Tuesday, February 27, 2024


How does the sky turn dark at night? In stages, and with different characteristic colors rising from the horizon. The featured image shows, left to right, increasingly late twilight times after sunset in 20 different vertical bands. The picture was taken last month in Syracuse, Sicily, Italy, in the direction opposite the Sun. On the far left is the pre-sunset upper sky. Toward the right, prominent bands include the Belt of Venus, the Blue Band, the Horizon Band, and the Red Band. As the dark shadow of the Earth rises, the colors in these bands are caused by direct sunlight reflecting from air and aerosols in the Earth's atmosphere, multiple reflections sometimes involving a reddened sunset, and refraction. In practice, these bands can be diffuse and hard to discern, and their colors can depend on colors near the setting Sun. Finally, the Sun completely sets and the sky becomes dark. Don't despair -- the whole thing will happen in reverse when the Sun rises again in the morning.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240228.html ( February 28, 2024)

Monday, February 26, 2024


It's easy to get lost following the intricate, looping, and twisting filaments of supernova remnant Simeis 147. Also cataloged as Sharpless 2-240, the filamentary nebula goes by the popular nickname the Spaghetti Nebula. Seen toward the boundary of the constellations of the Bull (Taurus) and the Charioteer (Auriga), the impressive gas structure covers nearly 3 degrees on the sky, equivalent to 6 full moons. That's about 150 light-years at the stellar debris cloud's estimated distance of 3,000 light-years. This composite image includes data taken through narrow-band filters isolating emission from hydrogen (red) and oxygen (blue) glowing gas. The supernova remnant has an estimated age of about 40,000 years, meaning light from this massive stellar explosion first reached the Earth when woolly mammoths roamed free. Besides the expanding remnant, this cosmic catastrophe left behind a pulsar: a spinning neutron star that is the remnant of the original star's core.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240227.html ( February 27, 2024)

Saturday, February 24, 2024


All of the other aurora watchers had gone home. By 3:30 am in Iceland, on a quiet September night, much of that night's auroras had died down. Suddenly, unexpectedly, a new burst of particles streamed down from space, lighting up the Earth's atmosphere once again. This time, surprisingly, pareidoliacally, the night lit up with an amazing shape reminiscent of a giant phoenix. With camera equipment at the ready, two quick sky images were taken, followed immediately by a third of the land. The mountain in the background is Helgafell, while the small foreground river is called Kaldá, both located about 30 kilometers north of Iceland's capital Reykjavík. Seasoned skywatchers will note that just above the mountain, toward the left, is the constellation of Orion, while the Pleiades star cluster is also visible just above the frame center. The 2016 aurora, which lasted only a minute and was soon gone forever -- would possibly be dismissed as a fanciful fable -- were it not captured in the featured, digitally-composed, image mosaic.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240225.html ( February 25, 2024)

Friday, February 23, 2024

To the Moon


Intuitive Machines' robotic lander Odysseus has accomplished the first U.S. landing on the Moon since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. Launched on a SpaceX rocket on February 15, the phone booth sized lander reached lunar orbit on the 21st and touched down on the lunar surface at 6:23 pm ET on February 22nd. Its landing region is about 300 kilometers north of the Moon's south pole, near a crater designated Malapert A. The lander is presently collecting solar power and transmitting data back to the Intuitive Machines' mission control center in Houston. The mission marks the first commercial uncrewed landing on the Moon. Prior to landing, Odysseus’ camera captured this extreme wide angle image (landing legs visible at right) as it flew over Schomberger crater some 200 kilometers from its landing site. Odysseus was still about 10 kilometers above the lunar surface.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240224.html ( February 24, 2024)

Thursday, February 22, 2024

The Pencil Nebula Supernova Shock Wave


This supernova shock wave plows through interstellar space at over 500,000 kilometers per hour. Centered and moving upward in the sharply detailed color composite its thin, bright, braided filaments are actually long ripples in a cosmic sheet of glowing gas seen almost edge-on. Discovered in the 1840s by Sir John Herschel, the narrow-looking nebula is sometimes known as Herschel's Ray. Cataloged as NGC 2736, its pointed appearance suggests its modern popular name, the Pencil Nebula. The Pencil Nebula is about 800 light-years away. Nearly 5 light-years long it represents only a small part of the Vela supernova remnant though. The enormous 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 section of the shock wave seen as the Pencil nebula was moving at millions of kilometers per hour but has slowed considerably, sweeping up surrounding interstellar material.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240223.html ( February 23, 2024)

ISS Daily Summary Report – 2/21/2024

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Payloads: Advanced Plant Experiment-10 (APEX-10): The crew deactivated Veggie units 1 and 3. On Earth, plant and microbial associations are key to the success of individual plants, but scientists do not fully understand how the space environment may alter these associations. Plant-Microbe Interactions in Space (APEX-10) tests whether the beneficial microbe Trichoderma harzianum confers increased … ...

