Astronomy Picture Of the Day (APOD)Crescent Moon and Venus
Last Friday, the Moon and Venus shared the early evening sky in a beautiful conjunction. Separated by only about 2 degrees, they also were both in a crescent phase. Just like our Moon, Venus can appear as a full disk or a thin crescent.
IC 5146: The Cocoon Nebula
Inside the Cocoon Nebula is a newly developing cluster of stars. Cataloged as IC 5146, the beautiful nebula is nearly 15 light-years wide, located some 4,000 light years away toward the northern constellation Cygnus.
Saturn in View
Very good telescopic views of Saturn can be expected in the coming days as the ringed planet nears opposition on March 8th, its closest approach to Earth in 2009. Of course, opposition means opposite the Sun in planet Earth's sky - an arrangement that occurs almost yearly for Saturn.
The Helix Nebula from La Silla Observatory
Will our Sun look like this one day? The Helix Nebula is one of brightest and closest examples of a planetary nebula, a gas cloud created at the end of the life of a Sun-like star.
Earthgrazer: The Great Daylight Fireball of 1972
What is that streaking across the sky? A bright earthgrazing meteor. In 1972, an unusually bright meteor from space was witnessed bouncing off Earth's atmosphere, much like a skipping stone can bounce off of a calm lake.
Omega Centauri: The Largest Globular Cluster Known
This huge ball of stars predates our Sun. Long before humankind evolved, before dinosaurs roamed, and even before our Earth existed, ancient globs of stars condensed and orbited a young Milky Way Galaxy. Of the 200 or so globular clusters that survive today, Omega Centauri is the largest, containing over ten million stars.
NGC 2442: Galaxy in Volans
Distorted galaxy NGC 2442 can be found in the southern constellation of the flying fish, (Piscis) Volans. Located about 50 million light-years away, the galaxy's two spiral arms extending from a pronounced central bar give it a hook-shaped appearance.
Lulin and Saturn near Opposition
Tracking through the constellation Leo on February 23rd, bright planet Saturn and Comet Lulin were both near opposition -- opposite the Sun in planet Earth's sky. They also passed within only 2 degrees of each other creating a dramatic celestial photo-op.
Moon, Mercury, Jupiter, Mars
When the Moon rose in predawn skies on February 23rd, it sported a sunlit crescent. It also offered early morning risers a tantalizing view of earthshine, the dark portion of the lunar disk illuminated by sunlight reflected from the Earth.
Two Tails of Comet Lulin
Go outside tonight and see Comet Lulin. From a dark location, you should need only a good star map and admirable perseverance -- although wide-field binoculars might help. Yesterday, Comet Lulin passed its closest to Earth, so that the comet will remain near its brightest over the next few days.