Astronomy Picture Of the Day (APOD)M27: The Dumbbell Nebula
The Dumbbell Nebula is a beautiful red and blue planetary nebula in the constellation of Vulpecula. It is the 27th object on Charles Messier's list of diffuse sky objects, and so is referred to as M27. Its high surface brightness makes it a good target for small telescopes.
M82: An Irregular Galaxy
Not all galaxies have spiral structure like our Milky Way. Many have smooth elliptical shapes, but also many have irregular shapes such as the bright sky object M82, the 82nd object on Messier's list.
M57: The Ring Nebula
A star with mass similar to that of our Sun will throw off its outer gasses after fusion has stopped in its core. Possibly the most visually spectacular of these planetary nebula is the pictured Ring Nebula. The appearance as a ring is really an illusion of projection - the nebula is actually a spherical shell.
M15: A Great Globular Cluster
A globular cluster is a system of about one million stars that together orbit a galaxy. One of the brightest globular clusters in our Milky Way galaxy is the pictured M15, the fifteenth object on Messier's list of diffuse objects on our sky.
M1: The Crab Nebula
In the year 1054 a star in the constellation of Taurus exploded in a spectacular supernova so bright it appeared to dominate the sky except for the Sun and Moon for many days. It left behind one of the most brilliant nebulae, listed first in Charles Messier's list of nebulous sky objects.
M31: The Andromeda Galaxy
Andromeda is the nearest major galaxy to our own Milky Way Galaxy. Our Galaxy is thought to look much like Andromeda. Together these two galaxies dominate the Local Group of galaxies. The diffuse light from Andromeda is caused by the hundreds of billions of stars that compose it.
M20: The Trifid Nebula
The vivid blue and violet colors present in the Trifid Nebula result from the abundance of young stars there. The light from young massive stars is quite blue and has the ability to remove electrons from surrounding gas. When these electrons re-combine with the gas, radiation rich in blue and violet light is emitted.
The Face on Mars
This image, showing what looks to be a human face sculpted on the martian surface, was produced using data from NASA's Viking 1 orbiter in 1976. Described in a press release...
The Search for Life on Mars
Although images of Mars taken from space revealed the planet to have a barren and cratered surface, scientists did not give up the search for martian life. In 1976 NASA's Viking project succeeded in landing two robot probes on the surface of Mars.
The Grand Canyon of Mars
The Mariner Valley, also known as the Valles Marineris canyon system, appears in this mosaic of images from NASA's Viking spacecraft as a huge gouge across the red planet. This "Grand Canyon" of Mars is about 2500 miles long and up to 4 miles deep.