Archives » Astronomy Picture of the Day

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:-

Where Elements Come From

I just love this.

Then again, as a chemist you would expect me to.

I got to this Periodic Table via Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) for 9/8/20. It shows the origins of the chemical elements as percentages of how the total number of each elements’ atoms were formed.

Periodic Table of Elements' Origins

Those parts in blue were formed in the Big Bang or by nuclear fusion in stars, green came from dying low mass stars, pink from cosmic ray fission, yellow from the explosions of massive stars, purple from neutron stars merging, light grey in exploding white dwarf stars.

There are areas of darker gray. The elements these refer to are mostly not found naturally – Technetium (Atomic Number 43,) Promethium (Atomic Number 61) and all the transuranics (Atomic Numbers greater than 92) can be made artificially in particle colliders or nuclear bombs and reactors, though I note that Neptunium (93) and Plutonium (94) seem to be produced by merging neutron stars. All elements with Atomic Numbers greater than 82 are radioactive and so decay away over time which is why the transuranics are not found on Earth and only some atoms of elements 82-92 are.

Quite why the version of this table that appears on APOD also has elements numbered 84-89 plus 91 in dark gray puzzles me a bit.

A Rocket Hovering

What a great photograph.

From Astronomy Picture of the Day for 25/7/20.

This is a Long March 5 heavy-lift rocket after taking off with its Tianwen-1 mission payload to Mars.

It looks like it’s hanging in mid-air.

Tianwen-1 in mid-air

Butterfly Nebula, NGC 6302

This beautifully detailed photo appeared on Astronomy Picture of the Day for 21/7/20.

It was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and shows the Butterfly Nebula, NGC 6302, with emissions by iron atoms in red.

Butterfly Nebula, NGC 6302

Planetary Nebula NGC 7027

From Astronomy Picture of the Day for 30/6/20.

Isn’t it lovely?

Planetary Nebula NGC 7027

Cosmic Monster

Part of the Carina Nebula as seen in Astronomy Picture of the Day for 25/5/20.

It looks like something from the cover of a Fantasy novel:-

Part of Carina Nebula

A Barred Spiral Galaxy

Form Astronomy Picture of the Day for 11/6/20, barred spiral galaxy NGC 1300.

Isn’t it lovely?

NGC 1300

free hit counter script