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  #901  
Παλιά 09-05-09, 07:32
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A Starry Night in Brazil
Credit & Copyright: Babak Tafreshi (TWAN)

Explanation: This panoramic image tracing constellations in the southern sky shows off a beautiful vista toward the center of our Milky Way Galaxy. It was recorded just last month near the city of Campos in northeastern Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil. A sugar cane field from one of the historic region's local farms lies in the foreground. From left to right, the view sweeps across the Galactic Center in Sagittarius, bright stars in the tail of Scorpius, the South Celestial Pole above and right of the gap in the sugar canes, the dark Coalsack Nebula, and the Southern Cross. The closest star system, Alpha Centauri, and the giant Omega Centauri globular star cluster also shine in the starry night.

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  #902  
Παλιά 10-05-09, 08:29
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M31: The Andromeda Galaxy
Credit & Copyright: Robert Gendler (robgendlerastropics.com)

Explanation: Andromeda is the nearest major galaxy to our own Milky Way Galaxy. Our Galaxy is thought to look much like Andromeda. Together these two galaxies dominate the Local Group of galaxies. The diffuse light from Andromeda is caused by the hundreds of billions of stars that compose it. The several distinct stars that surround Andromeda's image are actually stars in our Galaxy that are well in front of the background object. Andromeda is frequently referred to as M31 since it is the 31st object on Messier's list of diffuse sky objects. M31 is so distant it takes about two million years for light to reach us from there. Although visible without aid, the above image of M31 is a digital mosaic of 20 frames taken with a small telescope. Much about M31 remains unknown, including how it acquired its unusual double-peaked center.

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  #903  
Παλιά 11-05-09, 07:56
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Forty Thousand Meteor Origins Across the Sky
Credit & Copyright: SonotaCo Network, Japan

Explanation: Where do meteors come from? Visible meteors are typically sand-sized grains of ice and rock that once fragmented from comets. Many a meteor shower has been associated with a known comet, although some intriguing orphan showers do remain. Recently, a group of meteor enthusiasts created a network of over 100 video cameras placed at 25 well-separated locations across Japan. This unprecedented network recorded not only 240,000 optically bright meteors over two years, but almost 40,000 meteors seen by more than one station. These multiple-station events were particularly interesting because they enabled the observers to extrapolate meteor trajectories back into the Solar System. The resulting radiant map is shown above, with many well known meteor showers labelled by the first three letters of the home constellation. Besides known meteor showers, eleven new showers were identified by new radiants on the sky from which meteors appear to flow. The meteor sky is ever changing, and it may be possible that new shower radiants will appear in the future. Research like this could also potentially identify previously unknown comets or asteroids that might one day pass close to the Earth.

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  #904  
Παλιά 12-05-09, 07:31
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An Iridescent Cloud Over Ohio
Credit & Copyright: Todd Sladoje

Explanation: Why would a cloud appear to be different colors? A relatively rare phenomenon known as iridescent clouds can show unusual colors vividly or a whole spectrum of colors simultaneously. These clouds are formed of small water droplets of nearly uniform size. When the Sun is in the right position or mostly hidden by thick clouds, these thinner clouds significantly diffract sunlight in a nearly coherent manner, with different colors being deflected by different amounts. Therefore, different colors will come to the observer from slightly different directions. Many clouds start with uniform regions that could show iridescence but quickly become too thick, too mixed, or too far from the Sun to exhibit striking colors. This iridescent cloud was photographed through a polarized lens above Dublin, Ohio last week.

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  #905  
Παλιά 13-05-09, 07:46
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A Space Shuttle Before Dawn
Credit & Copyright: Charles Danforth (CASA, U. Colorado)

Explanation: This shuttle has launched to space. Pictured above, the Space Shuttle Atlantis sat on Launch Pad 39A before dawn last month as it was prepared for the launch. The shuttle itself is visible on the image right, attached to a brown liquid fuel tank and two white solid rocket boosters. In the image center is the Fixed Service Structure which stands just over 100 meters tall, including the white lightning rod at the top. Starting on Sunday, the space shuttle embarked on one of its most ambitious missions ever: its fourth mission to fix and upgrade the ageing Hubble Space Telescope. Hubble's replacement, the James Webb Space Telescope, is currently scheduled for launch in 2014.

