Astronomy Picture Of the Day (APOD)The Medusa Nebula
Braided, serpentine filaments of glowing gas suggest this nebula's popular name, The Medusa Nebula. Also known as Abell 21, this Medusa is an old planetary nebula some 1,500 light-years away in the constellation Gemini. Like its mythological namesake, the nebula is associated with a dramatic transformation.
Hydrogen in M51
Perhaps the original spiral nebula, M51 is a large galaxy, over 60,000 light-years across, with a readily apparent spiral structure. Also cataloged as NGC 5194, M51 is a part of a well-known interacting galaxy pair, its spiral arms and dust lanes clearly sweeping in front of companion galaxy NGC 5195 (top).
Regulus and the Red Planet
Leo's royal star Regulus and red planet Mars appear in a colorful pairing just above the horizon in this starry skyscape. The photo was taken on June 4th from Oraman, a mountainous region of Kurdistan in western Iran near the border with Iraq.
Orange Sun Simmering
Even a quiet Sun can be a busy place. And over the deep Solar Minimum of the past few years, our Sun has been unusually quiet. The above image, taken last week...
Falcon 9 Launches to Orbit
A new rocket, the Falcon 9, was launched successfully from Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA, last week. The Falcon 9, standing about as high as a 15-floor building, was developed by the commercial SpaceX corporation as a step toward a relatively inexpensive space launch system.
Comet McNaught Becoming Visible to the Unaided Eye
A new comet is brightening and is now expected to become visible to the unaided eye later this month. C/2009 R1 (McNaught) is already showing an impressive tail and is currently visible through binoculars.
Lunokhod: Reflections on a Moon Robot
It may look like some sort of cute alien robot, but it was created here on Earth, launched to the Moon in 1970, and now reflects laser light in a scientifically useful way. On November 17, 1970 the Soviet Luna 17 spacecraft landed the first roving remote-controlled robot on the Moon.
Thor s Helmet
This helmet-shaped cosmic cloud with wing-like appendages is popularly called Thor's Helmet. Heroically sized even for a Norse god, Thor's Helmet is about 30 light-years across. In fact, the helmet is actually...
Hubble Remix: Active Galaxy NGC 1275
Active galaxy NGC 1275 is the central, dominant member of the large and relatively nearby Perseus Cluster of Galaxies. Wild-looking at visible wavelengths, the active galaxy is also a prodigious source of x-rays and radio emission.
Jupiter from the Stratosphere
SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, captured its "first light" images on May 26, from an altitude of 35,000 feet. While flying above most of planet Earth's infrared-absorbing water vapor, SOFIA's premier infrared views of the cosmos included this remarkable false-color image (right panel) of Jupiter.