The Moon is moving from Cancer to Leo.
  Leo
  Moon
 

The Moon is moving from Cancer to Leo.

The Moon

The Moon is moving from Cancer to Leo in the next 24 hours.

Moon in Leo

With the moon in Leo, you're going to want that attention. That's just fine, but don't let that go to your head. Watch that you don't create drama as you do some self-promotion and build your brand. Make it happen while keeping an eye on not overdoing it.

Now is also a good time to reach out and make sure the important people in your life know how you feel. Feelings of insecurity shouldn't lead to conflict, so focus on the good and leave the angst for another time.

 

#Moon #Leo #Cancer

Awakening Newborn Stars
  Images
 

Awakening Newborn Stars

Lying inside our home galaxy, the Milky Way, this Herbig–Haro object is a turbulent birthing ground for new stars in a region known as the Orion B molecular cloud complex, located 1,350 light-years away.

  The Sky This Week
 

The Sky This Week, 2020 December 1 - 8

The Full Beaver Moon and Halo, imaged 2020 November 29 from Alexandria, Virginia.
The Full Beaver Moon and Halo, imaged 2020 November 29 from Alexandria, Virginia
HDR image captured with a Canon EOS Rebel SL2 DSLR

The Moon begins the week high above the rising stars of the Great Winter Circle, then wends her way into the morning sky as she wanes to Last Quarter, which will occur on the 7th at 7:37 pm Eastern Standard Time.  By the end of the week pre-dawn skywatchers can see her among the rising stars of the springtime constellations.

December 1st is generally considered to be the start of climatological winter, and all month long the Sun plays out a series of extremes centered on the winter solstice.  From now until December 11th we will experience the earliest sunsets of the year.  Here in the Washington, DC area that means that Old Sol slips below the horizon at 4:46 pm EST.  After the 11th he will gradually begin to set a tad later each day, and by Christmas he’ll set at 4:52 pm.  However, the time of sunrise is still creeping later each morning and won’t reach its latest time until the year’s end.  Fromm December 30th until January 10th sunrise in DC will be at 7:27 am.  The dates of these extremes are bisected by the solstice itself, which falls on the 21st.  This will be the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.  In Washington we will see only 9 hours 36 minutes of daylight on that date.

This seemingly lopsided swing in the dates of solstice phenomena is a reflection on our desire to keep precise time.  If you were to measure time with a sundial, the dates of latest sunrise and earliest sunset would correspond to the solstice.  For centuries this scheme was adequate, but as mechanical timepieces became more precise it became apparent that the time kept by the Sun varied in its uniformity throughout the year.  Since the Earth travels on an elliptical orbit around Old Sol its orbital velocity changes, moving faster at perihelion and slower at aphelion.  However, its speed of rotation remains essentially constant throughout the year.  The time of “noon” as measured by a sundial occurs when the Sun crosses the sundial’s meridian, so as far as the sundial is concerned noon is always 12 o’clock.  However, bring a clock of constant rate into the mix and you’ll discover that the apparent time of the Sun’s noon meridian transit is not precisely every 24 hours.  Depending on the time of year the apparent noon transit of the Sun can be as much as 16 minutes ahead of or 14 minutes behind “clock time”, and the most rapid excursion between these points happens to occur between early November and mid-February, skewing the “clock times” of latest sunrise and earliest sunset.  A similar effect occurs around the time if the summer solstice, but its amplitude is about half of what it is in the winter.  The annual variation between apparent solar (i.e. sundial) time and clock time is known as the “equation of time”, and its graphical solution may be found in the form of the “figure 8” diagram that’s usually printed on Earth globes and maps in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  This figure is called the “analemma”, and provides you with a handy guide to correct your sundial to the proper clock time…at least for a while.  The Earth is gradually slowing in its rotation, and the eccentricity of its orbit and its axial tilt are slowly changing as well.  Eventually we’ll have to redraw the analemmas on our globes.

Early evening skywatchers can still catch Jupiter and Saturn in the southeastern sky as evening twilight settles over the landscape.  Both planets are gradually losing ground to the Sun, setting about three minutes earlier each passing night.  Jupiter has a slight advantage, though, as you can see by watching him inch closer to Saturn over the next few weeks

Mars is now the planet that will get your attention each night.  He crosses the meridian shortly after 8:00 pm local time, and his pink tint distinguishes him from all other bright objects in the sky.  He continues to fade gradually as the distance between him and Earth increases, and the telescope will show that his disc is shrinking rapidly as well.  Details on his distant surface are becoming harder to see as he recedes from us, and the recent development of one of his infamous dust storms further hinders the view.

You can still find bright Venus in the pre-dawn sky, but she, too, is gradually inching closer to the glare of the Sun.  Look for her in the southeastern sky in the gathering morning twilight.

The Moon is moving from Gemini to Cancer.
  Cancer
  Moon
 

The Moon is moving from Gemini to Cancer.

The Moon

The Moon is moving from Gemini to Cancer in the next 24 hours.

Moon in Cancer

The moon in cancer is your healing time. While your emotions are in focus, reach out to friends and family and remind them that they're important. Quality time is good, but be careful to maintain your independence and not become too reliant on others during this kick-back-and-chill time. 

Be a home body for a while during the Cancer Moon, and spend some time with yourself.

 

Full Moon in Cancer

A full moon in Cancer is your signal to watch your work/life balance. At the beginning of winter when the sun is in the sign of Capricorn, we have a Full Moon in Cancer. Capricorn is about the outer energy, and the mastery of our outer world. The Cancer Full Moon allows the energies of these two signs to counterbalance each other, and helps us bring to fruition those things that we held close during the New Moon. We’re finally able to manifest these things, and create a sense of security in bringing our feelings and desires out into the world.

#Moon #Cancer #Gemini

The Moon is moving from Taurus to Gemini.
  Gemini
  Moon
 

The Moon is moving from Taurus to Gemini.

The Moon

The Moon is moving from Taurus to Gemini in the next 24 hours.

Moon in Gemini

The moon in Gemini is your time to get social. Reach out and communicate, and remember that listening is always better than speaking. Negotiate now if you've got that on your plate. Do your research, pick up that book, and watch that documentary.

Why? Because Gemini moon means that you are also easily distracted, so something upon which to focus is a good idea, and some good progress can come of it.

