Wikipedia picture of the day on March 1, 2018: Panoramic view of the ancient Naqsh-e Rustam necropolis located about 12 km northwest of Persepolis, in Fars Province, Iran. The site includes rock reliefs of Achaemenid and Sassanid periods, 4 tombs of Achaemenid kings and a Cube of Zoroaster (far left). The reliefs are the oldest elements (the oldest one from 1000 BC) of Elamite origin. The tombs were carved out of the rock and belong (left to right) to Darius II (c. 423-404 BC), Artaxerxes I (c. 465-424 BC), Darius I (c. 522-486 BC) and Xerxes I (c. 486-465 BC). The Cube of Zoroaster belongs to the Achaemenid era (5th century BC) and its purpose is still unclear. Wikipedia"
Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Tuesday, February 27, 2018
Monday, February 26, 2018
Sunday, February 25, 2018
Saturday, February 24, 2018
Friday, February 23, 2018
Wikipedia picture of the day on February 24, 2018: Cassius blue butterfly (Leptotes cassius theonus), Artemisa, Cuba. On February 24 2008, Raúl Castro, was declared the new President, taking over from his brother Fidel Castro Wikipedia"
Thursday, February 22, 2018
Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Wikipedia picture of the day on February 22, 2018: A Black Brant IX sounding rocket launches from the Poker Flat Research Range in Alaska at 5:14 a.m. EST, Feb. 22, 2017. This is the first of two launches planned in NASA's In Situ and Groundbased Low Altitude StudieS (ISINGLASS) mission to study the structures of auroras. Wikipedia"
Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Monday, February 19, 2018
Sunday, February 18, 2018
How did we get here? We know that we live on a planet orbiting a star orbiting a galaxy, but how did all of this form? To understand details better, astrophysicists upgraded the famous Illustris Simulation into IllustrisTNG -- now the most sophisticated computer model of how galaxies evolved in our universe. Specifically, this featured video tracks magnetic fields from the early universe (redshift 5) until today (redshift 0). Here blue represents relatively weak magnetic fields, while white depicts strong. These B fields are closely matched with galaxies and galaxy clusters. As the simulation begins, a virtual camera circles the virtual IllustrisTNG universe showing a young region -- 30-million light years across -- to be quite filamentary. Gravity causes galaxies to form and merge as the universe expands and evolves. At the end, the simulated IllustrisTNG universe is a good statistical match to our present real universe, although some interesting differences arise -- for example a discrepancy involving the power in radio waves emitted by rapidly moving charged particles. via NASA
Wikipedia picture of the day on February 19, 2018: Snow polo match between the teams of Cartier (in red) and Ralph Lauren (in black) at the 30th edition of the Snow Polo World Cup, celebrated in February 2014 in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Wikipedia"
Saturday, February 17, 2018
Stars can make waves in the Orion Nebula's sea of gas and dust. This esthetic close-up of cosmic clouds and stellar winds features LL Orionis, interacting with the Orion Nebula flow. Adrift in Orion's stellar nursery and still in its formative years, variable star LL Orionis produces a wind more energetic than the wind from our own middle-aged Sun. As the fast stellar wind runs into slow moving gas a shock front is formed, analogous to the bow wave of a boat moving through water or a plane traveling at supersonic speed. The small, arcing, graceful structure just above and left of center is LL Ori's cosmic bow shock, measuring about half a light-year across. The slower gas is flowing away from the Orion Nebula's hot central star cluster, the Trapezium, located off the upper left corner of the picture. In three dimensions, LL Ori's wrap-around shock front is shaped like a bowl that appears brightest when viewed along the "bottom" edge. This beautiful painting-like photograph is part of a large mosaic view of the complex stellar nursery in Orion, filled with a myriad of fluid shapes associated with star formation. via NASA
Friday, February 16, 2018
Wikipedia picture of the day on February 17, 2018: Emil Jönsson (Sweden) and Alexey Petukhov (Russia) at the Quebec City Sprint Cross-country Skiing World Cup 2012–2013. Free Team Sprint Final. Wikipedia"
