detailed images returned by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), a high resolution virtual Moon rotation movie has been composed. The featured time-lapse video starts with the standard Earth view of the Moon. Quickly, though, Mare Orientale, a large crater with a dark center that is difficult to see from the Earth, rotates into view just below the equator. From an entire lunar month condensed into 24 seconds, the video clearly shows that the Earth side of the Moon contains an abundance of dark lunar maria, while the lunar far side is dominated by bright lunar highlands. Currently, over 32 new missions to the Moon are under active development from multiple countries and companies, including NASA's Artemis program which aims to land people on the Moon again within the next few years.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240602.html ( June 02, 2024)

Friday, May 31, 2024

Stereo Helene


Get out your red/blue glasses and float next to Helene, small, icy moon of Saturn. Appropriately named, Helene is a Trojan moon, so called because it orbits at a Lagrange point. A Lagrange point is a gravitationally stable position near two massive bodies, in this case Saturn and larger moon Dione. In fact, irregularly shaped ( about 36 by 32 by 30 kilometers) Helene orbits at Dione's leading Lagrange point while brotherly ice moon Polydeuces follows at Dione's trailing Lagrange point. The sharp stereo anaglyph was constructed from two Cassini images captured during a close flyby in 2011. It shows part of the Saturn-facing hemisphere of Helene mottled with craters and gully-like features.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240601.html ( June 01, 2024)

ISS Daily Summary Report – 5/30/2024

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Payloads: Cardiobreath: The crew reviewed the Big Picture Words (BPW) to prepare for the science session starting Friday. Cardiobreath looks at biological feedback loops to gain insight into how microgravity affects astronauts’ cardiovascular and respiratory systems. More information on this experiment can be found here. Gambit: The Nanoracks Airlock (NRAL) External Payload Environment Monitor, otherwise known … ...

May 30, 2024 at 12:00PM
From NASA: https://blogs.nasa.gov/stationreport/2024/05/30/iss-daily-summary-report-5-30-2024/

Thursday, May 30, 2024

The Nebulous Realm of WR 134


Made with narrowband filters, this cosmic snapshot covers a field of view over twice as wide as the full Moon within the boundaries of the constellation Cygnus. It highlights the bright edge of a ring-like nebula traced by the glow of ionized hydrogen and oxygen gas. Embedded in the region's expanse of interstellar clouds, the complex, glowing arcs are sections of shells of material swept up by the wind from Wolf-Rayet star WR 134, brightest star near the center of the frame. Distance estimates put WR 134 about 6,000 light-years away, making the frame over 100 light-years across. Shedding their outer envelopes in powerful stellar winds, massive Wolf-Rayet stars have burned through their nuclear fuel at a prodigious rate and end this final phase of massive star evolution in a spectacular supernova explosion. The stellar winds and final supernova enrich the interstellar material with heavy elements to be incorporated in future generations of stars.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240531.html ( May 31, 2024)

Wednesday, May 29, 2024


Why does a cloudy moon sometimes appear colorful? The effect, called a lunar corona, is created by the quantum mechanical diffraction of light around individual, similarly-sized water droplets in an intervening but mostly-transparent cloud. Since light of different colors has different wavelengths, each color diffracts differently. Lunar coronae are one of the few quantum mechanical color effects that can be easily seen with the unaided eye. Solar coronae are also sometimes evident. The featured image was taken last month from Paris, France. The blue beacon emanating from the Eiffel Tower did not affect the colorful lunar corona.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240530.html ( May 30, 2024)

Tuesday, May 28, 2024


What happens if you ascend this stairway to the Milky Way? Before answering that, let's understand the beautiful sky you will see. Most eye-catching is the grand arch of the Milky Way Galaxy, the band that is the central disk of our galaxy which is straight but distorted by the wide-angle nature of this composite image. Many stars well in front of the Milk Way will be visible, with the bright white star just below the stellar arch being Altair, and the bright blue star above it being Vega. The air glows green on the left, just above the yellow cloud deck. The featured image was taken last month on Portugal's Madeira Island in the North Atlantic Ocean. Oh, and what happens after you reach the top of these stairs and admire the amazing sky is, quite probably, that you then descend down the stairs on the other side.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240529.html ( May 29, 2024)