 

Full Moon in Gemini

A full moon in Gemini is signaling you to listen! Pay attention to what others have to say. This is the time when we see the seeds we planted during the New Moon come to fruition. The jittery Gemini Full Moon is easily distracted by a million minor details, which is a contrast to the philosophical perspective of the Sagittarius Sun. Sagittarius is not easily distracted, and loves a big idea or a big project. Because we’ll have the influence of long-term loving Sagittarius, the Full Moon in Gemini is a great time to roll up our sleeves and put energy into a project. This could be undergoing a personal transformation, or acting on an idea that we’ve been considering for awhile.

#Moon #Gemini #Taurus

It's Black Hole Friday!
  Images
 

It's Black Hole Friday!

What is a black hole? A black hole is an astronomical object with a gravitational pull so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape it.
The Moon is moving from Aries to Taurus.
  Taurus
  Moon
 

The Moon is moving from Aries to Taurus.

The Moon

The Moon is moving from Aries to Taurus in the next 24 hours.

Moon in Taurus

Keep things in focus while the moon is in Taurus. Take advantage of the peace and chill. Your level-headed point of view will let you consider finances, relationships and longer-term projects with clarity. But don't get pig-headed! Pay attention to your outlook and don't get stubborn or lazy! Create some art or make a bold style move. During the Taurus moon, it's a great time to reach for that special thing you desire.

You might be feeling the need for comfort and security, but avoid being stubborn about it. Don't bite off more than you can chew, and know your limits.

#Moon #Taurus #Aries

Artemis I Stacks Up
  Images
 

Artemis I Stacks Up

The first of 10 pieces of the twin Space Launch System (SLS) rocket boosters for NASA’s Artemis I mission was placed on the mobile launcher Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020.
The Moon is moving from Pisces to Aries.
  Aries
  Moon
 

The Moon is moving from Pisces to Aries.

The Moon

The Moon is moving from Pisces to Aries in the next 24 hours.

Moon in Aries

Your passion and energy are on point while the moon is in Aries, so beware of being too self-focused and making rash and impulsive decisions during this time - and watch your temper! Perhaps you should put that energy into some exercise. Get out and move! Now is a good time to start a new project (but not one you can't finish!). But again, keep an eye out for impulsive decisions or picking fights, because remember - everyone else is feeling that impulsiveness as well!

Let that mysterious thing captivate you while the moon is in Aries. Go ahead and give yourself permission to explore, and don't worry about going it alone. Your independence will serve you well.

#Moon #Aries #Pisces

The Moon is moving from Aquarius to Pisces.
  Pisces
  Moon
 

The Moon is moving from Aquarius to Pisces.

The Moon

The Moon is moving from Aquarius to Pisces in the next 24 hours.

Moon in Pisces

The moon in Pisces means you're going to get distracted by your wildest dreams. Fantasies will fill your head and you'll be soaking in it. Harness that creative energy and don't let it lead you astray. Share your visions but don't let them overwhelm you. You're smarter than that!

Let your intuition be your beacon during this Pisces moon, but watch out for being a little overly sensitive in your decision-making.

 

#Moon #Pisces #Aquarius

The Moon is moving from Capricorn to Aquarius.
  Aquarius
  Moon
 

The Moon is moving from Capricorn to Aquarius.

The Moon

The Moon is moving from Capricorn to Aquarius in the next 24 hours.

Moon in Aquarius

Pivot! Your originality is heightened while the moon is in Aquarius, so take advantage of it. Throw something into the mix for an ongoing project, or start up something just slightly off the wall. Consult with trusted advisors and bounce things off of them. Throw that spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks.

The moon in Aquarius pushes you to get in touch with friends and engage, perhaps even involving them in your nefarious plans. That said, your individuality is wanting to shine through when the moon is in Aquarius, so perhaps it's also a time for you do you! Let that spontaneous streak out?

 

#Moon #Aquarius #Capricorn


  The Sky This Week
 

The Sky This Week, November 17 - 24

The Pleiades, imaged 2017 December 17 from Great Meadow, Virginia.
Messier 45, The Pleiades, imaged 2017 December 17 from Great Meadow, Virginia
with an Explore Scientific AR102 10.2-cm (4-inch) f/6.5 refractor and a Canon EOS Rebel T2i DSLR

"Many a night I saw the Pleiads, rising thro' the mellow shade,
Glitter like a swarm of fireflies tangled in a silver braid."
Alfred, Lord Tennyson - Locksley Hall

The Moon returns to the evening skies this week, waxing through her crescent phases as she climbs through the faint autumnal constellations.  First Quarter falls on the 21st at 11:45 pm Eastern Standard Time.  Luna starts the week near Jupiter and Saturn, appearing closest to the pair of planets on the evening of the 19th.  By the week’s end she will approach the ruddy glimmer of Mars.

If you have an unobstructed view of the northern horizon, this is the time of year when the familiar asterism known as the Big Dipper reaches its lowest point in the sky, scraping the tree-line in its endless journey around Polaris, the North Star.  The seven stars of the Dipper are the brightest members of the larger constellation of Ursa Major, the Great Bear.  Our present association of a bear with these stars has a long tradition dating back at least to classical Greek times, and it may possibly date back even further to folklore that developed in prehistory.  Many cultures in the Northern Hemisphere identify it as a bear, including many Native American peoples.  One of my favorite stories comes from the Iroquois people who inhabited much of the northeastern U.S. before Europeans arrived.  They saw the four stars of the “bowl” of the Big Dipper as a bear, while the three stars of the “handle” represented three hunters.  The hunter closest to the bear carried a bow and arrows, while the hunter at the end of the “handle” carried firewood.  The star we now call Mizar, which forms the bend in the “handle”, was a hunter who carried a pot, represented by the naked-eye companion to Mizar, the star Alcor.  Every year the hunters pursued the bear around the pole, and each autumn, as the bear neared the northern horizon, they caught it and cooked it in the pot.  The blood from the bear’s arrow wounds dripped down to Earth, staining the trees red and causing the leaves to fall.  The hunters, in turn, had a well-stocked larder for the coming winter.