The comet PanSTARRS, also known as the blue comet (C/2016 R2), really is near the lower left edge of this stunning, wide field view recorded on January 13. Spanning nearly 20 degrees on the sky, the cosmic landscape is explored by well-exposed and processed frames from a sensitive digital camera. It consists of colorful clouds and dusty dark nebulae otherwise too faint for your eye to see, though. At top right, the California Nebula (aka NGC 1499) does have a familiar shape. Its coastline is over 60 light-years long and lies some 1,500 light-years away. The nebula's pronounced reddish glow is from hydrogen atoms ionized by luminous blue star Xi Persei just below it. Near bottom center, the famous Pleiades star cluster is some 400 light-years distant and around 15 light-years across. Its spectacular blue color is due to the reflection of starlight by interstellar dust. In between are hot stars of the Perseus OB2 association and dusty, dark nebulae along the edge of the nearby, massive Taurus and Perseus molecular clouds. Emission from unusually abundant ionized carbon monoxide (CO+) molecules fluorescing in sunlight is largely responsible for the telltale blue tint of the remarkable comet's tail. The comet was about 17 light minutes from Earth. via NASA
Thursday, February 15, 2018
Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Wikipedia picture of the day on February 15, 2018: Students from Yogyakarta State University put on a fashion show on Sudirman Street, Yogyakarta, to celebrate Chinese New Year. They are taking advantage of the car-free day policies. Wikipedia"
Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Monday, February 12, 2018
Sunday, February 11, 2018
What's happened to the setting Sun? An eclipse! In early 2009, the Moon eclipsed part of the Sun as visible from parts of Africa, Australia, and Asia. In particular the featured image, taken from the Mall of Asia seawall, caught a partially eclipsed Sun setting over Manila Bay in the Philippines. Piers are visible in silhouette in the foreground. Eclipse chasers and well placed sky enthusiasts captured many other interesting and artistic images of the year's only annular solar eclipse, including movies, eclipse shadow arrays, and rings of fire. On Thursday parts of the Sun again will become briefly blocked by the Moon, again visible to some as a partial eclipse of the Sun. Thursday's eclipse, however, will only be visible from parts of southern South America and Antarctica. via NASA
Saturday, February 10, 2018
Friday, February 9, 2018
Don't panic. It's just a spacesuited mannequin named Starman. As the sunlit crescent of planet Earth recedes in the background, Starman is comfortably seated at the wheel of a Tesla Roadster in this final image of the payload launched by a Falcon Heavy rocket on February 6. Internationally designated 2018-017A, roadster and Starman are headed for space beyond the orbit of Mars. The successful Falcon Heavy rocket has now become the most powerful rocket in operation and the roadster one of four electric cars launched from planet Earth. The other three were launched to the Moon by historically more powerful (but not reusable) Saturn V rockets. Still, Starman's roadster is probably the only one that would be considered street legal. via NASA
This digitally processed and composited picture creatively compares two famous eclipses in one; the total lunar eclipse (left) of January 31, and the total solar eclipse of August 21, 2017. The Moon appears near mid-totality in both the back-to-back total eclipses. In the lunar eclipse, its surface remains faintly illuminated in Earth's dark reddened shadow. But in the solar eclipse the Moon is in silhouette against the Sun's bright disk, where the otherwise dark lunar surface is just visible due to earthshine. Also seen in the lunar-aligned image pair are faint stars in the night sky surrounding the eclipsed Moon. Stunning details of prominences and coronal streamers surround the eclipsed Sun. The total phase of the Great American Eclipse of August 21 lasted about 2 minutes or less for locations along the Moon's shadow path. From planet Earth's night side, totality for the Super Blue Blood Moon of January 31 lasted well over an hour. via NASA
Thursday, February 8, 2018
On January 31, a leisurely lunar eclipse was enjoyed from all over the night side of planet Earth, the first of three consecutive total eclipses of the Moon. This dramatic time-lapse image followed the celestial performance for over three hours in a combined series of exposures from Hebei Province in Northern China. Fixed to a tripod, the camera records the Full Moon sliding through a clear night sky. Too bright just before and after the eclipse, the Moon's bow tie-shaped trail grows narrow and red during the darker total eclipse phase that lasted an hour and 16 minutes. In the distant background are the colorful trails of stars in concentric arcs above and below the celestial equator. via NASA
Wednesday, February 7, 2018
