Astronomy Picture Of the Day (APOD)Extraordinary Solar Halos
Welcome to the December Solstice, the first day of winter in planet Earth's northern hemisphere and summer in the south. To celebrate, consider this extraordinary display of beautiful solar ice halos! More common than rainbows, simple ice halos can be easy to spot, especially if you can shade your eyes from direct sunlight.
Red Nebula, Green Comet, Blue Stars
This festively colored skyscape was captured in the early morning hours of December 17, following Comet Wirtanen's closest approach to planet Earth. The comet was just visible to the eye. The lovely green...
A Rainbow Geminid Meteor
Meteors can be colorful. While the human eye usually cannot discern many colors, cameras often can. Pictured is a Geminid captured by camera during last week's meteor shower that was not only impressively bright, but colorful.
Methane Bubbles Frozen in Lake Baikal
What are these bubbles frozen into Lake Baikal? Methane. Lake Baikal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Russia, is the world's largest (by volume), oldest, and deepest lake, containing over 20% of the world's fresh water.
M31: The Andromeda Galaxy
What is the nearest major galaxy to our own Milky Way Galaxy? Andromeda. In fact, 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.
Comet Wirtanen Passes by the Earth
Today Comet Wirtanen passes by the Earth. The kilometer-sized dirty snowball orbits the Sun every 5.4 years, ranging as far out as Jupiter and as close in as the Earth. Today Comet 46P/Wirtanen passes within only 31 lunar distances to the Earth, the closest approach in 70 years.
Geminids and Friends
From a radiant in the constellation of the Twins, the annual Geminid meteor shower rained down on our fair planet this week. This beautiful skyscape collects about 70 of Gemini's lovely shooting stars in a digital composition made from multiple exposures.
Swimming on Jupiter
On October 29, the Juno spacecraft once again dove near the turbulent Jovian cloud tops. Its 16th orbital closest approach or perijove passage, brought Juno within 3,500 kilometers of the Solar System's largest planetary atmosphere.
Put on your red/blue glasses and float next to asteroid 101955 Bennu. Shaped like a spinning top toy with boulders littering its rough surface, the tiny Solar System world is about 1 Empire State Building (less than 500 meters) across.
M43: Orion Falls
Is there a waterfall in Orion? No, but some of the dust in M43 appears similar to a waterfall on Earth. M43, part of the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex, is the often imaged but rarely mentioned neighbor of the more famous M42.