Later in the evening, if you look to the east, you will find another star pattern associated with boreal winter.  While it is a very diminutive group that can barely be seen from the city, it stands out in the sky as you move to darker skies.  This group is the Pleiades, also known as the Seven Sisters in our Greco-Roman derived sky lore.  Ancient Chinese records dating to some 4500 years ago mention them, and recent work by archaeoastronomers has shown that many Mesoamerican cultures built their ceremonial centers to align with the Pleiades’ rising.  Virtually every culture that has left some record of their sky legends mentions the group, and they even appear in the lore of the fabled Middle Earth of J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic tales of hobbits, elves, and magic rings, where they were known as “Remmirath”, the “Netted Stars”.  In Japanese they are known as “Subaru”, and you can see a stylized representation of them on every car of that name.  They are often associated with the coming of winter in northern climes, and sailors regarded them as portents of gales and fierce seas.  Others associate them with agriculture, marking the time to plant when they set just after the Sun in the spring and time to reap when they appear in the fall.  

The Pleiades are a true star cluster, located about 440 light-years from Earth.  Its brightest members have a dazzling blue tint as seen in a telescope and under very dark conditions it is possible to see the remnants of the clouds that formed them some 100 million years ago.  Most of us can see six or seven stars with the unaided eye, but very keen-eyed people can see a dozen.  A small telescope will reveal about 80 members, while large telescopes have identified over 1000 stars in the cluster.

Jupiter and Saturn may still be glimpsed in the southwest as evening twilight fades to darkness.  They will get a visit from the Moon on the evenings of the 18th and 19th.  If you have been watching them for the past few weeks you’ve probably noticed that the gap between them is narrowing; Jupiter is gradually gaining ground on the ringed planet.  The gap will continue to close, and in a month we will see the closest appulse of these two planets since the year 1623.

Mars has resumed his eastward motion against the stars, but it will be a few more weeks before this becomes noticeable.  He still dominates the sky throughout the evening hours beaming down from among the faint stars of Pisces.  Although his disc is now shrinking, a modest telescope on a night of steady seeing will reveal his dusky surface features and small polar ice cap.  

You will find Venus in the pre-dawn sky without much difficulty.  Her bright glow remains visible right up to the time of sunrise.  If you look for her at around 5:30 am you should see her near the bright star Spica as the week begins.  She moves rapidly east from the star over the next several mornings.

The Moon is moving from Sagittarius to Capricorn.
  Capricorn
  Moon
 

The Moon is moving from Sagittarius to Capricorn.

The Moon

The Moon is moving from Sagittarius to Capricorn in the next 24 hours.

Moon in Capricorn

How much do you have left undone right now? Focus your attention on those unfinished projects and get them off your plate. Put in the work and while the moon is in Capricorn you're going to clear that todo list. Work smart! With the moon in conservative Capricorn, it's time to be a bit more cautious, focus seriously, and embrace that "down to earth" nature. Pay attention to the longer-term goals. During this Capricorn Moon, take note of your professional life. Put in the extra effort and it will pay off, and always keep your eye on the next move.

#Moon #Capricorn #Sagittarius

The Moon is moving from Scorpio to Sagittarius.
  Sagittarius
  Moon
 

The Moon is moving from Scorpio to Sagittarius.

The Moon

The Moon is moving from Scorpio to Sagittarius in the next 24 hours.

Moon in Sagittarius

Keep that optimistic outlook! Your positive attitude while the moon is in Sagittarius will go towards your success. That said, don't be impulsive. Temper the optimism with a good view on reality. Maybe now is a good time to plan that trip, though. Go get some exposure to someplace you've never been before. Soak up the experience. Be a visionary and recognize that your optimism is likely a bit peaked.

New Moon in Sagittarius

A new moon in Sagittarius reminds you that new information is always helpful. Seek it out. The Sagittarius New Moon asks us to plant the seeds of optimism. This is when we allow ourselves to leave the painful parts of our pasts behind so we can visualize a bigger and brighter future. This idealistic outlook doesn’t match the realities of everyone’s life. Many people are suffering in economic, emotional, physical, and spiritual ways. It’s not difficult to find areas of frustration and fear inside us and in the environment around us. You're finding hope, and all the wonderful things that hope brings. Instead of seeing a situation as it is, you will be able to imagine what your situation could be.

 

#Moon #Sagittarius #Scorpio

The Moon is moving from Libra to Scorpio.
  Scorpio
  Moon
 

The Moon is moving from Libra to Scorpio.

The Moon

The Moon is moving from Libra to Scorpio in the next 24 hours.

Moon in Scorpio

Scorpio's moon reminds you to avoid distractions. Your emotions are likely running pretty strong, so make sure to focus and don't take things too personally. Don't jump to conclusions. That said, those strong emotions might be useful in your love life!

Notice that you're reacting a little more harshly. You're going to be a little more passionate. You're likely to push your limits. Take advantage of this to be more introspective of your feelings and let them guide you.

#Moon #Scorpio #Libra

Lauren Denson: Jumping for Joy at JPL
  Images
 

Lauren Denson: Jumping for Joy at JPL

With a degree in computer engineering and computer science from the University of Southern California, Lauren Denson is now an quality engineer and supervisor at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Lauren Denson: Jumping for Joy
  Images
 

Lauren Denson: Jumping for Joy

With a degree in computer engineering and computer science from the University of Southern California, Lauren Denson is now an quality engineer and supervisor at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Hubble Catches a Cosmic Cascade
  Images
 

Hubble Catches a Cosmic Cascade

The galaxy UGCA 193, seen here by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, is a galaxy in the constellation of Sextans (The Sextant).
The Moon is moving from Virgo to Libra.
  Libra
  Moon
 

The Moon is moving from Virgo to Libra.

The Moon

The Moon is moving from Virgo to Libra in the next 24 hours.

Moon in Libra

Balance is the keyword with the moon in Libra. Resolve those conflicts and promote harmony. Be the diplomat you know you can be, but remember to stand your ground when you're strong on a point. You can be accommodating without giving in.

When the Moon is in the accommodating sign of Libra, you want to create tranquility and harmony. Libra doesn’t just appreciate balance, Libra also seeks out imbalance and gets medieval on it. Give in to that urge to win the Peace Prize. Libra’s sandbox is diplomacy, so the Moon in Libra gives you the ability to use your charm to get what you want.

