Astronomy Picture Of the Day (APOD)A Year of Dark Cosmology
We live in the exciting time when humanity discovers the nature of our entire universe. During this year, in particular, however, the quest for cosmological understanding appears to have astronomers groping in the dark.
Trifid Pillars and Jets
Dust pillars are like interstellar mountains. They survive because they are more dense than their surroundings, but they are being slowly eroded away by a hostile environment. Visible in the above picture...
The Annotated Galactic Center
The sky toward the center of our Galaxy is filled with a wide variety of celestial wonders. Many are easily visible with binoculars. Constellations near the galactic center include Sagittarius, Libra, Scorpius, Scutum, and Ophiuchus. Nebulae include Messier Objects M8, M16, M17, M20 and the Pipe Nebula.
Interstellar dust grains often find themselves in a reflective "mood". Near a bright star, clouds of these dust particles scatter short wavelengths of visible starlight more readily than long wavelengths, producing lovely blue reflection nebulae. Nine of the more spectacular examples of these dusty, blue stellar neighborhoods have been assembled here by astrophotographer Rob Gendler.
The Incredible Expanding Crab
The Crab Nebula is cataloged as M1, the first on Charles Messier's famous list of things which are not comets. In fact, the Crab is now known to be a supernova remnant, an expanding cloud of debris from the explosion of a massive star.
Himalayan Horizon From Space
This stunning aerial view shows the rugged snow covered peaks of a Himalayan mountain range in Nepal. The seventh-highest peak on the planet, Dhaulagiri, is the high point on the horizon at the left while in the foreground lies the southern Tibetan Plateau of China.
Star Forming Region Hubble V
How did stars form in the early universe? Astronomers are gaining insight by studying NGC 6822, a nearby galaxy classified as irregular by modern standards but appearing more typical of galaxies billions of years ago. Inspection of NGC 6822 shows several bright star groups, including two dubbed Hubble-X and Hubble-V.
Asteroid 1998 WT24 Passes Near Earth
Last week, an asteroid approached unusually close to the Earth. Passing well outside the orbit of our Moon, Asteroid 1998 WT24 posed no danger, but became bright enough to see with binoculars and to track with radar. Pictured above, the kilometer-sized asteroid was imaged crossing the sky on December 14, two days before closest approach.
the second largest planet in the Solar System, Saturn's Rings are one of the most spectacular sights for earthbound telescopes. This image from the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope's STIS instrument, offers a striking view of another kind of ring around Saturn - pole encircling rings of ultraviolet aurora.
Hot Stars in the Southern Milky Way
Hot blue stars, red glowing hydrogen gas, and dark, obscuring dust clouds are strewn through this dramatic region of the Milky Way in the southern constellation of Ara (the Altar). About 4,000 light-years from Earth, the stars at the left are young, massive, and energetic.