Astronomy Picture Of the Day (APOD)Gemini South Star Trails
Stars seem to arc through southern skies in this surrealistic time exposure -- recorded before moonrise from the Gemini South Observatory, Cerro Pachon, Chile, Planet Earth. During the one hour 40 minute exposure camera and tripod were fixed, so the concentric star trails are a reflection of Earth's daily rotation about its axis.
Careful inspection of the full field of view for this sharp composite image reveals a surprising number of galaxies both near and far toward the constellation Ursa Major. The most striking is clearly NGC 3718, a warped spiral galaxy found near picture center.
A Backward Sunspot and the New Solar Cycle
Why is sunspot 905 backwards? Perhaps it is a key marker for the beginning of a new magnetic cycle on our Sun. Every 11 years, our Sun goes through a magnetic cycle, at the end of which its overall magnetic orientation is reversed.
Supernova Remnant E0102 from Hubble
It's the blue wisp near the bottom that's the remnant of a tremendous recent supernova explosion. The large pink structure looming to the upper right is part of N76, a large star forming region in our neighboring Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) galaxy. The supernova remnant wisp, with full coordinate name 1E0102.
Eight Planets and New Solar System Designations
How many planets are in the Solar System? This popular question now has a new formal answer according the International Astronomical Union (IAU): eight. Last week, the IAU voted on a new definition for planet and Pluto did not make the cut.
Barred Spiral Galaxy NGC 1300
Big, beautiful, barred spiral galaxy NGC 1300 lies some 70 million light-years away on the banks of the constellation Eridanus. This Hubble Space Telescope composite view of the gorgeous island universe is one of the largest Hubble images ever made of a complete galaxy.
Apollo 17: VIP Site Anaglyph
Get out your red/blue glasses and check out this stereo scene from Taurus-Littrow valley on the Moon! The color anaglyph features a detailed 3D view of Apollo 17's Lunar Rover in the foreground -- behind it lies the Lunar Module and distant lunar hills.
Stars come and go as you slide your cursor over this engaging image of M8, aka the Lagoon Nebula. Of course, the nebula is itself a star-forming region, but the stars that appear and disappear here include background and foreground stars that by chance lie along the same line of sight.
The Matter of the Bullet Cluster
The matter in galaxy cluster 1E 0657-56, fondly known as the "bullet cluster", is shown in this composite image. A mere 3.4 billion light-years away, the bullet cluster's individual galaxies are seen...
Sandy Gas Jets Hypothesized on Mars
What's causing seasonal dark spots on Mars? Every spring, strange dark spots appear near the Martian poles, and then vanish a few months later. These spots typically span 50 meters across and appear fan shaped. Recent observations made with THEMIS instrument onboard NASA's Mars Odyssey, currently orbiting Marscarbon dioxide (CO2) ice beneath them.