Astronomy Picture Of the Day (APOD)Solstice Sun and Milky Way
Welcome to December's solstice, first day of winter in the north and summer for the southern hemisphere. Astronomical markers of the seasons, solstice and equinox dates are based on the Sun's place in its annual journey along the ecliptic, through planet Earth's sky.
The Comet and the Fireball
This picture was supposed to feature a comet. Specifically, a series of images of the brightest comet of 2021 were being captured: Comet Leonard. But the universe had other plans. Within a fraction of a second, a meteor so bright it could be called a fireball streaked through just below the comet.
Planetary Alignment over Italy
It is not a coincidence that planets line up. That's because all of the planets orbit the Sun in (nearly) a single sheet called the plane of the ecliptic. When viewed from inside that plane -- as Earth dwellers are likely to do -- the planets all appear confined to a single band.
Stephan s Quintet
The first identified compact galaxy group, Stephan's Quintet is featured in this eye-catching image constructed with data drawn from the extensive Hubble Legacy Archive. About 300 million light-years away, only four of these five galaxies are actually locked in a cosmic dance of repeated close encounters.
Gemind of the North
An arid expanse of the Tengger Desert in north-central China, planet Earth fills the foreground of this starry scene. A widefield panoramic view, it was recorded shortly after moonset in the local predawn hours of December 14. Pictured in the still dark sky, stars of the northern winter hexagon surround a luminous Milky Way.
Geminds of the South
Fireflies flash along a moonlit countryside in this scene taken on the night of December 13/14 from southern Uruguay, planet Earth. On that night meteors fell in the partly cloudy skies above during the annual Geminid meteor shower.
Comet Leonard from Space
What does Comet Leonard look like from space? Today's featured image from Origin.Space's Yangwang-1 space telescope shows not only the currently bright comet -- but several other space delights as well. Taken...
HH 666: Carina Dust Pillar with Jet
To some, it may look like a beehive. In reality, the featured image from the Hubble Space Telescope captures a cosmic pillar of dust, over two-light years long, inside of which is Herbig-Haro 666 -- a young star emitting powerful jets.
Meteors and Auroras over Iceland
What's going on behind that mountain? Quite a bit. First of all, the mountain itself, named Kirkjufell, is quite old and located in western Iceland near the town of Grundarfjцrцur. In front...
Comet Leonard Before Star Cluster M3
Comet Leonard is now visible to the unaided eye -- but just barely. Passing nearest to the Earth today, the comet is best seen this week soon after sunset, toward the west, low on the horizon.