Astronomy Picture Of the Day (APOD)Comet Hyakutake and a Cactus
Comet Hyakutake is shown photographed the night of March 27 in Arizona, USA, with a cactus in the foreground. Polaris, the north star, is the bright star seen just to the upper right of the comet's head. Today Comet Hyakutake reaches its closest approach to the Sun.
Uranus' Ring System
The rings of Uranus are thin, narrow, and dark compared to other planetary ring systems. Brightened artificially by computer, the ring particles reflect as little light as charcoal, although they are really made of ice chucks darkened by rock.
Saturn's Rings Seen Sideways
Saturn's rings are actually very thin. This picture from the Hubble Space Telescope was taken on August 6, 1995 when the rings lined up sideways as seen from Earth. Saturn's largest moon Titan is seen on the left, and Titan's shadow can be seen on Saturn's cloud tops!
The Sun Sets on Comet Hyakutake
Comet Hyakutake is seen here just as the Sun sets on April 22. As April draws to a close, Comet Hyakutake will be visible only just after sunset and will be hard to discern against the brightly lit sky.
Apollo 14: Rickshaw Tracks Across the Moon
Brilliant sunlight glints off tracks gently winding across the the Moon's Frau Maro highlands. The tracks were made by the Apollo 14 crew's two-wheeled Modularized Equipment Transporter (MET), fondly known as the "rickshaw". The MET was designed as an aid to surface exploration.
A Giant Globular Cluster in M31
G1, pictured above, is the brightest known globular cluster in the whole Local Group of galaxies. Also called Mayall II, it orbits the center of the largest nearby galaxy: M31. G1 contains over 300,000 stars and is almost as old as the entire universe.
In the Center of the Whirlpool
In the center of M51, a spiral galaxy 23 million light-years away, astronomers have identified a dense region of young stars. The graceful swirling arcs of this galaxy's spiral arms have inspired its popular name, "The Whirlpool Galaxy".
Giant Cluster Bends, Breaks Galaxy Images
What are those strange blue objects? Many are images of a single, unusual, beaded, blue, ring-like galaxy which just happens to line-up behind a giant cluster of galaxies. Cluster galaxies here appear yellow and -- together with the cluster's dark matter -- act as a gravitational lens.
Comet Hyakutake on a Starry Night
It was a starry night in April (April 9th, 1996, 9:32 pm CDT to be exact) near Lone Jack, Missouri when Comet Hyakutake graced this astronomically rich field. Making an appearance as the brilliant evening star, Venus is overexposed at the far left.
At the Edge of the Helix
While exploring the inner edge of the Helix Nebula with the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2, astronomers were able to produce this striking image - rich in details of an exotic environment.