milky-way-galaxy

Peering deep into the heart of the Milky Way, this image shows a region of the sky in the constellation of Sagittarius. The two knots of stars you see are the globular clusters NGC 6522 (upper right) and NGC 6528 (lower left). There are over 200,000 stars in this image alone which covers a patch of sky just two-thirds as wide as the full moon.

The vastness of the cosmos is staggering.

Photo by Adam Block/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona
Info Credit: Phil Plait, Bad Astronomy

The Sunflower Galaxy, Messier 63 sports a bright yellowish core in this sharp composite image from space- and ground-based telescopes. Its sweeping blue spiral arms are streaked with cosmic dust lanes and dotted with pink star forming regions. A bright spiral galaxy of the northern sky, M63 is about 25 million light-years distant in the loyal constellation Canes Venatici. A dominant member of a known galaxy group, M63 has faint, extended features that are likely star streams from tidally disrupted satellite galaxies. M63 shines across the electromagnetic spectrum and is thought to have undergone bursts of intense star formation. 

Image Credit & Copyright: Data - Hubble Legacy Archive, Subaru Telescope (NAOJ), Don Goldman Processing - Robert Gendler, Roberto Colombari, Don Goldman

In parts of Antarctica, not only is it winter, but the Sun can spend weeks below the horizon.At China's Zhongshan Station, people sometimes venture out into the cold to photograph a spectacular night sky.The featured image from one such outing was taken in mid-July, just before the end of this polar night.Pointing up, the wide angle lens captured not only the ground at the bottom, but at the top as well. In the foreground is a colleague also taking pictures.In the distance, a spherical satellite receiver and several windmills are visible.Numerous stars dot the night sky, including Sirius and Canopus.Far in the background, stretching overhead from horizon to horizon, is the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy.Even further in the distance, visible as extended smudges near the top, are the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, satellite galaxies near our huge Milky Way Galaxy.

Credit: NASA

Time And Space

The night sky over Joshua Tree National Park is a glittering dome of sparkling stars, bright planets and streaking meteors – but most people no longer get to see it where they live. In urban and suburban settings, artificial lighting and atmospheric pollutants wash out the light of the stars. Boasting some of the darkest nights in Southern California, Joshua Tree offers many visitors the chance to admire the Milky Way for the first time in their lives and was recently designated an International Dark Sky Park. Photo by Brad Sutton, National Park Service.

PHOTO OF THE WEEK

 This week’s ‘Photo of the Week’ features a spectacular photo of the Milky Way over the grasslands of Estonia. Taken by the talented photographer Hendrik Mändla in Tarvastu, Estonia, this beautiful photo offers an interesting contrast between the green lushness of nature and the blinding red lights of a town visible on the right of the photo. The deep blues and purples of the Milky Way add depth to this photo and make a striking example of the differences between nature and civilization.
 For more amazing photos be sure to check out Hendrik’s Instagram @hendrik.mandla at https://www.instagram.com/hendrik.mandla/

The Summer Triangle over the Great Wall : Have you ever seen the Summer Triangle? The bright stars Vega, Deneb, and Altair form a large triangle on the sky that can be seen rising in the northern spring during the morning, and rising in the northern fall during the evening. During summer months, the triangle can be found nearly overhead near midnight as three of the brightest stars on the sky. Featured here, along with the arch of the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy, the Summer Triangle asterism was captured this spring over the Great Wall of China. This part of the Great Wall, a World Culture Heritage Site, was built during the 6th century on the Yan Mountains. At the summit is Wangjinglou Tower from which, on a clear night, the lights of Beijing are visible in the distance. via NASA

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As night falls on Devils Tower National Monument, it transforms from a place of darkness into a place of wonder. Thousands of twinkling, glittering stars dot the night sky over an astounding geologic feature that protrudes out of the rolling prairie surrounding the Black Hills. Stay for nature’s night show at Wyoming’s Devils Tower – it’s worth it! Photo courtesy of David Kingham.

