Giant Storms and High Clouds on Jupiter

APOD: 2021 December 29 - Giant Storms and High Clouds on Jupiter Discover the cosmos!Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe isfeatured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer. 2021 December 29 Giant Storms and High Clouds on Jupiter Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS;Processing & License:Kevin M. Gill Explanation: What and where are these large ovals?They are rotating storm clouds on Jupiter imaged last month by NASA's Juno spacecraft.In general, higher clouds are lighter in color, and the lightest clouds visible are the relatively small clouds that dot the lower oval.At 50 kilometers across, however, even these light clouds are not small. They are so high up that they cast shadows on the swirling oval below.The featured image has been processed to enhance color and contrast.Large ovals are usually regions of high pressure that span over 1000 kilometers and can last for years.The largest oval on Jupiter is the Great Red Spot (not pictured), which has lasted for at least hundreds of years.Studying cloud dynamics on Jupiter with Juno images enables a better understanding of dangerous typhoons and hurricanes on Earth. Follow APOD in English on: Facebook, Instagram, Podcast,Reddit, or Twitter Tomorrow's picture: farther along <|...

Continue reading
  230 Hits

Sun Halo over Sweden

APOD: 2021 December 28 - Sun Halo over Sweden Discover the cosmos!Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe isfeatured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer. Sun Halo over Sweden Video Credit & Copyright: Håkan Hammar (Vemdalen Ski Resort, SkiStar) Explanation: What's happened to the Sun? Sometimes it looks like the Sun is being viewed through a giant lens. In the featured video, however, there are actually millions of tiny lenses: ice crystals. Water may freeze in the atmosphere into small, flat, six-sided, ice crystals. As these crystals flutter to the ground, much time is spent with their faces flat and parallel to the ground. An observer may find themselves in the same plane as many of the falling ice crystals near sunrise or sunset. During this alignment, each crystal can act like a miniature lens, refracting sunlight into our view and creating phenomena like parhelia, the technical term for sundogs. The featured video was taken in late 2017 on the side of a ski hill at the Vemdalen Ski Resort in central Sweden.Visible in the center is the most direct image of the Sun, while two bright sundogs glow prominently from both the...

Continue reading
  263 Hits

Comet Leonard behind JWST Launch Plume

APOD: 2021 December 27 - Comet Leonard behind JWST Launch Plume Discover the cosmos!Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe isfeatured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer. 2021 December 27 Comet Leonard behind JWST Launch Plume Image Credit & Copyright: Matipon Tangmatitham (NARIT) Explanation: Which one of these two streaks is a comet?Although they both have comet-like features, the lower streak is the only real comet.This lower streak shows the coma and tail of Comet Leonard, a city-sized block of rocky ice that is passing through the inner Solar System as it continues its looping orbit around the Sun. Comet Leonard has recently passed its closest to both the Earth and Venus and will round the Sun next week. The comet, still visible to the unaided eye, has developed a long and changing tail in recent weeks. In contrast, the upper streak is the launch plume of the Ariane V rocket that lifted the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) off the Earth two days ago.The featured single-exposure image was taken from Thailand, and the foreground spire is atop a pagoda in Doi Inthanon National Park.JWST, NASA's largest and most powerful space telescope so...

Continue reading
  228 Hits

James Webb Space Telescope over Earth

APOD: 2021 December 26 - James Webb Space Telescope over Earth Discover the cosmos!Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe isfeatured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer. 2021 December 26 James Webb Space Telescope over Earth Image Credit: Arianespace, ESA, NASA, CSA, CNES Explanation: There's a big new telescope in space.This one, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), not only has a mirror over five times larger than Hubble's in area, but can see better in infrared light.The featured picture shows JWST high above the Earth just after being released by the upper stage of an Ariane V rocket, launched yesterday from French Guiana.Over the next month, JWST will move out near the Sun-Earth L2 point where it will co-orbit the Sun with the Earth.During this time and for the next five months, JWST will unravel its segmented mirror and an array of sophisticated scientific instruments -- and test them.If all goes well, JWST will start examining galaxies across the universe and planets orbiting stars across our Milky Way Galaxy in the summer of 2022. APOD Gallery: Webb Space Telescope Launch Tomorrow's picture: comet webb <| Archive| Submissions | Index| Search| Calendar| RSS|...

