An EPIC View of the 2017 Solar Eclipse

Wondrous images, from a million miles out in space, from NASA’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) of the shadow of the moon crossing over North America on Aug. 21, 2017.  EPIC is aboard NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR), photographing the full sunlit side of Earth every day.  [Image credit: NASA EPIC Team. Video credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Katy Mersmann] Pete Baker

Seven years of Solar Dynamics

It seems like only yesterday that I was noting First Light on Nasa’s Solar Dynamics Observatory [SDO], and the early hours of this morning for ‘three years in three minutes‘ and ‘SDO Year 4‘.  In fact the SDO was launched on 11 Feb 2010, with First Light in April of that year. [Seven long years… – Ed]  Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Centre have produced a short [3 min 22 sec] video marking the solar sunspot cycle during that time. [Credit: NASA’s … Read more

A bit of perspective…

…with this stunning composite image of the Earth and its moon, courtesy of the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. [Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona] From the associated text This composite image of Earth and its moon, as seen from Mars, combines the best Earth image with the best moon image from four sets of images acquired on Nov. 20, 2016, by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Each … Read more

Mercury in motion

If you missed yesterday’s rare Mercury transit across the Sun – the last was in 2006, the next in 2019 – then where were you! [Busy… – Ed]  But even if you were paying attention you’re unlikely to have had as wondrous a view as that of Nasa’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. They’ve helpfully released a stunning time-lapse video compressing the entire 7 hour spectacle into a digestible couple of minutes.  I recommend switching to full screen mode and cranking up the volume.  Enjoy!  [Video … Read more

New Horizons: Live Briefing

Having survived yesterday’s fly-by, follow the live-briefing from the Nasa New Horizons mission to Pluto as they reveal the first hi-resolution images from the dwarf planet system nearly 5 billion km away. Adds The big news is that Pluto, and Charon, may still be geologically active. There are 3,500metre (11,000feet) high water-ice mountains on the surface of Pluto in a region now called Tombaugh Regio after Pluto’s discoverer, Clyde Tombaugh – some of his ashes are on-board the New Horizons … Read more

New Horizons: Countdown to Pluto

Nasa’s New Horizons mission spacecraft is now within two days journey time to the dwarf planet Pluto and its complex system of 5 moons.  [Image credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Showalter (SETI Institute)]   Travelling at 14km/s, New Horizons’ swift fly-by of the dwarf planet is scheduled to take place on Tuesday 14 July, at exactly 11:49:59 GMT (12:49:59 BST; 07:49:59 EDT), when it will be a mere 12,500km from the surface. At a distance of 4.7 billion km, New … Read more

Raise a glass to Hubble! – Redux

The Hubble Space Telescope celebrates its 25th Anniversary in space today, 24th April, with the release of this wondrous image of the giant star-cluster, Westerlund 2, in the stellar nursery, Gum 29, located 20,000 light-years away in the constellation Carina.  [Image credit: Credit: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), A. Nota (ESA/STScI), and the Westerlund 2 Science Team] From the accompanying text to the image. To capture this image, Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 pierced through the dusty veil shrouding … Read more

“an unforgettable journey across the Red Planet.”

Curiosity may have been on the surface of Mars for over a year, but ESA’s Mars Express has been in orbit around the Red Planet for almost a decade.  It’s one of a number of ways Mars is being observed, up close and personal.  And, like the Hi-RISE camera on Nasa’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Mars Express has some specialised instruments on-board for that purpose.  Among them is the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC).  The stunning 3D images in this video were taken by that camera.   The video was released … Read more

“There’s no place like home…”

I didn’t ‘Wave at Saturn’ on 19 July when the Cassini probe, orbiting the gas giant, was taking a high-definition image of the view back home.  I don’t think it encouraged a proper sense of perspective…  But the resultant image is stunning. [Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute] It’s not the first time Cassini has looked home.  Nor is it the only stunning image the probe has provided.  But, as those involved pointed out “We can’t see individual continents or people in this … Read more

“A major difference between the hurricanes is that the one on Saturn is much bigger…”

As I mentioned previously, Saturn doesn’t get the love some of our other gas giants do.  [All hail our friend and lord, Jupiter!  Keeping Ogdy at bay… – Ed]  Indeed… [new link]  But, with the help of Cassini, Saturn does provide some wondrous images.   In some of its first sunlit images of Saturn’s north pole, Cassini has looked inside the mysterious hexagon-shaped jet-stream noted here, and spied an enormous hurricane. In high-resolution pictures and video, scientists see the hurricane’s eye is about 1,250 miles … Read more