February 21, 2024 at 11:00AM
From NASA: https://blogs.nasa.gov/stationreport/2024/02/21/iss-daily-summary-report-2-21-2024/

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

A View Toward M106


Big, bright, beautiful spiral, Messier 106 dominates this cosmic vista. The nearly two degree wide telescopic field of view looks toward the well-trained constellation Canes Venatici, near the handle of the Big Dipper. Also known as NGC 4258, M106 is about 80,000 light-years across and 23.5 million light-years away, the largest member of the Canes II galaxy group. For a far far away galaxy, the distance to M106 is well-known in part because it can be directly measured by tracking this galaxy's remarkable maser, or microwave laser emission. Very rare but naturally occurring, the maser emission is produced by water molecules in molecular clouds orbiting its active galactic nucleus. Another prominent spiral galaxy on the scene, viewed nearly edge-on, is NGC 4217 below and right of M106. The distance to NGC 4217 is much less well-known, estimated to be about 60 million light-years, but the bright spiky stars are in the foreground, well inside our own Milky Way galaxy.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240222.html ( February 22, 2024)

Tuesday, February 20, 2024


The bird is bigger than the peak. Nicknamed for its avian shape, the Seagull Nebula is an emission nebula on the night sky that is vast, spanning an angle over five times the diameter of the full moon and over 200 light years. The head of the nebula is catalogued as IC 2177, and the star cluster under its right wing is catalogued as NGC 2343. Consisting of mostly red-glowing hydrogen gas, the Seagull Nebula incorporates some dust lanes and is forming stars. The peak over which this Seagull seems to soar occurs at Pinnacles National Park in California, USA. The featured image is a composite of long exposure images of the background sky and short exposure images of the foreground, all taken consecutively with the same camera and from the same location.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240221.html ( February 21, 2024)

Monday, February 19, 2024


When galaxies collide, how many stars are born? For AM1054-325, featured here in a recently released image by the Hubble Space Telescope, the answer is millions. Instead of stars being destroyed as galaxy AM1054-325 and a nearby galaxy circle each other, their gravity and motion has ignited stellar creation. Star formation occurs rapidly in the gaseous debris stretching from AM1054-325’s yellowish body due to the other galaxy’s gravitational pull. Hydrogen gas surrounding newborn stars glows pink. Bright infant stars shine blue and cluster together in compact nurseries of thousands to millions of stars. AM1054-325 possesses over 100 of these intense-blue, dot-like star clusters, some appearing like a string of pearls. Analyzing ultraviolet light helped determine that most of these stars are less than 10 million years old: stellar babies. Many of these nurseries may grow up to be globular star clusters, while the bundle of young stars at the bottom tip may even detach and form a small galaxy.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240220.html ( February 20, 2024)

Sunday, February 18, 2024


What's happening near the Sun? To help find out, NASA launched the robotic Parker Solar Probe (PSP) to investigate regions closer to the Sun than ever before. The PSP's looping orbit brings it nearer to the Sun each time around -- every few months. The featured time-lapse video shows the view looking sideways from behind PSP's Sun shield during its 16th approach to the Sun last year -- from well within the orbit of Mercury. The PSP's Wide Field Imager for Solar Probe (WISPR) cameras took the images over eleven days, but they are digitally compressed here into about one minute video. The waving of the solar corona is visible, as is a coronal mass ejection, with stars, planets, and even the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy streaming by in the background as the PSP orbits the Sun. PSP has found the solar neighborhood to be surprisingly complex and to include switchbacks -- times when the Sun's magnetic field briefly reverses itself.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240219.html ( February 19, 2024)

Saturday, February 17, 2024


Is this one galaxy or two? This question came to light in 1950 when astronomer Arthur Hoag chanced upon this unusual extragalactic object. On the outside is a ring dominated by bright blue stars, while near the center lies a ball of much redder stars that are likely much older. Between the two is a gap that appears almost completely dark. How Hoag's Object formed, including its nearly perfectly round ring of stars and gas, remains unknown. Genesis hypotheses include a galaxy collision billions of years ago and the gravitational effect of a central bar that has since vanished. The featured photo was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and reprocessed using an artificially intelligent de-noising algorithm. Observations in radio waves indicate that Hoag's Object has not accreted a smaller galaxy in the past billion years. Hoag's Object spans about 100,000 light years and lies about 600 million light years away toward the constellation of the Snake (Serpens). Many galaxies far in the distance are visible toward the right, while coincidentally, visible in the gap at about seven o'clock, is another but more distant ring galaxy.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240218.html ( February 18, 2024)

Friday, February 16, 2024

Meteor over the Bay of Naples


A cosmic dust grain plowing through the upper atmosphere much faster than a falling leaf created this brilliant meteor streak. In a serendipitous moment, the sublime night sky view was captured from the resort island of Capri, in the Bay of Naples, on the evening of February 8. Looking across the bay, the camera faces northeast toward the lights of Naples and surrounding cities. Pointing toward the horizon, the meteor streak by chance ends above the silhouette of Mount Vesuvius. One of planet Earth's most famous volcanos, an eruption of Mount Vesuvius destroyed the city of Pompeii in 79 AD.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240217.html ( February 17, 2024)

