Beautiful emission nebula NGC 6164 was created by a rare, hot, luminous O-type star, some 40 times as massive as the Sun. Seen at the center of the cosmic cloud, the star is a mere 3 to 4 million years old. In another three to four million years the massive star will end its life in a supernova explosion. Spanning around 4 light-years, the nebula itself has a bipolar symmetry. That makes it similar in appearance to more familiar planetary nebulae – the gaseous shrouds surrounding dying sun-like stars. Also like many planetary nebulae, NGC 6164 has been found to have an extensive, faint halo, revealed in this deep telescopic image of the region. Expanding into the surrounding interstellar medium, the material in the halo is likely from an earlier active phase of the O star. The gorgeous skyscape is a composite of narrow-band image data highlighting the glowing gas, and broad-band data of the surrounding starfield. NGC 6164 is 4,200 light-years away in the southern constellation of Norma.
Archives for June 2009
Eventually I had to get back to the series naming I started with, right? This week’s edition would be better-named as “Randomspam”, but oh well. To start, a lovely image of the Iris Nebula by Alvin Jeng.
Next, a page from the Dunhuang Star Atlas, a Chinese work dating from 649-684 AD:
This ancient Chinese map of planet Earth’s northern sky is part of the Dunhuang Star Atlas, one of the most impressive documents in the history of astronomy. The oldest complete star atlas known, it dates to the years 649 to 684, discovered at the Silk Road town of Dunhuang in 1907. A recent analysis that examines the accuracy and projections used to make it notes the atlas marks positions of over 1,300 stars and outlines 257 Chinese star groups or asterisms. The star positions in the hand drawn atlas were found to be accurate to within a few degrees. In this example showing the north polar region, a very recognizable Big Dipper, part of the modern constellation Ursa Major, lies along the bottom of the chart. An additional 12 charts depict equatorial regions in 30 degree sections and also include a grouping resembling the modern constellation Orion. The atlas is on display at the British Library in London to celebrate the International Year of Astronomy.
On June 15th, the LOIRP released another Lunar Orbiter image, this time of the Apollo 12 landing site:
(There’s also a version at the site without annotations, if you want it. Both images come in a large version.)
Finally, as Saturn approaches its equinox in August, Cassini is recording interesting nearly-edge-on images of Saturn’s rings, and a tiny moon among them:
(You really need to see them large to get the full effect. I hate how image sizing puts kinks in diagonal lines, blah.)
To understand what you’re seeing, I highly recommend this article by Phil Plait, as he does a great job explaining what’s going on and why it’s significant. Below is another view of the tiny moon Daphnis, chugging along in Saturn’s rings.
So you’ve seen all the iconic Apollo 11 photos. Odds are, in the media and such, you’re seeing them right now, and will do so for the next month. Well here’s a smattering you’ve probably NEVER seen — *I* certainly had not seen them, until now — showing the befores and afters of America’s first moon-landing mission. (Link via Flight Plan.)
The above photo is my favorite of the bunch — astronauts in sombreros, lol — and below, I had to include a photo of Mr. Enigmatic, Neil Armstrong:
Here’s an amazing image for you: All (known) Bodies in the Solar System Larger than 200 Miles in Diameter (there’s a lot of horizontal scrolling involved.) You can order it through Zazzle as a print, though even the largest size is only 6″ tall (and 52″ long), which makes me wonder how legible it would be. Maybe it’s better to download the screen version, which at 11,060 x 1,000 pixels is quite viewable! Below is a small snippet of it: