Astronomy Picture Of the Day (APOD)Asteroid Gaspra's Best Face
Asteroid 951 Gaspra is a huge rock tumbling in space. Gaspra became one of the best-studied asteroids in 1991 when the spacecraft Galileo flew by. In the above photograph, subtle color variations have been exaggerated to highlight changes in reflectivity, surface structure and composition.
M64: The Sleeping Beauty Galaxy
The Sleeping Beauty galaxy may appear peaceful at first sight but it is actually tossing and turning. In an unexpected twist, recent observations have shown that the center of this photogenic galaxy is rotating in the opposite direction than the outer regions!
This dramatic image of an interacting pair of galaxies was made using the 1.5 meter telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory near La Serena, Chile. NGC 1531 is the background galaxy with a bright core just above center and NGC 1532 is the foreground spiral galaxy laced with dust lanes.
Hale-Bopp: The Crowd Pleaser Comet
In 1997, the bright comet Hale-Bopp may have become the most viewed comet in history -- visible even to casual skywatchers in light polluted cities around the globe. In this picture, taken by photographer...
Mysterious Pluto and Charon
Pluto is the only planet in our Solar System remaining unphotographed by a passing spacecraft. Distant Pluto and its moon Charon therefore remain somewhat mysterious. In addition to direct imaging by the Hubble Space...
M8: The Lagoon Nebula
The bright Lagoon Nebula is home to a diverse array of astronomical objects. Particularly interesting sources include a bright open cluster of stars and several energetic star-forming regions. The general red glow is caused by luminous hydrogen gas, while the dark filaments are caused by absorption by dense lanes of dust.
What's cooking on Io? This active moon of Jupiter is marked with volcanoes spewing lava that is now known to be hotter than any lava on Earth. Above is the highest resolution color-enhanced image yet composed of the most active surface in our Solar System. Features as small as three kilometers are visible.
Apollo 15's Home on the Moon
Could you ever call this place home? The lunar module shown above, named "Falcon," served as home for Apollo 15 astronauts David Scott and James Irwin during their stay on the Moon in July and August 1971. Meanwhile, astronaut Alfred Worden circled in the command module overhead.
The Firework Nebula
Imaged by the WIYN Telescope, the Firework Nebula is the result of a type of stellar explosion called a nova. In a nova, a nuclear detonation on the surface of a compact white dwarf star blasts away material that has been dumped on its surface by a companion star.
Photographed from the approaching Space Shuttle Endeavour, the Mir space station floats above the clouds of planet Earth. Mir's modular construction, bristling with solar panels and antennas, lends it a slightly whimsical, insect-like appearance.