Big, beautiful spiral galaxy NGC 7331 is often touted as an analog to our own Milky Way. About 50 million light-years distant in the northern constellation Pegasus, NGC 7331 was recognized early on as a spiral nebula and is actually one of the brighter galaxies not included in Charles Messier's famous 18th century catalog. Since the galaxy's disk is inclined to our line-of-sight, long telescopic exposures often result in an image that evokes a strong sense of depth. In this Hubble Space Telescope close-up, the galaxy's magnificent spiral arms feature dark obscuring dust lanes, bright bluish clusters of massive young stars, and the telltale reddish glow of active star forming regions. The bright yellowish central regions harbor populations of older, cooler stars. Like the Milky Way, a supermassive black hole lies at the core of of spiral galaxy NGC 7331. via NASA
Tuesday, February 6, 2018
Wikipedia picture of the day on February 7, 2018: Diesel locomotive Di 4 of Norwegian State Railways with the daytime train from Bodø to Trondheim (Nordlandsbanen), passing the Saltfjellet between Lønsdal and Bolna. Wikipedia"
What's happening to galaxy NGC 474? The multiple layers of emission appear strangely complex and unexpected given the relatively featureless appearance of the elliptical galaxy in less deep images. The cause of the shells is currently unknown, but possibly tidal tails related to debris left over from absorbing numerous small galaxies in the past billion years. Alternatively the shells may be like ripples in a pond, where the ongoing collision with the spiral galaxy just above NGC 474 is causing density waves to ripple through the galactic giant. Regardless of the actual cause, the featured image dramatically highlights the increasing consensus that at least some elliptical galaxies have formed in the recent past, and that the outer halos of most large galaxies are not really smooth but have complexities induced by frequent interactions with -- and accretions of -- smaller nearby galaxies. The halo of our own Milky Way Galaxy is one example of such unexpected complexity. NGC 474 spans about 250,000 light years and lies about 100 million light years distant toward the constellation of the Fish (Pisces). via NASA
Monday, February 5, 2018
Sunday, February 4, 2018
It's the bubble versus the cloud. NGC 7635, the Bubble Nebula, is being pushed out by the stellar wind of massive star BD+602522, visible in blue toward the right, inside the nebula. Next door, though, lives a giant molecular cloud, visible to the far right in red. At this place in space, an irresistible force meets an immovable object in an interesting way. The cloud is able to contain the expansion of the bubble gas, but gets blasted by the hot radiation from the bubble's central star. The radiation heats up dense regions of the molecular cloud causing it to glow. The Bubble Nebula, pictured here is about 10 light-years across and part of a much larger complex of stars and shells. The Bubble Nebula can be seen with a small telescope towards the constellation of the Queen of Aethiopia (Cassiopeia). via NASA
Saturday, February 3, 2018
An unusual type of solar eclipse occurred in 2012. Usually it is the Earth's Moon that eclipses the Sun. That year, most unusually, the planet Venus took a turn. Like a solar eclipse by the Moon, the phase of Venus became a continually thinner crescent as Venus became increasingly better aligned with the Sun. Eventually the alignment became perfect and the phase of Venus dropped to zero. The dark spot of Venus crossed our parent star. The situation could technically be labeled a Venusian annular eclipse with an extraordinarily large ring of fire. Pictured here during the occultation, the Sun was imaged in three colors of ultraviolet light by the Earth-orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory, with the dark region toward the right corresponding to a coronal hole. Hours later, as Venus continued in its orbit, a slight crescent phase appeared again. The next Venusian transit across the Sun will occur in 2117. via NASA
Friday, February 2, 2018
This atmospheric picture of a distant horizon looks toward the tall Trisul peaks of India's snowy Himalayan mountains. Taken from a remote location on January 31, brightest star Sirius shines at the upper right. The red Moon rising is gliding through Earth's shadow during the evening's much anticipated total lunar eclipse. Enjoyed across the planet's night side, the eclipse was the first of two total lunar eclipses in 2018, kicking off a good year for moonwatchers. But this was a rare treat. The eclipsed Moon also loomed large near perigee, the closest point in its orbit, during the second Full Moon of the month, also known as a Blue Moon. For the July 27, 2018 total lunar eclipse, the Full Moon will be very near apogee. via NASA