Astronomy Picture of the Day

photo A View Toward M101

A View Toward M101

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 galaxy. ...

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photo Perseverance Valley Panorama

Perseverance Valley Panorama

Mars exploration rover Opportunity's parting panorama from Perseverance Valley spans 360 degrees in this false color mosaic. The scene is composed of 354 individual images recorded through 3 different color filters by the rover's panoramic camera ...

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photo Highlights of the North Spring Sky

Highlights of the North Spring Sky

What can you see in the night sky this season? The featured graphic gives a few highlights for Earth's northern hemisphere. Viewed as a clock face centered at the bottom, early (northern) spring sky events fan out toward the left, while late ...

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photo Touchdown on Asteroid Ryugu

Touchdown on Asteroid Ryugu

Last month, humanity bounced a robot off an asteroid. The main reason was to collect a surface sample. Despite concern over finding a safely reboundable touchdown spot, Japan's robotic Hayabusa2 spacecraft successfully touched down -- and ...

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photo The Central Magnetic Field of the Cigar Galaxy

The Central Magnetic Field of the Cigar Galaxy

Are galaxies giant magnets? Yes, but the magnetic fields in galaxies are typically much weaker than on Earth's surface, as well as more complex and harder to measure. Recently, though, the HAWC+ instrument onboard the airborne (747) SOFIA ...

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photo Moonrise Through Mauna Kea's Shadow

Moonrise Through Mauna Kea's Shadow

How can the Moon rise through a mountain? It cannot -- what was photographed here is a moonrise through the shadow of a large volcano. The volcano is Mauna Kea, Hawai'i, USA, a frequent spot for spectacular photographs since it is one of the ...

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photo Crescent Enceladus

Crescent Enceladus

Peering from the shadows, the Saturn-facing hemisphere of tantalizing inner moon Enceladus poses in this Cassini spacecraft image. North is up in the dramatic scene captured during November 2016 as Cassini's camera was pointed in a nearly sunward ...

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photo Stardust and Starlight in M78

Stardust and Starlight in M78

Interstellar dust clouds and bright nebulae abound in the fertile constellation of Orion. One of the brightest, M78, is near the center in this colorful telescopic view, covering an area north of Orion's belt. At a distance of about 1,500 ...

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photo Sharpless 249 and the Jellyfish Nebula

Sharpless 249 and the Jellyfish Nebula

Normally faint and elusive, the Jellyfish Nebula is caught in this alluring telescopic field of view. The entire scene is a two panel mosaic constructed using narrowband image data, with emission from sulfur, hydrogen and oxygen atoms shown in ...

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photo A February without Sunspots

A February without Sunspots

Where have all the sunspots gone? Last month the total number of spots that crossed our Sun was ... zero. Well below of the long term monthly average, the Sun's surface has become as unusually passive this solar minimum just like it did 11 years ...

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