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Image of the Day

Tuesday, August 10th 2021 09:21 AM

A Northrop Grumman Antares rocket carrying a Cygnus resupply spacecraft is seen in the vertical launch position on the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s Pad 0A, Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021, at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Northrop Grumman’s 16th contracted cargo resupply mission with NASA to the International Space Station will deliver about 8,200 pounds of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the orbital laboratory and its crew. The CRS-16 Cygnus spacecraft is named in honor of American astronaut Ellison Onizuka, who was the first Asian American to fly in space. The rocket is slated to launch at 5:56 p.m. EDT, Aug. 10, 2021. Watch live on NASA TV.   Image Credit: NASA/Terry Zaperach

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Huge Rings Around a Black Hole

Monday, August 9th 2021 01:54 PM

  A spectacular set of rings around a black hole has been captured using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory. The X-ray images of the giant rings have revealed new information about dust located in our Galaxy, using a similar principle to the X-rays performed in doctor's offices and airports. The black hole is part of a binary system called V404 Cygni, located about 7,800 light-years away from Earth. The black hole is actively pulling material away from a companion star — with about half the mass of the Sun — into a disk around the invisible object. This material glows in X-rays, so astronomers refer to these systems as "X-ray binaries." On June 5 2015, Swift discovered a burst of X-rays from V404 Cygni. The burst created the high-energy rings from a phenomenon known as light echoes. Instead of sound waves bouncing off a canyon wall, the light echoes around V404 Cygni were produced when a burst of X-rays from the black hole system bou...

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Image of the Day

Thursday, August 5th 2021 09:10 AM

Twelve years ago on Aug. 5, 2012, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover landed safely on the Red Planet. In this self-portrait from 2018, Curiosity sits atop Vera Rubin Ridge, which the rover had been investigating. Directly behind the rover is the start of a clay-rich slope scientists are eager to begin exploring. In the coming week, Curiosity will begin to climb this slope. North is on the left and west is on the right, with Gale Crater's rim on the horizon of both edges. Poking up just behind Curiosity's mast is Mount Sharp, photobombing the robot's selfie. Curiosity landed on Mars five years ago with the intention of studying lower Mount Sharp, where it will remain for all of its time on Mars. The mountain's base provides access to layers formed over millions of years. These layers formed in the presence of water—likely due to a lake or lakes that sat at the bottom of the mountain, which sits inside Gale Crater. This mosaic was assembled from dozens of images taken by Curiosity's Ma...

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Snapshot: Looking at a peculiar piece of the universe

Wednesday, August 4th 2021 09:19 AM

  The universe is a wild place, and sometimes it doesn’t play by the rules. That’s where the Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies comes in. Assembled in the early 1960s by Halton Arp, this catalog categorizes many of the weird and strange galaxies that live in our cosmos. Today’s subject, Arp 195, is a prime example — this distorted cosmic object is home to a three-way gravitational tug-of-war. Residing some 760 million light-years away, Arp 195 isn’t your normal spiral galaxy. Instead, it’s a trio of galaxies that are all slamming into one another, pulling each other apart and morphing them beyond recognition as they interact. This image was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, which has been experiencing technological issues as it continues to age. For now, however, Hubble is still up and running, allowing it to continue capturing astounding images of the cosmos for the foreseeable future.   Source: Astronomy Magazine

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Image of the Day

Tuesday, August 3rd 2021 09:07 AM

Illuminating the Next Launch   A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with NASA’s Starliner spacecraft aboard is illuminated by spotlights on Monday, Aug. 2, 2021, as it sits on the launch pad at Space Launch Complex 41 ahead of the Orbital Flight Test-2 mission at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2 will be Starliner’s second uncrewed flight test and will dock to the International Space Station as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program. The mission, currently targeted for launch on 1:20 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Aug. 3, will serve as an end-to-end test of the system's capabilities.   Image Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

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The Sky This Week: Saturn reaches opposition