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  #906  
Παλιά 14-05-09, 08:34
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Elusive Jellyfish Nebula
Credit & Copyright: Gerhard Bachmayer

Explanation: Normally faint and elusive, the Jellyfish Nebula is caught in this alluring wide-field telescopic view. Flanked by two yellow-tinted stars, Mu and Eta Geminorum, at the foot of a celestial twin, the Jellyfish Nebula is the brighter arcing ridge of emission with dangling tentacles right of center. In fact, the cosmic jellyfish is seen to be part of bubble-shaped supernova remnant IC 443, the expanding debris cloud from a massive star that exploded. Light from the explosion first reached planet Earth over 30,000 years ago. Like its cousin in astrophysical waters the Crab Nebula supernova remnant, IC 443 is known to harbor a neutron star, the remnant of the collapsed stellar core. Emission nebula Sharpless 249 fills the field at the upper left. The Jellyfish Nebula is about 5,000 light-years away. At that distance, this image would be almost 200 light-years across.

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  #907  
Παλιά 15-05-09, 07:52
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M97: The Owl Nebula
Credit & Copyright: Keith Quattrocchi

Explanation: The Owl Nebula is perched in the sky about 2,600 light-years away toward the bottom of the Big Dipper's bowl. Also cataloged as M97, the 97th object in Messier's well-known list, its round shape along with the placement of two large, dark "eyes" do suggest the face of a staring owl. One of the fainter objects in Messier's catalog, the Owl Nebula is a planetary nebula, the glowing gaseous envelope shed by a dying sun-like star as it runs out of nuclear fuel. In fact, the Owl Nebula offers an example of the fate of our Sun as it runs out of fuel in another 5 billion years. As we see it, the nebula spans over 2 light-years making it roughly 2,000 times the size of Solar System. Beautiful to look at, this color image shows impressive details within the cosmic owl. The composite includes images made through narrow-band filters for a total of 24 hours of exposure time.

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  #908  
Παλιά 16-05-09, 08:22
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Atlantis and Hubble Side by Side
Credit & Copyright: Thierry Legault

Explanation: On Wednesday, May 13, two, tiny, fast moving spots crossed an otherwise featureless solar disk. Not sunspots though, the dark blemishes were silhouettes of the shuttle orbiter Atlantis and the Hubble Space Telescope side by side. To record this sharp picture of the orbiting pair against the face of the Sun, astronomer Thierry Legault carefully set up his camera and telescope near the center of a 5 kilometer wide path of visibility about 100 kilometers south of Kennedy Space Center in Florida. He opened the shutter for 1/8,000 second at 12:17 EDT, catching Atlantis and Hubble at a range of 600 kilometers while they were moving at 7 kilometers/second. The total duration of the transit (Sun crossing) was 0.8 seconds. Enlarged in the inset view, Atlantis (top) is approaching Hubble prior to capturing the space telescope. Thursday, astronauts began a series of spacewalks to perform the maintenance as part of the final mission to Hubble.

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  #909  
Παλιά 17-05-09, 07:19
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Mimas: Small Moon with a Big Crater
Credit: Cassini Imaging Team, ISS, JPL, ESA, NASA

Explanation: Whatever hit Mimas nearly destroyed it. What remains is one of the largest impact craters on one of Saturn's smallest moons. The crater, named Herschel after the 1789 discoverer of Mimas, Sir William Herschel, spans about 130 kilometers and is pictured above. Mimas' low mass produces a surface gravity just strong enough to create a spherical body but weak enough to allow such relatively large surface features. Mimas is made of mostly water ice with a smattering of rock - so it is accurately described as a big dirty snowball. The above image was taken during the 2005 August flyby of the robot spacecraft Cassini now in orbit around Saturn.

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  #910  
Παλιά 18-05-09, 08:12
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Moon Rays Over Thurso Castle
Credit & Copyright: Stewart Watt

Explanation: What's happening over that castle? While waiting for the Moon to rise last month in Thurso, Scotland, amateur astrophotographer Stewart Watt took a three minute exposure of the background stars. The above image was the surprising result. Patchy clouds in front of the rising moon created crepuscular rays streaming across the night sky in spectacular fashion. In the foreground is a stone tower from Thurso Castle, a 12th century fortress augmented in the 17th century. Above the crepuscular moon rays are stars, many from the constellation of the Lion (Leo). Visible to the right of the tower is the planet Saturn.

