Astronomy Photo of the Day: 04/21/14 - Saturn Lit Up By the Sun
If you aren’t already familiar with this image, your life is incomplete without you even knowing it. This is the first and most spectacular of the images of Saturn taken by the Cassini spacecraft.
Unlike most of Cassini’s images, this one is completely different, for in this image, Saturn is eclipsing the sun. At the center of the image is the body of the gas giant, which in itself is partially lit by the reflection of light from its ring system. Of course, as you move away from center, the majestic rings shine with incredible brightness. Because of this, the image actually revealed the presence of a series of rings that were unknown to scientists at the time.
And, if this image wasn’t already cool enough, it’s about to get cooler. Of course, you see the thick bright bands of Saturn’s iconic rings, and you see the slightly more separated, fainter ring system (i.e. the second farthest ring from the planet, or the G ring). In left hand side, near the 10 o’clock position, you’ll see a little dot. That is the Earth. “That’s here. That’s home. That’s us.”
Can’t make Earth out? See here: http://goo.gl/kg3GTD
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Right now, 500 light years away from Earth, there’s a planet that looks a lot like our own. It is bathed in dim orangeish light, which at high noon is only as bright as the golden hour before sunset back home.
NASA scientists are calling the planet Kepler-186f, and it’s unlike anything they’ve found. The big news: Kepler-186f is the closest relative to the Earth that researchers have discovered.
It’s the first Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of another star—the sweet spot between too-hot Mercury-like planets and too-cold Neptunes— and it is likely to give scientists their first real opportunity to seek life elsewhere in the universe. “It’s no longer in the realm of science fiction,” said Elisa Quintana, a researcher at the SETI Institute.
But if there is indeed life on Kepler-186f, it may not look like what we have here. Given the redder wavelengths of light on the planet, vegetation there would sprout in hues of yellow and orange instead of green.
Read more. [Image: NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech]
Total Lunar Eclipse (April 15, 2014) | Matthew Crowley
A stunning photograph of northern lights seen from the International Space Station
Astrophotography processed by Oliver Czernetz using HLA (Hubble Legacy Archive) data:
NGC1805; The Heart Nebula, NGC602; a young, bright open cluster in the Small Magellanic Cloud, and NGC2264; the Cone Region
These are a few of my favourite things + nebulas