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Structure in the Tail of Comet 12P/Pons Brooks


Heading for its next perihelion passage on April 21, Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks is growing brighter. The greenish coma of this periodic Halley-type comet has become relatively easy to observe in small telescopes. But the bluish ion tail now streaming from the active comet's coma and buffeted by the solar wind, is faint and difficult to follow. Still, in this image stacked exposures made on the night of February 11 reveal the fainter tail's detailed structures. The frame spans over two degrees across a background of faint stars and background galaxies toward the northern constellation Lacerta. Of course Comet 12P's April 21 perihelion passage will be only two weeks after the April 8 total solar eclipse, putting the comet in planet Earth's sky along with a totally eclipsed Sun.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240216.html ( February 16, 2024)

ISS Daily Summary Report – 2/14/2024

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Payloads: Boeing Environment Responding Antimicrobial Coatings-2 (AC-2): The crew performed a routine, periodic touching of two of the six experiment placards deployed in various locations throughout the ISS. Antimicrobial Coatings-2 tests an antimicrobial coating on several different materials that represent high-touch surfaces. Some microbes change characteristics in microgravity, which could create new risks to crew … ...

February 14, 2024 at 11:00AM
From NASA: https://blogs.nasa.gov/stationreport/2024/02/14/iss-daily-summary-report-2-14-2024/

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

NGC 253: Dusty Island Universe


Shiny NGC 253 is one of the brightest spiral galaxies visible, and also one of the dustiest. Some call it the Silver Coin Galaxy for its appearance in small telescopes, or just the Sculptor Galaxy for its location within the boundaries of the southern constellation Sculptor. Discovered in 1783 by mathematician and astronomer Caroline Herschel, the dusty island universe lies a mere 10 million light-years away. About 70 thousand light-years across, NGC 253 is the largest member of the Sculptor Group of Galaxies, the nearest to our own Local Group of Galaxies. In addition to its spiral dust lanes, tendrils of dust seem to be rising from its galactic disk laced with young star clusters and star forming regions in this colorful galaxy portrait. The high dust content accompanies frantic star formation, earning NGC 253 the designation of a starburst galaxy. NGC 253 is also known to be a strong source of high-energy x-rays and gamma rays, likely due to massive black holes near the galaxy's center.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240215.html ( February 15, 2024)

ISS Daily Summary Report – 2/13/2024

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85 Progress (85P) Undocking:Last night, the Russian cargo vehicle, 85P, undocked from the ISS SM Aft port at 08:09 PM CST. The deorbit burn occurred at 11:17 PM CST followed by atmospheric entry and destruction. Progress telemetry was lost at 11:50 PM CST and burn up occurred shortly thereafter. Payloads: Advanced Plant Experiment-10 (APEX-10): The … ...

February 13, 2024 at 11:00AM
From NASA: https://blogs.nasa.gov/stationreport/2024/02/13/iss-daily-summary-report-2-13-2024/

Tuesday, February 13, 2024


Can you find the Rosette Nebula? The large, red, and flowery-looking nebula on the upper left may seem the obvious choice, but that is actually just diffuse hydrogen emission surrounding the Cone and Fox Fur Nebulas. The famous Rosette Nebula is really located on the lower right and connected to the other nebulas by irregular filaments. Because the featured image of Rosetta's field is so wide and deep, it seems to contain other flowers. Designated NGC 2237, the center of the Rosette nebula is populated by the bright blue stars of open cluster NGC 2244, whose winds and energetic light are evacuating the nebula's center. The Rosette Nebula is about 5,000 light years distant and, just by itself, spans about three times the diameter of a full moon. This flowery field can be found toward the constellation of the Unicorn (Monoceros).

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240214.html ( February 14, 2024)

ISS Daily Summary Report – 2/12/2024

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Payloads: Boeing Environment Responding Antimicrobial Coatings-2 (AC-2): The crew performed the routine periodic touching of two of the six experiment placards deployed in various locations throughout the ISS. Antimicrobial Coatings-2 tests an antimicrobial coating on several different materials that represent high-touch surfaces. Some microbes change characteristics in microgravity, which could create new risks to crew … ...

