Astronomy Picture Of the Day (APOD)Io's Surface: Under Construction
Like the downtown area of your favorite city, the roads you drive to work on, and any self-respecting Web site ... Io's surface is constantly under construction. This moon of Jupiter holds the distinction of being the Solar System's most volcanically active body -- its bizarre looking surface continuously formed and reformed by lava flows.
Springtime Comet Fever
Today marks the Vernal Equinox, the first day of Spring for planet Earth's northern hemisphere. Despite recent attempts by other spectacular and dramatic celestial events to take center stage, Comet Hale-Bopp remains the most popular object in the sky (according to APOD access logs!) and is likely to make this spring memorable for many.
What and where are the Gamma-Ray Bursters? Since their discovery in the early 1970s, nobody has been able to explain the cause of mysterious flashes of gamma rays that come from seemingly random directions on the sky.
The Pleiades star cluster is one of the jewels of the northern sky. To the unaided eye it appears as a lovely and tantalizing grouping of stars in the constellation of Taurus, while telescopic views reveal cluster stars surrounded by delicate blue wisps of dust-reflected starlight.
Comet Hale-Bopp Over Val Parola Pass
Comet Hale-Bopp is now much brighter than any surrounding stars. It can be seen even over bright city lights. Out away from city lights, however, it is putting on quite a spectacular show. Here Comet Hale-Bopp was photographed last week above Val Parola Pass in the Dolomite mountains surrounding Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy.
Water (Dihydrogen Oxide, H2O) is a truly remarkable chemical compound, fundamental to life on Earth. Earth is the only planet in the Solar System where the surface temperature and pressure allow the three forms of water, solid (ice), liquid (ocean), and gas (water vapor condensing in clouds) to exist simultaneously on its surface.
The Milky Way's Center
Although the Earth is round, our Galaxy appears truly flat. This was shown in dramatic fashion by the COsmic Background Explorer (COBE) satellite which produced this premier view of the central region of our own Milky Way Galaxy in infrared light in1990.
Comet Hale-Bopp's Developing Tail
Comet Hale-Bopp is living up to its expectations. Besides the brightness of its coma, a comet is typically remembered by the length of its tails. As visible in the above picture taken last week, Comet Hale-Bopp's blue ion tail shows a dramatic extension, with current reports of about 20 degrees from dark locations.
Hale-Bopp Brightest Comet This Decade
The Great Comet of 1997 is now brighter than the Great Comet of 1996 ever was. In fact, it is brighter than almost every star in the sky. Yet Comet Hale-Bopp is still about two weeks away from maximum light.
Saturn in Color
Saturn is unusual but photogenic. The second largest planet in our Solar System, behind Jupiter, has been easily identifiable at night since history has been recorded. It was only with the invention of the telescope, however, that any evidence of its majestic ring system became apparent.