Astronomy Picture of the Day

photo The Helix Nebula in Hydrogen and Oxygen

The Helix Nebula in Hydrogen and Oxygen

Is the Helix Nebula looking at you? No, not in any biological sense, but it does look quite like an eye. The Helix Nebula is so named because it also appears that you are looking down the axis of a helix. In actuality, it is now understood to ...

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photo Plane Crossing a Crescent Moon

Plane Crossing a Crescent Moon

No, this is not a good way to get to the Moon. What is pictured is a chance superposition of an airplane and the Moon. The contrail would normally appear white, but the large volume of air toward the setting Sun preferentially knocks away blue ...

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photo New Data: Ultima Thule Surprisingly Flat

New Data: Ultima Thule Surprisingly Flat

Ultima Thule is not the object humanity thought that it was last month. When the robotic New Horizons spacecraft zoomed past the distant asteroid Ultima Thule (officially 2014 MU69) in early January, early images showed two circular lobes that ...

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photo Venus Unveiled

Venus Unveiled

What does Venus look like beneath its thick clouds? These clouds keep the planet's surface hidden from even the powerful telescopic eyes of Earth-bound astronomers. In the early 1990s, though, using imaging radar, NASA's Venus-orbiting Magellan ...

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photo Comet Iwamoto and the Sombrero Galaxy

Comet Iwamoto and the Sombrero Galaxy

Comet Iwamoto (C/2018 Y1), shows off a pretty, greenish coma at the upper left in this telescopic field of view. Taken on February 4 from the Mount John Observatory, University of Canterbury, the 30 minute long total exposure time shows the comet ...

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photo Moon, Four Planets, and Emu

Moon, Four Planets, and Emu

A luminous Milky Way falls toward the horizon in this deep skyscape, starting at the top of the frame from the stars of the Southern Cross and the dark Coalsack Nebula. Captured in the dark predawn of February 2nd from Central Victoria, ...

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photo Fox Fur, Unicorn, and Christmas Tree

Fox Fur, Unicorn, and Christmas Tree

Clouds of glowing hydrogen gas fill this colorful skyscape in the faint but fanciful constellation Monoceros, the Unicorn. A star forming region cataloged as NGC 2264, the complex jumble of cosmic gas and dust is about 2,700 light-years distant ...

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photo Moon and Venus Appulse over a Tree

Moon and Venus Appulse over a Tree

What's that bright spot near the Moon? Venus. About a week ago, Earth's Moon appeared unusually close to the distant planet Venus, an angular coincidence known as an appulse. Similar to a conjunction, which is a coordinate term, an appulse refers ...

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photo Perijove 16: Passing Jupiter

Perijove 16: Passing Jupiter

Watch Juno zoom past Jupiter again. NASA's robotic spacecraft Juno is continuing on its 53-day, highly-elongated orbits around our Solar System's largest planet. The featured video is from perijove 16, the sixteenth time that Juno has passed ...

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photo Henize 70: A Superbubble in the LMC

Henize 70: A Superbubble in the LMC

Massive stars profoundly affect their galactic environments. Churning and mixing interstellar clouds of gas and dust, stars -- most notably those upwards of tens of times the mass of our Sun -- leave their mark on the compositions and locations ...

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