Astronomy Picture of the Day

The Horsehead and Flame Nebulas

The Horsehead Nebula is one of the most famous nebulae on the sky. It is visible as the dark indentation to the orange emission nebula at the far right of the featured picture. The horse-head feature is dark because it is really an opaque dust ...

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SN Requiem: A Supernova Seen Three Times So Far

We've seen this same supernova three times -- when will we see it a fourth? When a distant star explodes in a supernova, we're lucky if we see it even once. In the case of AT 2016jka ("SN Requiem"), because the exploding star happened to be ...

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A Waterfall and the Milky Way

The dream was to capture both the waterfall and the Milky Way together. Difficulties included finding a good camera location, artificially illuminating the waterfall and the surrounding valley effectively, capturing the entire scene with numerous ...

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Dark Matter in a Simulated Universe

Is our universe haunted? It might look that way on this dark matter map. The gravity of unseen dark matter is the leading explanation for why galaxies rotate so fast, why galaxies orbit clusters so fast, why gravitational lenses so strongly ...

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A Rorschach Aurora

If you see this as a monster's face, don't panic. It's only pareidolia, often experienced as the tendency to see faces in patterns of light and shadow. In fact, the startling visual scene is actually a 180 degree panorama of Northern Lights, ...

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Haunting the Cepheus Flare

Spooky shapes seem to haunt this dusty expanse, drifting through the night in the royal constellation Cepheus. Of course, the shapes are cosmic dust clouds visible in dimly reflected starlight. Far from your own neighborhood, they lurk above the ...

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Mirach's Ghost

As far as ghosts go, Mirach's Ghost isn't really that scary. Mirach's Ghost is just a faint, fuzzy galaxy, well known to astronomers, that happens to be seen nearly along the line-of-sight to Mirach, a bright star. Centered in this star field, ...

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NGC 6995: The Bat Nebula

Do you see the bat? It haunts this cosmic close-up of the eastern Veil Nebula. The Veil Nebula itself is a large supernova remnant, the expanding debris cloud from the death explosion of a massive star. While the Veil is roughly circular in ...

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Jupiter Rotates

Observe the graceful twirl of our Solar System's largest planet. Many interesting features of Jupiter's enigmatic atmosphere, including dark belts and light zones, can be followed in detail. A careful inspection will reveal that different cloud ...

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Road to the Galactic Center

Does the road to our galaxy's center go through Monument Valley? It doesn't have to, but if your road does -- take a picture. In this case, the road is US Route 163 and iconic buttes on the Navajo National Reservation populate the horizon. The ...

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