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  #886  
Παλιά 24-04-09, 07:49
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Moon and Morning Star
Credit & Copyright: David Cortner

Explanation: Wednesday, the Moon and Venus rose together in early morning skies. Even through clouds, both show off a lovely crescent in this well-composed skyscape from Rutherford College, North Carolina, in the eastern US. Farther west, North American skygazers could also witness the Moon passing in front of Venus. The bright planet disappeared behind the Moon's sunlit crescent and reappeared along its darkened limb as morning twilight gave way to daylight hours. Of course the dimmer lunar crescent was waning, approaching today's New Moon phase. Beginning a stint as the brilliant Morning Star, Venus' crescent is waxing though, and will grow thicker in the coming months as Venus rises higher in morning skies.

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  #887  
Παλιά 25-04-09, 08:38
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Dark Markings of the Sky
Credit & Copyright: Steve Cannistra (StarryWonders)

Explanation: Based on wide field photographs, American astronomer Edward Emerson Barnard cataloged the dark markings of the sky in the early 20th century. Barnard's markings are dark nebulae, interstellar clouds of obscuring gas and dust. Their shapes are visible in cosmic silhouette because they lie in the foreground along the line-of-sight to rich star fields and stellar nurseries near the plane of our Galaxy. This deep telescopic image from the early 21st century captures a tantalizing array of Barnard's dusty nebulae toward the constellation Taurus and the Taurus molecular cloud some 400 light-years away. Included in the nearly 1 degree wide field of view is Barnard 7 (the 7th object in the catalog) at the upper right, next to a dusty bluish reflection nebula. Young variable star RY Tauri is emerging from a yellowish cocoon of dust near top center. Typically a light-year or so across, many of Barnard's dark nebulae are themselves likely sites of future star formation.

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  #888  
Παλιά 26-04-09, 08:57
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NGC 4676: When Mice Collide
Credit: ACS Science & Engineering Team, Hubble Space Telescope, NASA

Explanation: These two mighty galaxies are pulling each other apart. Known as "The Mice" because they have such long tails, each spiral galaxy has likely already passed through the other. They will probably collide again and again until they coalesce. The long tails are created by the relative difference between gravitational pulls on the near and far parts of each galaxy. Because the distances are so large, the cosmic interaction takes place in slow motion -- over hundreds of millions of years. NGC 4676 lies about 300 million light-years away toward the constellation of Bernice's Hair (Coma Berenices) and are likely members of the Coma Cluster of Galaxies. The above picture was taken with the Hubble Space Telescope's Advanced Camera for Surveys which is more sensitive and images a larger field than previous Hubble cameras. The camera is scheduled to be serviced during the coming flight of Space Shuttle.

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  #889  
Παλιά 27-04-09, 08:14
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Prometheus Creating Saturn Ring Streamers
Credit: Cassini Imaging Team, ISS, JPL, ESA, NASA

Explanation: What's causing those strange dark streaks in the rings of Saturn? Prometheus. Specifically, an orbital dance involving Saturn's moon Prometheus keeps creating unusual light and dark streamers in the F-Ring of Saturn. Now Prometheus orbits Saturn just inside the thin F-ring, but ventures into its inner edge about every 15 hours. Prometheus' gravity then pulls the closest ring particles toward the 100-km moon. The result is not only a stream of bright ring particles but also a dark ribbon where ring particles used to be. Since Prometheus orbits faster than the ring particles, the icy moon pulls out a new streamer every pass. Sometimes, several streamers or kinks are visible at once. The above photograph taken in mid-January by the robotic Cassini Spacecraft orbiting Saturn. The oblong moon Prometheus is visible on the far left of the image.

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  #890  
Παλιά 28-04-09, 07:28
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NGC 4565: Galaxy on the Edge
Credit & Copyright: Roth Ritter (Dark Atmospheres)

Explanation: Is our Galaxy this thin? We believe so. Magnificent spiral galaxy NGC 4565 is likely similar to our own spiral galaxy, but viewed edge-on from far away. Also known as the Needle Galaxy for its narrow profile, bright NGC 4565 is a stop on many telescopic tours of the northern sky as it lies in the faint but well-groomed constellation Coma Berenices. This sharp color image reveals the galaxy's bulging central core dominated by light from a population of older, yellowish stars. The core is dramatically cut by obscuring dust lanes which lace NGC 4565's thin galactic plane. NGC 4565 lies about 30 million light-years distant and spans over 100,000 light-years in diameter. Visible through a small telescope, some sky enthusiasts consider NGC 4565 to be a prominent celestial masterpiece Messier missed.

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  #891  
Παλιά 29-04-09, 08:25
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GRB 090423: The Farthest Explosion Yet Measured
Credit: Gemini Observatory / NSF / AURA, D. Fox & A. Cucchiara (Penn State U.), and E. Berger (Harvard Univ.)