Monday, May 27, 2024


It's back. The famous active region on the Sun that created auroras visible around the Earth earlier this month has survived its rotation around the far side of the Sun -- and returned. Yesterday, as it was beginning to reappear on the Earth-facing side, the region formerly labeled AR 3664 threw another major solar flare, again in the highest-energy X-class range. The featured video shows the emerging active region on the lower left, as it was captured by NASA's Earth-orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory yesterday in ultraviolet light. The video is a time-lapse of the entire Sun rotating over 24 hours. Watch the lower-left region carefully at about the 2-second mark to see the powerful flare burst out. The energetic particles from that flare and associated CME are not expected to directly impact the Earth and trigger impressive auroras, but scientists will keep a close watch on this unusually active region over the next two weeks, as it faces the Earth, to see what develops.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240528.html ( May 28, 2024)

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Chamaeleon I Molecular Cloud


Dark markings and bright nebulae in this telescopic southern sky view are telltale signs of young stars and active star formation. They lie a mere 650 light-years away, at the boundary of the local bubble and the Chamaeleon molecular cloud complex. Regions with young stars identified as dusty reflection nebulae from the 1946 Cederblad catalog include the C-shaped Ced 110 just above and right of center, and bluish Ced 111 below it. Also a standout in the frame, the orange tinted V-shape of the Chamaeleon Infrared Nebula (Cha IRN) was carved by material streaming from a newly formed low-mass star. The well-composed image spans 1.5 degrees. That's about 17 light-years at the estimated distance of the nearby Chamaeleon I molecular cloud.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240527.html ( May 27, 2024)

Saturday, May 25, 2024


What's happened to our Sun? Nothing very unusual -- it just threw a filament. Toward the middle of 2012, 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 auroras. Loops of plasma surrounding the active region can be seen above the erupting filament in the featured ultraviolet image. Our Sun is nearing the most active time in its 11-year cycle, creating many coronal holes that allow for the ejection of charged particles into space. As before, these charged particles can create auroras.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240526.html ( May 26, 2024)

Friday, May 24, 2024

Manicouagan Impact Crater from Space


Orbiting 400 kilometers above Quebec, Canada, planet Earth, the International Space Station Expedition 59 crew captured this snapshot of the broad St. Lawrence River and curiously circular Lake Manicouagan on April 11. Right of center, the ring-shaped lake is a modern reservoir within the eroded remnant of an ancient 100 kilometer diameter impact crater. The ancient crater is very conspicuous from orbit, a visible reminder that Earth is vulnerable to rocks from space. Over 200 million years old, the Manicouagan crater was likely caused by the impact of a rocky body about 5 kilometers in diameter. Currently, there is no known asteroid with a significant probability of impacting Earth in the next century. Each month, NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office releases an update featuring the most recent figures on near-Earth object close approaches, and other facts about comets and asteroids that could pose a potential impact hazard with Earth.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240525.html ( May 25, 2024)

Thursday, May 23, 2024


Star formation can be messy. To help find out just how messy, ESA's new Sun-orbiting Euclid telescope recently captured the most detailed image ever of the bright star forming region M78. Near the image center, M78 lies at a distance of only about 1,300 light-years away and has a main glowing core that spans about 5 light-years. The featured image was taken in both visible and infrared light. The purple tint in M78's center is caused by dark dust preferentially reflecting the blue light of hot, young stars. Complex dust lanes and filaments can be traced through this gorgeous and revealing skyscape. On the upper left is associated star forming region NGC 2071, while a third region of star formation is visible on the lower right. These nebulas are all part of the vast Orion Molecular Cloud Complex which can be found with even a small telescope just north of Orion's belt.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240524.html ( May 24, 2024)

ISS Daily Summary Report – 5/22/2024

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Payloads: BioFabrication Facility (BFF): Media and Bio-Reactor bags were retrieved from cold stowage in preparation for future BFF operations. More information on this experiment can be found here. Gaucho Lung: Sample 2 was processed and four runs of oil wicking and pushback using the syringe pump were performed. More information on this experiment can be found here. … ...

