Astronomy Picture of the Day

Introducing Comet Leonard

Here comes Comet Leonard. Comet C/2021 A1 (Leonard) was discovered as a faint smudge in January 2021 when it was out past Mars -- but its orbit will take the giant shedding ice-ball into the inner Solar System, passing near both Earth and Venus ...

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An Almost Total Lunar Eclipse

Predawn hours of November 19 found the Moon in partly cloudy skies over Cancun, Mexico. Captured in this telephoto snapshot, the lunar disk is not quite entirely immersed in Earth's dark umbral shadow during a long partial lunar eclipse. The ...

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NGC 281: Starless with Stars

In visible light the stars have been removed from this narrow-band image of NGC 281, a star forming region some 10,000 light-years away toward the constellation Cassiopeia. Stars were digitally added back to the resulting starless image though. ...

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Full Moonlight

A photographer in silhouette stands in bright moonlight as the Full Moon rises in this well-planned telephoto image. Of course, the Full Moon is normally the brightest lunar phase. But on November 18/19, the Full Moon's light will be dimmed ...

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NGC 3314: When Galaxies Overlap

Why doesn't the nearby galaxy create a gravitational lensing effect on the background galaxy? It does, but since both galaxies are so nearby, the angular shift is much smaller than the angular sizes of the galaxies themselves. The featured ...

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Geminids from Gemini

Where are all of these meteors coming from? In terms of direction on the sky, the pointed answer is the constellation of Gemini. That is why the major meteor shower in December is known as the Geminids -- because shower meteors all appear to ...

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Light Pillar over Volcanic Etna

What happening above that volcano? Something very unusual -- a volcanic light pillar. More typically, light pillars are caused by sunlight and so appear as a bright column that extends upward above a rising or setting Sun. Alternatively, other ...

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How to Identify that Light in the Sky

What is that light in the sky? Perhaps one of humanity's more common questions, an answer may result from a few quick observations. For example -- is it moving or blinking? If so, and if you live near a city, the answer is typically an airplane, ...

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Rosetta's Comet in Gemini

Returning along its 6.4 year orbit, periodic comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko (67P) is caught in this telescopic frame from November 7. Sweeping past background stars in the constellation Gemini the comet's dusty tail stretches toward the upper right ...

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M33: The Triangulum Galaxy

The small, northern constellation Triangulum harbors this magnificent face-on spiral galaxy, M33. Its popular names include the Pinwheel Galaxy or just the Triangulum Galaxy. M33 is over 50,000 light-years in diameter, third largest in the Local ...

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