berlin: Sun, stars, and Mercury, photographed by SOHO, 15th June 2014.

1 photo per hour for 24 hours. Mercury is between Earth and the Sun.

“Alnath” is derived from the Arabic النطح (“the butting”, as of the bull, Taurus), also rendered Elnath or El Nath. Since it is the second brightest star in Taurus, it is also known as Beta Tauri (or β Tau). Before the modern borders of the constellations were defined, Alnath was also sometimes considered to be shared with the neighboring constellation of Auriga, earning it yet another designation; Gamma Aurigae (γ Aur).

NGC 1746 is the New General Catalogue number for the loose group of stars seen at far right. At the time of their designation in 1863, the stars were thought to be an open cluster - gravitationally bound and probably sharing an origin. More recent studies show that they are not related, and only appear as a group from Earth’s perspective.

Image credit: NASA/ESA/GSFC. Animation: AgeOfDestruction.

Downtown Auriga

Rich in star clusters and nebulae, the ancient constellation of Auriga, the Charioteer, rides high in northern winter night skies. Spanning nearly 24 full moons (12 degrees) on the sky, this deep telescopic mosaic view recorded in January shows off some of Auriga’s most popular sights for cosmic tourists. The crowded field sweeps along the plane of our Milky Way galaxy in the direction opposite the galactic center. Need directions? Near the bottom of the frame, at the Charioteer’s boundary with Taurus the Bull, the bright bluish star Elnath is known as both Beta Tauri and Gamma Aurigae. On the far left and almost 300 light-years away, the busy, looping filaments of supernova remnant Simeis 147 cover about 150 light-years. Look toward the right to find emission nebula IC 410, significantly more distant, some 12,000 light-years away. Star forming IC 410 is famous for its embedded young star cluster, NGC 1893, and tadpole-shaped clouds of dust and gas. The Flaming Star Nebula, IC 405, is just a little farther along. Its red, convoluted clouds of glowing hydrogen gas are energized by hot O-type star AE Aurigae. Two of our galaxy’s open star clusters, Charles Messier's M36 and M38 line up in the starfield above, familiar to many binocular-equipped skygazers.

Image credit & copyright: Rogelio Bernal Andreo (Deep Sky Colors)


image noise, photographed / not photographed by soho, 14th june 2015.

35 frames, photographed over 7.5 hours, with the subject of the images removed as much as possible; some traces of the background stars remain, however. near centre, elnath (beta tauri) is somewhat visible as a crescent. most of the noise is from charged particles hitting the image detector.

image credit: nasa/soho. animation: ageofdestruction.