May 22, 2024 at 12:00PM
From NASA: https://blogs.nasa.gov/stationreport/2024/05/22/iss-daily-summary-report-5-22-2024/

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Unraveling NGC 3169


Spiral galaxy NGC 3169 looks to be unraveling like a ball of cosmic yarn. It lies some 70 million light-years away, south of bright star Regulus toward the faint constellation Sextans. Wound up spiral arms are pulled out into sweeping tidal tails as NGC 3169 (left) and neighboring NGC 3166 interact gravitationally. Eventually the galaxies will merge into one, a common fate even for bright galaxies in the local universe. Drawn out stellar arcs and plumes are clear indications of the ongoing gravitational interactions across the deep and colorful galaxy group photo. The telescopic frame spans about 20 arc minutes or about 400,000 light-years at the group's estimated distance, and includes smaller, bluish NGC 3165 to the right. NGC 3169 is also known to shine across the spectrum from radio to X-rays, harboring an active galactic nucleus that is the site of a supermassive black hole.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240523.html ( May 23, 2024)

Tuesday, May 21, 2024


It was bright and green and stretched across the sky. This striking aurora display was captured in 2016 just outside of Östersund, Sweden. Six photographic fields were merged to create the featured panorama spanning almost 180 degrees. Particularly striking aspects of this aurora include its sweeping arc-like shape and its stark definition. Lake Storsjön is seen in the foreground, while several familiar constellations and the star Polaris are visible through the aurora, far in the background. Coincidently, the aurora appears to avoid the Moon visible on the lower left. The aurora appeared a day after a large hole opened in the Sun's corona, allowing particularly energetic particles to flow out into the Solar System. The green color of the aurora is caused by oxygen atoms recombining with ambient electrons high in the Earth's atmosphere.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240522.html ( May 22, 2024)

Monday, May 20, 2024


Can a gas cloud eat a galaxy? It's not even close. The "claw" of this odd looking "creature" in the featured photo is a gas cloud known as a cometary globule. This globule, however, has ruptured. Cometary globules are typically characterized by dusty heads and elongated tails. These features cause cometary globules to have visual similarities to comets, but in reality they are very much different. Globules are frequently the birthplaces of stars, and many show very young stars in their heads. The reason for the rupture in the head of this object is not yet known. The galaxy to the left of the globule is huge, very far in the distance, and only placed near CG4 by chance superposition.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240521.html ( May 21, 2024)

Sunday, May 19, 2024


It seemed like night, but part of the sky glowed purple. It was the now famous night of May 10, 2024, when people over much of the world reported beautiful aurora-filled skies. The featured image was captured this night during early morning hours from Arlington, Wisconsin, USA. The panorama is a composite of several 6-second exposures covering two thirds of the visible sky, with north in the center, and processed to heighten the colors and remove electrical wires. The photographer (in the foreground) reported that the aurora appeared to flow from a point overhead but illuminated the sky only toward the north. The aurora's energetic particles originated from CMEs ejected from our Sun over sunspot AR 6443 a few days before. This large active region rotated to the far side of the Sun last week, but may well survive to rotate back toward the Earth next week.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240520.html ( May 20, 2024)

