Astronomy Picture Of the Day (APOD)Hamlet of Oberon
What's in a name? Since 1919, the International Astronomical Union has been charged with the task of establishing "conventional" nomenclature for planets, satellites, and surface features. For the remote Uranian system of moons, namesakes from Shakespearean works have been chosen.
Tempel-Tuttle: The Leonid Comet
Star trails streak this composite time exposure of Comet Tempel-Tuttle recorded by T. Puckett on January 26. Presently passing through the inner solar system on its 33 year orbit around the Sun, Tempel-Tuttle has brightened unexpectedly, but binoculars or small telescopes are still required to visually observe it.
The Earth-Moon System
This evocative mosaic image of the Earth-Moon system was recorded by NASA's Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) spacecraft earlier this month. The relative sizes shown are appropriate for viewing both the Earth...
The Infrared Sky
Three major sources contribute to the far-infrared sky: our Solar System, our Galaxy, and our Universe. The above image, in representative colors, is a projection of the entire infrared sky created from years of observations by the robot spacecraft COBE.
The Great Nebula in Orion
The Great Nebula in Orion can be found just below and to the left of the easily identifiable belt of three stars in the popular constellation Orion. This fuzzy patch contains one of the closest stellar nurseries, lying at a distance of about 1500 light years.
Interplanetary Spaceship Passes Earth
Last Thursday an interplanetary spacecraft flew right past the Earth. The above images show sunlight momentarily reflected from this spacecraft's solar panels. No aliens were involved - the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) mission actually originated from Earth. Launched in 1996, NEAR zipped past the asteroid 253 Mathilde last June.
The Small Cloud of Magellan (SMC)
Almost unknown to casual observers in the northern hemisphere, the southern sky contains two diffuse wonders known as the Magellanic Clouds. The Magellanic Clouds are small irregular galaxies orbiting our own larger Milky Way spiral galaxy.
The Large Cloud Of Magellan (LMC)
Ferdinand Magellan and his crew had plenty of time to study the southern sky during their famous voyage around the world. As a result, two fuzzy cloud-like objects, not visible to northern hemisphere dwellers, are now known as the Clouds of Magellan.
These two recently released Hubble Space Telescope close-ups show the Northern and Southern lights ... on Jupiter. Like aurora on Earth, these Jovian aurora are caused by charged particles funneled into the atmosphere above the planet's North (right) and South poles by magnetic fields.
Closer To Beta Pic
What did our Solar System look like as the planets were forming? Since the 1980s, astronomers have been pointing toward Beta Pictoris, a young, sun-like star a mere 50 light-years distant, as a likely example. Beta Pic is surrounded by a disk of dust which we view nearly edge-on.