Astronomy Picture Of the Day (APOD)Apollo 17 Lunarscape: A Magnificent Desolation
Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 Lunar Module pilot and the second human to walk on the Moon described the lunar landscape as "a magnificent desolation". Dramatic pictures from the Apollo missions to the moon's surface testify to this apt turn of phrase.
The Virgo Cluster: Hot Plasma and Dark Matter
This ROSAT image of the Virgo cluster of galaxies reveals a hot X-ray emitting plasma or gas with a temperature of 10-100 million degrees pervading the cluster. False colors have been used to represent the intensity of X-ray emission.
Hyakutake, Venus, Orion, and Pond
Can you find Comet Hyakutake in the above picture? In this gorgeous photo, the starry night sky of April 9th is pictured with its new comet visitor. In the foreground is a pond with the lights of Kansas City, Missouri on the western horizon. On the upper left, the constellation of Orion is visible.
NGC 7293: The Helix Nebula
The Helix nebula (New General Catalog number 7293) is estimated to be a mere 450 light-years from the Sun, in the direction of the constellation Aquarius. At that distance it may well be the closest planetary nebula, offering a dramatic snapshot of a brief final evolutionary stage in the life of a solar-type star.
Cometary Knots in the Helix Nebula
Four hundred fifty light-years from Earth, the wind from a dying, sun-like star produced a planetary nebula popularly known as the Helix. While exploring the Helix's gaseous envelope with the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), astronomers discovered indications of 1,000s of striking "cometary knots" like those shown above.
NASA Mission to MAP the Universe
What is our universe made of? How rapidly is our universe expanding? When did galaxies form? These questions, among the most important and baffling to astronomers since the beginning of the modern astronomical era, might well be answered by a new space satellite mission.
The Rotating Jets of Comet Hyakutake
Comet Hyakutake will reach its closest point to the Sun on May 1, passing well inside the orbit of Mercury. At this time, the comet's dust and ion tail will be at their greatest physical length.
The Compton Observatory Turns Five
Earlier this April, NASA's Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, completed its fifth successful year in orbit, exploring the gamma ray sky. Pictured is astronaut Jay Apt perched in the shuttle payload bay below the massive observatory. Compton is the largest civilian instrument ever flown - the whole observatory is roughly the size of a school bus.
Man Enters Space
Thirty five years ago today, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Alexseyevich Gagarin became the first human in space. On April 12, 1961, his remotely controlled Vostok 1 spacecraft lofted him to an altitude of 200 miles and carried him once around planet Earth.
Unexpected X-rays from Comet Hyakutake
The first X-rays ever detected from a comet were discovered from Comet Hyakutake with the ROSAT satellite on March 27th. The discovery is particularly surprising because there was little previous indication that comets emit any significant X-radiation.