Continue reading
  368 Hits

The Tail of a Christmas Comet

APOD: 2021 December 25 - The Tail of a Christmas Comet Discover the cosmos!Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe isfeatured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer. 2021 December 25 The Tail of a Christmas Comet Image Credit &Copyright:Rolando Ligustri(CARA Project,CAST)andLukas Demetz Explanation: The tail of a cometstreams across this three degree wide telescopicfield of view captured under dark Namibian skies on December 21.In outburst only a few days ago and just reachingnaked eye visibilityComet Leonard(C/2021 A1) is this year's brightest comet.Binoculars will make the diffuse comet easier to spot though, close tothe western horizon after sunset.Details revealed in the sharp image show the comet's coma with agreenish tinge, andfollow the interaction of the comet'sion tailwith magnetic fields in the solar wind.After passing closest to Earth on December 12 and Venus on December 18,Comet Leonard is heading toward perihelion,its closest approach to the Sun on January 3rd.Appearing in late December'sbeautiful evening skiesComet Leonardhas also become known as 2021's Christmas Comet. Launch Update: James Webb Space Telescope Tomorrow's picture: dawn of a new space telescope<| Archive| Submissions | Index| Search| Calendar| RSS| Education| About APOD| Discuss| > Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff(MTU) &Jerry Bonnell...

Continue reading
  244 Hits

M1: The Crab Nebula

APOD: 2021 December 24 - M1: The Crab Nebula Discover the cosmos!Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe isfeatured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer. 2021 December 24 M1: The Crab Nebula Image Credit &Copyright:Michael Sherick Explanation: The Crab Nebula is cataloged as M1, the first object onCharles Messier'sfamous 18th century list of things which are not comets.In fact,the Crabis now known to be asupernova remnant,debris from the death explosion of a massive star,witnessedby astronomers in the year 1054.This sharp, ground-basedtelescopic view combines broadband color data withnarrowband data that tracks emission from ionized sulfur, hydrogen, andoxygen atoms to explore the tangled filaments withinthe still expanding cloud.One of the most exotic objects known to modern astronomers,the Crab Pulsar,a neutron star spinning 30 times a second,is visible as a bright spot nearthe nebula's center.Like a cosmic dynamo,this collapsed remnant of the stellar corepowers the Crab's emission across the electromagnetic spectrum.Spanning about 12 light-years, the Crab Nebula is a mere6,500 light-years away in theconstellation Taurus. Launch Update: James Webb Space Telescope Tomorrow's picture: A Christmas Comet<| Archive| Submissions | Index| Search| Calendar| RSS| Education| About APOD| Discuss| > Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff(MTU) &Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)NASA...

Continue reading
  237 Hits

Three Planets and a Comet

APOD: 2021 December 23 - Three Planets and a Comet Discover the cosmos!Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe isfeatured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer. 2021 December 23 Three Planets and a Comet Image Credit &Copyright:Tunc Tezel(TWAN) Explanation: Are you still looking for thatperfect holiday gift for an astronomer?If your night sky is dark and horizon clear enough,the Solar Systemmay have done your shopping for you.Send them outside after sunset to see three planets and a comet.In this snapshot of the December solstice evening sky from thevillage of Kirazli, Turkeythe brightest celestial beacon is Venus, close to the southwestern horizonat the right.Look left and up to find Saturn shining between clouds.Follow that linefarther left and up to bright Jupiter, the Solar System'sruling gas giant.This year's surprise visitor to the inner Solar System, Comet Leonard(C/2021 A1), is near the horizon too.The comet is fainterbut forms a nearly equilateral trianglewith planets Venus and Saturn in this view.After adramatic brighteningin recent daysthe comet is just visible to the unaided eye, though a nice pair ofbinoculars is alwaysa good idea. Notable Submissions to APOD: Planetary Alignment: 2021 December Tomorrow's picture: pixels in space<| Archive| Submissions |...

Continue reading
  223 Hits

Launch of the IXPE Observatory

APOD: 2021 December 22 - Launch of the IXPE Observatory Discover the cosmos!Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe isfeatured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer. 2021 December 22 Launch of the IXPE Observatory Image Credit & Copyright: Jordan Sirokie Explanation: Birdsdon't fly this high. Airplanes don't go this fast. The Statue of Libertyweighs less. No species other than human can even comprehend what is going on,nor could any human just a millennium ago.The launch of arocket bound for space is an event thatinspires awe and challenges description. Pictured here, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Kennedy Space Center, Florida earlier this month carrying the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE). IXPE is scheduled to observe high-energy objects such as neutron stars, black holes, and the centers of distant galaxies to better determine the physics and geometries that create and control them. From a standing start, the 300,000+ kilogramrocket ship lifted IXPE up to circle theEarth, where theoutside air is too thin to breathe.Rockets bound for space are nowlaunched from somewhere on Earthevery few days. Launch Update: James Webb Space Telescope Tomorrow's picture: Three Planets and a Comet <| Archive| Submissions |...