Saturday, May 18, 2024


Take this simulated plunge and dive into the upper atmosphere of Jupiter, the Solar System's ruling gas giant. The awesome animation is based on image data from JunoCam, and the microwave radiometer on board the Jupiter-orbiting Juno spacecraft. Your view will start about 3,000 kilometers above the southern Jovian cloud tops, and you can track your progress on the display at the left. As altitude decreases, temperature increases while you dive deeper at the location of Jupiter's famous Great Red Spot. In fact, Juno data indicates the Great Red Spot, the Solar System's largest storm system, penetrates some 300 kilometers into the giant planet's atmosphere. For comparison, the deepest point for planet Earth's oceans is just under 11 kilometers down. Don't worry though, you'll fly back out again.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240519.html ( May 19, 2024)

Friday, May 17, 2024

North Celestial Aurora


Graceful star trail arcs reflect planet Earth's daily rotation in this colorful night skyscape. To create the timelapse composite, on May 12 consecutive exposures were recorded with a camera fixed to a tripod on the shores of the Ashokan Reservoir, in the Catskills region of New York, USA. North star Polaris is near the center of the star trail arcs. The broad trail of a waxing crescent Moon is on the left, casting a strong reflection across the reservoir waters. With intense solar activity driving recent geomagnetic storms, the colorful aurora borealis or northern lights, rare to the region, shine under Polaris and the north celestial pole.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240518.html ( May 18, 2024)

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Aurora Banks Peninsula


This well-composed composite panoramic view looks due south from Banks Peninsula near Christchurch on New Zealand's South Island. The base of a tower-like rocky sea stack is awash in the foreground, with stars of the Southern Cross at the top of the frame and planet Earth's south celestial pole near center. Still, captured on May 11, vibrant aurora australis dominate the starry southern sea and skyscape. The shimmering southern lights were part of extensive auroral displays that entertained skywatchers in northern and southern hemispheres around planet Earth, caused by intense geomagnetic storms. The extreme spaceweather was triggered by the impact of coronal mass ejections launched from powerful solar active region AR 3664.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240517.html ( May 17, 2024)

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Aurora Georgia


A familiar sight from Georgia, USA, the Moon sets near the western horizon in this rural night skyscape. Captured on May 10 before local midnight, the image overexposes the Moon's bright waning crescent at left in the frame. A long irrigation rig stretches across farmland about 15 miles north of the city of Bainbridge. Shimmering curtains of aurora shine across the starry sky though, definitely an unfamiliar sight for southern Georgia nights. Last weekend, extreme geomagnetic storms triggered by the recent intense activity from solar active region AR 3664 brought epic displays of aurora, usually seen closer to the poles, to southern Georgia and even lower latitudes on planet Earth. As solar activity ramps up, more storms are possible.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240516.html ( May 16, 2024)

Tuesday, May 14, 2024


What did the monster active region that created the recent auroras look like when at the Sun's edge? There, AR 3664 better showed its 3D structure. Pictured, a large multi-pronged solar prominence was captured extending from chaotic sunspot region AR 3664 out into space, just one example of the particle clouds ejected from this violent solar region. The Earth could easily fit under this long-extended prominence. The featured image was captured two days ago from this constantly changing region. Yesterday, the strongest solar flare in years was expelled (not shown), a blast classified in the upper X-class. Ultraviolet light from that flare quickly hit the Earth's atmosphere and caused shortwave radio blackouts across both North and South America. Although now rotated to be facing slightly away from the Earth, particles from AR 3664 and subsequent coronal mass ejections (CMEs) might still follow curved magnetic field lines across the inner Solar System and create more Earthly auroras.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240515.html ( May 15, 2024)

ISS Daily Summary Report – 5/13/2024

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Payloads: Cold Atom Lab (CAL): The crew performed day two of the multi-day effort to replace the Cold Atom Lab science module. Today’s activities were primarily to inspect and clean the fiber tips on the 767 nm and 785 nm lasers. More information on the CAL facility can be found here.  Sleep in Orbit: The … ...

