Astronomy Picture of the Day

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View attachment 57506

Alborz Mountain Milky Way
Credit & Copyright: Babak Tafreshi (TWAN)


Explanation: Snow-capped stratovolcano Mt. Damavand climbs to 5,670 meters (18,598 feet) near the left edge in this panoramic view of the world at night. In the sky to the left of Damavand's peak are the stars of the Big Dipper in Ursa Major. Pan to the right and your gaze will sweep across the arch of our Milky Way Galaxy above the Alborz Mountain Range bordering the Caspian Sea. Near the center of the panorama, recorded in the predawn hours of April 4th, bright stars Deneb and Altair lie close to the curve of the Milky Way, above the glow of the Haraz valley. Farther right, brilliant Jupiter dominates the sky near the stars, nebulae, and dark dust clouds toward the bulging galactic center. Finally, the horizon glow at the right edge, below bright yellowish giant star Antares, is from the city of Damavand, named for the legendary mountain peak.

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Babak A. Tafreshi was born in 1978 in Tehran, Iran. He is a science journalist and educator, an active amateur astronomer, nature and night photographer and editor at astronomy Magazine of Iran.

View attachment 57516
Babak has also contributed astrophotography featuring Iran's landmarks and night sky to the US magazines, Sky and Telescope, Astronomy and Mercury. Well-versed in the many cultures, geography and archaeology of this complex country, he has led visitors to major tourist destinations but is best known for his trips off the beaten path, From wandering in magnificent forest of Northern Iran to Dry deserts of central areas of the country, from Modern cities of Europe and US to most remote areas of Africa.
His wife, Shadi, joins him on many of his frequent trips from their Tehran home to the wild and historic places of Iran. Joining Oshin D. Zakarian they have started photography in self guide experience in 1992.
His deep passion to night sky and spectacular moments such as solar eclipses, guide him to the heavens.
 
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View attachment 57585

An Antarctic Total Solar Eclipse
Credit and Copyright: Fred Bruenjes


Explanation:
The Sun, the Moon, Antarctica, and two photographers all lined up in 2003 Antarctica during an unusual total eclipse of the Sun. Even given the extreme location, a group of enthusiastic eclipse chasers ventured near the bottom of the world to experience the surreal momentary disappearance of the Sun behind the Moon. One of the treasures collected was the above picture -- a composite of four separate images digitally combined to realistically simulate how the adaptive human eye saw the eclipse. As the image was taken, both the Moon and the Sun peaked together over an Antarctic ridge. In the sudden darkness, the magnificent corona of the Sun became visible around the Moon. Quite by accident, another photographer was caught in one of the images checking his video camera. Visible to his left are an equipment bag and a collapsible chair.
 

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View attachment 58044

A Persistent Electrical Storm on Saturn
Credit: Cassini Imaging Team, SSI, JPL, ESA, NASA


Explanation: How do large storms evolve on Saturn? On Earth, a hurricane can persist for weeks, while the Great Red Spot on Jupiter has been in existence for over 150 years. On Saturn, a storm system has now set a new endurance record, now being discernable for greater than three months. Electrical signals were detected from the storm in late November of 2007, while the above image was taken in early March 2008. The storm has roughly the width of planet Earth. Planetary scientists hypothesize that the storm runs deep into Saturn's cloud tops. The above image is shown in exaggerated colors combining violet and green light with light normally too red for humans to see. Visible on the upper right are shadows of Saturn's expansive ring system. Careful inspection will reveal Saturn's small moon Janus just below a ring shadow. Understanding weather on other planets helps atmospheric scientists better understand our Earth's weather. Observers of our Solar System's huge ringed world will be tracking the storm to see how it evolves and how long it will ultimately last.
 

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View attachment 58128

Galaxies Collide in NGC 3256
Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage (STScI / AURA)
- ESA/Hubble Collaboration, & A. Evans (UVa, NRAO, SUNYSB
)

Explanation: Galaxies don't normally look like this. NGC 3256 actually shows a current picture of two galaxies that are slowly colliding. Quite possibly, in hundreds of millions of years, only one galaxy will remain. Today, however, NGC 3256 shows intricate filaments of dark dust, unusual tidal tails of stars, and a peculiar center that contains two distinct nuclei. Although it is likely that no stars in the two galaxies will directly collide, the gas, dust, and ambient magnetic fields do interact directly. NGC 3256, part of the vast Hydra-Centaurus supercluster of galaxies, spans over 100 thousand light-years across and is located about 100 million light-years away.
 