#Moon #Libra #Virgo


  The Sky This Week
 

The Sky This Week, 2020 November 10 - 17

The Andromeda Galaxy, imaged 2018 October 7 from Mollusk, Virginia.
Messier 31, the Andromeda Galaxy, imaged 2018 October 7 from Mollusk, Virginia
with an Explore Scientific AR102 10.2-cm (4-inch) f/6.5 refractor and a Canon EOS Rebel T2i DSLR

The Moon may be found in her waning crescent phases before dawn as the week opens.  New Moon occurs on the 15th at 12:07 am Eastern Standard Time.  Look for Luna’s crescent about six degrees above dazzling Venus in the morning twilight of the 12th.  On the following morning the Moon is about halfway between Venus and her inner solar system companion Mercury.

Crisp late autumn nights with no Moon in the sky mean that it’s time for the November observing campaign for the citizen-science program Globe at Night.  This month’s target constellation is Pegasus, the mythical Flying Horse.  Its “landmark” feature is an almost perfect square made up of second-magnitude stars that transits the meridian at around 8:30 pm.  Pegasus is high in the sky for mid-northern observers, and I have always used it as a test for dark skies.  Within the square are a number of faint stars to help you judge the quality of your sky.  Urban and near-suburban skywatchers probably won’t see any stars within the bounds of the square, but as you venture further out into the country faint stars begin to fill it in.  If you can spot three or four stars in the square you are in a pretty dark locale, but observers in truly dark sites can spot nearly a dozen!  You can contribute your star count with the Globe at Night Web App, which gives you a very simple interface to report your findings.  So far this year the program has gathered over 26,000 reports, and the program’s goal is 28,000 by the end of the year.  The program aims to chart light pollution and its effects on both professional and amateur astronomers.

If you are in a place where you can see some of the faint stars in the square take a few moments to track down something that’s almost mind-boggling.  The upper left corner of the square is marked by the star Alpheratz, which is shared by Pegasus and the constellation of Andromeda.  If you allow your gaze to wander toward the “W” of Cassiopeia you will notice two diverging “chains” of stars that lead from Alpheratz.  Follow the lower, brighter chain to the second star, then draw an imaginary line to the second star in the upper, fainter chain.  Extend your gaze in the same direction for the same distance and you will notice a fuzzy patch of light that looks like a tiny detached portion of the Milky Way.  It is, in fact, another galaxy like our own, its faint light glimmering across 2.5 million light-years of intergalactic space.  Known as the Andromeda Galaxy, this is the most distant object that you can see with the unaided eye.  Its elongated shape becomes apparent in binoculars, and it stubbornly refuses to resolve into stars in virtually any amateur telescope.  Its light was described very aptly by the German astronomer Simon Marius in 1612 who remarked that it resembled “the light of a candle shining through horn”.  That light is the combined light of several hundred billion stars!

The Andromeda Galaxy and the Milky Way are the two largest members of the “Local Group” of galaxies, a loose grouping of a few dozen small systems under the sway of that larger ones.  The Andromeda Galaxy is moving toward us, and the mutual gravity of the two systems will bring them together in a slow-motion collision in about 4.5 billion years.

Back in our solar system, Jupiter and Saturn are struggling to stay ahead of the relentless Sun.  The two giant planets are still easy to spot in the southwest after sunset, but by the time that twilight ends they are dipping toward the horizon.  Jupiter will ultimately win the race, passing Saturn in a spectacular conjunction on the winter solstice.

Mars holds court in the evening sky, especially as Jupiter sinks into the trees.  The red planet is very hard to miss.  Not only is he bright, he sports a decidedly ruddy tint and has no competition from nearby bright objects.  However, his diminutive size means that as we earthlings recede from him he gets a bit fainter each passing night.  His apparent diameter is quickly shrinking as well.  That said, his disc won’t approach this size again until the year 2033.  

Venus continues to gradually inch toward the Sun in the pre-dawn sky.  She is still easy to see over the eastern horizon as twilight begins to gather.  The Moon will be in her vicinity on the mornings of the 12th and 13th.

Elusive Mercury also puts in an appearance just before sunrise.  He reaches greatest elongation from the Sun on the 10th, and you should be able to spot him about 10 degrees below Venus.  The best time to look for him will be the morning of the 13th, when the Moon is halfway between the two planets.

Astronauts Launching on NASA's SpaceX Crew-1 Mission Arrive at Kennedy Space Center
  Images
 

Astronauts Launching on NASA's SpaceX Crew-1 Mission Arrive at Kennedy Space Center

NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, left, Victor Glover, second from left, Mike Hopkins, second from right, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi, right, are seen as they speak to members of the media after arriving at the Launch and Landing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center ahead of SpaceX’s Crew-1 mission.
The Moon is moving from Cancer to Leo.
  Leo
  Moon
 

The Moon is moving from Cancer to Leo.

The Moon

The Moon is moving from Cancer to Leo in the next 24 hours.

Moon in Leo

With the moon in Leo, you're going to want that attention. That's just fine, but don't let that go to your head. Watch that you don't create drama as you do some self-promotion and build your brand. Make it happen while keeping an eye on not overdoing it.

Now is also a good time to reach out and make sure the important people in your life know how you feel. Feelings of insecurity shouldn't lead to conflict, so focus on the good and leave the angst for another time.

 

#Moon #Leo #Cancer

Our Sun's Glint Beams Off San Francisco
  Images
 

Our Sun's Glint Beams Off San Francisco

The crew aboard the International Space Station snapped this image of the Earth's limb, or horizon, with the Sun's glint beaming off the U.S. West Coast.

  The Sky This Week
 

The Sky This Week, 2020 November 3 - 10

The Perseus Double Cluster, imaged 2018 October 7 from Mollusk, Virginia.
The Perseus Double Cluster, imaged 2018 October 7 from Mollusk, Virginia
with an Explore Scientific AR102 10.2-cm (4-inch) f/6.5 refractor and a Canon EOS Rebel T2i DSLR

The first full week back on Standard Time finds the Moon cruising high on the ecliptic as she wends her way through the rising stars of the winter constellations.  Last Quarter occurs on the 8th at 8:46 am Eastern Standard Time.  Luna begins the week between the “horns” of Taurus, the Bull, then passes through the constellation of Gemini, the twins and the obscure stars of Cancer the Crab.  Early risers will find the Moon passing through the “head” of Leo, the Lion, mid-way between the bright star Regulus and the gold-hued glimmer of Algieba.

