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  #841  
Παλιά 09-03-09, 09:11
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Kepler's Streak
Credit & Copyright: Ben Cooper

Explanation: Streaking skyward, a Delta II rocket carries NASA's Kepler spacecraft aloft into the clear night of March 6. The dramatic scene was recorded in a time exposure from the crowded pier in Jetty Park at the northern end of Cocoa Beach, Florida, about 3 miles from the Cape Canaveral launch site. Kepler's mission is to search for Earth-like planets orbiting in the habitable zone of other stars. A planet orbiting within a star's habitable zone would have a surface temperature capable of supporting liquid water, an essential ingredient for life as we know it. To find Earth-like planets, Kepler's telescope and large, sensitive camera will examine a rich star field near the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy. Located in the constellation Cygnus, Kepler's field of view will allow it to monitor the brightness of many stars in the solar neighborhood and detect a slight dimming as a potential Earth-like planet crosses in front of the star.

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  #842  
Παλιά 10-03-09, 08:40
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Horsehead and Orion Nebulae
Credit & Copyright: Dale J. Martin (Massapoag Pond Obs.)

Explanation: Adrift 1,500 light-years away in one of the night sky's most recognizable constellations, the glowing Orion Nebula and the dark Horsehead Nebula are contrasting cosmic vistas. They appear in opposite corners of this stunning mosaic taken with a digital camera attached to a small telescope. The magnificent emission region, the Orion Nebula (aka M42), lies at the upper right of the picture. Immediately to its left is a prominent bluish reflection nebula sometimes called the Running Man. The Horsehead nebula appears as a dark cloud, a small silhouette notched against the long red glow at the lower left. Alnitak is the easternmost star in Orion's belt and is seen as the brightest star to the left of the Horsehead. Below Alnitak is the Flame Nebula, with clouds of bright emission and dramatic dark dust lanes. Pervasive tendrils of glowing hydrogen gas are easily traced throughout the region in this deep field image of the same region.

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  #843  
Παλιά 11-03-09, 08:11
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Lunar X
Credit & Copyright: Jerry Lodriguss (Catching the Light)

Explanation: The striking X near the center of this lunarscape is easily visible in binoculars or a small telescope. Yet, not too many have seen it. The catch is, this lunar X is only apparent during a four hour period just before the Moon's first quarter phase. At the terminator, or shadow line between lunar day and night, the X illusion is produced by a configuration of the craters Blanchinus, La Caille and Purbach. Near the Moon's first quarter phase, an astronaut standing close to the craters' position would see the slowly rising Sun very near the horizon. Temporarily, the crater walls would be in sunlight while the crater floors were still in darkness. Seen from planet Earth, contrasting sections of bright walls against the dark floors by chance look remarkably like an X. This sharp image of the Lunar X was captured at approximately 11:59 UT on March 3, 2009. The Moon's first quarter phase was at at 7:46 UT on March 4.

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  #844  
Παλιά 12-03-09, 08:09
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Thor's Helmet (NGC 2359) and Planetary Nebula
Credit & Copyright: Rogelio Bernal Andreo, Ray Gralak

Explanation: At the right, Thor's Helmet (NGC 2359) seems to gaze across a lovely star field. The broad skyscape itself covers about 1.5 degrees or 3 full moons toward the constellation Canis Major. A close look at the lower left corner of the image might identify the object of the cosmic stare as a faint, round nebula. Heroically sized even for a Norse god, Thor's Helmet is about 30 light-years across. The helmet is actually more like an interstellar bubble, blown as a fast wind from the bright, massive star near the bubble's center sweeps through a surrounding molecular cloud. Known as a Wolf-Rayet star, the central star is an extremely hot giant thought to be in a brief, pre- supernova stage of evolution. In contrast, the faint, round nebula is a planetary nebula, the gaseous shroud of a dying lower mass star. The distance to Thor's Helmet is estimated to be about 15,000 light-years.

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  #845  
Παλιά 13-03-09, 10:27
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Hickson Compact Group 90
Credit: NASA, ESA, R. Sharples (Univ. Durham)

Explanation: Scanning the skies for galaxies, Canadian astronomer Paul Hickson and colleagues identified some 100 compact groups of galaxies, now appropriately called Hickson Compact Groups (HCGs). This sharp Hubble image shows one such galaxy group, HCG 90, in startling detail. Three galaxies are revealed to be strongly interacting: a dusty spiral galaxy stretched and distorted between a pair of large elliptical galaxies. The close encounter will trigger furious star formation. On a cosmic timescale, the gravitational tug of war will eventually result in the merger of the trio into a large single galaxy. The merger process is now understood to be a normal part of the evolution of galaxies, including our own Milky Way. HCG 90 lies about 100 million light-years away in the constellation Piscis Austrinus. This Hubble view spans about 80,000 light-years at that estimated distance. Of course, Hickson Compact Groups also make for rewarding viewing for Earth-bound astronomers with more modest sized telescopes.