May 13, 2024 at 12:00PM
From NASA: https://blogs.nasa.gov/stationreport/2024/05/13/iss-daily-summary-report-5-13-2024/

Monday, May 13, 2024

The 37 Cluster


For the mostly harmless denizens of planet Earth, the brighter stars of open cluster NGC 2169 seem to form a cosmic 37. Did you expect 42? From our perspective, the improbable numerical asterism appears solely by chance. It lies at an estimated distance of 3,300 light-years toward the constellation Orion. As far as galactic or open star clusters go, NGC 2169 is a small one, spanning about 7 light-years. Formed at the same time from the same cloud of dust and gas, the stars of NGC 2169 are only about 11 million years old. Such clusters are expected to disperse over time as they encounter other stars, interstellar clouds, and experience gravitational tides while hitchhiking through the galaxy. Over four billion years ago, our own Sun was likely formed in a similar open cluster of stars.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240514.html ( May 14, 2024)

Sunday, May 12, 2024


It was larger than the Earth. It was so big you could actually see it on the Sun's surface without magnification. It contained powerful and tangled magnetic fields as well as numerous dark sunspots. Labelled AR 3664, it developed into one of the most energetic areas seen on the Sun in recent years, unleashing a series of explosions that led to a surge of energetic particles striking the Earth, which created beautiful auroras. And might continue. Although active regions on the Sun like AR 3664 can be quite dangerous, this region's Coronal Mass Ejections have not done, as yet, much damage to Earth-orbiting satellites or Earth-surface electrical grids. Pictured, the enormous active region was captured on the setting Sun a few days ago from Civitavecchia, Rome, Italy. The composite image includes a very short exposure taken of just the Sun's surface, but mimics what was actually visible. Finally, AR 3664 is now rotating away from the Earth, although the region may survive long enough to come around again.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240513.html ( May 13, 2024)

Saturday, May 11, 2024


Northern lights don't usually reach this far south. Magnetic chaos in the Sun's huge Active Region 3664, however, produced a surface explosion that sent a burst of electrons, protons, and more massive, charged nuclei into the Solar System. A few days later, that coronal mass ejection (CME) impacted the Earth and triggered auroras that are being reported unusually far from our planet's north and south poles. The free sky show might not be over -- the sunspot rich AR3664 has ejected even more CMEs that might also impact the Earth tonight or tomorrow. That active region is now near the Sun's edge, though, and will soon be rotating away from the Earth. Pictured, a red and rayed aurora was captured in a single 6-second exposure from Racibórz, Poland early last night. The photographer's friend, seeing an aurora for the first time, is visible in the distance also taking images of the beautifully colorful nighttime sky.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240512.html ( May 12, 2024)

Friday, May 10, 2024


Right now, one of the largest sunspot groups in recent history is crossing the Sun. Active Region 3664 is not only big -- it's violent, throwing off clouds of particles into the Solar System. Some of these CMEs are already impacting the Earth, and others might follow. At the extreme, these solar storms could cause some Earth-orbiting satellites to malfunction, the Earth's atmosphere to slightly distort, and electrical power grids to surge. When impacting Earth's upper atmosphere, these particles can produce beautiful auroras, with some auroras already being reported unusually far south. Pictured here, AR3664 and its dark sunspots were captured yesterday in visible light from Rome, Italy. The AR3664 sunspot group is so large that it is visible just with glasses designed to view last month's total solar eclipse. This weekend, skygazing enthusiasts will be keenly watching the night skies all over the globe for bright and unusual auroras.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240511.html ( May 11, 2024)

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Simulation: Two Black Holes Merge


Relax and watch two black holes merge. Inspired by the first direct detection of gravitational waves in 2015, this simulation plays in slow motion but would take about one third of a second if run in real time. Set on a cosmic stage, the black holes are posed in front of stars, gas, and dust. Their extreme gravity lenses the light from behind them into Einstein rings as they spiral closer and finally merge into one. The otherwise invisible gravitational waves generated as the massive objects rapidly coalesce cause the visible image to ripple and slosh both inside and outside the Einstein rings even after the black holes have merged. Dubbed GW150914, the gravitational waves detected by LIGO are consistent with the merger of 36 and 31 solar mass black holes at a distance of 1.3 billion light-years. The final, single black hole has 63 times the mass of the Sun, with the remaining 3 solar masses converted into energy radiated in gravitational waves.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240510.html ( May 10, 2024)

