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Eyeball this Nebula

I found this (copyrighted) image on Astronomy Picture of the Day for 18/1/21.

The text on APOD’s post refers to it as looking like a brain – hence its name, the Medulla Nebula.

To me, though, it looks more like an eyeball – with the optic nerve going off to the right as in the diagram below.


Mountains on Pluto

Remember those days when Pluto was just a blip on a photographic plate, then merely a fuzzy set of dots on a Hubble telescope image?

No more.

Astronomy Picture of the Day for 15/1/21 featured this photo taken by the New Horizons probe 15 minutes after its closest approach to the (dwarf) planet when it was 18,000 kilometres away from the surface.

Some of the mountains on show are comparable in height to the highest on Earth but of course they are not composed of rock but most likely of ice. The plains below them may contain solid nitrogen or carbon dioxide.

Also visible above Pluto’s horizon is its tenuous atmosphere.

Pluto's Mountains

The Hidden Face of Titan

From Astronomy Picture of the Day for 9/1/21 here is a view of Saturn’s moon Tiatn that you would never see if you were somehow be able to be on Saturn itself.

Titan is tide-locked to its primary and so always presents the same face to it. Its reverse side however was however visible to the Cassini probe.

Since Titan has an atmosphere its surface is not seen directly but the fuzziness around its edges – seen against the thick line of Saturn’s rings and the planet itself beyond – shows the atmosphere’s thickness relative to the satellite.

Titan from Cassini

Spectacular Aurora

On Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) for 3/1/21 there is a picture taken by Hallgrimur P Helgason, showing a great example of pareidolia (the tendency of humans to perceive a pattern that is not there.)

As it isn’t copyright free I’m not displaying it here but this is the link.

It’s a wonderful shimmering green-aura’d image of a flying bird which APOD likens to a phoenix (itself of course non-existent.)

The Sound of Dark Matter?

This is an oddity. From You Tube via Astronomy Picture of the Day for 16/12/20.

It’s a sonified image of the Bullet Cluster with low tones assigned to Dark Matter, mid-range to visible light and higher tones to X-rays.

It may be though that Dark Matter does not exist, as this post from the Daily Galaxy argues.

Collapse of Arecibo Telescope

The Arecibo Telescope was the largest single-dish radio telescope in the world for over 50 years. Among its achievements in Astronomy it has been used to measure the spin of Mercury, map the surface of Venus, discover the first planets outside our Solar System, verify the existence of gravitational radiation and search for extraterrestrial intelligence, but it seems it was first built for military purposes.

While being decommissioned the structure had a total collapse early this month.

The collapse was captured on video:-

Sampling an Asteroid

This is an animated sequence from You Tube via Astronomy Picture of the Day for 3/11/20 showing the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft touching – and lifting up part of – the surface of asteroid Bennu.

The plan is to return the sample to Earth for analysis with an eye to determining conditions in the early Solar System and whether the astreroid contains unusual minerals.

UGC 810

What a gem this is. Another from the Hubble telescope via Astronomy Picture of the Day for 18/10/20.

This is galaxy UGC 810. Its odd shape is because it is in collision with UGC 1813 (out of picture below the frame.) Altogether the configuration is known as Arp 273. See previous photo here.

UGC 810

Asteroid Bennu

This is from You Tube via Astronomy Picture of the Day for 12/12/20.

A video of Asteroid Bennu, first of all with speeded up spin, then zooming in to a prominent rock on the surface (given the name Simurgh apparently,) as shot from spacecraft OSIRIS-REx shortly to try to land and get a sample of Bennu to bring back to Earth.

It’s still thrilling to me that we as a species can do and see things like this.

G W Orionis

The Universe is a varied – and at times weird – place.

All of our Solar System’s planets orbit more or less in the same plane – effectively as if on a disc.

G W Orionis is different, showing orbiting material in different planes – maybe because it has three stars at its centre.

This animation is from You Tube via Astronomy Picture of the Day for 29/9/20:-

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