Saturn’s Colorful Rings

This colorful image shows a section of Saturn’s beautiful rings, four centuries after they were discovered by Galileo Galilei. Saturn’s rings were first observed in 1610 by Galileo. Despite using his newly created telescope, Galileo was confounded by what he saw: he referred to the peculiar shapes surrounding the planet as “Saturn’s children.” Only later did Christiaan Huygens propose that the mysterious shapes were actually rings orbiting the planet. These were named in the order in which they were discovered, using the first seven letters of the alphabet: the D-ring is closest to the planet, followed by C, B, A, F, G and E. The variation in the color of the rings arises from the differences in their composition. Turquoise-hued rings contain particles of nearly pure water ice, whereas reddish rings contain ice particles with more contaminants. 

Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Colorado

The Winter Shower : Known in the north as a winter meteor shower, the 2014 Geminids rain down on this rugged, frozen landscape. The scene was recorded from the summit of Mt. Changbai along China’s northeastern border with North Korea as a composite of digital frames capturing bright meteors near the shower’s peak. Orion is near picture center above the volcanic cater lake. The shower’s radiant in the constellation Gemini is to the upper left, at the apparent orgin of all the meteor streaks. Paying the price for such a dreamlike view of the celestial spectacle, photographer Jia Hao reports severe wind gusts and wintery minus 34 degree C temperatures near the summit. via NASA

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Reflections in Nebula NGC 1333

Nebula NGC 1333′s gas and dust clouds reflect the light of the stars in and around the Nebula. Because the gasses are not given enough energy from their stars to become charged, they reflect light at the same frequencies as the surrounding stars. This “reflection” is what causes some areas of the nebula to differ in color (aka their frequency spectrum). In the above image we can see several distinct regions of reflections: red, green, and light blue. Science can be really beautiful! 

Credit: NASA/JPL/Spitzer & Cal-tech

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NASA astronaut Terry W. Virts aboard the ISS: “A “blue” sunset, very few clouds on the horizon.” April 10th, 2015.

Source: NASA/Terry W. Virts

That’s Samantha Cristoferetti. She’s an astronaut on the International Space Station right now. Behind her is the SpaceX dragon module that she grabbed from space with a robotic arm this morning.

If that isn’t all awesome enough, look at what she’s wearing and tell me that it doesn’t look like a DS9 season 1-4 (and Voyager too, of course)  Starfleet uniform!

Star Trek, it’s happening over our heads…

New images of Ceres received from Dawn spacecraft.

Ceres sits in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and until recently, not too much was known about it. Now that’s changing, with The Dawn mission arriving in Ceres orbit last month. It’s initial path took it around the dark side of the planet, but that’s starting to change.

The photos above were snapped on April 10th from a distance of 21,000 miles. By April 23rd, the spacecraft will enter its first science orbit at a height of 8,400 miles. That’s when the Dawn will start collecting all of the really juicy data. The spacecraft will begin searching for water vapor from Ceres’ possible atmosphere and ice volcanoes, as well as sending back images of the asteroid’s surface in gorgeous, unprecedented detail.

One-Armed Spiral Galaxy NGC 4725

(via APOD; Image Credit & Copyright: Martin Pugh )

While most spiral galaxies, including our own Milky Way, have two or more spiral arms, NGC 4725 has only one. In this sharp color composite image, the solo spira mirabilis seems to wind from a prominent ring of bluish, newborn star clusters and red tinted star forming regions. The odd galaxy also sports obscuring dust lanes a yellowish central bar structure composed of an older population of stars. NGC 4725 is over 100 thousand light-years across and lies 41 million light-years away in the well-groomed constellation Coma Berenices. Computer simulations of the formation of single spiral arms suggest that they can be either leading or trailing arms with respect to a galaxy’s overall rotation. Also included in the frame, sporting a noticably more traditional spiral galaxy look, is a more distant background galaxy.

From out there on the Moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.’
—  Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14 astronaut, speaking in People magazine on 8 April 1974.