The Whirlpool Galaxy and Beyond : Follow the handle of the Big Dipper away from the dippers bowl, until you get to the handles last bright star. Then, just slide your telescope a little south and west and you might find this stunning pair of interacting galaxies, the 51st entry in Charles Messiers famous catalog. Perhaps the original spiral nebula, the large galaxy with well defined spiral structure is also cataloged as NGC 5194. Its spiral arms and dust lanes clearly sweep in front of its companion galaxy , NGC 5195. The pair are about 31 million light-years distant and officially lie within the angular boundaries of the small constellation Canes Venatici. Though M51 looks faint and fuzzy to the human eye, the above long-exposure, deep-field image taken earlier this year shows much of the faint complexity that actually surrounds the smaller galaxy. Thousands of the faint dots in background of the featured image are actually galaxies far across the universe. via NASA


S.S. Alan Poindexter arrives at ISS

After lingering in orbit to allow for the Expedition 50 Soyuz to arrive, the OA-5 Cygnus was berthed to the International Space Station earlier this morning, October 23. 

Dubbed the S.S. Alan Poindexter, Cygnus brings more than 5,100 pounds of cargo to the orbiting laboratory. The cargo freighter launched from Wallops Island, Virginia on Orbital ATK’s return to flight mission of their Antares rocket October 17.

Grappling by the station’s Canadarm 2 occurred at 7:28am EDT after Cygnus performed a series of maneuvers to approach the station from below. Berthing to the nadir, or Earth-facing side of the Unity module was completed a little over three hours later.

Cygnus will remain attached to the station until November 18, when it will depart for a week-long solo mission where it will release multiple cubesats as well as the SAFFIRE-II combustion experiment. The spacecraft will then reenter the Earth’s atmosphere destroying it and multiple tons of trash stowed aboard.

P/c: NASA.

Eagle Aurora over Norway

(via APOD; Image Credit & Copyright: Bjørn Jørgensen )

What’s that in the sky? An aurora. A large coronal mass ejection occurred on our Sun five days before this 2012 image was taken, throwing a cloud of fast moving electrons, protons, and ions toward the Earth. Although most of this cloud passed above the Earth, some of it impacted our Earth’s magnetosphere and resulted in spectacular auroras being seen at high northern latitudes. Featured here is a particularly photogenic auroral corona captured above Grotfjord, Norway. To some, this shimmering green glow of recombining atmospheric oxygen might appear as a large eagle, but feel free to share what it looks like to you. Although now past Solar Maximum, our Sun continues to show occasional activity creating impressive auroras on Earth visible only last week.


NASA: Past and Present Dreams of the Future by Benedict Redgrove

Benedict Redgrove is a talented 47-year-old self-taught photographer and graphic designer currently based in London, UK. Redgrove has produced a new ongoing photography project titled “ NASA – Past and Present Dreams of the Future” documenting survey of Nasa Technology. For Benedict, the project started seven years ago and will continue until the launch of SLS and Orion in 2018. Past and Present Dreams of the Future is an extraordinary series of images of NASA’s iconic crafts, suits, facilities and objects.

“To me, there is no other organisation in the world that is more progressive, more exciting or stands more for the betterment of mankind and peace than NASA. In my opinion its the greatest organisation in the world, it involves, science, arts, design, engineering, manufacturing, passion, belief, education, information, creation, technology, always moving forward, always seeking answers and finding them then asking more questions. They educate us, inform us not only about the universe but about our planet too, and pass down technologies into our everyday lives.

I have spent the past seven years on this project with two more before it finishes in the a timely way with the launch of SLS and Orion in 2018. As that launches into a new era, so the full collection will launch as an exhibition and book.”

More info on Benedict Redgrove : instagram / facebook / website



With the conclusion of the international Cassini mission set for September 15, 2017, the spacecraft is poised to soon begin a thrilling two-part endgame.

Cassini will enter the first part of this denouement on November 30, 2016, when the spacecraft begins a series of 20 passes just beyond the outer edge of the main rings. These weekly loops around Saturn are called the F ring orbits, and they send the spacecraft high above and below the planet’s poles. During these orbits, Cassini will approach to within 4,850 miles (7,800 kilometers) of the center of the narrow F ring, with its wispy and ever-changing structure.

“During the F ring orbits we expect incredible views of the rings, along with the small moons and other structures embedded in them, as we’ve never seen them before,” said Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. “The last time we got this close to the rings was during arrival at Saturn in 2004, and we saw only their backlit side. Now we have dozens of opportunities to examine their structure at extremely high resolution on both sides.”

Cassini’s final phase – called the Grand Finale – begins in earnest in April 2017. A close flyby of Saturn’s giant moon Titan will reshape the spacecraft’s orbit so that, instead of passing outside the rings, it passes through the gap between the rings and the planet. The spacecraft is expected to make 22 plunges through this gap – an unexplored space only about 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometers) wide – beginning with its first dive on April 27.

During the Grand Finale, Cassini will make the closest-ever observations of Saturn, mapping the planet’s magnetic and gravity fields with exquisite precision and returning ultra-close views of the atmosphere. Scientists also hope to gain new insights into Saturn’s interior structure, the precise length of a Saturn day, and the total mass of the rings – which may finally help settle the question of their age. The spacecraft will also directly analyze dust-sized particles in the main rings and sample the outer reaches of Saturn’s atmosphere – both first-time measurements for the mission.

The mission will come to a dramatic end on Sept. 15, 2017, after more than 13 years studying Saturn, its rings and moons – and nearly 20 years since launch. On that day, Cassini will dive into Saturn, returning data about the chemical composition of the planet’s upper atmosphere until its signal is lost, after which the spacecraft to burn up like a meteor.

“While it will be sad to say goodbye, Cassini’s final act is like getting a whole new mission in its own right,” said Spilker today at the joint 48th meeting of the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences and 11th European Planetary Science Congress in Pasadena, California. “The scientific value of the F ring and Grand Finale orbits is so compelling that you could imagine an entire mission to Saturn designed around what we’re about to do.”

Fome? Que tal um Hambúrguer do Gomez? Essa nebulosa com formato peculiar é na verdade uma jovem estrela rodeada por uma nebulosa protoestelar vista de perfil.
Hungry? What about a Gomez Hamburger? This peculiar Nebula is actually an young star surrounded by a protostellar disk seen edge on.
Credit: NASA/Hubble
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