Continue reading
  233 Hits

Solstice Sun and Milky Way

APOD: 2021 December 21 - Solstice Sun and Milky Way Discover the cosmos!Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe isfeatured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer. 2021 December 21 Solstice Sun and Milky Way Composite Image Credit &Copyright: Stefan Seip(TWAN) Explanation: Welcome to December's solstice, first day of winter in the north andsummer for the southern hemisphere.Astronomical markers of the seasons,solstice and equinoxdates are based on the Sun's place in its annual journey along the ecliptic, through planet Earth's sky.At this solstice, the Sun reaches its maximum southern declination of -23.5 degrees today at 15:59 UTC, while its right ascension coordinate on thecelestial sphereis 18 hours.That puts the Sun in the constellation Sagittarius in a direction nearthe center of our Milky Way galaxy.In fact, if you could see today's Solstice Sun against faint background stars and nebulae (that's really hard to do, especially in the daytime ...)your view might look something like this composited panorama.To make it, images ofour fair galaxywere taken under dark Namibian night skies, then stitched together in a panoramic view.From a snapshot made on 2015 December 21, the Sun was digitally overlayed as a brilliant star at today's northern...

Continue reading
  255 Hits

The Comet and the Fireball

This picture was supposed to feature a comet.

  253 Hits

Planetary Alignment over Italy

APOD: 2021 December 19 - Planetary Alignment over Italy Discover the cosmos!Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe isfeatured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer. 2021 December 19 Planetary Alignment over Italy Image Credit & Copyright: Antonio Finazzi Explanation: It is not a coincidence that planets line up.That's because all of the planets orbit the Sun in (nearly) a single sheet called the plane of the ecliptic.When viewed from inside that plane -- as Earth dwellers are likely to do -- the planets all appear confined to a single band.It is a coincidence, though, when three of the brightest planets all appear in nearly the same direction. Such a coincidence was captured earlier this month. Featured above (right to left), Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter were all imaged togetherin a line just after sunset, from the San Fermo Hills, Bergamo, Italy.Joining the alignment are Earth's Moon, and the position of the more distant Uranus.Bands of clouds streak across the sky toward the setting Sun. As Comet Leonard fades, this planetary alignment -- absent the Moon -- should persist for the rest of the month. Discovery + Outreach: Graduate student research position open for APOD...

Continue reading
  229 Hits

Stephan s Quintet

APOD: 2021 December 18 - Stephan s Quintet Discover the cosmos!Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe isfeatured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer. 2021 December 18 Stephan's Quintet Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble Legacy Archive; Processing & Copyright: Bernard Miller Explanation: The first identified compact galaxy group,Stephan's Quintetis featured inthis eye-catching imageconstructed with data drawn fromthe extensive Hubble Legacy Archive.About 300 million light-years away, only four of these five galaxiesare actually locked in a cosmic danceof repeated close encounters.The odd man out is easy to spot, though.The interacting galaxies,NGC 7319, 7318A, 7318B, and 7317have an overall yellowish cast.They also tend to have distortedloops and tails, grown under theinfluence of disruptive gravitational tides.But the predominantly bluish galaxy, NGC 7320,is closer, just 40 million light-years distant,and isn't part of the interacting group.Stephan's Quintet lies within the boundaries of the high flyingconstellation Pegasus.At the estimated distance of the quartet of interacting galaxies,this field of view spans about 500,000 light-years.But moving just beyond this field, up and to the right,astronomers can identify another galaxy,NGC 7320C, that is also 300 millionlight-years distant.Including it would bring theinteracting quartet back up to quintet status. Tomorrow's picture: five in a...

