Astronomy Picture Of the Day (APOD)Molecular Cloud Barnard 68
Where did all the stars go? What used to be considered a hole in the sky is now known to astronomers as a dark molecular cloud. Here, a high concentration of dust and molecular gas absorb practically all the visible light emitted from background stars.
Polar Ring Galaxy NGC 4650A
NGC 4650A appears to be two galaxies in one. A rare type of galaxy known as a Polar Ring, NGC 4650A is composed of an old central group of stars and a young ring of stars rotating farther out. Both components are clearly visible in this featured photograph by the Hubble Space Telescope.
Fractal Interstellar Dust Up Close
Our universe is a very dusty place. Dust usually shows its presence by blocking out light emitted from stars or nebulae behind it, sometimes creating the illusion of a horse's head or a sombrero hat. But nobody really knows what a typical interstellar dust grain looks like. By
Moon Occults Saturn
On September 18, 1997, many stargazers in the U. S. were able to watch a lovely early morning lunar occultation as a bright Moon passed in front of Saturn. Using a 1.2 meter reflector, astronomer Kris Stanek had an excellent view of this dream-like event from the Whipple Observatory atop Arizona's Mount Hopkins.
Hot Stars in the Southern Milky Way
Hot blue stars, red glowing hydrogen gas, and dark, obscuring dust clouds are strewn through this dramatic region of the Milky Way in the southern constellation of Ara (the Altar). About 4,000 light-years from Earth, the stars at the left are young, massive, and energetic.
Liberty Bell 7
Today, the space capsule Liberty Bell 7 rests about 3 miles below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. But on July 21, 1961, astronaut Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom rode this tiny craft 118 miles above the Earth to become the second American in space.
A Solar System Portrait
As the Voyager 1 spacecraft headed out of our Solar System, it looked back and took a parting family portrait of the Sun and planets. From beyond Pluto, our Solar System looks like a bright star surrounded by faint dots. In the above picture, the Sun is so bright it is blocked out for contrast.
Mapping Mars from orbit, instruments on the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) spacecraft have recently revealed banded magnetic field patterns - a startling and unanticipated suggestion that the Red Planet was more Earth-like in its distant past.
Loop I in the Northern Sky
One of the largest coherent structures on the sky is known simply as Loop I and can best be seen in radio and X-ray maps. Spanning over 100 degrees, part of Loop I appears so prominent in northern sky maps that it is known as the North Polar Spur (NPS).
Stars from Eagles Eggs
Newborn stars are forming in the Eagle Nebula. This image, taken with the Hubble Space Telescope in 1995, shows evaporating gaseous globules (EGGs) emerging from pillars of molecular hydrogen gas and dust. The giant pillars are light years in length and are so dense that interior gas contracts gravitationally to form stars.