Remove Ads

Kemble’s Cascade of Stars

Copyright: Tommy Lease This line of stars is real. A little too faint to see with the unaided eye, Kemble’s Cascade of stars inspires awe when seen with binoculars. Like the Big Dipper though, Kemble’s Cascade is an asterism, not a constellation. The asterism is visible in the northern sky toward the long-necked constellation of […]

After Sunset Planet Parade

Copyright: Tunc Tezel Look up tonight and see a whole bunch of planets. Just after sunset, looking west, planets Venus, Saturn, Jupiter and Mars will all be simultaneously visible. Listed west to east, this planetary lineup will have Venus nearest the horizon, but setting shortly after the Sun. It doesn’t matter where on Earth you […]

The Largest Rock in our Solar System

Copyright: There, that dot on the right, that’s the largest rock known in our Solar System. It is larger than every known asteroid, moon, and comet nucleus. It is larger than any other local rocky planet. This rock is so large its gravity makes it into a large ball that holds heavy gases near its […]

Moon over Makemake

Copyright: Makemake (sounds like MAH-kay MAH-kay), second brightest dwarf planet of the Kuiper belt, has a moon. Nicknamed MK2, Makemake’s moon reflects sunlight with a charcoal-dark surface, about 1,300 times fainter than its parent body. Still, in 2016 it was spotted in Hubble Space Telescope observations intended to search for faint companions with the same […]

Mars and the Star Clusters

Copyright: Gabor Balazs At this year’s end Mars still shines brightly in planet Earth’s night as it wanders through the head-strong constellation Taurus. Its bright yellowish hue dominates this starry field of view that includes Taurus’ alpha star Aldebaran and the Hyades and Pleiades star clusters. While red giant Aldebaran appears to anchor the V-shape […]

Horsehead and Flame

Copyright: Jason Close The Horsehead Nebula, famous celestial dark marking also known as Barnard 33, is notched against a background glow of emission nebulae in this sharp cosmic skyscape. About five light-years “tall” the Horsehead lies some 1,500 light-years away in the constellation of Orion. Within the region’s fertile molecular cloud complex, the expanse of […]

Messier 88

Copyright: Adam Block Charles Messier described the 88th entry in his 18th century catalog of Nebulae and Star Clusters as a spiral nebula without stars. Of course the gorgeous M88 is now understood to be a galaxy full of stars, gas, and dust, not unlike our own Milky Way. In fact, M88 is one of […]

A Full Circle Rainbow over Norway

Copyright: Lukas Moesch Have you ever seen an entire rainbow? From the ground, typically, only the top portion of a rainbow is visible because directions toward the ground have fewer raindrops. From the air, though, the entire 360-degree circle of a rainbow is more commonly visible. Pictured here, a full-circle rainbow was captured over the […]

NGC 6164: Dragon’s Egg Nebula and Halo

Copyright: Russell Croman The star at the center created everything. Known as the Dragon’s Egg, this star — a rare, hot, luminous O-type star some 40 times as massive as the Sun — created not only the complex nebula (NGC 6164) that immediately surrounds it, but also the encompassing blue halo. Its name is derived, […]

Geminids and the Mittens

Copyright: Chuck Derus Asteroid 3200 Phaethon’s annual gift to planet Earth always arrives in December. Otherwise known as the Geminid meteor shower, the source of the meteroid stream is dust shed along the orbit of the mysterious asteroid. Near the December 13/14 peak of the shower’s activity, geminid meteors are captured in this night skyscape, […]

Comet 2022 E3 (ZTF)

Copyright: Dan Bartlett Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) was discovered by astronomers using the wide-field survey camera at the Zwicky Transient Facility this year in early March. Since then the new long-period comet has brightened substantially and is now sweeping across the northern constellation Corona Borealis in predawn skies. It’s still too dim to see without […]

Cassini Looks Out from Saturn

Copyright: This is what Saturn looks like from inside the rings. In 2017, for the first time, NASA directed the Cassini spacecraft to swoop between Saturn and its rings. During the dive, the robotic spacecraft took hundreds of images showing unprecedented detail for structures in Saturn’s atmosphere. Looking back out, however, the spacecraft was also […]

Sun Halo at Sixty-three Degrees North

Copyright: Goran Strand Happy Solstice! Today is the December solstice, marking an astronomical beginning of summer in the southern hemisphere and winter in the north. On its yearly trek through planet Earth’s skies, at this solstice the Sun reaches its southern most declination, 23.5 degrees south, at 21:48 UTC. About 4 days ago the Sun […]

Thor’s Helmet

Copyright: Hannah Rochford Thor not only has his own day (Thursday), but a helmet in the heavens. Popularly called Thor’s Helmet, NGC 2359 is a hat-shaped cosmic cloud with wing-like appendages. Heroically sized even for a Norse god, Thor’s Helmet is about 30 light-years across. In fact, the cosmic head-covering is more like an interstellar […]

The Tadpole Nebula in Gas and Dust

Copyright: Craig Stocks What’s causing the commotion in the Tadpole Nebula? Star formation. Dusty emission in the Tadpole Nebula, IC 410, lies about 12,000 light-years away in the northern constellation of the Charioteer (Auriga). The cloud of glowing gas is over 100 light-years across, sculpted by stellar winds and radiation from embedded open star cluster […]