Continue reading
  237 Hits

Gemind of the North

APOD: 2021 December 17 - Gemind of the North Discover the cosmos!Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe isfeatured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer. 2021 December 17 Geminid of the North Image Credit &Copyright:Alvin Wu Explanation: An arid expanse of theTengger Desertin north-central China, planet Earthfills the foreground of this starry scene.A widefield panoramic view, it was recordedshortly after moonset in the local predawn hours of December 14.Pictured in the still dark sky, stars of thenorthern winter hexagonsurround a luminous Milky Way.Seen near the peak of theannual meteor shower,the startling flash of a bright Geminid fireball meteor was alsocaptured on that night.Above the western horizon and just below bright star Capella,its dagger-like trail points back to the meteor shower'sradiant in Gemini.Of course, the constellation Gemini is easy to spot.Its twin bright stars, bluishCastor and yellowish Polluxare near top center in the frame. Tomorrow's picture: light-weekend<| Archive| Submissions | Index| Search| Calendar| RSS| Education| About APOD| Discuss| > Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff(MTU) &Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)NASA Official: Phillip NewmanSpecific rights apply.NASA WebPrivacy Policy and Important NoticesA service of:ASD atNASA /GSFC& Michigan Tech. U.

  232 Hits

Geminds of the South

APOD: 2021 December 16 - Geminds of the South Discover the cosmos!Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe isfeatured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer. 2021 December 16 Geminids of the South Image Credit &Copyright:Fefo Bouvier Explanation: Fireflies flash along a moonlit countryside in this scenetaken on the night of December 13/14from southern Uruguay, planet Earth.On that night meteors fell in the partly cloudy skies above during theannual Geminid meteor shower.Frames recorded over a period of 1.5 hours are alignedin the composite image made with the camera facing south.That direction was opposite the shower's radianttoward the north and so theGeminid meteor streaksappear to converge at an antiradiant below the southern horizon.The shower's apparent radiant (andantiradiant) is just due toperspective though.As Earth sweeps through the dust trail ofmysterious asteroid 3200 Phaethon,the dust grains that create the Geminid shower meteorsare really moving along parallel tracks.They enter Earth's atmosphere traveling at about 22 kilometers persecond. Tomorrow's picture: Geminids of the North<| Archive| Submissions | Index| Search| Calendar| RSS| Education| About APOD| Discuss| > Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff(MTU) &Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)NASA Official: Phillip NewmanSpecific rights apply.NASA WebPrivacy Policy and Important NoticesA service of:ASD atNASA /GSFC& Michigan...

Continue reading
  258 Hits

Comet Leonard from Space

APOD: 2021 December 15 - Comet Leonard from Space Discover the cosmos!Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe isfeatured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer. 2021 December 15 Comet Leonard from Space Image Credit & Copyright: Zhuoxiao Wang, Yangwang-1 Space Telescope, Origin.Space Explanation: What does Comet Leonard look like from space? Today's featured image from Origin.Space's Yangwang-1 space telescope shows not only the currently bright comet -- but several other space delights as well.Taken in optical and ultraviolet light, C/2021 A1 (Leonard) is visible with an extended tail near the image center as it appeared five days ago. The Earth is visible on the lower right, while layers of the Earth's atmosphere glow diagonally from the lower left to the upper right.The trails of two satellites can be seen in front of a myriad of distant stars that dot the background on the upper left.The faint bands of light running diagonally from the lower right to the upper left are auroras.Finally, the image also caught a meteor streaking just below the airglow.To see Comet Leonard yourself from the Earth's surface during the next few days, look toward the western horizon just after sunset...

Continue reading
  233 Hits

HH 666: Carina Dust Pillar with Jet

APOD: 2021 December 14 - HH 666: Carina Dust Pillar with Jet Discover the cosmos!Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe isfeatured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer. 2021 December 14 HH 666: Carina Dust Pillar with Jet Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble; Processing & Copyright: Mehmet Hakan Özsaraç Explanation: To some, it may look like a beehive.In reality, the featured image from the Hubble Space Telescope captures a cosmic pillar of dust, over two-light years long, inside of which is Herbig-Haro 666 -- a young star emitting powerful jets.The structure lies within one of our galaxy's largest star forming regions, the Carina Nebula, shining in southern skies at a distance of about 7,500 light-years. The pillar's layered outline are shaped by the winds and radiation of Carina's young, hot, massive stars, some of which are still forming inside the nebula. A dust-penetrating view in infrared light better shows the two, narrow, energetic jets blasting outward from a still hidden infant star. Open Science: Browse 2,600+ codes in the Astrophysics Source Code Library Tomorrow's picture: comet from orbit <| Archive| Submissions | Index| Search| Calendar| RSS| Education| About APOD| Discuss| > Authors &...