February 12, 2024 at 11:00AM
From NASA: https://blogs.nasa.gov/stationreport/2024/02/12/iss-daily-summary-report-2-12-2024/

Monday, February 12, 2024


Did you see the full moon last month? During every month, on average, a full moon occurs in the skies over planet Earth. This is because the Moon takes a month to complete another orbit around our home planet, goes through all of its phases, and once again has its entire Earth-facing half lit by reflected sunlight. Many indigenous cultures give each full moon a name, and this past full moon's names include the Ice Moon, the Stay at Home Moon, and the Quiet Moon. Occurring in January on the modern western calendar, several cultures have also named the most recent full moon the Wolf Moon, in honor of the famous howling animal. Featured here above the Italian Alps mountains, this past Wolf Moon was captured in combined long and short exposure images. The image is striking because, to some, the surrounding clouds appear as a wolf's mouth ready to swallow the Wolf Moon, while others see the Moon as a wolf's eye.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240213.html ( February 13, 2024)

Sunday, February 11, 2024


Planetary nebulae like Heckathorn-Fesen-Gull 1 (HFG1) and Abell 6 in the constellation Cassiopeia are remnants from the last phase of a medium sized star like our Sun. In spite of their shapes, planetary nebulae have nothing in common with actual planets. Located in the bottom left part of the featured photo, HFG1 was created by the binary star system V664 Cas, which consists of a white dwarf star and a red giant star. Both stars orbit their center of mass over about half an Earth day. Traveling with the entire nebula at a speed about 300 times faster than the fastest train on Earth, V664 Cas generates a bluish arc shaped shock wave. The wave interacts most strongly with the surrounding interstellar medium in the areas where the arc is brightest. After roughly 10,000 years, planetary nebulae become invisible due to a lack of ultraviolet light being emitted by the stars that create them. Displaying beautiful shapes and structures, planetary nebulae are highly desired objects for astrophotographers.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240212.html ( February 12, 2024)

Saturday, February 10, 2024


Why would the shadow of a rocket's launch plume point toward the Moon? In early 2001 during a launch of the space shuttle Atlantis, the Sun, Earth, Moon, and rocket were all properly aligned for this photogenic coincidence. First, for the space shuttle's plume to cast a long shadow, the time of day must be either near sunrise or sunset. Only then will the shadow be its longest and extend all the way to the horizon. Finally, during a Full Moon, the Sun and Moon are on opposite sides of the sky. Just after sunset, for example, the Sun is slightly below the horizon, and, in the other direction, the Moon is slightly above the horizon. Therefore, as Atlantis blasted off, just after sunset, its shadow projected away from the Sun toward the opposite horizon, where the Full Moon happened to be.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240211.html ( February 11, 2024)

Friday, February 9, 2024

The Shadow of Ingenuity s Damaged Rotor Blade


On January 18, 2024, during its 72nd flight in the thin Martian atmosphere, autonomous Mars Helicopter Ingenuity rose to an altitude of 12 meters (40 feet) and hovered for 4.5 seconds above the Red Planet. Ingenuity's 72nd landing was a rough one though. During descent it lost contact with the Perseverance rover about 1 meter above the Martian surface. Ingenuity was able to transmit this image after contact was re-established, showing the shadow of one of its rotor blades likely damaged during landing. And so, after wildly exceeding expectations during over 1,000 days of exploring Mars, the history-making Ingenuity has ended its flight operations. Nicknamed Ginny, Mars Helicopter Ingenuity became the first aircraft to achieve powered, controlled flight on another planet on April 19, 2021. Before launch, a small piece of material from the lower-left wing of the Wright Brothers Flyer 1, the first aircraft to achieve powered, controlled flight on planet Earth, was fixed to the underside of Ingenuity's solar panel.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240210.html ( February 10, 2024)

Thursday, February 8, 2024

When Roses Aren t Red


Not all roses are red of course, but they can still be very pretty. Likewise, the beautiful Rosette Nebula and other star forming regions are often shown in astronomical images with a predominately red hue, in part because the dominant emission in the nebula is from hydrogen atoms. Hydrogen's strongest optical emission line, known as H-alpha, is in the red region of the spectrum. But the beauty of an emission nebula need not be appreciated in red light alone. Other atoms in the nebula are also excited by energetic starlight and produce narrow emission lines as well. In this close-up view of the Rosette Nebula, narrowband images are mapped into broadband colors to show emission from Sulfur atoms in red, Hydrogen in green, and Oxygen in blue. In fact, the scheme of mapping these narrow atomic emission lines (SHO) into the broader colors (RGB) is adopted in many Hubble images of emission nebulae. This image spans about 50 light-years across the center of the Rosette Nebula. The nebula lies some 3,000 light-years away in the constellation Monoceros.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240209.html ( February 09, 2024)

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Globular Star Cluster 47 Tuc


Globular star cluster 47 Tucanae is a jewel of the southern sky. Also known as NGC 104, it roams the halo of our Milky Way Galaxy along with some 200 other globular star clusters. The second brightest globular cluster (after Omega Centauri) as seen from planet Earth, 47 Tuc lies about 13,000 light-years away. It can be spotted with the naked-eye close on the sky to the Small Magellanic Cloud in the constellation of the Toucan. The dense cluster is made up of hundreds of thousands of stars in a volume only about 120 light-years across. Red giant stars on the outskirts of the cluster are easy to pick out as yellowish stars in this sharp telescopic portrait. Tightly packed globular cluster 47 Tuc is also home to a star with the closest known orbit around a black hole.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240208.html ( February 08, 2024)

ISS Daily Summary Report – 2/06/2024

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Private Astronaut Mission (PAM) Axiom 3: Outreach, Commercial, and Payload Activities: The Ax-3 crew continues to wait for an undock opportunity. Throughout the day, they have recorded several outreach events and taken outreach and payload imagery. The crew have completed additional work on their National Lab-sponsored payloads ISOC and Ready Pasta. Alongside these payload activities, Marcus … ...

