Astronomy Picture Of the Day (APOD)Comet Lovejoy and the ISS
On December 24, Comet Lovejoy rose in dawn's twilight, arcing above the eastern horizon, its tails swept back by the solar wind and sunlight. Seen on the left is the comet's early morning appearance alongside the southern Milky Way from the town of Intendente Alvear, La Pampa province, Argentina.
The Diner at the Center of the Galaxy
The monster at the center of our Galaxy is about to get fed. Recent observations by the Very Large Telescopes indicate that a cloud of gas will venture too close to the supermassive black hole at the Galactic center.
Conjunction at Sunset
While Comet Lovejoy entertained early morning risers in in the southern hemisphere, a lovely conjunction of a young crescent Moon and Venus graced western skies at sunset. Captured on December 26th the conjunction, with beautiful sunset colors above and below, is seen here over Viverone Lake near Turin, Italy.
Comet Lovejoy over Paranal
Comet Lovejoy (C/2011 W3) survived its close encounter with the Sun earlier this month, taking its place among wonders of the southern skies just in time for Christmas. Seen here before sunrise from Paranal Observatory in Chile, the sungrazing comet's tails stretch far above the eastern horizon.
M27: The Dumbbell Nebula
The first hint of what will become of our Sun was discovered inadvertently in 1764. At that time, Charles Messier was compiling a list of diffuse objects not to be confused with comets.
A Raging Storm System on Saturn
It is one of the largest and longest lived storms ever recorded in our Solar System. First seen late last year, the above cloud formation in the northern hemisphere of Saturn started larger than the Earth and soon spread completely around the planet.
M1: The Crab Nebula from Hubble
This is the mess that is left when a star explodes. The Crab Nebula, the result of a supernova seen in 1054 AD, is filled with mysterious filaments. The filaments are not only tremendously complex, but appear to have higher speed than expected from a free explosion.
Eclipsed Moon in the Morning
December's lunar eclipse graced early morning skies over the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, USA. There, this wintry scene finds the Moon in a cold blue twilight sky near the western horizon, above the snowy North American Continental Divide.
Shell Galaxy NGC 7600
Similar in size to the Milky Way, elliptical galaxy NGC 7600 is about 150 thousand light-years distant. In this deep image, spanning about 1/2 degree on the sky toward the constellation Aquarius, NGC 7600 sports a remarkable outer halo of nested shells and broad circumgalactic structures.
Through a Sun Tunnel
Today the Sun stands still at 05:30 UT. Halting its steady march toward southern declinations and begining its annual journey north, the event is known as a solstice. In the northern hemisphere December's solstice marks the astronomical start of winter.