Astronomy Picture of the Day

Diamond in the Sky

When the shadow of the Moon raced across planet Earth's southern hemisphere on December 14, sky watchers along the shadow's dark central path were treated to the only total solar eclipse of 2020. During the New Moon's shadow play this glistening ...

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Gemini's Meteors

Taken over the course of an hour shortly after local midnight on December 13, 35 exposures were used to create this postcard from Earth. The composited night scene spans dark skies above the snowy Italian Dolomites during our fair planet's annual ...

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Sonified: The Matter of the Bullet Cluster

What's the matter with the Bullet Cluster? This massive cluster of galaxies (1E 0657-558) creates gravitational lens distortions of background galaxies in a way that has been interpreted as strong evidence for the leading theory: that dark matter ...

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Great Conjunction: Saturn and Jupiter Converge

It's happening. Saturn and Jupiter are moving closer and will soon appear in almost exactly the same direction. Coincidentally, on the night of the December solstice -- the longest night of the year in the north and the longest day in the south ...

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Capsule Returns from Asteroid Ryugu

The streak across the sky is a capsule returning from an asteroid. It returned earlier this month from the near-Earth asteroid 162173 Ryugu carrying small rocks and dust from its surface. The canister was released by its mothership, Japan's ...

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Geminid Meteors over Xinglong Observatory

Where do Geminid meteors come from? In terms of location on the sky, as the featured image composite beautifully demonstrates, the sand-sized bits of rock that create the streaks of the Geminids meteor shower appear to flow out from the ...

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Saturn and Jupiter in Summer 2020

During this northern summer Saturn and Jupiter were both near opposition, opposite the Sun in planet Earth's sky. Their paired retrograde motion, seen about every 20 years, is followed from 19 June through 28 August in this panoramic composite as ...

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Messier Craters in Stereo

Many bright nebulae and star clusters in planet Earth's sky are associated with the name of astronomer Charles Messier from his famous 18th century catalog. His name is also given to these two large and remarkable craters on the Moon. Standouts ...

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Simeis 147: Supernova Remnant

It's easy to get lost following the intricate looping filaments in this detailed image of supernova remnant Simeis 147. Also cataloged as Sharpless 2-240 it goes by the popular nickname, the Spaghetti Nebula. Seen toward the boundary of the ...

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Arecibo Telescope Collapse

This was one great scientific instrument. Starting in 1963, the 305-meters across Arecibo Telescope in Puerto Rico USA reigned as the largest single-dish radio telescope in the world for over 50 years. Among numerous firsts and milestones, data ...

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