“Falling back” to Standard Time is usually a bit of a shock for me.  I enjoy being out under the stars, but usually not until after dinner.  Now the sky is dark when I sit down for my evening meal, and when I do head out with my telescope it’s as if an entire season has suddenly elapsed.  The three stars of the Summer Triangle, Vega, Deneb, and Altair, along with their attendant constellations, are now poised to set, leaving the barren autumn stars patterns to occupy the sky over my yard.  That said, I don’t have to wait too long before the bright stars of winter begin to rise.  One of my favorite sights is the figure of Orion seeming to climb over the horizon, ready to ward off the charge of nearby Taurus.  

High overhead is the diminutive W-shaped group of stars that form Cassiopeia.  This area of the sky is rife with an array of beautiful star clusters that glitter like tiny jewel boxes in the telescope eyepiece.  From a dark site you can see a fairly bright portion of the Milky Way behind the constellation’s main stars that trails off into the neighboring constellation Perseus.  This constellation has a shape that reminds me of the “winner’s portion” of a wishbone, with the bright star Mirfak at the wishbone’s center.  Embedded in the Milky Way between Perseus and Cassiopeia is one of the true treasures of the sky, the “Double Cluster”.

From a dark sky the Double Cluster appears as a fuzzy patch of light to the naked eye, but a pair of binoculars will begin to resolve its starry splendor.  My favorite view is through my 4-inch telescope at low magnification where the two star clusters can be seen in the context of the Milky Way background.  Each cluster resolves into hundreds of stars, and at a distance of some 7500 light years, the brighter members must be enormously luminous to appear as they do in the eyepiece.  Most of the bright stars are blue supergiants, which means that the clusters are quite young on the cosmic scale, forming just 10 to 15 million years ago.  Careful scrutiny will also show a smattering of red supergiant stars scattered between the two main clusters.  These stars are analogous to Betelgeuse in Orion, but they are over five times farther away.  

Shifting our gaze back to Perseus, another much closer star cluster surrounds the constellation’s brightest star, Mirfak.  This group, known as Melotte 20, is widely scattered and is best seen in binoculars.  It is about 510 light-years away. Ten of its members are visible to the naked eye, but binoculars will reveal dozens more.  Most of the stars, apart from Mirfak itself, have a pleasing blue tint.

Returning to Standard Time places Jupiter and Saturn into the early evening sky, and if you wait too long they will be gone for you.  Jupiter sets at around 9:30 pm with Saturn following a bit over 20 minutes later.  Your best views are still in evening twilight, so plan on a late dinner if you still want to see them at their best.

Mars actually benefits from the return to Standard Time.  The red planet crosses the meridian at around 10:00 pm, so you have the best part of the night to give him a look through the telescope.  Keen-eyed observers will note that he is already beginning to fade after his close opposition a few weeks ago, but his disc can still reveal tantalizing features to patient observers.  I enjoy looking at Mars since it is the only place in the solar system other than the Moon and Mercury where I’m looking at a solid surface.  

Venus remains visible before sunrise, glowing brightly among the stars of Virgo.  On the morning of the 5th she passes one degree south of the beautiful second-magnitude double star Porrima.  Closer to the horizon look for the first-magnitude star Spica.  Early in the week the glimmer of elusive Mercury may be seen a few degrees east of the star.

NASA Invites Media to Briefing on OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Stowage
  Solar System News
 

NASA Invites Media to Briefing on OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Stowage

NASA will host a media teleconference at 4 p.m. EDT today, Thursday, Oct. 29, to provide an update on the status of the agency’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft and the mission’s work to safely stow the sample it collected from asteroid Bennu.
Our Halloween Sun
  Images
 

Our Halloween Sun

Active regions on the sun combined to look something like a jack-o-lantern’s face on Oct. 8, 2014.

  The Sky This Week
 

The Sky This Week, 2020 October 27 - November 3

Mars at closest approach, 2020 October 6-15.
The Hunter's Moon Rising, 2018 October 24, imaged from the U.S. Naval Observatory
with a Canon EOS Rebel T2i DSLR, 250mm @ f/8, ISO 800,
HDR composite of 3 images.

The second Full Moon for the month of October brightens the sky on Halloween, illuminating the night for the trick-or-treaters prowling the neighborhood.  Full Moon occurs on the 31st at 6:49 pm Eastern Daylight Time.  In popular skylore this Full Moon is almost universally known as the Hunter’s Moon.  The same circumstances that cause the Harvest Moon around the time of the autumnal equinox are nearly repeated in October, so the times of successive moonrises in northern temperate latitudes are much shorter compared to other times of the year.  As the Harvest Moon aided farmers in reaping their fields, the Hunter’s Moon was thought to aid hunters as they pursued game across the now-barren stubble.

Since the Hunter’s Moon is the second Full Moon in one month this year, many people also call it a “Blue Moon” thanks to a mis-interpretation of a “rule” published in early editions of the “Farmer’s Almanac”.  In most years there are three Full Moons occurring in a given astronomical season, and the Almanac bestowed a name on each one.  However, about every 2.3 years a fourth Full Moon occurs in a season, upsetting the proper order of the traditional names.  To correct this, the Almanac’s writers dubbed the third of these four Full Moons as the Blue Moon, effectively “resetting” the monthly names to match the seasons again.  In 1946 a writer for a popular astronomy magazine wrote an article on these “extra” moons, but they didn’t quite grasp the definition, assigning the term to the second Full Moon in a calendar month.  Under the Farmer’s Almanac rules, our next “true” Blue Moon will fall on August 22, 2021.

Our modern observance of Halloween is marked by imagery of ghosts, zombies, skeletons, and all things associated with death.  I am sure that most of the youngsters clamoring for treats have no clue that they are unwittingly observing an ancient astronomical occasion known as a “cross-quarter” day.  Just as there are four seasons in the astronomical year, there are four cross-quarter days as well.  These days marked the mid-points between the equinoxes and solstices, and before the Romans spread their calendar across most of Europe these eight annual dates were important ones to celebrate.  In particular, the Celts celebrated the cross-quarter days with feasts and bonfires, and their feast of Samhain is the origin of our current Halloween.  As the Celts adopted Christianity, they melded Samhain with the Christian All Saint’s Day which occurred on November 1st in the Roman calendar.  The night before was reserved to venerate the spirits of the dead, leading to the tradition of welcoming spirits, ghosts, and goblins to the house to be feted with food and drink.  Halloween is no doubt the most popular of the cross-quarter days that are still observed in popular culture.  Two others, Groundhog Day and May Day, still endure but the fourth one, Lammas (August 1) seems to have fallen out of favor.