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View attachment 58343

The Gegenschein Over Chile
Credit & Copyright: Yuri Beletsky (ESO)



Explanation: Is the night sky darkest in the direction opposite the Sun? No. In fact, a rarely discernable faint glow known as the gegenschein (German for "counter glow") can be seen 180 degrees around from the Sun in an extremely dark sky. The gegenschein is sunlight back-scattered off small interplanetary dust particles. These dust particles are millimeter sized splinters from asteroids and orbit in the ecliptic plane of the planets. Pictured above from last October is one of the most spectacular pictures of the gegenschein yet taken. Here a deep exposure of an extremely dark sky over Paranal Observatory in Chile shows the gegenschein so clearly that even a surrounding glow is visible. In the foreground are several of the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescopes, while notable background objects include the Andromeda galaxy toward the lower left and the Pleiades star cluster just above the horizon. The gegenschein is distinguished from zodiacal light near the Sun by the high angle of reflection. During the day, a phenomenon similar to the gegenschein called the glory can be seen in reflecting air or clouds opposite the Sun from an airplane.
 

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View attachment 58588

The Dark Tower in Scorpius
Credit & Copyright: Robert Gendler


Explanation: In silhouette against a crowded star field toward the constellation Scorpius, this dusty cosmic cloud evokes for some the image of an ominous dark tower. In fact, clumps of dust and molecular gas collapsing to form stars may well lurk within the dark nebula, a structure that spans almost 40 light-years across the gorgeous telescopic view. Known as a cometary globule, the swept-back cloud, extending from the upper right to the head (top of the tower) left and below center, is shaped by intense ultraviolet radiation from the OB association of very hot stars in NGC 6231, off the left edge of the scene. That energetic ultraviolet light also powers the globule's bordering reddish glow of hydrogen gas. Hot stars embedded in the dust can be seen as small bluish reflection nebulae. This dark tower, NGC 6231, and associated nebulae are about 5,000 light-years away.
 

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Circles in the Sky 16 May 2008

halo7_051008_r90_w525.jpg


Credit & Copyright: Jean-Marc Lecleire
Explanation:
Gazing skyward on a sunny day in May, photographer Jean-Marc Lecleire captured this engaging display of ice halos forming complete circles in the sky. Recorded with a fish-eye lens from a spot near the grand Château de Chambord in France, the picture looks straight up, spanning almost 180 degrees from horizon to horizon. Surrounding the Sun is a halo formed by sunlight refracting through hexagonal-shaped ice crystals in high, thin clouds. The halo is circular and exactly 22 degrees in radius, but it looks squashed because of the distortion of the extremely wide-angle lens. Surrounding the zenith (the point directly above the observer) and always at the same altitude as the Sun is a lovely parhelic circle, caused by sunlight reflecting from ice crystals with nearly vertical faces. On average more common than rainbows, beautiful ice halos can often be seen in planet Earth's sky by those who know how to look for them.
 

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Logarithmic Spirals 17 May 2008

NaturalSpiralsS.jpg



Explanation: Uncomfortably close Typhoon Rammasun (right) and 25 million light-year distant galaxy M101 don't seem to have much in common. For starters, Rammasun was only a thousand kilometers or so across while M101 (aka the Pinwheel Galaxy) spans about 170,000 light-years, making them vastly dissimilar in scale, not to mention the different physical environments that control their formation and development. But they do look amazingly alike: each with arms exhibiting the shape of a simple and beautiful mathematical curve known as a logarithmic spiral, a spiral whose separation grows in a geometric way with increasing distance from the center. Also known as the equiangular spiral, growth spiral, and Bernoulli's spiral or spira mirabilis, this curve's rich properties have fascinated mathematicians since its discovery by 17th century philosopher Descartes. Intriguingly, this abstract shape is much more abundant in nature than suggested by the striking visual comparison above. For example, logarithmic spirals can also describe the tracks of subatomic particles in a bubble chamber, the arrangement of sunflower seeds and, of course, cauliflower.
 