Explanation: An explosion so powerful it was seen clear across the visible universe was recorded in gamma-radiation last week by NASA's orbiting Swift Observatory. Farther than any known galaxy, quasar, or optical supernova, the gamma-ray burst recorded last week was clocked at redshift 8.2, making it the farthest explosion of any type yet detected. Occurring only 630 million years after the Big Bang, GRB 090423 detonated so early that astronomers had no direct evidence that anything explodable even existed back then. The faint infrared afterglow of GRB 090423 was recovered by large ground telescopes within minutes of being discovered. The afterglow is circled in the above picture taken by the large Gemini North Telescope in Hawaii, USA. An exciting possibility is that this gamma-ray burst occurred in one of the very first generation of stars and announced the birth of an early black hole. Surely, GRB 090423 provides unique data from a relatively unexplored epoch in our universe and a distant beacon from which the intervening universe can be studied.

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  #892  
Παλιά 30-04-09, 07:10
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Framed by Clouds
Credit & Copyright: Pete Lawrence (Digital-Astronomy)

Explanation: Last Sunday's fading evening twilight featured a young crescent Moon along the western horizon. The young Moon also shared the sky with the lovely Pleiades star cluster and wandering planet Mercury. Framed by clouds in this serene skyscape from Selsey, UK, a similar twilight scene was visible around the globe. Emerging from the cloud bank below the Pleiades, the narrow sunlit lunar crescent is overexposed. Still, the Moon's dim night side is impressively clear, illuminated by earthshine. Bright, innermost planet Mercury lies near the bottom of the field. Mercury will remain near the Pleiades, low in the west after sunset over the coming days, an ongoing conjunction of planet and star cluster that will offer skygazers some excellent binocular views.

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  #893  
Παλιά 01-05-09, 08:37
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Lyrid Meteor and Milky Way
Credit & Copyright: Tony Rowell / Astrophotostore.com

Explanation: On April 22nd, the Lyrid Meteor Shower visited planet Earth's sky, an annual shower produced as the Earth plows through dust from the tail of comet Thatcher. Usually Lyrid meteor watchers see only a drizzle. Just a few meteors per hour stream away from the shower's radiant point near bright star Vega in the constellation Lyra. But photographer Tony Rowell still managed to catch one bright Lyrid meteor. Recorded in early morning hours, his well-composed image looks toward the south from White Mountains of eastern California, USA. During the time exposure, he briefly illuminated an old mining cabin in the region's Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest in the foreground. The rich starfields and dust clouds of our own Milky Way galaxy stretch across the background, along the meteor's glowing trail.

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  #894  
Παλιά 02-05-09, 08:59
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The Whale Galaxy
Credit & Copyright: Adam Block, Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter, U. Arizona
Guest Astronomers: Tom Bash and Craig Gates

Explanation: NGC 4631 is a big beautiful spiral galaxy. Seen edge-on, it lies only 25 million light-years away in the well-trained northern constellation Canes Venatici. The galaxy's slightly distorted wedge shape suggests to some a cosmic herring and to others its popular moniker, The Whale Galaxy. Either way, it is similar in size to our own Milky Way. In this gorgeous color image, the galaxy's yellowish core, dark dust clouds, bright blue star clusters, and red star forming regions are easy to spot. A companion galaxy, the small elliptical NGC 4627, is just above the Whale Galaxy. Out of view, off the lower edge of the picture lies another distorted galaxy, hockey stick-shaped NGC 4656. The distortions and mingling trails of gas and dust detected at other wavelengths suggest that all three galaxies have had close encounters with each other in their past. The Whale Galaxy is also known to have spouted a halo of hot gas glowing in x-rays.

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  #895  
Παλιά 03-05-09, 08:42
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The Eskimo Nebula from Hubble
Credit: Andrew Fruchter (STScI) et al., WFPC2, HST, NASA

Explanation: In 1787, astronomer William Herschel discovered the Eskimo Nebula. From the ground, NGC 2392 resembles a person's head surrounded by a parka hood. In 2000, the Hubble Space Telescope imaged the Eskimo Nebula. From space, the nebula displays gas clouds so complex they are not fully understood. The Eskimo Nebula is clearly a planetary nebula, and the gas seen above composed the outer layers of a Sun-like star only 10,000 years ago. The inner filaments visible above are being ejected by strong wind of particles from the central star. The outer disk contains unusual light-year long orange filaments. The Eskimo Nebula spans about 1/3 of a light year and lies in our Milky Way Galaxy, about 3,000 light years distant, toward the constellation of the Twins (Gemini).

