Astronomy Picture Of the Day (APOD)Titan Disguised
Will the Huygens probe land or splash down? In the next few days, the Cassini spacecraft currently orbiting Saturn will release a probe that will descend toward Saturn's largest moon in mid-January. That moon, Titan, has a surface normally hidden from view by thick methane cloud decks.
What does the surface of Titan look like? Thick clouds have always made Saturn's largest moon so mysterious that seemingly farfetched hypotheses like methane rain and lakes have been seriously considered. Later this...
Molecular Cloud Barnard 68
Where did all the stars go? What used to be considered a hole in the sky is now known to astronomers as a dark molecular cloud. Here, a high concentration of dust and molecular gas absorb practically all the visible light emitted from background stars.
Europa: Ice Line
This bright white swath cutting across the surface of icy Jovian moon Europa is known as Agenor Linea. In all about 1000 kilometers long and 5 kilometers wide, only a section is pictured here as part of a combined color and black and white image based on data from the Galileo spacecraft.
Prometheus and the Rings of Saturn
In Greek Mythology, Prometheus was known for stealing fire from the gods. Ironically, in a story for more modern times Prometheus may also become known for stealing, but this time for stealing icy particles from Saturn's rings.
The Arms of NGC 7424
The grand, winding arms are almost mesmerizing in this face-on view of NGC 7424, a spiral galaxy with a prominent central bar. About 40 million light-years distant in the headlong constellation Grus, this island universe is also about 100,000 light-years across making it remarkably similar to our own Milky Way.
Looking Back Over Mars
Pictured above, the path of the robot rover Spirit on Mars can be traced far into the distance. Spirit has now crossed kilometers of plains covered with rocks and sand, approached the lip of a crater 200-meters across, and climbed a series of hills.
Nearby Spiral M33
Spiral galaxy M33 is a mid-sized member of our Local Group of Galaxies. M33 is also called the Triangulum Galaxy for the constellation in which it resides. About four times smaller (in radius) than...
Announcing Comet Machholz
A comet discovered only this summer is brightening quickly and already visible to the unaided eye. Comet C/2004 Q2 (Machholz) is currently best visible in Earth's Southern Hemisphere where some observers report it brighter than magnitude 5. The comet is moving rapidly to northern skies and should continue to brighten until early January.
Atlantis to Orbit
Birds don't fly this high. Airplanes don't go this fast. The Statue of Liberty weighs less. No species other than human can even comprehend what is going on, nor could any human just a millennium ago. The launch of a rocket bound for space is an event that inspires awe and challenges description.