Astronomy Picture of the Day

Comet Leonard and the Whale Galaxy

Sweeping through northern predawn skies, on November 24 Comet Leonard (C/2021 A1) was caught between two galaxies in this composite telescopic image. Sporting a greenish coma the comet's dusty tail seems to harpoon the heart of NGC 4631 (top) ...

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NGC 6822: Barnard's Galaxy

Grand spiral galaxies often seem to get all the glory, flaunting their young, bright, blue star clusters in beautiful, symmetric spiral arms. But small galaxies form stars too, like nearby NGC 6822, also known as Barnard's Galaxy. Beyond the rich ...

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A Blue-Banded Blood Moon

What causes a blue band to cross the Moon during a lunar eclipse? The blue band is real but usually quite hard to see. The featured HDR image of last week's lunar eclipse, however -- taken from Yancheng, China -- has been digitally processed to ...

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In Motion: Uranus and Moons

What's that moving across the sky? A planet just a bit too faint to see with the unaided eye: Uranus. The gas giant out past Saturn was tracked earlier this month near opposition -- when it was closest to Earth and at its brightest. The featured ...

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The Extraordinary Spiral in LL Pegasi

What created the strange spiral structure on the upper left? No one is sure, although it is likely related to a star in a binary star system entering the planetary nebula phase, when its outer atmosphere is ejected. The huge spiral spans about ...

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A High Cliff on Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko

This high cliff occurs not on a planet, not on a moon, but on a comet. It was discovered to be part of the dark nucleus of Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko (CG) by Rosetta, a robotic spacecraft launched by ESA that rendezvoused with the Sun-orbiting ...

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Messier 101

Big, beautiful spiral galaxy M101 is one of the last entries in Charles Messier's famous catalog, but definitely not one of the least. About 170,000 light-years across, this galaxy is enormous, almost twice the size of our own Milky Way. M101 was ...

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Great Refractor and Lunar Eclipse

Rain clouds passed and the dome of the Lick Observatory's 36 inch Great Refractor opened on November 19. The historic telescope was pointed toward a partially eclipsed Moon. Illuminated by dim red lighting to preserve an astronomer's night ...

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At the Shadow's Edge

Shaped like a cone tapering into space, the Earth's dark central shadow or umbra has a circular cross-section. It's wider than the Moon at the distance of the Moon's orbit though. But during the lunar eclipse of November 18/19, part of the Moon ...

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Pleiades: The Seven Sisters Star Cluster

Have you ever seen the Pleiades star cluster? Even if you have, you probably have never seen it as large and clear as this. Perhaps the most famous star cluster on the sky, the bright stars of the Pleiades can be seen without binoculars from even ...

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