Astronomy Picture Of the Day (APOD)Smooth Sections on Asteroid Itokawa
Why are parts of this asteroid's surface so smooth? No one is yet sure, but it may have to do with the dynamics of an asteroid that is a loose pile of rubble rather than a solid rock.
3D Face on Mars
Get out your red/blue glasses and gaze down on this weathered mesa on Mars. Of course, described as a rock formation which resembles a human head in a 1976 NASA press release, this mesa is also famous as the Face on Mars.
Pantheon Earth and Moon
Could this be a picture of the Earth and Moon from space? It certainly looks like it at first glance, with a dark, cratered Moon standing off from planet Earth's lovely blue disk surrounded by a nurturing atmosphere. In fact, this view looks up into the dome of the ancient Pantheon in Rome.
NGC 5139: Omega Centauri
Centaurus is one of the most striking constellations in the southern sky. The Milky Way flows through this celestial expanse whose wonders also include the closest star system to the Sun, Alpha Centauri, and the largest globular star cluster in our galaxy, Omega Centauri (aka NGC 5139).
Barred Spiral Galaxy NGC 1672
Many spiral galaxies have bars across their centers. Even our own Milky Way Galaxy is thought to have a modest central bar. Prominently barred spiral galaxy NGC 1672, pictured above, was captured in spectacular detail in this recently released image taken by the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope.
Water Claimed in Evaporating Planet HD 209458b
Planet HD 209458b is evaporating. It is so close to its parent star that its heated atmosphere is simply expanding away into space. Some astronomers studying this distant planetary system now believe they have detected water vapor among the gases being liberated.
MWC 922: The Red Square Nebula
What could cause a nebula to appear square? No one is quite sure. The hot star system known as MWC 922, however, appears to be imbedded in a nebula with just such a shape. The above image combines infrared exposures from the Hale Telescope on Mt.
M3: Inconstant Star Cluster
Star clusters appear constant because photographs of them are frozen in time. In reality, though, cluster stars swarm the center and frequently fluctuate in brightness. Although the time it takes for stars to cross...
Venus by the Lake
Finding Venus in the night sky is not too hard these days. Now appearing as the evening star, Venus rules as the brightest celestial beacon in west just after sunset. And if you can find Venus tonight, you can also easily find the lovely Pleiades star cluster (aka M45) close by.
Seven Dusty Sisters
Hurtling through a cosmic dust cloud a mere 400 light-years away, the lovely Pleiades or Seven Sisters star cluster is well-known in astronomical images for its striking blue reflection nebulae. At visible wavelengths...