Astronomy Picture Of the Day (APOD)An Orbiting Iceberg
A comet nucleus, formed from the primordial stuff of the solar system, resembles a very dirty iceberg. Orbiting far from our Sun, it can remain frozen, preserved for billions of years. Occasionally, a chance gravitational encounter will alter this distant orbit and send the nucleus plummeting towards the inner solar system.
Announcing Comet Hale-Bopp
The pictured fuzzy patch may become one of the most spectacular comets this century. Although it is very hard to predict how bright a comet will become, Comet Hale-Bopp, named for its discoverers...
Our Solar System from Voyager
After taking its spectacular pictures of the outer solar system planets, Voyager 1 looked back at six planets from the inner solar system. Here Venus, Earth, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, were all visible across the sky.
Pluto: The Frozen Planet
The Hubble Space Telescope imaged Pluto and its moon Charon in 1994. Pluto is usually the most distant planet from the Sun but because of its elliptic orbit Pluto crossed inside of Neptune's orbit in 1979 and will cross back out again in 1999.
Neptune: Big Blue Giant
This picture was taken by the Voyager 2 spacecraft in 1986 - the only spacecraft ever to visit Neptune. Neptune will be the farthest planet from the Sun until 1999, when the elliptical orbit of Pluto will cause it to once again resume this status.
Uranus: The Tilted Planet
This picture was snapped by the Voyager 2 spacecraft in 1986 - the only spacecraft ever to visit Uranus. Uranus is the third largest planet after Jupiter and Saturn. Uranus has many moons and a ring system.
Venus: Earth's Sister Planet
This picture in visible light was taken by the Galileo spacecraft. Venus is very similar to Earth in size and mass - and so is sometimes referred to as Earth's sister planet - but Venus has a quite different climate.
Mercury: Closest Planet to the Sun
This picture was compiled from images taken by the NASA spacecraft Mariner 10 which flew by the planet three times in 1974. Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun, the second hottest planet (Venus gets hotter), and the second smallest planet (Pluto is smaller).
The Sun Erupts
The sun was captured in 1973 throwing one of the largest eruptive prominences ever recorded. Sol, our sun, is a normal star. It formed about 5 billion years ago, and will last about another 5 billion years. The sun will never explode, and a solar flare will never destroy the earth.
Space Shuttle Atlantis lands at Edwards Air Force Base in California. The Space Shuttle is the first orbital space vehicle to land on a runway like an airplane. Space Shuttles sometimes have the option of landing in White Sands, New Mexico or at the Shuttle Landing Facility at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.