Astronomy Picture Of the Day (APOD)IC 418: The Spirograph Nebula
What is creating the strange texture of IC 418? Dubbed the Spirograph Nebula for its resemblance to drawings from a cyclical drawing tool, planetary nebula IC 418 shows patterns that are not well understood. Perhaps they are related to chaotic winds from the variable central star, which changes brightness unpredictably in just a few hours.
Saturn in the Milky Way
Saturn is near opposition in planet Earth's sky. Rising at sunset and shining brightly throughout the night, it also lies near a line-of-sight to crowded starfields, nebulae, and obscuring dust clouds along the Milky Way.
M27 Not a Comet
While hunting for comets in the skies above 18th century France, astronomer Charles Messier diligently kept a list of the things he encountered that were definitely not comets. This is number 27 on his now famous not-a-comet list.
Firefall by Moonlight
On certain dates in February, an elusive firefall can be spotted at sunset in Yosemite National Park, when the weather cooperates and the direction to the setting Sun is just right. Often photographed from...
What would it be like to orbit Jupiter? The dramatic featured video depicts just this and was made from images taken by NASA's Juno spacecraft currently orbiting the Jovian giant. Juno recently completed its sixth pass near Jupiter during its looping elliptical six-week orbit.
The Case of the Missing Star
What's happened to giant star N6946-BH1? It was there just a few years ago -- Hubble imaged it. Now there's only a faint glow. What's curiouser, no bright supernova occurred -- although the star did brightened significantly for a few months.
Highlights of the Summer Sky
What's up in the sky this summer? The featured graphic gives a few highlights for Earth's northern hemisphere. Viewed as a clock face centered at the bottom, early summer sky events fan out toward the left, while late summer events are projected toward the right.
Orion: Belt, Flame, and Horsehead
What surrounds the famous belt stars of Orion? A deep exposure shows everything from dark nebula to star clusters, all embedded in an extended patch of gaseous wisps in the greater Orion Molecular Cloud Complex.
On May 19, the Juno spacecraft once again swung by Jupiter in its looping 53 day orbit around the Solar System's ruling gas gaint. Beginning at the top, this vertical 14 frame sequence of enhanced-color JunoCam images follows the spacecraft's rapidly changing perspective during its two hour passage.
Black Holes of Known Mass
Add GW170104 to the chart of black holes with known mass. The extremely energetic merger of two smaller black holes corresponds to the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory's (LIGO) third detection of gravitational waves.