Continue reading
  243 Hits

Meteors and Auroras over Iceland

APOD: 2021 December 13 - Meteors and Auroras over Iceland Discover the cosmos!Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe isfeatured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer. 2021 December 13 Meteors and Auroras over Iceland Image Credit & Copyright: James Boardman-Woodend; Annotation: Judy Schmidt Explanation: What's going on behind that mountain?Quite a bit. First of all, the mountain itself, named Kirkjufell, is quite old and located in western Iceland near the town of Grundarfjörður. In front of the steeply-sloped structure lies a fjord that had just begun to freeze when the above image was taken -- in mid-December of 2012.Although quite faint to the unaided eye, the beautiful colors of background aurorae became quite apparent on the 25-second exposure.What makes this image of particular note, though, is that it also captures streaks from the Geminids meteor shower -- meteors that might not have been evident were the aurora much brighter.Far in the distance, on the left, is the band of our Milky Way Galaxy, while stars from our local part of the Milky Way appear spread across the background. Tonight the Geminids meteor shower peaks again and may well provide sky enthusiasts with their...

Continue reading
  276 Hits

Comet Leonard Before Star Cluster M3

APOD: 2021 December 12 - Comet Leonard Before Star Cluster M3 Discover the cosmos!Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe isfeatured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer. 2021 December 12 Comet Leonard Before Star Cluster M3 Image Credit & Copyright: Dan Bartlett Explanation: Comet Leonard is now visible to the unaided eye -- but just barely. Passing nearest to the Earth today, the comet is best seen this week soon after sunset, toward the west, low on the horizon. Currently best visible in the north, by late December the comet will best be seen from south of Earth's equator.The featured image of Comet C/2021 A1 (Leonard) was taken a week ago from California, USA.The deep exposure shows in great detail the comet's green gas coma and developing dust tail.The comet -- across our inner Solar System and only light-minutes away -- was captured passing nearly in front of globular star cluster M3.In contrast, M3 is about 35,000 light-years away. In a week, Comet Leonard will pass unusually close to Venus, but will continue on and be at its closest to the Sun in early January. Tomorrow's picture: meteor mountain <| Archive| Submissions |...

Continue reading
  264 Hits

Postcard from the South Pole

APOD: 2021 December 11 - Postcard from the South Pole Discover the cosmos!Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe isfeatured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer. 2021 December 11 Postcard from the South Pole Image Credit &Copyright:Aman Chokshi Explanation: From this vantage point about three quarters of a mile fromplanet Earth's geographic South Pole, theDecember 4 eclipse of the Sunwas seen as a partial eclipse.At maximum the New Moon blocked 90 percent of the solar disk.Of course, crews at theSouth Pole Telescope(left) andBICEP telescope(right) climbed to the roof ofAmundsen-Scott station'sDark Sector Laboratory to watch.Centered near the local eclipse maximum,the composite timelapse view features animage of the Sun traversing cold antarctic skies taken every four minutes.Left to right along the roof line it also features the raised arms ofBrandon Amat,Aman Chokshi,Cheng Zhang,James BevingtonandAllen Forster. Tomorrow's picture: in darker skies<| Archive| Submissions | Index| Search| Calendar| RSS| Education| About APOD| Discuss| > Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff(MTU) &Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)NASA Official: Phillip NewmanSpecific rights apply.NASA WebPrivacy Policy and Important NoticesA service of:ASD atNASA /GSFC& Michigan Tech. U.

  486 Hits

Eclipse on a Polar Day

APOD: 2021 December 10 - Eclipse on a Polar Day Discover the cosmos!Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe isfeatured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer. 2021 December 10 Eclipse on a Polar Day Image Credit &Copyright:Stephanie Ziyi Ye Explanation: During polar day,in Arctic and Antarctic summer, the Sun stays abovethe horizon for periods of 24 hours or more.Recorded on December 4, thisfisheye timelapse imagetracks the Sun in multiple frames as it completes a circle in the summer skyabove Union Glacier, Antarctica.Of course on that date,Union Glacier's sky did grow dark even though the Sun was above the horizon.Captured during the brief period of totality,an eclipsed Sunis at bottom center of the composite view.Near the edge of the total eclipse path across planet Earth,the Moon's shadowdarkens the sky above. Tomorrow's picture: light-weekend<| Archive| Submissions | Index| Search| Calendar| RSS| Education| About APOD| Discuss| > Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff(MTU) &Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)NASA Official: Phillip NewmanSpecific rights apply.NASA WebPrivacy Policy and Important NoticesA service of:ASD atNASA /GSFC& Michigan Tech. U.

  214 Hits