Auroral Corona over Norway  : Higher than the highest mountain lies the realm of the aurora. Auroras rarely reach below 60 kilometers, and can range up to 1000 kilometers. Aurora light results from energetic electrons and protons striking atoms and molecules in the Earth’s atmosphere. Somewhat uncommon, an auroral corona appears as a center point for a surrounding display and may occur when an aurora develops directly overhead, or when auroral rays are pointed nearly toward the observer. This picturesque but brief green and purple aurora exhibition occurred last month high above Kvalya, Troms, Norway. The Sessyfjorden fjord runs through the foreground, while numerous stars are visible far in the distance. via NASA

What’s the closest galaxy to us?

Apart from the Milky Way of course… the answer is surprising.

Most people would probably answer the Andromeda Galaxy, but this would be totally wrong.

A little over a decade ago my school co-conducted a survey with another to detail the night sky around us.

Among many of the discoveries made in this survey was that there was something strange going on about 25,000 lightyears from Earth. The stars in that area were unusually dense.

In addition, the collection of stars was elliptical-shaped.

The incredible part?

It’s inside the Milky Way.

Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy, a small galaxy of a billion stars, is now thought to be the closest (non-Milky Way) galaxy to Earth at a mere 25,000 lightyears away from Earth.

It was likely an independent galaxy until our much larger one ate it. It’s since  been leaving a trail of stars as it orbits around the middle of the Milky Way.

This means, like the Galapagos, you’d better go there soon if you want to see what it’s like. In a few billion years its stars may all have been stolen by the gravity of the Milky Way.

(Image credit: VncntM)

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 2015 March 4

Pillars and Jets in the Pelican Nebula

What dark structures arise from the Pelican Nebula? Visible as a bird-shaped nebula toward the constellation of a bird (Cygnus, the Swan), the Pelican Nebula is a place dotted with newly formed stars but fouled with dark dust. These smoke-sized dust grains formed in the cool atmospheres of young stars and were dispersed by stellar winds and explosions. Impressive Herbig-Haro jets are seen emitted by a star on the right that is helping to destroy the light year-long dust pillar that contains it. The featured image was scientifically-colored to emphasize light emitted by small amounts of ionized nitrogen, oxygen, and sulfur in the nebula made predominantly of hydrogen and helium. The Pelican Nebula (IC 5067 and IC 5070) is about 2,000 light-years away and can be found with a small telescope to the northeast of the bright star Deneb.

M106: A Spiral Galaxy with a Strange Center  : What’s happening at the center of spiral galaxy M106? A swirling disk of stars and gas, M106’s appearance is dominated by blue spiral arms and red dust lanes near the nucleus, as shown in the featured image. The core of M106 glows brightly in radio waves and X-rays where twin jets have been found running the length of the galaxy. An unusual central glow makes M106 one of the closest examples of the Seyfert class of galaxies, where vast amounts of glowing gas are thought to be falling into a central massive black hole. M106, also designated NGC 4258, is a relatively close 23.5 million light years away, spans 60 thousand light years across, and can be seen with a small telescope towards the constellation of the Hunting Dogs (Canes Venatici). via NASA

husseyshy asked:

Is there any chance of earth getting destroyed by asteroid soon or later ?

Big time! Every day roughly a hundred tons of meteoroids enter Earth’s atmosphere. Most of these things don’t present a danger but every now and then a huge one, like the one that hit Earth around Chelyabinsk, Russia can cause incredible damage.

Obviously all it takes is one impact from one large object and the entire surface of the Earth could be liquified into roiling oceans of lava. Some of the fragments of Earth thrown into the air and space will have been superheated into fragments of glass which would then rain down all over the Earth.

Nothing like this has happened for a long time but remember… it only takes one…

Which is why everyone should support the Planetary Society’s effort to create a grant for astronomers that will fund a search for dangerous Near Earth Objects (NEOs). If we’re successful then everyone on Earth will benefit from this early-warning system. If we know there’s something out there coming towards us soon enough, we can do something about it! :)

If you’re interested in helping us or finding out more, click here.

Hubble Sees an Ancient Globular Cluster : This image captures the stunning NGC 6535, a globular cluster 22,000 light-years away in the constellation of Serpens that measures one light-year across.

Globular clusters are tightly bound groups of stars which orbit galaxies. The large mass in the rich stellar centre of the globular cluster pulls the stars inward to form a ball of stars. The word globulus, from which these clusters take their name, is Latin for small sphere.

Globular clusters are generally very ancient objects formed around the same time as their host galaxy. To date, no new star formation has been observed within a globular cluster, which explains the abundance of aging yellow stars in this image, most of them containing very few heavy elements.

NGC 6535 was first discovered in 1852 by English astronomer John Russell Hind. The cluster would have appeared to Hind as a small, faint smudge through his telescope. Now, over 160 years later, instruments like the Advanced Camera for Surveys Hubble Space Telescope allow us to marvel at the cluster and its contents in greater detail.

European Space Agency
Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Gilles Chapdelaine

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    The AD-1 (Ames-Dryden One) is arguably NASA’s strangest looking aircraft. She was a collaborative effort between the Ames and Dryden (now Armstrong) research centers to explore a new concept variable geometry wing. Changing the geometry of a wing in flight makes an aircraft operate more efficiently at a wider range of speeds. Variable geometry wings have been successfully deployed on many aircraft like the Grumman F-14 Tomcat in a variable-sweep, or swing wing configuration. The swing wing design requires complicated, heavy mechanisms with many moving parts which decreases reliability and increases maintenance cost and time. Instead of a swing wing, the AD-1 uses an oblique wing design, rotating its entire wing with a light, simple mechanism.

     She was designed by the Rutan Aircraft Company in Mojave, California and built by The Ames Industrial Company in Bohemia, New York, making the first and only manned oblique wing aircraft. The AD-1 first took to the air over NASA Dryden Flight Research Center on December 21, 1979, piloted by Thomas C. McMurtry. NASA pilots gradually increased the rotation angle of the wing up to 60 degrees over the course of the program. This exposed strange flying characteristics which coupled roll and pitch because of its asymmetric design. This could easily be solved in future aircraft using digital stability augmentation systems. McMurty flew the last flight of the program on August 7, 1982 at the Experimental Aircraft Association Annual Convention in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Now, she hangs in Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos, California.