Night Hides the World : Stars come out as evening twilight fades in this serene skyscape following the Persian proverb Night hides the world, but reveals a universe. The scene finds the Sun setting over northern Kenya and the night will soon hide the shores of Lake Turkana, home to many Nile crocodiles. The region is also known for its abundance of hominid fossils. On that past November night, a brilliant Venus, then the worlds evening star, dominates the starry skies above. But also revealed are faint stars, cosmic dust clouds, and glowing nebulae along the graceful arc of our own Milky Way galaxy. via NASA

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NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 2016 July 28 

Herschel’s Eagle Nebula 

A now famous picture from the Hubble Space Telescope featured Pillars of Creation, star forming columns of cold gas and dust light-years long inside M16, the Eagle Nebula. This false-color composite image views the nearby stellar nursery using data from the Herschel Space Observatory’s panoramic exploration of interstellar clouds along the plane of our Milky Way galaxy.

Herschel’s far infrared detectors record the emission from the region’s cold dust directly. The famous pillars are included near the center of the scene. While the central group of hot young stars is not apparent at these infrared wavelengths, the stars’ radiation and winds carve the shapes within the interstellar clouds. Scattered white spots are denser knots of gas and dust, clumps of material collapsing to form new stars.

The Eagle Nebula is some 6,500 light-years distant, an easy target for binoculars or small telescopes in a nebula rich part of the sky toward the split constellation Serpens Cauda (the tail of the snake).

NGC 6814: Grand Design Spiral Galaxy from Hubble : In the center of this serene stellar swirl is likely a harrowing black-hole beast. The surrounding swirl sweeps around billions of stars which are highlighted by the brightest and bluest. The breadth and beauty of the display give the swirl the designation of a grand design spiral galaxy. The central beast shows evidence that it is a supermassive black hole about 10 million times the mass of our Sun. This ferocious creature devours stars and gas and is surrounded by a spinning moat of hot plasma that emits blasts of X-rays. The central violent activity gives it the designation of a Seyfert galaxy. Together, this beauty and beast are cataloged as NGC 6814 and have been appearing together toward the constellation of the Eagle for roughly the past billion years. via NASA

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Clouds over the VLT

After sunset a partially cloudy sky can cause a beautiful show of colours. In the foreground of these fisheye fulldome images, some of the ESO-operated Very Large Telescope (VLT) is visible. The VLT is based at the Cerro Paranal site in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. It is the world’s most advanced optical instrument, consisting of four Unit Telescopes with main mirrors of 8.2 metres diametre each, and four smaller Auxiliary Telescopes.

Credit: ESO/M. Claro