Astronomy Picture Of the Day (APOD)A Tornado on Planet Earth
Large storms on Earth can spawn unusual, small, violent clouds known as tornadoes. Tornado clouds swirl as fast as hundreds of kilometers per second and, when they touch down, can destroy nearly everything in their long, narrow path. Many tornadoes last only a few minutes, but the largest and most dangerous can endure for hours.
IC 4603: Reflection Nebula in Ophiuchius
Why does this starfield photograph resemble an impressionistic painting? The effect is created not by digital trickery but by large amounts of interstellar dust. Dust, minute globs rich in carbon and similar in size to cigarette smoke, frequently starts in the outer atmospheres of large, cool, young stars.
An Ion Drive for Deep Space 1
Space travel entered the age of the ion drive in 1998 with the launch of Deep Space 1, a NASA mission designed primarily to test new technologies. Although the ion drive on Deep Space...
NGC 3621: Far Beyond the Local Group
Far beyond the local group of galaxies lies NGC 3621, some 22 million light-years away. Found in the serpentine southern constellation Hydra, the loose spiral arms of this gorgeous island universe are loaded with luminous young star clusters and dark dust lanes.
The Planet, the White Dwarf, and the Neutron Star
A planet, a white dwarf, and a neutron star orbit each other in the giant globular star cluster M4, some 5,600 light-years away. The most visible member of the trio is the white...
The Cats Paw Nebula
As soon as we find out whose cat did this . . . Nebulae are as famous for being identified with familiar shapes as perhaps cats are for getting into trouble. No cat, though, could have created the vast Cat's Paw Nebula visible in Scorpius.
Mars Simulated View
When earthdweller Patrick Vantuyne wondered what his home planet's single large moon would look like if viewed from Mars on July 17, he availed himself of the JPL Solar System Simulator. Of course...
Mars Rising Through Arch Rock
Mars is heading for its closest encounter with Earth in over 50,000 years. Although Mars and Earth continue in their normal orbits around the Sun, about every two years Earth and Mars are on the same part of their orbit as seen from the Sun.
The Satellites that Surround Earth
Thousands of satellites orbit the Earth. Costing billions of dollars, this swarm of high altitude robots is now vital to communication, orientation, and imaging both Earth and space. One common type of orbit is geostationary where a satellite will appear to hover above one point on Earth's equator.
The Horsehead Nebula
One of the most identifiable nebulae in the sky, the Horsehead Nebula in Orion, is part of a large, dark, molecular cloud. Also known as Barnard 33, the unusual shape was first discovered on a photographic plate in the late 1800s.