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  #911  
Παλιά 19-05-09, 08:26
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Sagittarius and the Central Milky Way
Credit & Copyright: Robert Gendler (robgendlerastropics.com)

Explanation: What does the center of our Milky Way Galaxy look like? In visible light, no one knows! It is not possible to see the Galactic center in light our eyes are sensitive to because the thick dust in the plane of our Galaxy obscures it. If one looks in the direction of our Galaxy's center - which is toward the constellation of Sagittarius - many beautiful wonders become apparent, though. Large dust lanes and star clouds dominate the picture. As many as 30 Messier Objects are visible in the above spectacular image mosaic, including all types of nebulas and star clusters. Two notable nebula include the Lagoon Nebula (M8), a red patch just above and to the right of center, and slightly to its right is the red and blue Trifid Nebula (M20).

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Παλιά 20-05-09, 08:54
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Above Earth, Fixing Hubble
Credit: STS-125 Crew, NASA

Explanation: What is that astronaut doing? Fixing the Hubble Space Telescope. During the fourth servicing mission to upgrade and fix Hubble, astronaut Michael Good can be seen attached to the shuttle's robotic arm, working in an open panel of Hubble. Far below, the terminator between day and night can be seen across planet Earth. Since Hubble was captured by the space shuttle Atlantis last Wednesday, five long space-walks have been used to fix and upgrade the aging telescope. One of the more ambitious orbital missions yet taken, the toiling astronauts have upgraded the Wide Field Camera, fixed the Advanced Camera for Surveys, repaired the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph, and replaced COSTAR with the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph. Numerous other general repairs included replacing batteries, gyroscopic sensors, and insulation panels. Hubble will now undergo testing as Atlantis prepares to return to Earth later this week.

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  #913  
Παλιά 21-05-09, 07:41
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IC 4592: A Blue Horsehead
Credit & Copyright: Rogelio Bernal Andreo

Explanation: This complex of beautiful, dusty reflection nebulae lies in the constellation Scorpius along the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy. Its overall outline suggests a horsehead in profile, though it covers a much larger region than the better known Horsehead Nebula of Orion. The star near the eye of the horse and the center of the 5 degree wide field, is embedded in blue reflection nebula IC 4592 over 400 light-years away. At that distance, the view spans nearly 40 light-years. The horse's gaze seems fixed on Beta Scorpii, also named Graffias, the bright star at the lower left. Toward the top right, near the horse's ear, is another striking bluish reflection nebula, IC 4601. The characteristic blue hue of reflection nebulae is caused by the tendency of interstellar dust to more strongly scatter blue starlight.

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  #914  
Παλιά 22-05-09, 08:37
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East of Antares
Credit & Copyright: Yuri Beletsky (ESO)

Explanation: East of Antares, dark markings sprawl through crowded star fields toward the center of our Milky Way Galaxy. Cataloged in the early 20th century by astronomer E. E. Barnard, the obscuring interstellar dust clouds include B59, B72, B77 and B78, seen in silhouette against the starry background. Here, their combined shape suggests a pipe stem and bowl, and so the dark nebula's popular name is the Pipe Nebula. The deep and expansive view was recorded in very dark Chilean skies. It covers a full 10 by 7 degree field in the pronounceable constellation Ophiuchus. The Pipe Nebula is part of the Ophiuchus dark cloud complex located at a distance of about 450 light-years. Dense cores of gas and dust within the Pipe Nebula are collapsing to form stars.

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  #915  
Παλιά 23-05-09, 09:25
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Apollo 12 and Surveyor 3 Stereo View
Credit Apollo 12, NASA; Stereo Image by Patrick Vantuyne

Explanation: Put on your red/blue glasses and gaze into this dramatic stereo view from the surface of the Moon. The 3D scene features Apollo 12 astronaut Pete Conrad visiting the Surveyor 3 spacecraft in November of 1969. The image was carefully created from two separate pictures (AS12-48-7133, AS12-48-7134) taken on the lunar surface. They depict the scene from only slightly different viewpoints, approximating the separation between human eyes. Combining images, one tinted red and the other blue-green, with the correct offset, produces the stereo effect when viewed using red/blue glasses, the red filter covering the left eye. The color filters guide each eye to see only the picture with the correct corresponding viewpoint. The particular pair of images chosen also required a slight tilt to optimize the stereo effect. While you've got those glasses on, web sources of astronomy and space science stereo images include the Mars Path Finder archive, a 3D Tour of the Solar System, and stereo experimenter Patrick Vantyune's own set of stereo images from the Apollo missions to the Moon.

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