Astronomy Picture Of the Day (APOD)Mars and the Star Clusters
At this year's end Mars still shines brightly in planet Earth's night as it wanders through the head-strong constellation Taurus. Its bright yellowish hue dominates this starry field of view that includes Taurus' alpha star Aldebaran and the Hyades and Pleiades star clusters.
Horsehead and Flame
The Horsehead Nebula, famous celestial dark marking also known as Barnard 33, is notched against a background glow of emission nebulae in this sharp cosmic skyscape. About five light-years "tall" the Horsehead lies some 1,500 light-years away in the constellation of Orion.
Charles Messier described the 88th entry in his 18th century catalog of Nebulae and Star Clusters as a spiral nebula without stars. Of course the gorgeous M88 is now understood to be a galaxy full of stars, gas, and dust, not unlike our own Milky Way.
A Full Circle Rainbow over Norway
Have you ever seen an entire rainbow? From the ground, typically, only the top portion of a rainbow is visible because directions toward the ground have fewer raindrops. From the air, though, the entire 360-degree circle of a rainbow is more commonly visible.
NGC 6164: Dragons Egg Nebula and Halo
The star at the center created everything. Known as the Dragon's Egg, this star -- a rare, hot, luminous O-type star some 40 times as massive as the Sun -- created not only the complex nebula (NGC 6164) that immediately surrounds it, but also the encompassing blue halo.
Geminids and the Mittens
Asteroid 3200 Phaethon's annual gift to planet Earth always arrives in December. Otherwise known as the Geminid meteor shower, the source of the meteroid stream is dust shed along the orbit of the mysterious asteroid.
Comet 2022 E3 ZTF
Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) was discovered by astronomers using the wide-field survey camera at the Zwicky Transient Facility this year in early March. Since then the new long-period comet has brightened substantially and is now sweeping across the northern constellation Corona Borealis in predawn skies.
Cassini Looks Out from Saturn
This is what Saturn looks like from inside the rings. In 2017, for the first time, NASA directed the Cassini spacecraft to swoop between Saturn and its rings. During the dive, the robotic spacecraft took hundreds of images showing unprecedented detail for structures in Saturn's atmosphere.
NGC 1365: Majestic Island Universe
Barred spiral galaxy NGC 1365 is truly a majestic island universe some 200,000 light-years across. Located a mere 60 million light-years away toward the faint but heated constellation Fornax, NGC 1365 is a dominant member of the well-studied Fornax Cluster of galaxies.
Sun Halo at Sixty three Degrees North
Happy Solstice! Today is the December solstice, marking an astronomical beginning of summer in the southern hemisphere and winter in the north. On its yearly trek through planet Earth's skies, at this solstice the Sun reaches its southern most declination, 23.5 degrees south, at 21:48 UTC.