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. ( June 01, 2024)

ISS Daily Summary Report – 5/30/2024



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:

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. ( 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. ( 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. ( 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. ( 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. ( 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. ( 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. ( 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. ( May 24, 2024)

ISS Daily Summary Report – 5/22/2024



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:

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. ( 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. ( 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. ( 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. ( 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. ( 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. ( 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. ( 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. ( 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. ( May 15, 2024)

ISS Daily Summary Report – 5/13/2024



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:

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. ( 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. ( 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. ( 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. ( 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. ( 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. ( 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. ( 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. ( 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. ( May 06, 2024)

Saturday, May 4, 2024

What happens to a star that goes near a black hole? If the star directly impacts a massive black hole, then the star falls in completely -- and everything vanishes. More likely, though, the star goes close enough to have the black hole's gravity pull away its outer layers, or disrupt, the star. Then, most of the star's gas does not fall into the black hole. These stellar tidal disruption events can be as bright as a supernova, and an increasing amount of them are being discovered by automated sky surveys. In the featured artist's illustration, a star has just passed a massive black hole and sheds gas that continues to orbit. The inner edge of a disk of gas and dust surrounding the black hole is heated by the disruption event and may glow long after the star is gone. ( May 05, 2024)

Friday, May 3, 2024

3 ATs

Despite their resemblance to R2D2, these three are not the droids you're looking for. Instead, the enclosures house 1.8 meter Auxiliary Telescopes (ATs) at Paranal Observatory in the Atacama Desert region of Chile. The ATs are designed to be used for interferometry, a technique for achieving extremely high resolution observations, in concert with the observatory's 8 meter Very Large Telescope units. A total of four ATs are operational, each fitted with a transporter that moves the telescope along a track allowing different arrays with the large unit telescopes. To work as an interferometer, the light from each telescope is brought to a common focal point by a system of mirrors in underground tunnels. Above these three ATs, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds are the far, far away satellite galaxies of our own Milky Way. In the clear and otherwise dark southern skies, planet Earth's greenish atmospheric airglow stretches faintly along the horizon. ( May 04, 2024)

Thursday, May 2, 2024

Temperatures on Exoplanet WASP 43b

A mere 280 light-years from Earth, tidally locked, Jupiter-sized exoplanet WASP-43b orbits its parent star once every 0.8 Earth days. That puts it about 2 million kilometers (less than 1/25th the orbital distance of Mercury) from a small, cool sun. Still, on a dayside always facing its parent star, temperatures approach a torrid 2,500 degrees F as measured at infrared wavelengths by the MIRI instrument on board the James Webb Space Telescope. In this illustration of the hot exoplanet's orbit, Webb measurements also show nightside temperatures remain above 1,000 degrees F. That suggests that strong equatorial winds circulate the dayside atmospheric gases to the nightside before they can completely cool off. Exoplanet WASP-43b is now formally known as Astrolábos, and its K-type parent star has been christened Gnomon. Webb's infrared spectra indicate water vapor is present on the nightside as well as the dayside of the planet, providing information about cloud cover on Astrolábos. ( May 03, 2024)

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

M100: A Grand Design Spiral Galaxy

Majestic on a truly cosmic scale, M100 is appropriately known as a grand design spiral galaxy. The large galaxy of over 100 billion stars has well-defined spiral arms, similar to our own Milky Way. One of the brightest members of the Virgo Cluster of galaxies, M100, also known as NGC 4321 is 56 million light-years distant toward the well-groomed constellation Coma Berenices. In this telescopic image, the face-on grand design spiral shares a nearly 1 degree wide field-of-view with slightly less conspicuous edge-on spiral NGC 4312 (at upper right). The 21 hour long equivalent exposure from a dark sky site near Flagstaff, Arizona, planet Earth, reveals M100's bright blue star clusters and intricate winding dust lanes which are hallmarks of this class of galaxies. Measurements of variable stars in M100 have played an important role in determining the size and age of the Universe. ( May 02, 2024)