February 06, 2024 at 11:00AM
From NASA: https://blogs.nasa.gov/stationreport/2024/02/06/iss-daily-summary-report-2-06-2024/

Monday, February 5, 2024


What's different about this galaxy? Very little, which makes the Spanish Dancer galaxy, NGC 1566, one of the most typical and photogenic spirals on the sky. There is something different about this galaxy image, though, because it is a diagonal combination of two images: one by the Hubble Space Telescope on the upper left, and the other by the James Webb Space Telescope on the lower right. The Hubble image was taken in ultraviolet light and highlights the locations of bright blue stars and dark dust along the galaxy's impressive spiral arms. In contrast, the Webb image was taken in infrared light and highlights where the same dust emits more light than it absorbed. In the rollover image, the other two sides of these images are revealed. Blinking between the two images shows which stars are particularly hot because they glow brighter in ultraviolet light, and the difference between seemingly empty space and infrared-glowing dust.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240206.html ( February 06, 2024)

Sunday, February 4, 2024


What's happening in the core of the Carina Nebula? Stars are forming, dying, and leaving an impressive tapestry of dark dusty filaments. The entire Carina Nebula, cataloged as NGC 3372, spans over 300 light years and lies about 8,500 light-years away in the constellation of Carina. The nebula is composed predominantly of hydrogen gas, which emits the pervasive red and orange glows seen mostly in the center of this highly detailed featured image. The blue glow around the edges is created primarily by a trace amount of glowing oxygen. Young and massive stars located in the nebula's center expel dust when they explode in supernovas. Eta Carinae, the most energetic star in the nebula's center, was one of the brightest stars in the sky in the 1830s, but then faded dramatically.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240205.html ( February 05, 2024)

Saturday, February 3, 2024


Stars are forming in the gigantic dust pillar called the Cone Nebula. Cones, pillars, and majestic flowing shapes abound in stellar nurseries where natal clouds of gas and dust are buffeted by energetic winds from newborn stars. The Cone Nebula, a well-known example, lies within the bright galactic star-forming region NGC 2264. The Cone was captured in unprecedented detail in this close-up composite of several observations from the Earth-orbiting Hubble Space Telescope. While the Cone Nebula, about 2,500 light-years away in Monoceros, is around 7 light-years long, the region pictured here surrounding the cone's blunted head is a mere 2.5 light-years across. In our neck of the galaxy that distance is just over half way from our Sun to its nearest stellar neighbors in the Alpha Centauri star system. The massive star NGC 2264 IRS, seen by Hubble's infrared camera in 1997, is the likely source of the wind sculpting the Cone Nebula and lies off the top of the image. The Cone Nebula's reddish veil is produced by dust and glowing hydrogen gas.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240204.html ( February 04, 2024)

Friday, February 2, 2024

Apollo 14: A View from Antares


Apollo 14's Lunar Module Antares landed on the Moon on February 5, 1971. Toward the end of the stay astronaut Ed Mitchell snapped a series of photos of the lunar surface while looking out a window, assembled into this detailed mosaic by Apollo Lunar Surface Journal editor Eric Jones. The view looks across the Fra Mauro highlands to the northwest of the landing site after the Apollo 14 astronauts had completed their second and final walk on the Moon. Prominent in the foreground is their Modular Equipment Transporter, a two-wheeled, rickshaw-like device used to carry tools and samples. Near the horizon at top center is a 1.5 meter wide boulder dubbed Turtle rock. In the shallow crater below Turtle rock is the long white handle of a sampling instrument, thrown there javelin-style by Mitchell. Mitchell's fellow moonwalker and first American in space, Alan Shepard, also used a makeshift six iron to hit two golf balls. One of Shepard's golf balls is just visible as a white spot below Mitchell's javelin.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240203.html ( February 03, 2024)

Thursday, February 1, 2024

NGC 1893 and the Tadpoles of IC 410


This cosmic view shows off an otherwise faint emission nebula IC 410, captured under clear Netherlands skies with telescope and narrowband filters. Above and right of center you can spot two remarkable inhabitants of the interstellar pond of gas and dust, known as the tadpoles of IC 410. Partly obscured by foreground dust, the nebula itself surrounds NGC 1893, a young galactic cluster of stars. Formed in the interstellar cloud a mere 4 million years ago, the intensely hot, bright cluster stars energize the glowing gas. Globules composed of denser cooler gas and dust, the tadpoles are around 10 light-years long and are likely sites of ongoing star formation. Sculpted by stellar winds and radiation their heads are outlined by bright ridges of ionized gas while their tails trail away from the cluster's central young stars. IC 410 and embedded NGC 1893 lie some 10,000 light-years away, toward the nebula-rich constellation Auriga.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240202.html ( February 02, 2024)