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  #896  
Παλιά 04-05-09, 07:40
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Rembrandt Impact Basin on Mercury
Credit & Copyright: NASA/JHU APS/ASU/CIW; Courtesy Science/AAAS

Explanation: Why do portions of this huge crater on Mercury have so much iron? The unusual Rembrandt impact basin was discovered recently in images taken during the robotic MESSENGER spacecraft's 2008 October flyby of the Solar System's innermost planet. The unusual Rembrandt spans over 700 kilometers and at 4 billion years old is possibly the youngest large impact basin on the planet. Multicolored images of the crater floor, however, indicate reflections from areas containing unusually high amounts of iron and titanium. These elements indicate that some exposed materials have not been covered by more recent lava floes, and so might originate from an epoch of Mercury's formation. Data from Rembrandt and across Mercury are now being interpreted as indicating a relatively active and volcanic past for Mercury that includes surface tectonics. Close inspection of the above image will reveal rings of Mercury's Rembrandt impact basin circling around the image center. Mercury's limb is visible on the upper left, high cliffs and small craters are visible inside Rembrandt, and the terminator between night and day runs diagonally through the image. MESSENGER is on track to fly past Mercury again this September and enter orbit around Mercury in 2011.

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  #897  
Παλιά 05-05-09, 08:00
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Titan Beyond the Rings
Credit: Cassini Imaging Team, ISS, JPL, ESA, NASA

Explanation: When orbiting Saturn, be sure to watch for breathtaking superpositions of moons and rings. One such picturesque vista was visible recently to the robot Cassini spacecraft now orbiting Saturn. In 2006 April, Cassini captured Saturn's A and F rings stretching in front of cloud-shrouded Titan. Near the rings and appearing just above Titan was Epimetheus, a moon which orbits just outside the F ring. The dark space in the A ring is called the Encke Gap, although several thin knotted ringlets and even the small moon Pan orbit there. Cassini and curious Earthlings await the coming Saturnian equinox this summer when the ring plane will point directly at the Sun. Mysterious spokes and telling shadows are expected to become visible that might give away more clues about the nature of Saturn's ring particles.

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  #898  
Παλιά 06-05-09, 07:35
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A Spring Sky Over Hirsau Abbey
Credit & Copyright: Till Credner, AlltheSky.com

Explanation: What's in the sky tonight? When strolling outside just after sunset, even if just going out to your car, a casual glance upwards can reveal a beautiful night sky also seen by many people across the Earth. To see your local version of the above image, start by facing south, and then tilt your head back. Visible nearly above you, during springtime at sunset in much of the northern hemisphere, will be the Big Dipper, part of the constellation of the Big Bear. The cup end of the Big Dipper will point to the North Star Polaris, the star around which the whole sky would seem to spin, if you could watch for hours. Polaris is at the tip of the Little Dipper, otherwise known as the constellation of the Little Bear. Depending on the time of night, other visible constellations would include Bootes, Leo, Gemini, and Auriga. The above fisheye image was taken from Germany last week. Visible around the entire image edge is the courtyard of Hirsau Abbey, once a Benedictine Monastery founded in the year 830. Moving your cursor over the image will bring up an annotated version of the above image, including the location of the planet Saturn.

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  #899  
Παλιά 07-05-09, 07:23
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A Halo for NGC 6164
Credit & Copyright: Don Goldman

Explanation: Beautiful emission nebula NGC 6164 was created by a rare, hot, luminous O-type star, some 40 times as massive as the Sun. Seen at the center of the cosmic cloud, the star is a mere 3 to 4 million years old. In another three to four million years the massive star will end its life in a supernova explosion. Spanning around 4 light-years, the nebula itself has a bipolar symmetry. That makes it similar in appearance to more familiar planetary nebulae - the gaseous shrouds surrounding dying sun-like stars. Also like many planetary nebulae, NGC 6164 has been found to have an extensive, faint halo, revealed in this deep telescopic image of the region. Expanding into the surrounding interstellar medium, the material in the halo is likely from an earlier active phase of the O star. The gorgeous skyscape is a composite of narrow-band image data highlighting the glowing gas, and broad-band data of the surrounding starfield. NGC 6164 is 4,200 light-years away in the southern constellation of Norma.

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  #900  
Παλιά 08-05-09, 07:13
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Galaxies of the Perseus Cluster
Credit & Copyright: R. Jay Gabany

Explanation: This colorful telescopic skyscape is filled with galaxies that lie nearly 250 million light-years away, the galaxies of the Perseus cluster. Their extended and sometimes surprising shapes are seen beyond a veil of foreground stars in our own Milky Way. Ultimately consisting of over a thousand galaxies, the cluster is filled with yellowish elliptical and lenticular galaxies, like those scattered throughout this view of the cluster's central region. Notably, at the large galaxy at the left is the massive and bizarre-looking NGC 1275. A prodigious source of high-energy emission, active galaxy NGC 1275 dominates the Perseus cluster, accreting matter as entire galaxies fall into it and feed the supermassive black hole at the galaxy's core. Of course, spiral galaxies also inhabit the Perseus cluster, including the small, face-on spiral NGC 1268, right of picture center. The bluish spot on the outskirts of NGC 1268 is supernova SN 2008fg. At the estimated distance of the Perseus galaxy cluster, this field spans about 1.5 million light-years.

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