Monday, August 2nd 2021 09:27 AM

 Friday, July 30 The ringed planet: Saturn reaches opposition this week — the best time to capture great views of this stunning planet. The Hubble Space Telescope snapped this pic of Saturn and several of its moons at opposition in 2018. Asteroid 4 Vesta skims less than 0.5° from the spiral galaxy NGC 4457 in Virgo today. Observers interested in catching the pair will need to be quick, however, as they’re already sinking low in the west as the sky grows dark and will disappear completely beneath the horizon by 11 P.M. local time. Even before then, your landscape or the turbulent air near the ground may hinder the view, so begin searching as soon as possible once twilight ends. Vesta is a relatively easy magnitude 7.4, while its galactic “neighbor” is close to magnitude 11 and may appear only as a bit of fuzz. You’ll want to use a small telescope for the best view, especially if your skies suffer from light pollution. From a dark site, however...

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Hubble Spots Squabbling Galactic Siblings

Friday, July 30th 2021 09:13 AM

Hubble Spots Squabbling Galactic Siblings   A dramatic triplet of galaxies takes center stage in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, which captures a three-way gravitational tug-of-war between interacting galaxies. This system – known as Arp 195 – is featured in the Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies, a list which showcases some of the weirder and more wonderful galaxies in the universe. Observing time with Hubble is extremely valuable, so astronomers don't want to waste a second. The schedule for Hubble observations is calculated using a computer algorithm which allows the spacecraft to occasionally gather bonus snapshots of data between longer observations. This image of the clashing triplet of galaxies in Arp 195 is one such snapshot. Extra observations such as these do more than provide spectacular images – they also help to identify promising targets to follow up with using telescopes such as the upcoming NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope....

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Image of the Day

Thursday, July 29th 2021 09:12 AM

Staring at the Sun   On April 29, 2015, NuSTAR, Hinode, and Solar Dynamics Observatory all stared at our Sun. Flaring, active regions of our Sun are highlighted in this image combining observations from Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR (shown in blue); low-energy X-rays from Japan's Hinode spacecraft are green; and extreme ultraviolet light from Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, are yellow and red. This NuSTAR image is a mosaic made from combining smaller images. The active regions across the Sun’s surface contain material heated to several millions of degrees. The blue-white areas showing the NuSTAR data pinpoint the most energetic spots. During the observations, microflares went off, which are smaller versions of the larger flares that also erupt from the sun's surface. The microflares rapidly release energy and heat the material in the active regions.   Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC/JAXA

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Explore how telescope mirrors are made

Wednesday, July 28th 2021 09:38 AM

Explore how telescope mirrors are made If you have ever attended a club star party or an amateur astronomy convention, you have undoubtedly strolled through an observing field. Scattered throughout are silhouettes of telescopes and attendees, all talking shop. Some telescopes are surrounded by small groups, while others are mobbed with people standing in line, waiting for a chance to glimpse the current target. Often, large-aperture Newtonian reflectors are the most crowded, as their eyepieces reveal details that go unseen in lesser instruments. Whether it’s spotting the intricate labyrinths of a bright nebula, the glittering spectacle of a star cluster, or the dim glimmer of a galaxy just this side of infinity, those magnificent telescopes garner more “oohs” and “ahs” per inch of aperture than just about any other. At the hearts of these outstanding, handcrafted instruments are their optics. The mirrors inside these telescopes are painstakingly and i...

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The Sky This Week: Enjoy July's Buck Moon

Tuesday, July 27th 2021 09:17 AM

The Sky This Week: Enjoy July's Buck Moon Friday, July 23 Full Moon over Melbourne, FL: July’s Full Moon is also called the Buck Moon; the photographer caught this stunning shot just after sunset July 19, 2016. Full Moon occurs at 10:37 P.M. EDT, putting the nearside of our satellite on full display. The July Full Moon is also called the Buck Moon, so named by the Native American Algonquins of the northeastern U.S. According to NASA, some may also call it the Thunder Moon, thanks to the prevalence of thunderstorms at this time of the Northern Hemisphere summer. The Full Moon’s brightness makes it difficult to observe much else in the sky, but the Moon itself makes an excellent target, regardless of whether you have binoculars, a telescope, or no equipment at all. Naked-eye observers can easily map out the Moon’s dark seas, or maria, which are younger than the surrounding terrain and filled with ancient lava. Several of the nearside’s largest craters are al...

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