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

NGC 1365: Majestic Island Universe


Barred spiral galaxy NGC 1365 is truly a majestic island universe some 200,000 light-years across. Located a mere 60 million light-years away toward the faint but heated constellation Fornax, NGC 1365 is a dominant member of the well-studied Fornax Cluster of galaxies. This sharp color image shows the intense, reddish star forming regions near the ends of the galaxy's central bar and along its spiral arms. Seen in fine detail, obscuring dust lanes cut across the galaxy's bright core. At the core lies a supermassive black hole. Astronomers think NGC 1365's prominent bar plays a crucial role in the galaxy's evolution, drawing gas and dust into a star-forming maelstrom and ultimately feeding material into the central black hole.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240201.html ( February 01, 2024)

ISS Daily Summary Report – 1/30/2024

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Cygnus NG-20 Launch: The Cygnus NG-20 cargo vehicle launched today, January 30th, at 11:07 AM CST, and is planned to be captured and berthed to the ISS on Thursday, February 1st, at 3:20 AM CT and 7:40 AM CT respectively. Cygnus will be berthed to the Node 1 Nadir port and will deliver more than … ...

January 30, 2024 at 11:00AM
From NASA: https://blogs.nasa.gov/stationreport/2024/01/30/iss-daily-summary-report-1-30-2024/

Tuesday, January 30, 2024


What does Orion rising look like to a camera? During this time of the year, the famous constellation is visible to the southeast just after sunset. From most Earthly locations, Orion's familiar star pattern, highlighted by the three-stars-in-a-row belt stars, rises sideways. An entire section of the night sky that includes Orion was photographed rising above Śnieżka, a mountain on the border between Poland and the Czech Republic. The long duration exposure sequence brings up many faint features including the Orion and Flame Nebulas, both encompassed by the curving Barnard's Loop. The featured wide-angle camera composite also captured night sky icons including the blue Pleiades star cluster at the image top and the red Rosette Nebula to the left of Orion. Famous stars in the frame include Sirius, Betelgeuse, Rigel and Aldebaran. Orion will appear successively higher in the sky at sunset during the coming months.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240131.html ( January 31, 2024)

Monday, January 29, 2024


New landers are on the Moon. Nearly two weeks ago, Japan's Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) released two rovers as it descended, before its main lander touched down itself. The larger of the two rovers can hop like a frog, while the smaller rover is about the size of a baseball and can move after pulling itself apart like a transformer. The main lander, nicknamed Moon Sniper, is seen in the featured image taken by the smaller rover. Inspection of the image shows that Moon Sniper's thrusters are facing up, meaning that the lander is upside down from its descent configuration and on its side from its intended landing configuration. One result is that Moon Sniper's solar panels are not in the expected orientation, so that powering the lander had to be curtailed and adapted. SLIM's lander has already succeeded as a technology demonstration, its main mission, but was not designed to withstand the lunar night -- which starts tomorrow.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240130.html ( January 30, 2024)

Sunday, January 28, 2024


The well-known Pleiades star cluster is slowly destroying part of a passing cloud of gas and dust. The Pleiades is the brightest open cluster of stars on Earth's sky and can be seen from almost any northerly location with the unaided eye. Over the past 100,000 years, a field of gas and dust is moving by chance right through the Pleiades star cluster and is causing a strong reaction between the stars and dust. The passing cloud might be part of the Radcliffe wave, a newly discovered structure of gas and dust connecting several regions of star formation in the nearby part of our Milky Way galaxy. Pressure from the stars' light significantly repels the dust in the surrounding blue reflection nebula, with smaller dust particles being repelled more strongly. A short-term result is that parts of the dust cloud have become filamentary and stratified. The featured deep image incorporates nearly 9 hours of exposure and was captured from Utah Desert Remote Observatory in Utah, USA, last year.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240129.html ( January 29, 2024)

Saturday, January 27, 2024


What color is Pluto, really? It took some effort to figure out. Even given all of the images sent back to Earth when the robotic New Horizons spacecraft sped past Pluto in 2015, processing these multi-spectral frames to approximate what the human eye would see was challenging. The result featured here, released three years after the raw data was acquired by New Horizons, is the highest resolution true color image of Pluto ever taken. Visible in the image is the light-colored, heart-shaped, Tombaugh Regio, with the unexpectedly smooth Sputnik Planitia, made of frozen nitrogen, filling its western lobe. New Horizons found the dwarf planet to have a surprisingly complex surface composed of many regions having perceptibly different hues. In total, though, Pluto is mostly brown, with much of its muted color originating from small amounts of surface methane energized by ultraviolet light from the Sun.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240128.html ( January 28, 2024)

