Astronomy Picture of the Day

NGC 1365: Majestic Island Universe

Barred spiral galaxy NGC 1365 is truly a majestic island universe some 200,000 light-years across. Located a mere 60 million light-years away toward the chemical constellation Fornax, NGC 1365 is a dominant member of the well-studied Fornax ...

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Total Solar Eclipse 2020

Along a narrow path crossing southern South America through Chile and Argentina, the final New Moon of 2020 moved in front of the Sun on December 14 in the year's only total solar eclipse. Within about 2 days of perigee, the closest point in its ...

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Striped Sand Dunes on Mars

Why are these sand dunes on Mars striped? No one is sure. The featured image shows striped dunes in Kunowsky Crater on Mars, photographed recently with the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s HiRISE Camera. Many Martian dunes are known to be covered ...

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The Small Cloud of Magellan

What is the Small Magellanic Cloud? It has turned out to be a galaxy. People who have wondered about this little fuzzy patch in the southern sky included Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan and his crew, who had plenty of time to study the ...

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Sprite Lightning at 100,000 Frames Per Second

What causes sprite lightning? Mysterious bursts of light in the sky that momentarily resemble gigantic jellyfish have been recorded for over 30 years, but apart from a general association with positive cloud-to-ground lightning, their root cause ...

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A Phoenix Aurora over Iceland

All of the other aurora watchers had gone home. By 3:30 am in Iceland, on a quiet September night, much of that night's auroras had died down. Suddenly, unexpectedly, a new burst of particles streamed down from space, lighting up the Earth's ...

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21st Century Wet Collodion Moon

In the mid 19th century, one of the first photographic technologies used to record the lunar surface was the wet-plate collodion process, notably employed by British astronomer Warren De la Rue. To capture an image, a thick, transparent mixture ...

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Galaxies and the South Celestial Pole

The South Celestial Pole is easy to spot in star trail images of the southern sky. The extension of Earth's axis of rotation to the south, it's at the center of all the southern star trail arcs. In this starry panorama streching about 60 degrees ...

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Trail of the Returner

Familiar stars of a northern winter's night shine in this night skyview, taken near Zhangye, Gansu, China and the border with Inner Mongolia. During the early hours of December 17 Orion is near center in the single exposure that captures a ...

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Jupiter and Saturn Great Conjunction: The Movie

Yes, but have you seen a movie of Jupiter and Saturn's Great Conjunction? The featured time-lapse video was composed from a series of images taken from Thailand and shows the two giant planets as they angularly passed about a tenth of a degree ...

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