hubble’s panorama of the carina nebula, some 7500 light years away from earth, and about fifty light years in length here. stars old and new illuminate clouds of cosmic dust and gas, like the clumping hydrogen from which they were born.
the top star seen at the bisection of the first two panels, part of the eta carinae binary star system (most stars are in binary systems), is estimated to be more than a hundred times the mass of the sun - large enough to go supernoava in about a million years.
it also produces four million times as much light as the sun, and was once the second brightest star in the night sky. but surrounding dust and gas has dimmed our view of the star, though it’s still visible in the night sky to all but those in the most light polluted cities.
he fifth panel shows ‘the mystic mountain,’ where nascent stars in the cloud are spewing hot ionized gas and dust at 850,000 miles an hour . eventually, the ultraviolet radiation from these stars will blow away the dust, leaving visible the stars, like the cluster seen at the top of the panel, which were formed only half a million years ago.

the signs at prom

Aries: the one who steals the mic and gets pulled off stage

Taurus: the one whose feet hurt from heels by the end of the night

Gemini: the one who complains about the shitty music

Cancer: the one crying because their date cancelled last minute

Leo: the one letting it all out on the dance floor

Virgo: the one who just stays with their friends

Libra: the one who sees a cute guy and starts flirting with them

Scorpio: the one who brings someone over eighteen who intimidates everyone else

Sagittarius: the one who waited in the buffet line too long

Capricorn: the one that is part of school government who has to make a speech but really doesn’t want to

Aquarius: the one who gets crowned prom queen

Pisces: the one who ends up smoking in the bathroom with some strangers

Comet Meets Moon and Morning Star : A crescent Moon and brilliant Venus met in predawn skies on December 7, a beautiful conjunction of planet Earths two brightest celestial beacons after the Sun. Harder to see but also on the scene was Comet Catalina . The fainter comet clearly sporting two tails, lunar night side, bright sunlit lunar crescent, and brilliant morning star, are all recorded here by combining short and long exposures of the same field of view. Pointing down and right, Catalinas dust tail tends to trail behind the comets orbit. Its ion tail, angled toward the top left of the frame, is blowing away from the Sun. Discovered in 2013, the new visitor from the Oort cloud was closest to the Sun on November 15 and is now outbound, headed for its closest approach to Earth in mid-January. via NASA


Maia Weinstock (of Lego Sci Tweeps & @astrotunes fame) recently hosted a launch* party for MIT astronomer & professor Anna Frebel, whose book Searching for the Oldest Stars (originally published in German as Auf der Suche nach den ältesten Sternen) was just published in the United States. Inspired by this tutorial, Anna baked and decorated spectacular SPACE COOKIES featuring rather recognizable Pleiades star cluster and Trifid Nebula, among other astoundingly accurate astronomical objects! And as icing on the cake cookie, Maia debuted Anna’s custom Lego mini-fig! What a talented team!


*but of course!

Photo credits: Maia Weinstock, Tracy Karin Prell, & Jen Myronuk

When Gemini Sends Stars to Paranal : From a radiant point in the constellation of the Twins, the annual Geminid meteor shower rain down on planet Earth. Tonight, the Geminds reach their peak and could be quite spectacular. The featured blended image, however, captured the showers impressive peak in the year 2012. The beautiful skyscape collected Geminis lovely shooting stars in a careful composite of 30 exposures, each 20 seconds long, from the dark of the Chilean Atacama Desert over ESOs Paranal Observatory. In the foreground Paranals four Very Large Telescopes, four Auxillary Telescopes, and the VLT Survey telescope are all open and observing. The skies above are shared with bright Jupiter , and the faint light of the Milky Way. Dust swept up from the orbit of active asteroid 3200 Phaethon, Geminis meteors enter Earths atmosphere traveling at about 22 kilometers per second. via NASA