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Solar eclipse – composite view from Easter Island.

The View From Easter Island

http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/iotd.html The View From Easter Island

On July 11, 2010, the new moon passed directly in front of the sun, causing a total solar eclipse in the South Pacific. In this image, the solar eclipse is shown in gray and white from a photo provided by the Williams College Expedition to Easter Island and was embedded with an image of the sun’s outer corona taken by the Large Angle Spectrometric Coronagraph (LASCO) on the SOHO spacecraft and shown in red false color. LASCO uses a disk to blot out the bright sun and the inner corona so that the faint outer corona can be monitored and studied. Further, the dark silhouette of the moon was covered with an image of the sun taken in extreme ultraviolet light at about the same time by the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly on the Solar Dynamics Observatory. The composite brings out the correlation of structures in the inner and outer corona.

Image Credit: NASA/ESA/Williams College Eclipse Expedition

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s an … Asteroid.

Farewell LLutetiautetia

On its way to a 2014 rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft, with NASA instruments aboard, flew past asteroid Lutetia on Saturday, July 10.

The instruments aboard Rosetta recorded the first close-up image of the biggest asteroid so far visited by a spacecraft. Rosetta made measurements to derive the mass of the object, understand the properties of the asteroid’s surface crust, record the solar wind in the vicinity and look for evidence of an atmosphere. The spacecraft passed the asteroid at a minimum distance of 3,160 kilometers (1,950 miles) and at a velocity of 15 kilometers (9 miles) per second, completing the flyby injust a minute. But the cameras and other instruments had been working for hours and in some cases days beforehand, and will continue afterwards. Shortly after closest approach, Rosetta began transmitting data to Earth for processing.

Lutetia has been a mystery for many years. Ground telescopes have shown that it presents confusing characteristics. In some respects it resembles a ‘C-type’ asteroid, a primitive body left over from the formation of the solar system. In others, it looks like an ‘M-type’. These have been associated with iron meteorites, are usually reddish and thought to be fragments of the cores of much larger objects.


Space photo of the day. July 8, 2010. A group of galaxies.

See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.

Those swirls are galaxies. Not planets, not stars,
not solar systems.  Galaxies. Wow!

HCG 87: A Small Group of Galaxies
Credit: Sally Hunsberger (Lowell Obs.), Jane Charlton (Penn State) et al.;
Data: Hubble Legacy Archive; Processing: Robert Gendler

Explanation: Sometimes galaxies form groups. For example, our own Milky Way Galaxy is part of the Local Group of Galaxies. Small, compact groups, like Hickson Compact Group 87 (HCG 87) shown above, are interesting partly because they slowly self-destruct. Indeed, the galaxies of HCG 87 are gravitationally stretching each other during their 100-million year orbits around a common center. The pulling creates colliding gas that causes bright bursts of star formation and feeds matter into their active galaxy centers. HCG 87 is composed of a large edge-on spiral galaxy visible on the lower left, an elliptical galaxy visible on the lower right, and a spiral galaxy visible near the top. The small spiral near the center might be far in the distance. Several stars from our Galaxy are also visible in the foreground. The above picture was taken in 1999 July by the Hubble Space Telescope‘s Wide Field Planetary Camera 2. Studying groups like HCG 87 allows insight into how all galaxies form and evolve.

From http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap100706.html

Space Photo for July 4. Mother Earth makes her own fireworks. The Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights.

Talk about fireworks!  Mother Earth doesn’t need a fireworks stand. She makes her own.

The Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, as viewed from space. Auroras are caused by atoms in the upper atmosphere colliding with solar wind particles that are accelerated along the Earth’s magnetic field lines. NASA


An interesting ‘light show’ to go with the music. Watch the music notes. That’s right, watch the notes.

Space photo – July 2. Apollo 16 mission to the moon

Talk about “Fly me to the moon.” Or should I say – flew me to the moon.

 All-American Salute

All-American Salute

Astronaut John W. Young, commander of the Apollo 16 lunar landing mission, leaps from the lunar surface as he salutes the United States flag at the Descartes landing site during the first Apollo 16 extravehicular activity. Astronaut Charles M. Duke Jr., lunar module pilot, took this picture. The Lunar Module “Orion” is on the left. The Lunar Roving Vehicle is parked beside Orion and the object behind Young (in the shadow of the Lunar Module) is the Far Ultraviolet Camera/Spectrograph. Stone Mountain dominates the background of this lunar scene.

Image Credit: NASA

Space photo of the day 06/30. Spiral galaxy known as Messier 66 or NGC 3627.

Ain’t it purty? OK.  I’ve been to too many Oklahoma! rehearsals. But it is beautiful.

Space photo of the day 06/30

SA/JPL-Caltech/R. Kennicutt/University of Arizona and the SINGS Team


June 30, 2010

This image of spiral galaxy NGC 3627, also known as Messier 66, was captured by the Spitzer Infrared Nearby Galaxy Survey Legacy Project. NGC 3627 is estimated to be 30 million light-years away, towards the constellation Leo. Astronomers suspect that the galaxy’s distorted shape is caused by its ongoing gravitational interactions with its neighbors Messier 65 and NGC 3628. NGC 3627 is another brilliant example of a barred spiral galaxy, the most common type of disk galaxy in the local universe.

Space photo of the day: June 28. Summer Solstice 2004

Since we just past the summer Solstice, I thought this might be appropriate. The following is the image and writeup from http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/image_feature_187.html

The Sun at SolsticeSOHO image of the Sun

The Sun has reached its northernmost point in planet Earth’s sky marking a season change and the first solstice of the year 2004. We celebrate the arrival of summer with this false-color composite of three images from the space-based Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), a mission of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA).

All three images are made in extreme ultraviolet light, but each individual image highlights a different temperature range in the upper solar atmosphere: Red at 2 million, green at 1.5 million, and blue at 1 million degrees Celsius (3.6 million, 2.7 million, and 1.8 million degrees Fahrenheit). The combined image shows bright active regions strewn across the solar disk, which would otherwise appear as dark groups of sunspots in visible light images.

SOHO’s spectacular images are also featured in the cover article from this month’s National Geographic magazine.

Image From Astronomy Picture of the Day, Credit: NASA/ESA