Milky Way and Exploding Meteor : Tonight the Perseid Meteor Shower reaches its maximum. Grains of icy rock will streak across the sky as they evaporate during entry into Earths atmosphere. These grains were shed from Comet Swift-Tuttle. The Perseids result from the annual crossing of the Earth through Comet Swift-Tuttles orbit, and are typically the most active meteor shower of the year. Although it is hard to predict the level of activity in any meteor shower, in a clear dark sky an observer might see a meteor a minute. This years Perseids occur just before a new Moon and so the relatively dark sky should make even faint meteors visible. Meteor showers in general are best be seen from a relaxing position, away from lights. Featured here is a meteor caught exploding two weeks ago above Austria next to the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy. via NASA

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A Starry Night of Iceland : On some nights, the sky is the best show in town. On this night, the sky was not only the best show in town, but a composite image of the sky won an international competition for landscape astrophotography. The featured winning image was taken in 2011 over Jkulsrln, the largest glacial lake in Iceland. The photographer combined six exposures to capture not only two green auroral rings, but their reflections off the serene lake. Visible in the distant background sky is the band of our Milky Way Galaxy and the Andromeda galaxy. A powerful coronal mass ejection from the Sun caused auroras to be seen as far south as Wisconsin, USA. Solar activity over the past week has resulted in auroras just over the past few days. via NASA

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Bright Spiral Galaxy M81 : One of the brightest galaxies in planet Earths sky is similar in size to our Milky Way Galaxy: big, beautiful M81. This grand spiral galaxy can be found toward the northern constellation of the Great Bear . This superbly detailed view reveals M81s bright yellow nucleus, blue spiral arms, and sweeping cosmic dust lanes with a scale comparable to the Milky Way. Hinting at a disorderly past, a remarkable dust lane actually runs straight through the disk, to the left of the galactic center, contrary to M81s other prominent spiral features. The errant dust lane may be the lingering result of a close encounter between M81 and its smaller companion galaxy, M82. Scrutiny of variable stars in M81 has yielded one of the best determined distances for an external galaxy 11.8 million light-years. via NASA

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Nothing compares to staying up all night, watching the stars twinkle overhead. Derek Culver captured this amazing pic at Mount Rainier National Park in Washington. The lights on the mountain: A few climbers getting an early start to the summit under the Milky Way.  Photo courtesy of Derek Culver.

A bridge of stars connects two dwarf galaxies

The Magellanic Clouds, the two largest satellite galaxies of the Milky Way, appear to be connected by a bridge stretching across 43,000 light years, according to an international team of astronomers led by researchers from the University of Cambridge. The discovery is reported in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS) and is based on the Galactic stellar census being conducted by the European Space Observatory, Gaia.

For the past 15 years, scientists have been eagerly anticipating the data from Gaia. The first portion of information from the satellite was released three months ago and is freely accessible to everyone. This dataset of unprecedented quality is a catalogue of the positions and brightness of a billion stars in our Milky Way galaxy and its environs.

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A Supernova through Galaxy Dust : Telescopes around the world are tracking a bright supernova that occurred in a nearby dusty galaxy. The powerful stellar explosion was first noted earlier this month. The nearby galaxy is the photogenic Centaurus A, visible with binoculars and known for impressive filaments of light-absorbing dust that cross its center. Cen A is featured here in a high-resolution archival Hubble Space Telescope image, with an inset image featuring the supernova taken from the ground only two days after discovery. Designated SN2016adj, the supernova is highlighted with crosshairs in the inset, appearing just to the left of a bright foreground star in our Milky Way Galaxy. This supernova is currently thought to be of Type IIb, a stellar-core-collapse supernova, and is of high interest because it occurred so nearby and because it is being seen through a known dust filament. Current and future observations of this supernova may give us new clues about the fates of massive stars and how some elements found on our Earth were formed. via NASA

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