Remember to set your clocks back one hour when you go to bed on Halloween.  Daylight Time in the U.S. reverts to Standard Time at 2:00 am on November 1st.  This annual ritual has never been popular since it was first legislated by Congress in 1918, and today there are a growing number of communities who would like to see it disappear.  The history of Daylight Time is complicated, and our current rules are the result of a law passed by Congress in 2005.  Fortunately, we at the Naval Observatory are above the fray; we keep Coordinated Universal Time, a single time scale that remains unchanged throughout the year.  The laws regarding Daylight Time are the purview of the Department of Transportation.  Kindly send your views on the subject to them!

Jupiter and Saturn linger in the early evening sky, dominating the southwest view after twilight fades.  They are still well-placed for casual viewing with a telescope, but as their altitude lowers during the course of the night they will only grudgingly give up fine details to the patient observer.  Try to catch them early.

Mars is now conspicuous in the east, appearing shortly after sunset as a gleaming red coal in the fading twilight.  By the time the sky is fully dark he is very easy to spot, rivalling Jupiter for the brightest planet in the evening sky.  Owners of modest-aperture telescopes should look for a prominent feature that’s sometimes called the “eye of Mars”.  The Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli named this feature Solis Lacus (Lake of the Sun), and it is one of the most prominent features on the planet’s disc.

Venus continues to greet early risers in the glow of gathering morning twilight.  This week finds our fair neighbor drifting eastward through the stars of the sprawling constellation of Virgo.  By the end of the week she will close in on the second-magnitude star Porrima, which she will pass as next week begins.

Hubble Views a Galactic Waterfall
  Images
 

Hubble Views a Galactic Waterfall

In this spectacular image captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, the galaxy NGC 2799 (on the left) is seemingly being pulled into the center of the galaxy NGC 2798 (on the right).
The Moon is moving from Capricorn to Aquarius.
  Aquarius
  Moon
 

The Moon is moving from Capricorn to Aquarius.

The Moon

The Moon is moving from Capricorn to Aquarius in the next 24 hours.

Moon in Aquarius:

Pivot! Your originality is heightened while the moon is in Aquarius, so take advantage of it. Throw something into the mix for an ongoing project, or start up something just slightly off the wall. Consult with trusted advisors and bounce things off of them. Throw that spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks.

The moon in Aquarius pushes you to get in touch with friends and engage, perhaps even involving them in your nefarious plans. That said, your individuality is wanting to shine through when the moon is in Aquarius, so perhaps it's also a time for you do you! Let that spontaneous streak out?

 

The moon's mean radius is 1,079.6 miles (1,737.5 kilometers). Double those figures to get its diameter: 2,159.2 miles (3,475 km), which is less than a third the width of Earth. As moons go, it's pretty big (only Saturn and Jupiter have larger moons). And let's be honest, it's good looking!

#Moon #Aquarius #Capricorn

Studying Aircraft Noise
  Images
 

Studying Aircraft Noise

An array of 960 microphones is seen here off the end of runway 11 at Boeing’s research facility near Glasgow, Montana.
Touching Down on Asteroid Bennu
  Images
 

Touching Down on Asteroid Bennu

On Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx sample collection mission performed a successful “Touch-And-Go” (TAG) maneuver.

  The Sky This Week
 

The Sky This Week, 2020 October 20 - 27

Mars at closest approach, 2020 October 6-15.
Mars at closest approach, 2020 October 6-15, imaged from Alexandria, Virginia
with a Celestron 23.5-cm (9.25-inch) f/10 Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope,
Orion 2X 3-element "Shorty" Barlow lens, and a ZWO ASI224MC color imager.
Mapped with WinJUPOS software written by Grischa Hahn.

The Moon waxes in the evening sky this the week, skirting the southern horizon as she scoots by Jupiter and Saturn before climbing northward through the dim autumnal stars.  First Quarter occurs on the 23rd at 9:23 am Eastern Daylight Time.  Luna forms an attractive triangle with the planets Jupiter and Saturn on the evening of the 22nd.  By the end of the week she’s closing in on the ruddy glow of Mars.

The annual Orionids meteor shower reaches its peak in the wee hours of the 21st.  These meteors are the product of none other than Halley’s Comet, which last graced our skies in 1986.  As the comet makes its 76-year journey around the Sun it sheds material along its orbital path, and every year in mid-October Earth intercepts this dusty trail.  The “radiant”, or the point in the sky that the meteors seem to originate from, is located near the stars of Orion’s “club” just northeast of the reddish-hued star Betelgeuse.  An observer at a dark-sky location can expect to see upwards of 20 meteors per hour, but occasional outbursts can sometimes double that total.  Orion rises at around 11:00 pm local time, so the best time to look for the shower is between 1:00 am and dawn.  Moonlight will not hamper this year’s display.

October evenings are mostly occupied by a number of dim obscure constellations.  Zodiacal groups such as Capricornus, Aquarius, and Pisces lack any stars that are brighter than third-magnitude.  At 10:00 pm the bright stars of the Summer Triangle are heeling over to the western horizon and the stars of the Winter Circle have yet to rise.  At this time, though, there is one lonely first-magnitude star close to the meridian in the southern part of the sky.  This star is Fomalhaut, brightest member of Pisces Austrinus, the Southern Fish.  Fomalhaut is the 17th brightest star in the sky, and its relative isolation from other bright stars makes it useful for spacecraft navigation.  It is just over 25 light-years away from the solar system.  It was the first star to have a putative planet discovered in a visible-light image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2008.  The existence of this object is controversial, since more recent observations at other wavelengths indicate that it may actually be a loose concentration of material in one of the star’s many dust rings.  This may mean that we are seeing a planetary system in formation, making Fomalhaut the subject of intense observation.

The brightest stars among the autumnal constellations belong to a group of figures that are intertwined in mythology.  At 10:00 pm you’ll notice a large square-shaped asterism approaching the zenith.  Popularly called the Great Square, these stars form part of the constellation of Pegasus, the Flying Horse.  The northeastern star of the square is Alpheratz, which is shared with the constellation of Andromeda, the Chained Lady, which arcs northeastward from Alpheratz in two diverging chains of stars.  The brighter of these chains point to the wish-bone shaped Perseus, while the fainter chain angles northward to the W-shaped group of Cassiopeia.  All of these constellations are related in a great story from ancient Greek mythology that we’ll explore in the coming weeks.

