astronomy, NASA, photos, space

The Blue Horsehead Nebula in Infrared

The Blue Horsehead Nebula looks quite different in infrared light. In visible light, the reflecting dust of the nebula appears blue and shaped like a horse’s head. In infrared light, however, a complex labyrinth of filaments, caverns, and cocoons of glowing dust and gas emerges, making it hard to even identify the equine icon. The featured image of the nebula was created in three infrared colors (R=22, G=12, B=4.6 microns) from data taken by NASA’s orbiting Wide Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) spacecraft. The nebula is cataloged as IC 4592 and spans about 40 light years, lying about 400 light years away toward the constellation Scorpius along the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy. IC 4592 is fainter but covers an angularly greater region than the better known Horsehead Nebula of Orion. The star that predominantly illuminates and heats the dust is Nu Scorpii, visible as the yellow star left of center. via NASA
https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap180423.html
astronomy, NASA, photos, space

Meteor Over Crater Lake

Did you see it? One of the more common questions during a meteor shower occurs because the time it takes for a meteor to flash is typically less than the time it takes for a head to turn. Possibly, though, the glory of seeing bright meteors shoot across and knowing that they were once small granules on another world might make it all worthwhile, even if your observing partner(s) could not share in every particular experience. Peaking late tonight, a dark sky should enable the Lyrids meteor shower to exhibit as many as 20 visible meteors per hour from some locations. In the featured composite of nine exposures taken during the 2012 shower, a bright Lyrid meteor streaks above picturesque Crater Lake in Oregon, USA. Snow covers the foreground, while the majestic central band of our home galaxy arches well behind the serene lake. Other meteor showers this year — and every year — include the Perseids in mid-August and the Leonids in mid-November. via NASA
https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap180422.html
astronomy, NASA, photos, space

TESS Launch Close Up

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) began its search for planets orbiting other stars by leaving planet Earth on April 18. The exoplanet hunter rode to orbit on top of a Falcon 9 rocket. The Falcon 9 is so designated for its 9 Merlin first stage engines seen in this sound-activated camera close-up from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. In the coming weeks, TESS will use a series of thruster burns to boost it into a high-Earth, highly elliptical orbit. A lunar gravity assist maneuver will allow it to reach a previously untried stable orbit with half the orbital period of the Moon and a maximum distance from Earth of about 373,000 kilometers (232,000 miles). From there, TESS will carry out a two year survey to search for planets around the brightest and closest stars in the sky. via NASA
https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap180421.html
astronomy, NASA, photos, space

Moon in the Hyades

Have you seen the Moon lately? On April 18, its waxing sunlit crescent moved through planet Earth’s night across a background of stars in the Hyades. Anchored by bright star Aldebaran, the nearby, V-shaped star cluster and complete lunar orb appear in this telephoto image. The engaging skyview is actually digitally composed from a series of varying exposures. Recorded in 1/60th of a second, the shortest in the series captures the Moon’s bright crescent in sharp detail. Longer exposures, ranging up to 15 seconds, capture fainter background stars as well as earthshine, visible to the eye as the earthlit lunar night side. via NASA
https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap180420.html
astronomy, NASA, photos, space

NGC 7635: The Bubble Nebula

Blown by the wind from a massive star, this interstellar apparition has a surprisingly familiar shape. Cataloged as NGC 7635, it is also known simply as The Bubble Nebula. Although it looks delicate, the 7 light-year diameter bubble offers evidence of violent processes at work. Above and left of the Bubble’s center is a hot, O-type star, several hundred thousand times more luminous and some 45 times more massive than the Sun. A fierce stellar wind and intense radiation from that star has blasted out the structure of glowing gas against denser material in a surrounding molecular cloud. The intriguing Bubble Nebula and associated cloud complex lie a mere 7,100 light-years away toward the boastful constellation Cassiopeia. This sharp, tantalizing view of the cosmic bubble is a composite of Hubble Space Telescope image data from 2016, reprocessed to present the nebula’s intense narrowband emission in an approximate true color scheme. via NASA
https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap180419.html
astronomy, NASA, photos, space

Milky Way over Deadvlei in Namibia

What planet is this? It is the only planet currently known to have trees. The trees in Deadvlei, though, have been dead for over 500 years. Located in Namib-Naukluft Park in Namibia (Earth), saplings grew after rainfall caused a local river to overflow, but died after sand dunes shifted to section off the river. High above and far in the distance, the band of our Milky Way Galaxy forms an arch over a large stalk in this well-timed composite image, taken last month. The soil of white clay appears to glow by reflected starlight. Rising on the left, under the Milky Way’s arch, is a band of zodiacal light — sunlight reflected by dust orbiting in the inner Solar System. On the right, just above one of Earth’s larger sand dunes, an astute eye can find the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of our galaxy. Finding the Small Magellanic Cloud in the featured image, though, is perhaps too hard. via NASA
https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap180418.html
astronomy, NASA, photos, space

Flyover of Jupiters North Pole in Infrared

What would it look like to fly over the North Pole of Jupiter? A fictional animation made from real images and data captured by NASA’s Juno spacecraft shows an answer. Since the pole is presently in shadow, the video uses infrared light emitted by Jupiter — specifically an infrared color where the hottest features glows the brightest. As the animation starts, Juno zooms in on the enormous world. Soon, one of the eight cyclones orbiting the North Pole is featured. One by one, all eight cyclones circling the pole are inspected, each the size of an entire continent on Earth, and each containing bumpy and fragmented spiral walls. The virtual trip ends with a zoom out. Studying Jovian cyclones helps humanity to better understand dangerous storm systems that occur here on Earth. Juno has recently concluded another close pass by Jupiter — Perijove 12 — and seems healthy enough to complete several more of the two-month orbits. via NASA
https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap180416.html
astronomy, NASA, photos, space

Martian Chiaroscuro

Deep shadows create dramatic contrasts between light and dark in this high-resolution close-up of the martian surface. Recorded on January 24, 2014 by the HiRISE camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the scene spans about 1.5 kilometers. From 250 kilometers above the Red Planet the camera is looking down at a sand dune field in a southern highlands crater. Captured when the Sun was about 5 degrees above the local horizon, only the dune crests were caught in full sunlight. A long, cold winter is coming to the southern hemisphere and bright ridges of seasonal frost line the martian dunes. via NASA
https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap180414.html