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Sunday, May 28, 2023

This asteroid has a moon. The robot spacecraft Galileo on route to Jupiter in 1993 encountered and photographed two asteroids during its long interplanetary voyage. The second minor planet it photographed, 243 Ida, was unexpectedly discovered to have a moon. The tiny moon, Dactyl, is only about 1.6 kilometers across and seen as a small dot on the right of the sharpened featured image. In contrast, the potato-shaped Ida is much larger, measuring about 60 kilometers long and 25 km wide. Dactyl is the first moon of an asteroid ever discovered -- now many asteroids are known to have moons. The names Ida and Dactyl are from Greek mythology. via NASA

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Crescent Neptune and Triton

Gliding through the outer Solar System, in 1989 the Voyager 2 spacecraft looked toward the Sun to find this view of most distant planet Neptune and its moon Triton together in a crescent phase. The elegant image of ice-giant planet and largest moon was taken from behind just after Voyager's closest approach. It could not have been taken from Earth because the most distant planet never shows a crescent phase to sunward eyes. Heading for the heliopause and beyond, the spacecraft's parting vantage point also robs Neptune of its familiar blue hue. via NASA

Friday, May 26, 2023

Hubble Captures a Drifting Galaxy

The jellyfish galaxy JW39 hangs serenely in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. via NASA

Virgo Cluster Galaxies

Galaxies of the Virgo Cluster are scattered across this nearly 4 degree wide telescopic field of view. About 50 million light-years distant, the Virgo Cluster is the closest large galaxy cluster to our own local galaxy group. Prominent here are Virgo's bright elliptical galaxies Messier catalog, M87 at bottom center, and M84 and M86 (top to bottom) near top left. M84 and M86 are recognized as part of Markarian's Chain, a visually striking line-up of galaxies on the left side of this frame. Near the middle of the chain lies an intriguing interacting pair of galaxies, NGC 4438 and NGC 4435, known to some as Markarian's Eyes. Of course giant elliptical galaxy M87 dominates the Virgo cluster. It's the home of a super massive black hole, the first black hole ever imaged by planet Earth's Event Horizon Telescope. via NASA

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Strategic Partnerships Manager Anita Dey

"If I can advocate for all the groups that need equity, I'm glad to do it." – Anita Dey, Strategic Partnerships Manager, Outreach and Engagement, NASA Headquarters via NASA

Cat s Eye Wide and Deep

The Cat's Eye Nebula (NGC 6543) is one of the best known planetary nebulae in the sky. Its more familiar outlines are seen in the brighter central region of the nebula in this impressive wide-angle view. But this wide and deep image combining data from two telescopes also reveals its extremely faint outer halo. At an estimated distance of 3,000 light-years, the faint outer halo is over 5 light-years across. Planetary nebulae have long been appreciated as a final phase in the life of a sun-like star. More recently, some planetary nebulae are found to have halos like this one, likely formed of material shrugged off during earlier episodes in the star's evolution. While the planetary nebula phase is thought to last for around 10,000 years, astronomers estimate the age of the outer filamentary portions of this halo to be 50,000 to 90,000 years. Visible on the right, some 50 million light-years beyond the watchful planetary nebula, lies spiral galaxy NGC 6552. via NASA

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Whistling Through the Wildflowers

Two black-bellied whistling ducks walk through a field of wildflowers at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 19, 2023. via NASA

Sometimes we witness the Moon moving directly in front of -- called occulting -- one of the planets in our Solar System. Earlier this month that planet was Jupiter. Captured here was the moment when Jupiter re-appeared from behind the surface of our Moon. The Moon was in its third quarter, two days before the dark New Moon. Now, our Moon is continuously half lit by the Sun, but when in its third quarter, relatively little of that half can be seen from the Earth. Pictured, the Moon itself was aligned behind the famous Lick Observatory in California, USA, on the summit of Mount Hamilton. Coincidentally, Lick enabled the discovery of a moon of Jupiter: Amalthea, the last visually detected moon of Jupiter after Galileo's observations. via NASA

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

SpaceX Dragon Crew Ship Approaches the International Space Station

The SpaceX Dragon crew spacecraft, named Freedom, is seen as it approaches the International Space Station with four Axiom Mission 2 private astronauts aboard on Monday, May 22, 2023. via NASA

Big storms are different on Jupiter. On Earth, huge hurricanes and colossal cyclones are centered on regions of low pressure, but on Jupiter, it is the high-pressure, anti-cyclone storms that are the largest. On Earth, large storms can last weeks, but on Jupiter they can last years. On Earth, large storms can be as large as a country, but on Jupiter, large storms can be as large as planet Earth. Both types of storms are known to exhibit lightning. The featured image of Jupiter's clouds was composed from images and data captured by the robotic Juno spacecraft as it swooped close to the massive planet in August 2020.  A swirling white oval is visible nearby, while numerous smaller cloud swirls extend into the distance.  On Jupiter, light-colored clouds are usually higher up than dark clouds. Despite their differences, studying storm clouds on distant Jupiter provides insights into storms and other weather patterns on familiar Earth.  via NASA