Astronomy Picture Of the Day (APOD)The Great Nebula in Orion
The Great Nebula in Orion can be found just below and to the left of the easily identifiable belt of three stars in the popular constellation Orion. This fuzzy patch contains one of the closest stellar nurseries, lying at a distance of about 1500 light years.
Interplanetary Spaceship Passes Earth
Last Thursday an interplanetary spacecraft flew right past the Earth. The above images show sunlight momentarily reflected from this spacecraft's solar panels. No aliens were involved - the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) mission actually originated from Earth. Launched in 1996, NEAR zipped past the asteroid 253 Mathilde last June.
The Small Cloud of Magellan (SMC)
Almost unknown to casual observers in the northern hemisphere, the southern sky contains two diffuse wonders known as the Magellanic Clouds. The Magellanic Clouds are small irregular galaxies orbiting our own larger Milky Way spiral galaxy.
The Large Cloud Of Magellan (LMC)
Ferdinand Magellan and his crew had plenty of time to study the southern sky during their famous voyage around the world. As a result, two fuzzy cloud-like objects, not visible to northern hemisphere dwellers, are now known as the Clouds of Magellan.
These two recently released Hubble Space Telescope close-ups show the Northern and Southern lights ... on Jupiter. Like aurora on Earth, these Jovian aurora are caused by charged particles funneled into the atmosphere above the planet's North (right) and South poles by magnetic fields.
Closer To Beta Pic
What did our Solar System look like as the planets were forming? Since the 1980s, astronomers have been pointing toward Beta Pictoris, a young, sun-like star a mere 50 light-years distant, as a likely example. Beta Pic is surrounded by a disk of dust which we view nearly edge-on.
Our Dusty Universe
What's black & white and red all over? Add our universe to this list. Adrift in a vast sea of darkness are not only familiar bright stars but dust that glows predominantly in far-infrared light.
Arachnoids on Venus
Arachnoids are large structures of unknown origin that have been found only on the surface of Venus. Arachnoids get their name from their resemblance to spider-webs. They appear as concentric ovals surrounded by a complex network of fractures, and can span 200 kilometers.
The Hubble 5 Planetary Nebula
The Hubble Double Bubble Planetary Nebula is bubbling over with excitement. More mundanely known as Hubble 5, this bipolar planetary nebula is being created by a hot wind of particles streaming away from the central star system.
Saturn, Rings, and Two Moons
NASA's robot spacecraft Voyager 2 made this image of Saturn as it began to explore the Saturn system in 1981. Saturn's famous rings are visible along with two of its moons, Rhea and Dione which appear as faint dots on the right and lower right part of the picture.