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2008 May 18
View attachment 59766

On the Origin of Gold
Illustration Credit : Dana Berry, NASA

Explanation: Where did the gold in your jewelry originate? No one is completely sure. The relative average abundance in our Solar System appears higher than can be made in the early universe, in stars, and even in typical supernova explosions. Some astronomers have recently suggested that neutron-rich heavy elements such as gold might be most easily made in rare neutron-rich explosions such as the collision of neutron stars. Pictured above is an artist's illustration depicting two neutron stars spiraling in toward each other, just before they collide. Since neutron star collisions are also suggested as the origin of short duration gamma-ray bursts, it is possible that you already own a souvenir from one of the most powerful explosions in the universe.
 

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2008 May 20
View attachment 60131

The Perseus Cluster of Galaxies
Credit & Copyright: Jean-Charles Cuillandre (CFHT) & Giovanni Anselmi (Coelum Astronomia), Hawaiian Starlight

Explanation: Here is one of the largest objects that anyone will ever see on the sky. Each of these fuzzy blobs is a galaxy, together making up the Perseus Cluster, one of the closest clusters of galaxies. The cluster is seen through a foreground of faint stars in our own Milky Way Galaxy. Near the cluster center, roughly 250 million light-years away, is the cluster's dominant galaxy NGC 1275, seen above as the large galaxy on the image left. A prodigious source of x-rays and radio emission, NGC 1275 accretes matter as gas and galaxies fall into it. The Perseus Cluster of Galaxies is part of the Pisces-Perseus supercluster spanning over 15 degrees and containing over 1,000 galaxies. At the distance of NGC 1275, this view covers about 1.5 million light-years.
 

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2008 May 21
View attachment 60566

A Dangerous Sunrise on Gliese 876d
Illustration Credit & Copyright: Inga Nielsen (Hamburg Obs., Gate to Nowhere)

Explanation: On planet Gliese 876d, sunrises might be dangerous. Although nobody really knows what conditions are like on this close-in planet orbiting variable red dwarf star Gliese 876, the above artistic illustration gives one impression. With an orbit well inside Mercury and a mass several times that of Earth, Gliese 876d might rotate so slowly that dramatic differences exist between night and day. Gliese 876d is imagined above showing significant volcanism, possibly caused by gravitational tides flexing and internally heating the planet, and possibly more volatile during the day. The rising red dwarf star shows expected stellar magnetic activity which includes dramatic and violent prominences. In the sky above, a hypothetical moon has its thin atmosphere blown away by the red dwarf's stellar wind. Gliese 876d excites the imagination partly because it is one of the few extrasolar planets known to be close to the habitable zone of its parent star.
 

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2008 May 22
View attachment 60574

Windblown NGC 3199
Credit & Copyright: Ken Crawford (Rancho Del Sol Observatory), Macedon Ranges Observatory

Explanation: NGC 3199 lies about 12,000 light-years away, a glowing cosmic cloud in the southern constellation of Carina. The nebula is about 75 light-years across in this haunting, false-color view. Though the deep image reveals a more or less complete ring shape, it does look very lopsided with a much brighter edge at the lower right. Near the center of the ring is a Wolf-Rayet star, a massive, hot, short-lived star that generates an intense stellar wind. In fact, Wolf-Rayet stars are known to create nebulae with interesting shapes as their powerful winds sweep up surrounding interstellar material. In this case, the bright edge was thought to indicate a bow shock produced as the star plowed through a uniform medium, like a boat through water. But measurements have shown the star is not really moving directly toward the bright edge. So a more likely explanation is that the material surrounding the star is not uniform, but clumped and denser near the bright edge of windblown NGC 3199.
 

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Jupiter's Three Red Spots

jupiterSpots_hst_c800.jpg


Explanation: For about 300 years Jupiter's banded atmosphere has shown a remarkable feature to telescopic viewers, a large swirling storm system known as The Great Red Spot. In 2006, another red storm system appeared, actually seen to form as smaller whitish oval-shaped storms merged and then developed the curious reddish hue. Now, Jupiter has a third red spot, again produced from a smaller whitish storm. All three are seen in this image made from data recorded on May 9 and 10 with the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2. The spots extend above the surrounding clouds and their red color may be due to deeper material dredged up by the storms and exposed to ultraviolet light, but the exact chemical process is still unknown. For scale, the Great Red Spot has almost twice the diameter of planet Earth, making both new spots less than one Earth-diameter across. The newest red spot is on the far left (west), along the same band of clouds as the Great Red Spot and is drifting toward it. If the motion continues, the new spot will encounter the much larger storm system in August. Jupiter's recent outbreak of red spots is likely related to large scale climate change as the gas giant planet is getting warmer near the equator.
 