It is gradually becoming more difficult to get quality observing time with Jupiter and Saturn.  Here in temperate northern climes we already have to deal with the low declination of these two vast worlds.  Even when they are on the meridian they are less than 30 degrees above the horizon.  This means that we have to look through more of our turbulent atmosphere to see them in detail.  At their best we are looking through almost twice the mass of air than we would if they were overhead.  They are best placed as evening twilight begins to darken the sky, but this is also when the ground radiates heat back up into the atmosphere.  Looking through a telescope magnifies this turbulence, blurring the view of the delicate cloud belts of Jupiter and the details in the rings of Saturn.  They are still worth a look, though, since moments of calm air can snap the views into momentary sharp focus.

Fortunately Mars is much higher in declination and is well above the horizon for most of the night.  The red planet is just past opposition and closest approach to Earth, so he is still near his peak brightness and largest angular diameter.  Visually he’s impossible to miss; his ruddy hue and bright glow are the brightest objects in the autumn sky.

Venus can still be seen in the pre-dawn sky, beaming down from the rising spring constellations.  This week she moves from the boundaries of Leo into the realm of Virgo.  Her eastward progress along the ecliptic is gradually bringing her closer to the Sun, but she will continue to be a fixture for early risers through the end of the year. 

 

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Successfully Touches Asteroid
  Solar System News
 

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Successfully Touches Asteroid

NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft unfurled its robotic arm Tuesday, and in a first for the agency, briefly touched an asteroid to collect dust and pebbles from the surface for delivery to Earth in 2023.
The Moon is moving from Sagittarius to Capricorn.
  Capricorn
  Moon
 

The Moon is moving from Sagittarius to Capricorn.

The Moon

The Moon is moving from Sagittarius to Capricorn in the next 24 hours.

Moon in Capricorn:

How much do you have left undone right now? Focus your attention on those unfinished projects and get them off your plate. Put in the work and while the moon is in Capricorn you're going to clear that todo list. Work smart!

With the moon in conservative Capricorn, it's time to be a bit more cautious, focus seriously, and embrace that "down to earth" nature. Pay attention to the longer-term goals.

During this Capricorn Moon, take note of your professional life. Put in the extra effort and it will pay off, and always keep your eye on the next move.

The moon's mean radius is 1,079.6 miles (1,737.5 kilometers). Double those figures to get its diameter: 2,159.2 miles (3,475 km), which is less than a third the width of Earth. As moons go, it's pretty big (only Saturn and Jupiter have larger moons). And let's be honest, it's good looking!

#Moon #Capricorn #Sagittarius

The Moon is moving from Scorpio to Sagittarius.
  Sagittarius
  Moon
 

The Moon is moving from Scorpio to Sagittarius.

The Moon

The Moon is moving from Scorpio to Sagittarius in the next 24 hours.

Moon in Sagittarius:

Keep that optimistic outlook! Your positive attitude while the moon is in Sagittarius will go towards your success. That said, don't be impulsive. Temper the optimism with a good view on reality. Maybe now is a good time to plan that trip, though. Go get some exposure to someplace you've never been before. Soak up the experience. Be a visionary and recognize that your optimism is likely a bit peaked.

The moon's mean radius is 1,079.6 miles (1,737.5 kilometers). Double those figures to get its diameter: 2,159.2 miles (3,475 km), which is less than a third the width of Earth. As moons go, it's pretty big (only Saturn and Jupiter have larger moons). And let's be honest, it's good looking!

#Moon #Sagittarius #Scorpio

Hubble Snaps a Special Stellar Nursery
  Images
 

Hubble Snaps a Special Stellar Nursery

This Hubble image shows a special class of star-forming nursery known as Free-floating Evaporating Gaseous Globules. Called frEGGs for short, these dark compact globules of dust and gas can give birth to low-mass stars.
The Moon is moving from Libra to Scorpio.
  Scorpio
  Moon
 

The Moon is moving from Libra to Scorpio.

The Moon

The Moon is moving from Libra to Scorpio in the next 24 hours.

Moon in Scorpio:

Scorpio's moon reminds you to avoid distractions. Your emotions are likely running pretty strong, so make sure to focus and don't take things too personally. Don't jump to conclusions. That said, those strong emotions might be useful in your love life!

Notice that you're reacting a little more harshly. You're going to be a little more passionate. You're likely to push your limits. Take advantage of this to be more introspective of your feelings and let them guide you.

Full or New Moon in Scorpio:

Remember to closely watch your emotions, especially in terms of projecting them on to others. They're yours: own them. Look deep at your problems in attempts to solve them.

New Moon in Scorpio

New Moons are times of planting seeds, and the Scorpio New Moon urges us to plant the seed of expression. Speaking the truth isn’t always easy, especially if our feelings conflict with someone else’s. You may have felt torn between supporting others and supporting yourself, but during this New Moon you’ll finally feel ready to express what’s in your heart.

You won’t just have the urge to express your emotions, you may also experience them more fully than you normally do. Powerful and profound Scorpio doesn’t hold anything back! In fact, it could feel like you’re going through an emotional upheaval. Diving into an ocean of emotion isn’t necessarily a bad thing because the greatest treasures are often found the deeper you’re willing to go.

Full Moon in Scorpio

The Full Moon in emotionally intense Scorpio is always a dynamic event. During any Full Moon we feel the tug of war between opposing signs, and in this case, the passionate waters of Scorpio counter the practical Taurus Sun. This illuminating event could put a spotlight on what it is you really need in your life -- and what it is that needs to go.

It could appear like the Full Moon in Scorpio is taking you over to the dark side by rocking your relationships and finances. But what’s happening during this time is ultimately for the best. Fights and upsets during the Scorpio Full Moon create the opportunity for positive breakthroughs by eliminating bad habits (or people) from your life.

 

The Moon is an average of 238,855 miles (384,400 km) away. How far away is that? That’s 30 Earths. Why mention the average distance? Well, the Moon is not always the same distance away from Earth. The orbit is not a perfect circle. When the Moon is the farthest away, it’s 252,088 miles away. That’s almost 32 Earths. When it's closest, the Moon is 225,623 miles away. That’s between 28 and 29 Earths.

