Here are the 10 beautiful pictures selected for the period March 11 through March 20, 2018 by the fantastic website Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) provided by NASA and Michigan Technological University (MTU). Each day a different image, photograph, or video of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer. Amazing cosmos !
Dual Particle Beams in Herbig-Haro 24 || Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)/Hubble-Europe Collaboration; || Acknowledgment: D. Padgett (NASA’s GSFC), T. Megeath (U. Toledo), B. Reipurth (U. Hawaii) || Explanation: This might look like a double-bladed lightsaber, but these two cosmic jets actually beam outward from a newborn star in a galaxy near you. Constructed from Hubble Space Telescope image data, the stunning scene spans about half a light-year across Herbig-Haro 24 (HH 24), some 1,300 light-years away in the stellar nurseries of the Orion B molecular cloud complex. Hidden from direct view, HH 24’s central protostar is surrounded by cold dust and gas flattened into a rotating accretion disk. As material from the disk falls toward the young stellar object it heats up. Opposing jets are blasted out along the system’s rotation axis. Cutting through the region’s interstellar matter, the narrow, energetic jets produce a series of glowing shock fronts along their path. – More Info
Flying over the Earth at Night II || Video Credit: NASA, Gateway to Astronaut Photography; Music: The Low Seas (The 126ers) || Explanation: What would it be like to orbit the Earth? The International Space Station (ISS) does this every 90 minutes, and sometimes the astronauts on board take image sequences that are made into videos. The featured time-lapse video shows many visual spectacles of the dark Earth below. First, as the video begins, green and red auroras are visible on the upper left above white clouds. Soon city lights come into view, and it becomes clear you are flying over North America, eventually passing over Florida. In the second sequence you fly over Europe and Africa, eventually passing over the Nile River. Brief flashes of light are lightning in storms. Stars far in the distance can be seen rising through the greenish-gold glow of the Earth’s atmosphere. –
The Complete Galactic Plane: Up and Down || Image Credit & Copyright: Moophz Himself (Maroun Habib) || Explanation: Is it possible to capture the entire plane of our galaxy in a single image? Yes, but not in one exposure — and it took some planning to do it in two. The top part of the featured image is the night sky above Lebanon, north of the equator, taken in 2017 June. The image was taken at a time when the central band of the Milky Way Galaxy passed directly overhead. The bottom half was similarly captured six months later in latitude-opposite Chile, south of Earth’s equator. Each image therefore captured the night sky in exactly the opposite direction of the other, when fully half the Galactic plane was visible. The southern half was then inverted — car and all — and digitally appended to the top half to show the entire central band of our Galaxy, as a circle, in a single image. Many stars and nebulas are visible, with the Large Magellanic Cloud being particularly notable inside the lower half of the complete galactic circle. – More Info
Night Sky Highlights: March to May || Illustration Credit & Copyright: Universe2go.com || Explanation: What might you see in the night sky over the next few months? The featured graphic gives a few highlights. Viewed as a clock face centered at the bottom, sky events in March fan out toward the left, April toward the top, and May toward the right. Objects relatively close to Earth are illustrated, in general, as nearer to the cartoon figure with the telescope at the bottom center — although almost everything pictured can be seen without a telescope. Sky highlights this season include a bright Venus in the evening sky during March, the Lyrids meteor shower during April, and Jupiter entering the evening sky during May. As true in every season, the International Space Station (ISS) can be sometimes be found drifting across your sky if you know just when and where to look. – More Info
Catalog Entry Number 1 || Image Credit & Copyright: Bernhard Hubl (CEDIC) || Explanation: Every journey has first step and every catalog a first entry. First entries in six well-known deep sky catalogs appear in these panels, from upper left to lower right in chronological order of original catalog publication. From 1774, Charles Messier’s catalog entry number 1 is M1, famous cosmic crustacean and supernova remnant the Crab Nebula. J.L.E. Dreyer’s (not so new) New General Catalog was published in 1888. A spiral galaxy in Pegasus, his NGC 1 is centered in the next panel. Just below it in the frame is another spiral galaxy cataloged as NGC 2. In Dreyer’s follow-on Index Catalog (next panel), IC 1 is actually a faint double star, though. Now recognized as part of the Perseus molecular cloud complex, dark nebula Barnard 1 begins the bottom row from Dark Markings of the Sky, a 1919 catalog by E.E. Barnard. Abell 1 is a distant galaxy cluster in Pegasus, from George Abell’s 1958 catalog of Rich Clusters of Galaxies. The final panel is centered on vdB 1, from Sidney van den Bergh’s 1966 study. The pretty, blue galactic reflection nebula is found in the constellation Cassiopeia. – More Info