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View attachment 61071

Space Station in the Sun
Credit & Copyright: Dirk Ewers


Explanation: Still bathed in sunlight, the International Space Station tracked through night skies above Hombressen, Germany on May 12. From a range of at least 360 kilometers, astronomer Dirk Ewers was able to record an impressively sharp video sequence of the passage with a small telescope, using some of the individual frames to construct this composite image. Sporting solar arrays, the station's integrated truss structure is nearly 90 meters long. The ATV Jules Verne is docked with the station, while the space station itself is orbiting at aproximately 27,800 kilometers per hour (17,200 mph). A complete video sequence is available as a 1 megabyte mpeg file or avi file.

Take Care All:);)
 

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View attachment 61585
A New Horizon for Phoenix
Credit: Phoenix Mission Team, NASA, JPL-Caltech, Univ. Arizon

Explanation: This flat horizon stretches across the red planet as seen by the Phoenix spacecraft after yesterday's landing on Mars. Touching down shortly after 7:30pm Eastern Time, Phoenix made the first successful soft landing on Mars, using rockets to control its final speed, since the Viking landers in 1976. Launched in August of 2007, Phoenix has now made the northernmost landing and is intended to explore the Martian arctic's potentially ice-rich soil. The lander has returned images and data initially indicating that it is in excellent shape after a nearly flawless descent. News updates will be available throughout the day.

Take Care All:);)
 

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2008 May 27
View attachment 61699
Phoenix at Mars
Credit: Phoenix, HiRISE, NASA, JPL-Caltech, Univ. Arizona

Explanation: The Phoenix lander's footpads are about the size of a dinner plate. One of three is shown at the right, covered with Martian soil after a successful soft landing on the Red Planet on May 25. Amazingly, the left panel image is of the spacecraft during its descent phase, captured by the HiRISE camera onboard Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter -- the first image ever of a spacecraft descending to the surface of another planet. Taken from 750 kilometers above Mars, the picture shows Phoenix suspended beneath its unfurling, 10 meter-wide parachute, against the much darker Martian surface. The lander is still attached to its protective backshell. Phoenix subsequently released its parachute at an altitude of 12.6 kilometers. Using rockets to further reduce its speed for landing, Phoenix now rests in the northern polar region of Mars at about 68 degrees latitude.

Take Care All:);)
 

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Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer. 2008 May 28
 

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Thanks all SU mates.
The following is explanation of may 28th picture.

Explanation: What dark forms lurk in the mists of the Carina Nebula? These ominous figures are actually molecular clouds, knots of molecular gas and dust so thick they have become opaque. In comparison, however, these clouds are typically much less dense than Earth's atmosphere. Pictured above is part of the most detailed image of the Carina Nebula ever taken, a part where dark molecular clouds are particularly prominent. The entire Carina Nebula spans over 300 light years and lies about 7,500 light-years away in the constellation of Carina. NGC 3372, known as the Great Nebula in Carina, is home to massive stars and changing nebula. Eta Carinae, the most energetic star in the nebula, was one of the brightest stars in the sky in the 1830s, but then faded dramatically. Wide-field annotated and zoomable versions of the larger image composite are also available.

Take Care All
 

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Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2008 May 30

 

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2008 May 31 --- A View to the Sunset
sunset01_seip_c800.jpg


Explanation: Each day on planet Earth can have a dramatic ending as the Sun sets below the colorful western horizon. Often inspiring, or offering a moment for contemplation, a sunset is perhaps the single most photographed celestial event. Did you recognize this as a picture of one? The image actually is a single exposure of the setting Sun recorded near Wasserberg, Germany on May 11. To create the uncommon sunset view the photographer used a digital camera and a zoom lens (a lens with an adjustable focal length). During the 1/6 second long exposure he smoothly changed the focal length while simultaneously rotating the camera, altering the image scale and orientation. The result transforms an objective depiction of nature into an artistic abstraction.
 
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