Archives for June 2011
I love the colors in this: blues, browns against an almost-burgundy purple background. Lovely.
Cosmic dust clouds sprawl across a rich field of stars in this sweeping telescopic vista near the northern boundary of Corona Australis, the Southern Crown. Probably less than 500 light-years away and effectively blocking light from more distant, background stars in the Milky Way, the densest part of the dust cloud is about 8 light-years long. At its tip (upper right) is a group of lovely reflection nebulae cataloged as NGC 6726, 6727, 6729, and IC 4812. A characteristic blue color is produced as light from hot stars is reflected by the cosmic dust. The smaller yellowish nebula (NGC 6729) surrounds young variable star R Coronae Australis. Magnificent globular star cluster NGC 6723 is toward the upper right corner of the view. While NGC 6723 appears to be part of the group, it actually lies nearly 30,000 light-years away, far beyond the Corona Australis dust clouds.
Two weeks from today (we hope!), space shuttle Atlantis will make her final climb into orbit, on the final space shuttle flight of the program. I, along with many, many others, will be there to see her off. I grew up with space shuttles, they defined my dreams for most of my life, and it seems fitting to be in Florida for the final sendoff. I’ll be at the Space View Park Tweetup event, please join us! (Registration is FREE.)
This is one of my favorite Robert McCall paintings of the space program. The beautiful texture of the Moon, combined with the vibrant colors of the Apollo 8 capsule is just magnificent.
Human eyes directly observed the far side of the Moon for the first time on Christmas Eve 1968. Robert McCall imagines the sight of the rocket engine firing to propel the spacecraft out of lunar orbit for its return to Earth.
This work is on display at the National Air and Space Museum’s Mall building from May 28 to Oct. 9, 2011, as part of the NASA | Art: 50 Years of Exploration exhibition.
Copyright: Smithsonian Institution
I love the mixture of dark and light in this beautiful image of M64, the Sleeping Beauty Galaxy. (I also love the name, though I can’t find any information on why it’s called that.)
The Sleeping Beauty galaxy may appear peaceful at first sight but it is actually tossing and turning. In an unexpected twist, recent observations have shown that the gas in the outer regions of this photogenic spiral is rotating in the opposite direction from all of the stars! Collisions between gas in the inner and outer regions are creating many hot blue stars and pink emission nebula. The above image was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2001 and released in 2004. The fascinating internal motions of M64, also cataloged as NGC 4826, are thought to be the result of a collision between a small galaxy and a large galaxy where the resultant mix has not yet settled down.
A quickie pretty post, on my first day back in California…
A jewel of the southern sky, the Great Carina Nebula, also known as NGC 3372, spans over 300 light-years, one of our galaxy’s largest star forming regions. Like the smaller, more northerly Great Orion Nebula, the Carina Nebula is easily visible to the unaided eye, though at a distance of 7,500 light-years it is some 5 times farther away. This gorgeous telescopic portrait reveals remarkable details of the region’s glowing filaments of interstellar gas and obscuring cosmic dust clouds. Wider than the Full Moon in angular size, the field of view stretches nearly 100 light-years across the nebula. The Carina Nebula is home to young, extremely massive stars, including the still enigmatic variable Eta Carinae, a star with well over 100 times the mass of the Sun. Eta Carinae is the brightest star at the left, near the dusty Keyhole Nebula (NGC 3324). While Eta Carinae itself maybe on the verge of a supernova explosion, X-ray images indicate that the Great Carina Nebula has been a veritable supernova factory.