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

The Galaxy, the Jet, and a Famous Black Hole


Bright elliptical galaxy Messier 87 (M87) is home to the supermassive black hole captured in 2017 by planet Earth's Event Horizon Telescope in the first ever image of a black hole. Giant of the Virgo galaxy cluster about 55 million light-years away, M87 is rendered in blue hues in this infrared image from the Spitzer Space telescope. Though M87 appears mostly featureless and cloud-like, the Spitzer image does record details of relativistic jets blasting from the galaxy's central region. Shown in the inset at top right, the jets themselves span thousands of light-years. The brighter jet seen on the right is approaching and close to our line of sight. Opposite, the shock created by the otherwise unseen receding jet lights up a fainter arc of material. Inset at bottom right, the historic black hole image is shown in context at the center of giant galaxy, between the relativistic jets. Completely unresolved in the Spitzer image, the supermassive black hole surrounded by infalling material is the source of enormous energy driving the relativistic jets from the center of active galaxy M87. The Event Horizon Telescope image of M87 has been enhanced to reveal a sharper view of the famous supermassive black hole.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240509.html ( May 09, 2024)

Tuesday, May 7, 2024


What would it look like to circle a black hole? If the black hole was surrounded by a swirling disk of glowing and accreting gas, then the great gravity of the black hole would deflect light emitted by the disk to make it look very unusual. The featured animated video gives a visualization. The video starts with you, the observer, looking toward the black hole from just above the plane of the accretion disk. Surrounding the central black hole is a thin circular image of the orbiting disk that marks the position of the photon sphere -- inside of which lies the black hole's event horizon. Toward the left, parts of the large main image of the disk appear brighter as they move toward you. As the video continues, you loop over the black hole, soon looking down from the top, then passing through the disk plane on the far side, then returning to your original vantage point. The accretion disk does some interesting image inversions -- but never appears flat. Visualizations such as this are particularly relevant today as black holes are being imaged in unprecedented detail by the Event Horizon Telescope.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240508.html ( May 08, 2024)

Monday, May 6, 2024


What happens when a black hole devours a star? Many details remain unknown, but observations are providing new clues. In 2014, a powerful explosion was recorded by the ground-based robotic telescopes of the All Sky Automated Survey for SuperNovae (Project ASAS-SN), with followed-up observations by instruments including NASA's Earth-orbiting Swift satellite. Computer modeling of these emissions fit a star being ripped apart by a distant supermassive black hole. The results of such a collision are portrayed in the featured artistic illustration. The black hole itself is a depicted as a tiny black dot in the center. As matter falls toward the hole, it collides with other matter and heats up. Surrounding the black hole is an accretion disk of hot matter that used to be the star, with a jet emanating from the black hole's spin axis.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240507.html ( May 07, 2024)

Sunday, May 5, 2024


This is how the Sun disappeared from the daytime sky last month. The featured time-lapse video was created from stills taken from Mountain View, Arkansas, USA on 2024 April 8. First, a small sliver of a normally spotted Sun went strangely dark. Within a few minutes, much of the background Sun was hidden behind the advancing foreground Moon. Within an hour, the only rays from the Sun passing the Moon appeared like a diamond ring. During totality, most of the surrounding sky went dark, making the bright pink prominences around the Sun's edge stand out, and making the amazing corona appear to spread into the surrounding sky. The central view of the corona shows an accumulation of frames taken during complete totality. As the video ends, just a few minutes later, another diamond ring appeared -- this time on the other side of the Moon. Within the next hour, the sky returned to normal.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240506.html ( May 06, 2024)