Aurora over Icelandic Glacier

Aurora over Icelandic Glacier

Hello, my little geeks and nerdlings!

Saw this image first thing this morning over at the NASA’s APOD website and my eyes popped open!

aurora-iceland-reflection[Image Credit & Copyright: James Boardman Woodend (Images Inspired by Nature)]

Explanation: Several key conditions came together to create this award-winning shot. These included a dark night, few clouds, an epic auroral display, and a body of water that was both calm enough and unfrozen enough to show reflected stars. The featured skyscape of activity and serenity appeared over Iceland‘s Vatnajökull Glacier a year ago January, with the Jökulsárlón Iceberg Lagoon captured in the foreground. Aurora filledskies continue to be common near Earth’s poles as our Sun, near Solar Maximum, continues to expel energetic clouds of plasma into the Solar System.

Eye-popping. I love this kind of stuff. No, seriously. I love it!

If you haven’t made browsing the NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day website part of your morning routine, I strongly urge you to do so. If nothing else, you’ll see some great photos and maybe gain a little perspective on your life.

aa-tribalfang

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Hubble 25th Anniversary: Pillars of Creation

Hubble 25th Anniversary: Pillars of Creation

pillars-of-creation

[Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI / AURA)]

Explanation:  To celebrate 25 years (1990-2015) of exploring the Universe from low Earth orbit, the Hubble Space Telescope’s cameras were used to revisit its most iconic image. The result is this sharper, wider view of the region dubbed the Pillars of Creation, first imaged by Hubble in 1995. Stars are forming deep inside the towering structures. The light-years long columns of cold gas and dust are some 6,500 light-years distant in M16, the Eagle Nebula, toward the constellation Serpens. Sculpted and eroded by the energetic ultraviolet light and powerful winds from M16’s cluster of young, massive stars, the cosmic pillars themselves are destined for destruction. But the turbulent environment of star formation within M16, whose spectacular details are captured in this Hubble visible-light snapshot, is likely similar to the environment that formed our own Sun.

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Credit, as always, goes to NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day! If you don’t already go to this site daily, make it a habit. You won’t be disappointed.

Solar Flare from a Sharper Sun

Hello, boys and girls…

Another wonderful photo from the geeks and nerdlings at NASA!

solar-flares(Image Credit: Solar Dynamics Observatory/AIA, NASA
Processing: NAFE by Miloslav Druckmuller (Brno University of Technology)

Explanation: Solar active region AR2192 was the largest recorded sunspot group of the last 24 years. Before rotating off the Earth-facing side of the Sun at the end of October, it produced a whopping six energetic X-class flares. Its most intense flare was captured on October 24 in this stunning view from the orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory. The scene is a color combination of images made at three different wavelengths of extreme ultraviolet light; 193 angstroms shown in blue, 171 angstroms in white, and 304 angstroms in red. The emission, from highly ionized Iron and Helium atoms, traces magnetic field lines looping through the hot plasma of the Sun’s outer chromosphere and corona. Beneath, the cooler solar photosphere appears dark at extreme ultraviolet wavelengths. The exceptionally sharp composite image has been processed with a new mathematical algorithm (NAFE) that adapts to noise and brightness in extreme ultraviolet image data to reliably enhance small details.

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Gigantic Hurricane on Saturn

Cassini captures gigantic hurricane on Saturn in exquisite detail

Saturn, for example, has an odd hexagonal pattern in the clouds at its north pole, and when the planet tilted enough to illuminate it, the light revealed a giant hurricane embedded in the center of the hexagon. Scientists think the immense storm may have been there for years.

The photo below was taken by the Cassini orbiter in June of 2013.

saturn-hurricane(Image: NASA/JPL)

This breathtaking photo comes to us courtesy of the Jet Propulsion Laboratories at NASA.

It was taken by the Cassini orbiter in June of 2013.

aa-tribalfang

October Aurora in Prairie Skies

The recent US government shutdown meant a lot of things to a lot of people.

To me, it meant that NASA’s Astronomy Photo of the Day was not up and running!

Luckily, things are back to abnormal now so imagine my delight at seeing this photo, courtesy of NASA.

praire-northern-lights(Image Credit: Randy Halverson)

NASA’s explanation: Wind and spaceweather are transformed in this haunting night skyscape. The prairie windmill and colorful auroral display were captured on October 1, from central South Dakota, USA, as a good season for aurora hunters came with longer autumn nights. From green to rarer reddish hues, the northern lights are sparked by the geomagnetic storms caused by solar activity. These extend far above the cloud bank to altitudes well over 100 kilometers, against the backdrop of distant stars in the northern night. Visual double star Mizar, marking the middle of the Big Dipper’s handle, is easy to spot at the left edge of the frame. The dipper’s North Celestial Pole pointers Merak and Dubhe line up vertically near picture center.

Welcome back, NASA. We missed you!

aa-tribalfang

Rotating Moon (NASA)

In honour of the upcoming Harvest Moon on Thursday September 18-19, 2013.

full-moon-sm

NASA brings us a Rotating Moon!

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From NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day

No one, presently, sees the Moon rotate like this. That’s because the Earth’s moon is tidally locked to the Earth, showing us only one side. Given modern digital technology, however, combined with many detailed images returned by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), a high resolution virtual Moon rotation movie has now been composed. The above time-lapse video starts with the standard Earth view of the Moon. Quickly, though, Mare Orientale, a large crater with a dark center that is difficult to see from the Earth, rotates into view just below the equator. From an entire lunar month condensed into 24 seconds, the video clearly shows that the Earth side of the Moon contains an abundance of dark lunar maria, while the lunar far side is dominated by bright lunar highlands. Two new missions are scheduled to begin exploring the Moon within the year, the first of which is NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE). LADEE, which launched just over a week ago, is scheduled to begin orbiting the Moon in October and will explore the thin and unusual atmosphere of the Moon. In a few months, the Chinese Chang’e 3 is scheduled to launch, a mission that includes a soft lander that will dispatch a robotic rover.

Earth Mosaic

An Earth Mosaic

Thanks once again to the amazing geeks and nerdlings at NASA for this outstanding photo collage!

Explanation: This friendly photo collage is constructed from more than 1,400 images shared by denizens of planet Earth as part of the Cassini Mission’s July 19th Wave at Saturn event

earth-mosaic-s(Earth Waves at Saturn) [1]

The base picture of Earth corresponds to the view from the Saturn-orbiting Cassini spacecraft on that date as its own cameras recorded images including planet Earth as a pale blue dot in the background. Of course, Saturn was 9.65 Astronomical Units away at the time, so it took light from all the waving Earth dwellers just over 80 minutes to travel there. Want to smile? Download and zoom in to the full-resolution (28MB jpg file) collage image available here.

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[1] Credit: NASAJPL-CaltechCassini ProjectDenizens of Earth