Friday, January 26, 2024

Full Observatory Moon


A popular name for January's full moon in the northern hemisphere is the Full Wolf Moon. As the new year's first full moon, it rises over Las Campanas Observatory in this dramatic Earth-and-moonscape. Peering from the foreground like astronomical eyes are the observatory's twin 6.5 meter diameter Magellan telescopes. The snapshot was captured with telephoto lens across rugged terrain in the Chilean Atacama Desert, taken at a distance of about 9 miles from the observatory and about 240,000 miles from the lunar surface. Of course the first full moon of the lunar new year, known to some as the Full Snow Moon, will rise on February 24.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240127.html ( January 27, 2024)

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Epsilon Tauri: Star with Planet


Epsilon Tauri lies 146 light-years away. A K-type red giant star, epsilon Tau is cooler than the Sun, but with about 13 times the solar radius it has nearly 100 times the solar luminosity. A member of the Hyades open star cluster the giant star is known by the proper name Ain, and along with brighter giant star Aldebaran, forms the eyes of Taurus the Bull. Surrounded by dusty, dark clouds in Taurus, epsilon Tau is also known to have a planet. Discovered by radial velocity measurements in 2006, Epsilon Tauri b is a gas giant planet larger than Jupiter with an orbital period of 1.6 years. And though the exoplanet can't be seen directly, on a dark night its parent star epsilon Tauri is easily visible to the unaided eye.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240126.html ( January 26, 2024)

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Jyväskylä in the Sky


You might not immediately recognize this street map of a neighborhood in Jyväskylä, Finland, planet Earth. But that's probably because the map was projected into the night sky and captured with an allsky camera on January 16. The temperature recorded on that northern winter night was around minus 20 degrees Celsius. As ice crystals formed in the atmosphere overhead, street lights spilling illumination into the sky above produced visible light pillars, their ethereal appearance due to specular reflections from the fluttering crystals' flat surfaces. Of course, the projected light pillars trace a map of the brightly lit local streets, though reversed right to left in the upward looking camera's view. This light pillar street map was seen to hover for hours in the Jyväskylä night.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240125.html ( January 25, 2024)

ISS Daily Summary Report – 1/23/2024

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Private Astronaut Mission (PAM) Axiom 3: Outreach and Payload Activities: Three ESA sponsored Ice Cube events were completed today, including a joint event for Marcus Wandt and ISS Commander Andy Mogensen with the European Space Conference.  Additional outreach events included a live event with a Swedish Newspaper, Aftonbladet, and an event between Michael López-Alegría and … ...

January 23, 2024 at 11:00AM
From NASA: https://blogs.nasa.gov/stationreport/2024/01/23/iss-daily-summary-report-1-23-2024/

Tuesday, January 23, 2024


What do the Earth and Moon look like from beyond the Moon? Although frequently photographed together, the familiar duo was captured with this unusual perspective in late 2022 by the robotic Orion spacecraft of NASA's Artemis I mission as it looped around Earth's most massive satellite and looked back toward its home world. Since our Earth is about four times the diameter of the Moon, the satellite’s seemingly large size was caused by the capsule being closer to the smaller body. Artemis II, the next launch in NASA’s Artemis series, is currently scheduled to take people around the Moon in 2025, while Artemis III is planned to return humans to lunar surface in late 2026. Last week, JAXA's robotic SLIM spacecraft, launched from Japan, landed on the Moon and released two hopping rovers.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240124.html ( January 24, 2024)

Monday, January 22, 2024


How well do you know the night sky? OK, but how well can you identify famous sky objects in a very deep image? Either way, here is a test: see if you can find some well-known night-sky icons in a deep image filled with faint nebulosity. This image contains the Pleiades star cluster, Barnard's Loop, Horsehead Nebula, Orion Nebula, Rosette Nebula, Cone Nebula, Rigel, Jellyfish Nebula, Monkey Head Nebula, Flaming Star Nebula, Tadpole Nebula, Aldebaran, Simeis 147, Seagull Nebula and the California Nebula. To find their real locations, here is an annotated image version. The reason this task might be difficult is similar to the reason it is initially hard to identify familiar constellations in a very dark sky: the tapestry of our night sky has an extremely deep hidden complexity. The featured composite reveals some of this complexity in a mosaic of 28 images taken over 800 hours from dark skies over Arizona, USA.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240123.html ( January 23, 2024)

Sunday, January 21, 2024


Can the Moon and a mountain really cast similar shadows? Yes, but the division between light and dark does not have to be aligned. Pictured, a quarter moon was captured above the mountain Grivola in Italy in early October of 2022. The Sun is to the right of the featured picturesque landscape, illuminating the right side of the Moon in a similar way that it illuminates the right side of the mountain. This lunar phase is called "quarter" because the lit fraction visible from Earth is one quarter of the entire lunar surface. Digital post-processing of this single exposure gave both gigantic objects more prominence. Capturing the terminator of this quarter moon in close alignment with nearly vertical mountain ridge required careful timing because the Earth rotates once a day.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240122.html ( January 22, 2024)

