Gordon Stewart

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NGC 6888 - The Crescent Nebula

Coming Soon: Hubble Space Telescope 25th Anniversary Film

STUNNING Photo of Orion Will Overflow Your Brain

Phil Plait writes <b>Slate</b>’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of <i>Death From the Skies!</i><p>One of the …

APOD: NGC 4676: When Mice Collide (2015 Feb 01) Image Credit: ACS Science & Engineering Team, Hubble Space Telescope, NASA, ESA http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap150201.html 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. 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 in 2002. These galactic mice will probably collide again and again over the next billion years until they coalesce to form a single galaxy. http://acs.pha.jhu.edu/general/personnel/sci-team/ http://www.stsci.edu/hst/ http://www.nasa.gov/hubble http://spacetelescope.org/ Starship Asterisk* • APOD Discussion Page http://asterisk.apod.com/discuss_apod.php?date=150201 #APOD

APOD: Comet Lovejoy's Tail (2015 Jan 17) Image Credit & Copyright: Rogelio Bernal Andreo (Deep Sky Colors) http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap150117.html Explanation: Sweeping north in planet Earth's sky, Comet Lovejoy's greenish coma and blue tinted ion tail stretched across this field of stars in the constellation Taurus on January 13. The inset at the upper left shows the 1/2 degree angular size of the full moon for scale. So Lovejoy's coma appears only a little smaller (but much fainter) than a full moon on the sky, and its tail is visible for over 4 degrees across the frame. That corresponds to over 5 million kilometers at the comet's estimated distance of 75 million kilometers from Earth. Blown by the solar wind, the comet's tenuous, structured ion tail streams away from the Sun, growing as this Comet Lovejoy heads toward perihelion, its closest approach to the Sun, on January 30. While diatomic carbon (C2) gas fluorescing in sunlight produces the coma's green color, the fainter bluish tail is tinted by emission from ionized carbon monoxide (CO+). http://www.facebook.com/DeepSkyColors http://www.deepskycolors.com/ Starship Asterisk* • APOD Discussion Page http://asterisk.apod.com/discuss_apod.php?date=150117 #APOD

APOD: The Galactic Core in Infrared (2015 Jan 18) Credit: Hubble: NASA, ESA, & D. Q. Wang (U. Mass, Amherst); Spitzer: NASA, JPL, & S. Stolovy (SSC/Caltech) http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap150118.html Explanation: What's happening at the center of our Milky Way Galaxy? To help find out, the orbiting Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes have combined their efforts to survey the region in unprecedented detail in infrared light. Infrared light is particularly useful for probing the Milky Way's center because visible light is more greatly obscured by dust. The above image encompasses over 2,000 images from the Hubble Space Telescope's NICMOS taken in 2008. The image spans 300 by 115 light years with such high resolution that structures only 20 times the size of our own Solar System are discernable. Clouds of glowing gas and dark dust as well as three large star clusters are visible. Magnetic fields may be channeling plasma along the upper left near the Arches Cluster, while energetic stellar winds are carving pillars near the Quintuplet Cluster on the lower left. The massive Central Cluster of stars surrounding Sagittarius A* is visible on the lower right. Why several central, bright, massive stars appear to be unassociated with these star clusters is not yet understood. http://www.nasa.gov/ http://www.spacetelescope.org/ http://www.astro.umass.edu/ http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/ http://ssc.spitzer.caltech.edu/ Starship Asterisk* • APOD Discussion Page http://asterisk.apod.com/discuss_apod.php?date=150118 #APOD

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Comet Lovejoy passed near the Pleiades last night

Ever-photogenic Comet Lovejoy at its closest to the Seven Sisters, or Pleiades, star cluster. The comet’s long blue ion tail stretched back past the …

Astronomers Spy "Bullet" Galaxy Blasting Through Other Galaxies

A speedy space collision rips gas from a fast-moving galaxy.<p><b>What's New</b><p>A distant galaxy pierced another group of galaxies like a bullet, astronomers report, in a cosmic collision some 1.4 billion light-years away.<p>Observations from Europe's XMM-Newton X-ray space telescope reveal that the bullet …

Elnath is close to the galactic anticenter

Elnath, the 2nd-brightest star in Taurus, is the closest bright star to the galactic anticenter – the point in space directly opposite of our Milky …

APOD: The Complex Ion Tail of Comet Lovejoy (2015 Jan 21) Image Credit & Copyright: Velimir Popov & Emil Ivanov (IRIDA Observatory) http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap150121.html Explanation: What causes the structure in Comet Lovejoy's tail? Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy), which is currently at naked-eye brightness and near its brightest, has been showing an exquisitely detailed ion tail. As the name implies, the ion tail is made of ionized gas -- gas energized by ultraviolet light from the Sun and pushed outward by the solar wind. The solar wind is quite structured and sculpted by the Sun's complex and ever changing magnetic field. The effect of the variable solar wind combined with different gas jets venting from the comet's nucleus accounts for the tail's complex structure. Following the wind, structure in Comet Lovejoy's tail can be seen to move outward from the Sun even alter its wavy appearance over time. The blue color of the ion tail is dominated by recombining carbon monoxide molecules, while the green color of the coma surrounding the head of the comet is created mostly by a slight amount of recombining diatomic carbon molecules. The featured three-panel mosaic image was taken nine days ago from the IRIDA Observatory in Bulgaria. Comet Lovejoy made its closest pass to the Earth two weeks ago and will be at its closest to the Sun in about ten days. After that, the comet will fade as it heads back into the outer Solar System, to return only in about 8,000 years. http://www.irida-observatory.org/ Starship Asterisk* • APOD Discussion Page http://asterisk.apod.com/discuss_apod.php?date=150121 #APOD