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The Tail of a Christmas Comet

Copyright: CARA Project The tail of a comet streams across this three degree wide telescopic field of view captured under dark Namibian skies on December 21. In outburst only a few days ago and just reaching naked eye visibility Comet Leonard (C/2021 A1) is this year’s brightest comet. Binoculars will make the diffuse comet easier […]

Three Planets and a Comet

Copyright: Tunc Tezel Are you still looking for that perfect holiday gift for an astronomer? If your night sky is dark and horizon clear enough, the Solar System may have done your shopping for you. Send them outside after sunset to see three planets and a comet. In this snapshot of the December solstice evening […]

Launch of the IXPE Observatory

Copyright: Jordan Sirokie Birds don’t fly this high. Airplanes don’t go this fast. The Statue of Liberty weighs less. No species other than human can even comprehend what is going on, nor could any human just a millennium ago. The launch of a rocket bound for space is an event that inspires awe and challenges […]

Solstice Sun and Milky Way

Copyright: Stefan Seip Welcome to December’s solstice, first day of winter in the north and summer for the southern hemisphere. Astronomical markers of the seasons, solstice and equinox dates are based on the Sun’s place in its annual journey along the ecliptic, through planet Earth’s sky. At this solstice, the Sun reaches its maximum southern […]

The Comet and the Fireball

Copyright: Cory Poole This picture was supposed to feature a comet. Specifically, a series of images of the brightest comet of 2021 were being captured: Comet Leonard. But the universe had other plans. Within a fraction of a second, a meteor so bright it could be called a fireball streaked through just below the comet. […]

Planetary Alignment over Italy

Copyright: Antonio Finazzi It is not a coincidence that planets line up. That’s because all of the planets orbit the Sun in (nearly) a single sheet called the plane of the ecliptic. When viewed from inside that plane — as Earth dwellers are likely to do — the planets all appear confined to a single […]

Stephan’s Quintet

Copyright: The first identified compact galaxy group, Stephan’s Quintet is featured in this eye-catching image constructed with data drawn from the extensive Hubble Legacy Archive. About 300 million light-years away, only four of these five galaxies are actually locked in a cosmic dance of repeated close encounters. The odd man out is easy to spot, […]

Geminid of the North

Copyright: Alvin Wu An arid expanse of the Tengger Desert in north-central China, planet Earth fills the foreground of this starry scene. A widefield panoramic view, it was recorded shortly after moonset in the local predawn hours of December 14. Pictured in the still dark sky, stars of the northern winter hexagon surround a luminous […]

Geminids of the South

Copyright: Fefo Bouvier Fireflies flash along a moonlit countryside in this scene taken on the night of December 13/14 from southern Uruguay, planet Earth. On that night meteors fell in the partly cloudy skies above during the annual Geminid meteor shower. Frames recorded over a period of 1.5 hours are aligned in the composite image […]

Comet Leonard from Space

Copyright: Zhuoxiao WangOrigin.Space What does Comet Leonard look like from space? Today’s featured image from Origin.Space’s Yangwang-1 space telescope shows not only the currently bright comet — but several other space delights as well. Taken in optical and ultraviolet light, C/2021 A1 (Leonard) is visible with an extended tail near the image center as it […]

HH 666: Carina Dust Pillar with Jet

Copyright: To some, it may look like a beehive. In reality, the featured image from the Hubble Space Telescope captures a cosmic pillar of dust, over two-light years long, inside of which is Herbig-Haro 666 — a young star emitting powerful jets. The structure lies within one of our galaxy’s largest star forming regions, the […]

Meteors and Auroras over Iceland

Copyright: James Boardman-Woodend Annotation: Judy Schmidt What’s going on behind that mountain? Quite a bit. First of all, the mountain itself, named Kirkjufell, is quite old and located in western Iceland near the town of Grundarfjörður. In front of the steeply-sloped structure lies a fjord that had just begun to freeze when the above image […]

Comet Leonard Before Star Cluster M3

Copyright: Dan Bartlett Comet Leonard is now visible to the unaided eye — but just barely. Passing nearest to the Earth today, the comet is best seen this week soon after sunset, toward the west, low on the horizon. Currently best visible in the north, by late December the comet will best be seen from […]

Postcard from the South Pole

Copyright: Aman Chokshi From this vantage point about three quarters of a mile from planet Earth’s geographic South Pole, the December 4 eclipse of the Sun was seen as a partial eclipse. At maximum eclipse the New Moon blocked 90 percent of the solar disk. Of course, crews at the South Pole Telescope (left) and […]

Eclipse on a Polar Day

Copyright: Stephanie Ziyi Ye During polar day, in Arctic and Antarctic summer, the Sun stays above the horizon for periods of 24 hours or more. Recorded on December 4, this fisheye timelapse image tracks the Sun in multiple frames as it completes a circle in the summer sky above Union Glacier, Antarctica. Of course on […]