#Moon #Scorpio #Libra

The Moon is moving from Virgo to Libra.
  Libra
  Moon
 

The Moon is moving from Virgo to Libra.

The Moon

The Moon is moving from Virgo to Libra in the next 24 hours.

Moon in Libra:

Balance is the keyword with the moon in Libra. Resolve those conflicts and promote harmony. Be the diplomat you know you can be, but remember to stand your ground when you're strong on a point. You can be accommodating without giving in.

When the Moon is in the accommodating sign of Libra, you want to create tranquility and harmony. Libra doesn’t just appreciate balance, Libra also seeks out imbalance and gets medieval on it. Give in to that urge to win the Peace Prize. Libra’s sandbox is diplomacy, so the Moon in Libra gives you the ability to use your charm to get what you want.

The moon's mean radius is 1,079.6 miles (1,737.5 kilometers). Double those figures to get its diameter: 2,159.2 miles (3,475 km), which is less than a third the width of Earth. As moons go, it's pretty big (only Saturn and Jupiter have larger moons). And let's be honest, it's good looking!

#Moon #Libra #Virgo


  The Sky This Week
 

The Sky This Week, 2020 October 13 - 20

Mars, imaged 2020 OCT 9 from Alexandria, Virginia.
Mars, imaged 2020 OCT 9, 03:40 UT from Alexandria, Virginia
with a Celestron 23.5-cm (9.25-inch) f/10 Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope,
Orion 2X 3-element "Shorty Plus" Barlow lens, and a ZWO ASI224MC color imager.

The Moon’s thin waning crescent opens the week sharing the pre-dawn sky with dazzling Venus.  New Moon occurs on the 16th at 3:31 pm Eastern Daylight Time.  Luna returns to the evening sky by the week’s end, skirting the southern horizon as she moves through the departing summer constellations.

Luna’s absence from the evening sky gives us a chance to participate in the citizen-science Globe at Night observing campaign, which runs through the evening of the 17th this month.  The featured constellation is Cygnus, the Swan, which may be found directly overhead at around 8:00 pm local time.  Deneb, the constellation’s brightest star, is the easternmost apex of the Summer Triangle asterism, so it’s very hard to miss.  The rest of the constellation resembles a cross that extends into the center of the Triangle.  The major stars of Cygnus are second- and third-magnitude luminaries, so the basic outline of the group should be easy to fund under suburban skies.  From dark locations many more stars become visible, and the summer Milky Way resembles a cloud behind the Swan’s flying figure.  The Swan’s head is marked by the third-magnitude star Albireo, which is located close to the center of the Triangle asterism.  Albireo is a treat for owners of small telescopes as it easily splits into a pair of strongly colored stars.  Their blue and gold colors are quite bold in small instruments, but these hues become washed out in larger apertures.  To participate in the Globe at Night program, simply go to their web app and compare your view of Cygnus to the star provided star charts.  These will help determine your limiting magnitude and the relative darkness of your observing location.  Your data will enable scientists to map the encroachment of artificial night lighting throughout the planet and hopefully lead to a plan to bring the night sky back.

As I am typing this Mars is closing in on opposition, which occurs on the 13th at 7:26 pm EDT.  At this moment the red planet will be on the opposite side of the Earth as seen from the Sun, rising at sunset and setting at sunrise.  Beaming down like a hot coal set in the sparse star fields of the autumnal constellations, this is “prime-time” for examining the planet with a telescope.  Gleaning detail from the planet’s bright pink-hued disc takes patience and steady air, but a good four-inch telescope should begin to reveal some of Mars’ larger surface features.  Larger apertures will show more detail, and in moments of steady “seeing” the surface takes on a mottled appearance that baffled astronomers of the “golden age” of visual observation.  The feature known as Syrtis Major, visible this week at around 2:00 am EDT, was the first surface feature to be glimpsed on the surface of another planet when it was drawn by the Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens in 1659.  

Despite the fact that we have now mapped Mars from orbit to a resolution measured in meters, the fascination with gleaning detail through telescopes remains high among today’s amateur astronomers.  The features we see are indicative of topography, and changes in the large-scale appearance of these change from one apparition to the next.  These changes reflect global events such as dust storms in the martian atmosphere and still contribute valuable understanding of this tantalizing planet.  Many of the best astronomers of the 19th Century honed their observing skills by spending countless hours sketching Mars through the great telescopes of the era.  Thanks to the digital imaging revolution today’s astronomers can capture details only hinted at by these pioneer observers using very modest instruments.  I am continually amazed at what I can now capture with my modest telescope from my yard, especially when I compare these images with sketches that I have made in the past with much larger instruments.  Like the Moon, the surface of Mars continually beckons, and even though we have virtually “been there”, in both cases there is always some new detail to see.

Mars is now stealing the show from Jupiter and Saturn, but both of these planets are still visible in the early evening.  You will find Jupiter low in the southern sky as evening twilight fades, and Saturn pops into view just east of Old Jove about 20 minutes later.  Unlike Mars, whose apparent disc varies widely in size depending on the distance we see him from Earth, these giant planets generally appear the same through the typical telescope throughout their apparitions.  In addition, they are surrounded by bevies of moons.  The four bright Galilean moons of Jupiter can be seen with any telescope, while an 8-inch instrument will reveal five or six moons circling Saturn.  While Mars has two moons, they are tiny chunks of rock that are almost impossible to see in the typical backyard telescope.

The evening’s planetary parade ends with the rising of Venus about three hours before the Sun.  Your best time to look for her is during morning twilight as she climbs into the eastern sky.  Look for the thin waning crescent Moon nearby on the morning of the 14th.

 

The Ghost Nebula
  Images
 

The Ghost Nebula

​Powerful gushers of energy from seething stars can sculpt eerie-looking figures with long flowing veils of gas and dust.
The Iris Nebula
  Images
 

The Iris Nebula

The beautiful, blushing Iris Nebula is unique amongst its counterparts.
Thumbs Up From Out of This World
  Images
 

Thumbs Up From Out of This World

ASA spacewalkers (from left) Bob Behnken and Chris Cassidy give a thumbs up during a spacewalk to install hardware and upgrade International Space Station systems.
Grappling With the Future
  Images
 

Grappling With the Future

The tip of the Canadarm2 robotic arm, also formally known as the Latching End Effector, is pictured as the International Space Station soared over the South Pacific Ocean .