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  #846  
Παλιά 14-03-09, 09:01
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Haute-Provence Star Trails
Credit & Copyright: Alexandre Santerne

Explanation: Fix your camera to a tripod and you can record the graceful trails traced by the stars as planet Earth rotates on its axis. For example, this dramatic 5 hour long exposure was made on February 24 from Haute-Provence Observatory (OHP) in southeastern France. Actually a composite of 300 consecutive 1-minute exposures, the image nicely shows stars near the celestial equator tracing nearly straight lines in projection, while stars north and south of the equator, respectively, appear to circle the north and south celestial poles. Domes at the bottom left and right house the OHP telescopes. Brilliant planet Venus makes the short bright trail at the lower right, while trails of stars in the end near the lower right observatory dome. Sirius, alpha star of Canis Major, traces the bright arc over the dome at the left. Astronomer Alexandre Santerne also briefly illuminated a foreground oak tree during the exposure sequence.

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  #847  
Παλιά 15-03-09, 09:16
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A Prominent Solar Prominence from SOHO
Credit: SOHO - EIT Consortium, ESA, NASA

Explanation: What's happened to our Sun? It was sporting a spectacular -- but not very unusual -- solar prominence. A solar prominence is a cloud of solar gas held above the Sun's surface by the Sun's magnetic field. In 2004, NASA's Sun-orbiting SOHO spacecraft imaged an impressively large prominence hovering over the surface, pictured above. The Earth would easily fit under the hovering curtain of hot gas. A quiescent prominence typically lasts about a month, and may erupt in a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) expelling hot gas into the Solar System. Although somehow related to the Sun's changing magnetic field, the energy mechanism that creates and sustains a Solar prominence is still a topic of research.

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  #848  
Παλιά 16-03-09, 08:35
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Martian Moon Deimos from MRO
Credit: HiRISE, MRO, LPL (U. Arizona), NASA

Explanation: Mars has two tiny moons, Phobos and Deimos. Pictured above, in a recently release image by HiRISE camera onboard the Mars-orbiting Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), is Deimos, the smaller moon of Mars. Deimos is one of the smallest known moons in the Solar System measuring only about 15 kilometers across. The diminutive Martian moon was discovered in 1877 by Asaph Hall, an American astronomer working at the US Naval Observatory in Washington D.C. The existence of two Martian moons was predicted around 1610 by Johannes Kepler, the astronomer who derived the laws of planetary motion. In this case, Kepler's prediction was not based on scientific principles, but his writings and ideas were so influential that the two Martian moons are discussed in works of fiction such as Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, written in 1726, over 150 years before their actual discovery.

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Σχόλιο : Τόσες όμορφες φωτογραφίες από την εκτόξευση έχετε, τι μας βάλατε το σαγανάκι με τυρί;
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  #849  
Παλιά 17-03-09, 08:59
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Tycho's Supernova Remnant
Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech; Optical: MPIA, Calar Alto, O. Krause et al.

Explanation: What star created this huge puffball? Pictured above is the best multi-wavelength image yet of Tycho's supernova remnant, the result of a stellar explosion first recorded over 400 years ago by the famous astronomer Tycho Brahe. The above image is a composite of an X-ray image taken by the orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory, an infrared image taken by the orbiting Spitzer Space Telescope, and an optical image taken by the 3.5-meter Calar Alto telescope located in southern Spain. The expanding gas cloud is extremely hot, while slightly different expansion speeds have given the cloud a puffy appearance. Although no one is sure which star created SN 1572, a star dubbed Tycho G, too dim to be easily discerned here, is being studied as the possible progenitor. Finding the progenitor remnant of Tycho's supernova is particularly important because the supernova was recently determined to be of Type Ia. The peak brightness of Type Ia supernovas is thought to be well understood, making them quite valuable in calibrating how our universe dims distant objects.

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  #850  
Παλιά 18-03-09, 09:18
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GLOBE at Night: Help Track Light Pollution
Credit & Copyright: Globe at Night Project, UCAR, International Year of Astronomy 2009

Explanation: How many stars can you see? Through next week, the GLOBE at Night project invites people from all over the world to go outside at night, look up, and see! Specifically, people are invited to go out an hour after sunset and look for the constellation Orion toward the west. Rather than count Orion's stars directly, however, the GLOBE at Night website has made things easier by providing several star charts to which you can compare your view of Orion. Possible matches extend from a bright sky where only a few Orion stars are visible, to a very dark sky where over 100 Orion stars are visible. Pictured above are results from last year's sky observation campaign. Since 2009 is the International Year of Astronomy, it is hoped that an even better map can be created this year. By participating in this easy and fun activity, you are helping humanity to better understand how light pollution is changing across the Earth.

