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A Filament Leaps from the Sun

Copyright: Stéphane Poirier Why, sometimes, does part of the Sun’s atmosphere leap into space? The reason lies in changing magnetic fields that thread through the Sun’s surface. Regions of strong surface magnetism, known as active regions, are usually marked by dark sunspots. Active regions can channel charged gas along arching or sweeping magnetic fields — […]

The Galaxy Between Two Friends

Copyright: Martin Lefranc On an August night two friends enjoyed this view after a day’s hike on the Plateau d’Emparis in the French Alps. At 2400 meters altitude the sky was clear. Light from a setting moon illuminates the foreground captured in the simple vertical panorama of images. Along the plane of our Milky Way […]

NGC 147 and NGC 185

Copyright: Dan Bartlett Dwarf galaxies NGC 147 (left) and NGC 185 stand side by side in this sharp telescopic portrait. The two are not-often-imaged satellites of M31, the great spiral Andromeda Galaxy, some 2.5 million light-years away. Their separation on the sky, less than one degree across a pretty field of view, translates to only […]

The Horsehead and Flame Nebulas

Copyright: Wissam Ayoub The Horsehead Nebula is one of the most famous nebulae on the sky. It is visible as the dark indentation to the orange emission nebula at the far right of the featured picture. The horse-head feature is dark because it is really an opaque dust cloud that lies in front of the […]

SN Requiem: A Supernova Seen Three Times So Far

Copyright: We’ve seen this same supernova three times — when will we see it a fourth? When a distant star explodes in a supernova, we’re lucky if we see it even once. In the case of AT 2016jka (“SN Requiem”), because the exploding star happened to be lined up behind the center of a galaxy […]

A Waterfall and the Milky Way

Copyright: Xie Jie The dream was to capture both the waterfall and the Milky Way together. Difficulties included finding a good camera location, artificially illuminating the waterfall and the surrounding valley effectively, capturing the entire scene with numerous foreground and background shots, worrying that fireflies would be too distracting, keeping the camera dry, and avoiding […]

Dark Matter in a Simulated Universe

Copyright: Tom AbelRalf KaehlerKIPACSLACAMNH Is our universe haunted? It might look that way on this dark matter map. The gravity of unseen dark matter is the leading explanation for why galaxies rotate so fast, why galaxies orbit clusters so fast, why gravitational lenses so strongly deflect light, and why visible matter is distributed as it […]

A Rorschach Aurora

Copyright: Göran Strand If you see this as a monster’s face, don’t panic. It’s only pareidolia, often experienced as the tendency to see faces in patterns of light and shadow. In fact, the startling visual scene is actually a 180 degree panorama of Northern Lights, digitally mirrored like inkblots on a folded piece of paper. […]

Haunting the Cepheus Flare

Copyright: Leo Shatz Spooky shapes seem to haunt this dusty expanse, drifting through the night in the royal constellation Cepheus. Of course, the shapes are cosmic dust clouds visible in dimly reflected starlight. Far from your own neighborhood, they lurk above the plane of the Milky Way at the edge of the Cepheus Flare molecular […]

NGC 6995: The Bat Nebula

Copyright: Howard Trottier Do you see the bat? It haunts this cosmic close-up of the eastern Veil Nebula. The Veil Nebula itself is a large supernova remnant, the expanding debris cloud from the death explosion of a massive star. While the Veil is roughly circular in shape and covers nearly 3 degrees on the sky […]

Jupiter Rotates

Copyright: JL Dauvergne Music: Observe the graceful twirl of our Solar System’s largest planet. Many interesting features of Jupiter’s enigmatic atmosphere, including dark belts and light zones, can be followed in detail. A careful inspection will reveal that different cloud layers rotate at slightly different speeds. The famous Great Red Spot is not visible at […]

Road to the Galactic Center

Copyright: Michael Abramyan Does the road to our galaxy’s center go through Monument Valley? It doesn’t have to, but if your road does — take a picture. In this case, the road is US Route 163 and iconic buttes on the Navajo National Reservation populate the horizon. The band of Milky Way Galaxy stretches down […]

Halloween and the Ghost Head Nebula

Copyright: Halloween’s origin is ancient and astronomical. Since the fifth century BC, Halloween has been celebrated as a cross-quarter day, a day halfway between an equinox (equal day / equal night) and a solstice (minimum day / maximum night in the northern hemisphere). With a modern calendar however, even though Halloween occurs next week, the […]

A Comet and a Crab

Copyright: Jose Mtanous This pretty field of view spans over 2 degrees or 4 full moons on the sky, filled with stars toward the constellation Taurus, the Bull. Above and right of center in the frame you can spot the faint fuzzy reddish appearance of Messier 1 (M1), also known as the Crab Nebula. M1 […]

SH2-308: The Dolphin-Head Nebula

Copyright: Nik Szymanek Blown by fast winds from a hot, massive star, this cosmic bubble is huge. Cataloged as Sharpless 2-308 it lies some 5,000 light-years away toward the constellation of the Big Dog (Canis Major) and covers slightly more of the sky than a Full Moon. That corresponds to a diameter of 60 light-years […]