Astronomy Picture Of the Day (APOD)A Picturesque Venus Transit
The rare transit of Venus across the face of the Sun in 2004 was one of the better-photographed events in sky history. Both scientific and artistic images flooded in from the areas that could see the transit: Europe and much of Asia, Africa, and North America.
M51: The Whirlpool Galaxy
Follow the handle of the Big Dipper away from the dipper's bowl until you get to the handle's last bright star. Then, just slide your telescope a little south and west and you might find this stunning pair of interacting galaxies, the 51st entry in Charles Messier famous catalog.
A Sagittarius Triplet
These three bright nebulae are often featured in telescopic tours of the constellation Sagittarius and the crowded starfields of the central Milky Way. In fact, 18th century cosmic tourist Charles Messier cataloged two of them; M8, the large nebula left of center, and colorful M20 on the right.
Known for its bright ring system and many moons, gas giant Saturn looks strange and unfamiliar in this false-color view from the Cassini spacecraft. In fact, in this Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) mosaic the famous rings are almost invisible, seen edge-on cutting across picture center.
Looking Back at an Eclipsed Earth
What's that dark spot on planet Earth? It's the shadow of the Moon. The above image of Earth was taken last week by MTSAT during an annular eclipse of the Sun. The dark spot appears quite unusual as clouds are white and the oceans are blue in this color corrected image.
Sentinels of the Arctic
Who guards the north? Judging from the above photograph, possibly giant trees covered in snow and ice. The picture was taken last winter in Finnish Lapland where weather can include sub-freezing temperatures and driving snow. Surreal landscapes sometimes result, where common trees become cloaked in white and so appear, to some, as watchful aliens.
Contemplating the Sun
Have you contemplated your home star recently? Pictured above, a Sun partially eclipsed on the top left by the Moon is also seen eclipsed by earthlings contemplating the eclipse below. The above menagerie...
Can you spot the planet? The diminutive disk of Mercury, the solar system's innermost planet, spent about five hours crossing in front of the enormous solar disk in 2003, as viewed from the general vicinity of planet Earth.
At the Edge of NGC 891
This sharp cosmic portrait features NGC 891. The spiral galaxy spans about 100 thousand light-years and is seen almost exactly edge-on from our perspective. In fact, about 30 million light-years distant in the constellation Andromeda, NGC 891 looks a lot like our Milky Way.
Scorpius in Red and Blue
Cosmic dust clouds dim the light of background stars. But they also reflect the light of stars nearby. Since bright stars tend to radiate strongly in the blue portion of the visible spectrum, and the interstellar dust scatters blue light more strongly than red, the dusty reflection nebulae tend to be blue.