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  #851  
Παλιά 19-03-09, 08:07
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Saturn: Moons in Transit
Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
Acknowledgment: M.H. Wong (STScI/UC Berkeley), C. Go (Philippines)

Explanation: Every 14 to 15 years, Saturn's rings are tilted edge-on to our line of sight. As the bright, beautiful rings seem to grow narrower it becomes increasingly difficult to see them, even with large telescopes. But it does provide the opportunity to watch multiple transits of Saturn's moons. During a transit, a sunlit moon and its shadow glide across the cloudy face of the gas giant. Recorded on February 24, this Hubble image is part of a sequence showing the transit of four of Saturn's moons. From left to right are Enceladus and shadow, Dione and shadow, and Saturn's largest moon Titan. Small moon Mimas is just touching Saturn's disk near the ring plane at the far right. The shadows of Titan and Mimas have both moved off the right side of the disk. Saturn itself has an equatorial diameter of about 120,000 kilometers.

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  #852  
Παλιά 20-03-09, 08:23
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Sunset at the Portara
Credit & Copyright: Anthony Ayiomamitis (TWAN)

Explanation: Today, the Sun crosses the celestial equator heading north at 11:44 UT. Known as an equinox, this astronomical event marks the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere and autumn in the south. It also marks the beginning of Norouz, the Persian (Iranian) new year. Equinox means equal night. With the Sun on the celestial equator, Earth dwellers will experience nearly 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness. Of course, in the north the days will grow longer, the Sun marching higher in the sky as summer approaches. To celebrate the equinox, consider this scenic view of the setting Sun from the island of Naxos in the Aegean Sea. Recorded last June, the well-planned image captures the Portara (big door) in a dramatic silhouette. Measuring about 6 by 3.5 meters, the Portara is the large entrance to the Greek island's ancient, unfinished Temple of Apollo.

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  #853  
Παλιά 21-03-09, 08:15
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Fermi's Gamma-Ray Sky
Credit: NASA, DOE, Fermi LAT Collaboration

Explanation: Scanning the entire sky in gamma-rays, photons with over 50 million times the energy of visible light, the Fermi mission's Large Area Telescope (LAT) explores the high-energy universe. This all-sky map constructed from 3 months of LAT observations (August 4 to October 30, 2008) represents a deeper, better-resolved view of the gamma-ray sky than any previous space mission. What shines in Fermi's gamma-ray sky? A new paper describes the 205 brightest gamma-ray sources, but this map highlights a Fermi "top ten" list of five sources within, and five sources that lie beyond our Milky Way Galaxy. Within our galaxy: the Sun traces a faint arc across the map between the observation dates, LSI +61 303 is an X-ray binary star about 6,500 light-years away, PSR J1836+5925 is a type of pulsar (spinning neutron star) that is only seen to pulse at gamma-ray energies, and 47 Tuc is a globular star cluster some 15,000 light-years away. A fifth galactic source (unidentified), just above the center of the galactic plane, is intriguing because it is a variable source and has no clear counterpart at other wavelengths. Beyond our galaxy: NGC 1275 is a large galaxy at the heart of the Perseus galaxy cluster some 233 million light-years away, while 3C 454.3, PKS 1502+106, and PKS 0727-115 are active galaxies billions of light-years distant. Another unidentified source, seen below the galactic plane, is likely beyond the boundaries of the Milky Way. Its nature remains a mystery.

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  #854  
Παλιά 22-03-09, 09:17
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Sungrazer
Credit: LASCO, SOHO Consortium, NRL, ESA, NASA

Explanation: The Sun destroyed this comet. Arcing toward a fiery fate, this Sungrazer comet was recorded by the SOHO spacecraft's Large Angle Spectrometric COronagraph(LASCO) on 1996 Dec. 23. LASCO uses an occulting disk, partially visible at the lower right, to block out the otherwise overwhelming solar disk allowing it to image the inner 5 million miles of the relatively faint corona. The comet is seen as its coma enters the bright equatorial solar wind region (oriented vertically). Spots and blemishes on the image are background stars and camera streaks caused by charged particles. Positioned in space to continuously observe the Sun, SOHO has now been use to discover over 1,500 comets, including numerous sungrazers. Based on their orbits, they are believed to belong to a family of comets created by successive break ups from a single large parent comet which passed very near the sun in the twelfth century. The Great Comet of 1965, Ikeya-Seki, was also a member of the Sungrazer family, coming within about 650,000 kilometers of the Sun's surface. Passing so close to the Sun, Sungrazers are subjected to destructive tidal forces along with intense solar heat. This comet, known as SOHO 6, did not survive.

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  #855  
Παλιά 23-03-09, 08:58
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The Seahorse of the Large Magellanic Cloud
Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Livio (STScI)

Explanation: To some it may look to some like a big space monster, but it is more big than monster. To others it may look like a grazing seahorse, but the dark object toward the image right is actually an inanimate pillar of smoky dust about 20 light years long. The curiously-shaped dust structure occurs in our neighboring Large Magellanic Cloud, in a star forming region very near the expansive Tarantula Nebula. The energetic nebula is creating a star cluster named NGC 2074, whose center is visible just off the top of the image in the direction of the neck of the seahorse. The above representative color image was taken last year by the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 in honor of Hubble's 100,000th trip around the Earth. As young stars in the cluster form, their light and winds will slowly erode the dust pillars away over the next million years.

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