Solar Dynamics Observatory: Three years in three minutes

What it says on the tin.  Three years after First Light, Nasa’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) has released three stunning minutes of images compiled during its virtually unbroken coverage of the sun’s rise toward solar maximum.  Enjoy!  [Video from NasaExplorer on YouTube. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/SDO] As they note in the associated text During the course of the video, the sun subtly increases and decreases in apparent size. This is because the distance between the SDO spacecraft and the … Read more

The ALMA Inauguration

As the BBC reported on Wednesday, having opened its eyes in 2011, and with 57 of its 66 antennas now ready to receive data on the Chajnantor Plateau in the Atacama desert, Chile, the Atacama Large Millimetre/Sub-millimetre Array (ALMA) was officially inaugurated on March 13.  Here’s the associated ESOcast 55: The ALMA Inauguration. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO). Editing: Martin Kornmesser and Herbert Zodet. Web and technical support: Mathias André and Raquel Yumi Shida. Written by: Javier Perez Barbuzano and Herbert Zodet. Narration: Sara Mendes … Read more

“comets are like cats: they have tails, and do whatever they want to do”

In the BBC’s science news preview of 2013, reporter Jason Palmer highlights a couple of astronomical events worth keeping an eye out for. In mid-February we will get another reminder we live in a (potentially) violent cosmos – asteroid 2012 DA14 will make a harmless but attention-grabbing pass near the Earth, at a distance just a tenth that of the Moon. Exactly what happens then will determine how near the asteroid’s next pass will be, in 2026. (Don’t worry, signs are pretty … Read more

Titan’s Nile River Valley

Fascinating image from Nasa’s Cassini probe at Saturn, where we’ve previously watched the weather on Titan.  [Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASI.]  North is to the right in this view. From the JPLnews press release “Titan is the only place we’ve found besides Earth that has a liquid in continuous movement on its surface,” said Steve Wall, the radar deputy team lead, based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. “This picture gives us a snapshot of a world in motion. Rain falls, … Read more

“damn, what a sky…” – redux

[Image credit: ESO/Y. Beletsky]  Another stunning time-lapse video of the wondrous night sky above the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope [VLT] array on top of Cerro Paranal in Chile’s Atacama Desert.  This time presented as ESO Cast 50: Chile Chill 1.  [Marvel at the solar system in motion… – Ed]  Or, indeed, the galaxy.  Stay with it past a relatively slow start for the best images. Video via Eso Observatory. Video Credit: ESO. Editing: Herbert Zodet. Web and technical support: Mathias André and Raquel Yumi … Read more

“We stared at this patch of sky for about 22 days…”

As the BBC’s spaceman, Jonathan Amos, notes, the Hubble Space Telescope team have released an updated version of their stunning Ultra Deep Field image – the eXtreme Deep Field (XDF) – and they have seen further than ever.  [Image credit: NASA, ESA, G. Illingworth, D. Magee, and P. Oesch (University of California, Santa Cruz), R. Bouwens (Leiden University), and the HUDF09 Team] From the text accompanying the above image The Hubble Ultra Deep Field is an image of a small area of space in the … Read more

Dwarf Planet Gains Fifth Moon…

Not that it didn’t already have five moons.  At least.  ANYhoo…  As I was saying this time last year, when Hubble spotted a fourth moon orbiting Pluto.  The Hubble Space Telescope has been looking at the twin dwarf planet system of Pluto and Charon ahead of Nasa’s New Horizons mission expected arrival in the neighbourhood in 2015.  [Image credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Showalter (SETI Institute)] They’ve already mapped the surface of Pluto, to an extent, and now they’ve spotted a … Read more

Transit of Venus 2012: The Movie

Were your skies not favourable for viewing?  Did you miss the live online coverage of the last transit of Venus until 2117?  Well, there’s a Flickr group.  Or you could take in the stunning views from Nasa’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.  Video from NasaExplorer.  [Credit: Data courtesy of NASA/SDO, HMI, and AIA science teams].  Enjoy! On June 5 2012, SDO collected images of the rarest predictable solar event–the transit of Venus across the face of the sun.  This event happens in … Read more

Transit of Venus 2012: “marvel at the solar system in motion”

As I mentioned back in March, tonight one of the rarest predictable astronomical events will occur – a transit of Venus.  [I’m washing my hair! – Ed]  What hair?  ANYhoo… Since the invention of the greatest human innovation, the telescope, at the beginning of the 17th century, not by Galileo, there have been only 7 such transits.  The next time it will happen will be on 11 December 2117.  Nasa’s Sun-Earth Day website will be providing a live web cast during the more than … Read more