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NGC 1499: The California Nebula

Copyright: Steven Powell Could Queen Calafia’s mythical island exist in space? Perhaps not, but by chance the outline of this molecular space cloud echoes the outline of the state of California, USA. Our Sun has its home within the Milky Way’s Orion Arm, only about 1,000 light-years from the California Nebula. Also known as NGC […]

The Same Color Illusion

Copyright: Are squares A and B the same color? They are! To verify this, either run your cursor over the image or click here to see them connected. The featured illusion, an example of the same color illusion, illustrates that purely human perceptions in science may be ambiguous or inaccurate, even such a seemingly direct […]

Geminids over China’s Nianhu Lake

Copyright: Hongyang Luo Where are all of these meteors coming from? In terms of direction on the sky, the pointed answer is the constellation of Gemini. That is why the major meteor shower in December is known as the Geminids — because shower meteors all appear to come from a radiant toward Gemini. Three dimensionally, […]

Crescent Enceladus

Copyright: Peering from the shadows, the Saturn-facing hemisphere of tantalizing inner moon Enceladus poses in this Cassini spacecraft image. North is up in the dramatic scene captured during November 2016 as Cassini’s camera was pointed in a nearly sunward direction about 130,000 kilometers from the moon’s bright crescent. In fact, the distant world reflects over […]

Betelgeuse Eclipsed

Copyright: Sebastian Voltmer Asteroid 319 Leona cast a shadow across planet Earth on December 12, as it passed in front of bright star Betelgeuse. But to see everyone’s favorite red giant star fade this time, you had to stand near the center of the narrow shadow path starting in central Mexico and extending eastward across […]

Supernova Remnant Cassiopeia A

Copyright: Massive stars in our Milky Way Galaxy live spectacular lives. Collapsing from vast cosmic clouds, their nuclear furnaces ignite and create heavy elements in their cores. After only a few million years for the most massive stars, the enriched material is blasted back into interstellar space where star formation can begin anew. The expanding […]

Deep Field: The Heart Nebula

Copyright: William Ostling, Telescope Live What excites the Heart Nebula? First, the large emission nebula on the left, catalogued as IC 1805, looks somewhat like a human heart. The nebula glows brightly in red light emitted by its most prominent element, hydrogen, but this long-exposure image was also blended with light emitted by silicon (yellow) […]

Aurora and Milky Way over Norway

Copyright: Giulio Cobianchi What are these two giant arches across the sky? Perhaps the more familiar one, on the left, is the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy. This grand disk of stars and nebulas here appears to encircle much of the southern sky. Visible below the stellar arch is the rusty-orange planet Mars […]

Solar Minimum versus Solar Maximum

Copyright: The surface of our Sun is constantly changing. Some years it is quiet, showing relatively few sunspots and active regions. Other years it is churning, showing many sunspots and throwing frequent Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) and flares. Reacting to magnetism, our Sun’s surface goes through periods of relative calm, called Solar Minimum and relative […]

Big Dipper over Pyramid Mountain

Copyright: Steve Cullen When did you first learn to identify this group of stars? Although they are familiar to many people around the world, different cultures have associated this asterism with different icons and folklore. Known in the USA as the Big Dipper, the stars are part of a constellation designated by the International Astronomical […]

Pic du Pleiades

Copyright: Jean-Francois Graffand Near dawn on November 19 the Pleiades stood in still dark skies over the French Pyrenees. But just before sunrise a serendipitous moment was captured in this single 3 second exposure; a bright meteor streak appeared to pierce the heart of the galactic star cluster. From the camera’s perspective, star cluster and […]

Vega and Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks

Copyright: Dan Bartlett On December 4, periodic Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks shared this telescopic field of view with Vega, alpha star of the northern constellation Lyra. Fifth brightest star in planet Earth’s night, Vega is some 25 light-years distant while the much fainter comet was about 21 light-minutes away. In recent months, outbursts have caused dramatic increases […]

Orion and the Ocean of Storms

Copyright: On December 5, 2022, a camera on board the uncrewed Orion spacecraft captured this view as Orion approached its return powered flyby of the Moon. Beyond one of Orion’s extended solar arrays lies dark, smooth, terrain along the western edge of the Oceanus Procellarum. Prominent on the lunar nearside Oceanus Procellarum, the Ocean of […]

Stars Versus Dust in the Carina Nebula

Copyright: It’s stars versus dust in the Carina Nebula and the stars are winning. More precisely, the energetic light and winds from massive newly formed stars are evaporating and dispersing the dusty stellar nurseries in which they formed. Located in the Carina Nebula and inside a region known informally as Mystic Mountain, these pillars’ appearance […]

Energetic Particle Strikes the Earth

Copyright: It was one of the most energetic particles ever known to strike the Earth — but where did it come from? Dubbed Amaterasu after the Shinto sun goddess, this particle, as do all cosmic rays that strike the Earth’s atmosphere, caused an air shower of electrons, protons, and other elementary particles to spray down […]