Saturday, January 20, 2024


Yes, but can your blizzard do this? In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan's Storm of the Century in 1938, some snow drifts reached the level of utility poles. Nearly a meter of new and unexpected snow fell over two days in a storm that started 86 years ago this week. As snow fell and gale-force winds piled snow to surreal heights, many roads became not only impassable but unplowable; people became stranded, cars, school buses and a train became mired, and even a dangerous fire raged. Two people were killed and some students were forced to spend several consecutive days at school. The featured image was taken by a local resident soon after the storm. Although all of this snow eventually melted, repeated snow storms like this help build lasting glaciers in snowy regions of our planet Earth.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240121.html ( January 21, 2024)

Friday, January 19, 2024

Falcon Heavy Boostback Burn


The December 28 night launch of a Falcon Heavy rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida marked the fifth launch for the rocket's reusable side boosters. About 2 minutes 20 seconds into the flight, the two side boosters separated from the rocket's core stage. Starting just after booster separation, this three minute long exposure captures the pair's remarkable boostback burns, maneuvers executed prior to their return to landing zones on planet Earth. While no attempt was made to recover the Falcon Heavy's core stage, both side boosters landed successfully and can be flown again. The four previous flights for these side boosters included last October's launch of NASA's asteroid-bound Psyche mission.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240120.html ( January 20, 2024)

ISS Daily Summary Report – 1/18/2024

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Private Astronaut Mission (PAM) Axiom 3 Launch: SpaceX Crew Dragon Freedom successfully launched at 3:49 PM CST today from LC-39A at the Kennedy Space Center. Rendezvous and docking with the ISS is scheduled for 4:15 AM CST on Saturday, January 21st. With the arrival of the four private astronauts, Michael Lopez-Alegria, Walter Villadei, Alper Gezeravci, … ...

January 18, 2024 at 11:00AM
From NASA: https://blogs.nasa.gov/stationreport/2024/01/18/iss-daily-summary-report-1-18-2024/

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Jupiter over 2 Hours and 30 Minutes


Jupiter, our Solar System's ruling gas giant, is also the fastest spinning planet, rotating once in less than 10 hours. The gas giant doesn't rotate like a solid body though. A day on Jupiter is about 9 hours and 56 minutes long at the poles, decreasing to 9 hours and 50 minutes near the equator. The giant planet's fast rotation creates strong jet streams, separating its clouds into planet girdling bands of dark belts and bright zones. You can easily follow Jupiter's rapid rotation in this sharp sequence of images from the night of January 15, all taken with a camera and small telescope outside of Paris, France. Located just south of the equator, the giant planet's giant storm system, also known as the Great Red Spot, can be seen moving left to right with the planet's rotation. From lower left to upper right, the sequence spans about 2 hours and 30 minutes.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240119.html ( January 19, 2024)

ISS Daily Summary Report – 1/17/2024

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Payloads: Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) Internal Ball Camera 2: The crew performed JEM Camera Robot 2 checkout and demonstration activities. JEM Internal Ball Camera 2 demonstrates technology for automating video and photos of research activities. Crew time is one of the most valuable resources on the ISS, and many simple, repetitive tasks could be automated. … ...

January 17, 2024 at 11:00AM
From NASA: https://blogs.nasa.gov/stationreport/2024/01/17/iss-daily-summary-report-1-17-2024/

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Northern Lights from the Stratosphere


Northern lights shine in this night skyview from planet Earth's stratosphere, captured on January 15. The single, 5 second exposure was made with a hand-held camera on board an aircraft above Winnipeg, Canada. During the exposure, terrestrial lights below leave colorful trails along the direction of motion of the speeding aircraft. Above the more distant horizon, energetic particles accelerated along Earth's magnetic field at the planet's polar regions excite atomic oxygen to create the shimmering display of Aurora Borealis. The aurora's characteristic greenish hue is generated at altitudes of 100-300 kilometers and red at even higher altitudes and lower atmospheric densities. The luminous glow of faint stars along the plane of our Milky Way galaxy arcs through the night, while the Andromeda galaxy extends this northern skyview to extragalactic space. A diffuse hint of Andromeda, the closest large spiral to the Milky Way, can just be seen to the upper left.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240118.html ( January 18, 2024)

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

America and the Sea of Serenity


Get out your red/blue glasses and check out this stereo view of another world. The scene was recorded by Apollo 17 mission commander Eugene Cernan on December 11, 1972, one orbit before descending to land on the Moon. The stereo anaglyph was assembled from two photographs (AS17-147-22465, AS17-147-22466) captured from his vantage point on board the Lunar Module Challenger as he and Dr. Harrison Schmitt flew over Apollo 17's landing site in the Taurus-Littrow Valley. The broad, sunlit face of the mountain dubbed South Massif rises near the center of the frame, above the dark floor of Taurus-Littrow to its left. Piloted by Ron Evans, the Command Module America is visible in orbit in the foreground against the South Massif's peak. Beyond the mountains, toward the lunar limb, lies the Moon's Mare Serenitatis. Four astronauts will venture around the Moon and back again on the Artemis II mission, scheduled for launch no earlier than September 2025.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap240117.html ( January 17, 2024)