Yesterday there was a total solar eclipse visible only at the end of the Earth. To capture the unusual phenomenon, airplanes took flight below the clouded seascape of Southern Ocean. The featured image shows one relatively spectacular capture where the bright spot is the outer corona of the Sun and the eclipsing Moon is seen as the dark spot in the center. A wing and engine of the airplane are visible across the left and bottom of the image, while another airplane observing the eclipse is visible on the far left. The dark area of the sky surrounding the eclipsed Sun is called a shadow cone. It is dark because you are looking down a long corridor of air shadowed by the Moon. A careful inspection of the eclipsed Sun will reveal the planet Mercury just to the right. The next total solar eclipse shadow will cross parts of Australia and Indonesia in April of 2023, while the one after that will cross North America in April of 2024.

Notable Eclipse Submissions to APOD: Total Solar Eclipse of 2021 December


In this snapshot from November 18, the Full Moon was not far from Earth's shadow. In skies over Sicily the brightest lunar phase was eclipsed by passing clouds though. The full moonlight was dimmed and momentarily diffracted by small but similar sized water droplets near the edges of the high thin clouds. The resulting iridescence shines with colors like a lunar corona. On that night, the Full Moon was also seen close to the Pleiades star cluster appearing at the lower left of the iridescent cloud bank. The stars of the Seven Sisters were soon to share the sky with a darker, reddened lunar disk.



Grand spiral galaxies often seem to get all the glory, flaunting their young, bright, blue star clusters in beautiful, symmetric spiral arms. But small galaxies form stars too, like nearby NGC 6822, also known as Barnard's Galaxy. Beyond the rich starfields in the constellation Sagittarius, NGC 6822 is a mere 1.5 million light-years away, a member of our Local Group of galaxies. A dwarf irregular galaxy similar to the Small Magellanic Cloud, NGC 6822 is about 7,000 light-years across. Brighter foreground stars in our Milky Way have a spiky appearance. Behind them, Barnard's Galaxy is seen to be filled with young blue stars and mottled with the telltale pinkish hydrogen glow of star forming regions in this deep color composite image.



Sweeping through northern predawn skies, on November 24 Comet Leonard (C/2021 A1) was caught between two galaxies in this composite telescopic image. Sporting a greenish coma the comet's dusty tail seems to harpoon the heart of NGC 4631 (top) also known as the Whale Galaxy. Of course NGC 4631 and NGC 4656 (bottom, aka the Hockey Stick) are background galaxies some 25 million light-years away. On that date the comet was about 6 light-minutes from our fair planet. Its closest approach to Earth (and even closer approach to Venus) still to come, Comet Leonard will grow brighter in December. Already a good object for binoculars and small telescopes, this comet will likely not return to the inner Solar System. Its perihelion, or closest approach to the Sun, will be on January 3, 2022.



What causes a blue band to cross the Moon during a lunar eclipse? The blue band is real but usually quite hard to see. The featured HDR image of last week's lunar eclipse, however -- taken from Yancheng, China -- has been digitally processed to equalize the Moon's brightness and exaggerate the colors. The gray color of the bottom right is the Moon's natural color, directly illuminated by sunlight. The upper left part of the Moon is not directly lit by the Sun since it is being eclipsed -- it in the Earth's shadow. It is faintly lit, though, by sunlight that has passed deep through Earth's atmosphere. This part of the Moon is red -- and called a blood Moon -- for the same reason that Earth's sunsets are red: because air scatters away more blue light than red. The unusual blue band is different -- its color is created by sunlight that has passed high through Earth's atmosphere, where red light is better absorbed by ozone than blue. A total eclipse of the Sun will occur tomorrow but, unfortunately, totality be visible only near the Earth's South Pole.

Almost Hyperspace: Random APOD Generator

The space station is pictured from the SpaceX Crew Dragon

As the Crew-2 mission departed the International Space Station aboard SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour, the crew snapped this image of the station during a flyaround of the orbiting lab that took place following undocking from the Harmony module’s space-facing port on Nov. 8, 2021.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission was the second operational mission of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, which has worked with the U.S. aerospace industry to launch astronauts on American rockets and spacecraft from American soil to the space station.

Image Credit: NASA


Source: www.nasa.gov
bright blue nebula with a darker blue halo and a bright orange-yellow star at its center

NGC 6891 is a bright, asymmetrical planetary nebula in the constellation Delphinus, the Dolphin. This Hubble image reveals a wealth of structure, including a spherical outer halo that is expanding faster than the inner nebula, and at least two ellipsoidal shells that are orientated differently. The image also reveals filaments and knots in the nebula’s interior, surrounding the central white dwarf star. From their motions, astronomers estimate that one of the shells is 4,800 years old while the outer halo is some 28,000 years old, indicating a series of outbursts from the dying star at different times. 

Hubble studied NGC 6891 as part of efforts to gauge the distances to nebulae, and to learn more about how their structures formed and evolved. NGC 6891 is made up of gas that’s been ionized by the central white dwarf star, which stripped electrons from the nebula’s hydrogen atoms. As the energized electrons revert from their higher-energy state to a lower-energy state by recombining with the hydrogen nuclei, they emit energy in the form of light, causing the nebula’s gas to glow.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, A. Hajian (University of Waterloo), H. Bond (Pennsylvania State University), and B. Balick (University of Washington); Processing: Gladys Kober (NASA/Catholic University of America)

Media Contact:
Claire Andreoli
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
301-286-1940


Source: www.nasa.gov

This high cliff occurs not on a planet, not on a moon, but on a comet. It was discovered to be part of the dark nucleus of Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko (CG) by Rosetta, a robotic spacecraft launched by ESA that rendezvoused with the Sun-orbiting comet in 2014. The ragged cliff, as featured here, was imaged by Rosetta in 2014. Although towering about one kilometer high, the low surface gravity of Comet CG would likely make it an accessible climb -- and even a jump from the cliff survivable. At the foot of the cliff is relatively smooth terrain dotted with boulders as large as 20 meters across. Data from Rosetta indicates that the ice in Comet CG has a significantly different deuterium fraction -- and hence likely a different origin -- than the water in Earth's oceans. Rosetta ended its mission with a controlled impact onto Comet CG in 2016. Comet CG has just completed another close approach to Earth and remains visible through a small telescope.



Big, beautiful spiral galaxy M101 is one of the last entries in Charles Messier's famous catalog, but definitely not one of the least. About 170,000 light-years across, this galaxy is enormous, almost twice the size of our own Milky Way. M101 was also one of the original spiral nebulae observed by Lord Rosse's large 19th century telescope, the Leviathan of Parsontown. Assembled from 51 exposures recorded by the Hubble Space Telescope in the 20th and 21st centuries, with additional data from ground based telescopes, this mosaic spans about 40,000 light-years across the central region of M101 in one of the highest definition spiral galaxy portraits ever released from Hubble. The sharp image shows stunning features of the galaxy's face-on disk of stars and dust along with background galaxies, some visible right through M101 itself. Also known as the Pinwheel Galaxy, M101 lies within the boundaries of the northern constellation Ursa Major, about 25 million light-years away.



Why are the regions above sunspots so hot? Sunspots themselves are a bit cooler than the surrounding solar surface because the magnetic fields that create them reduce convective heating. It is therefore unusual that regions overhead -- even much higher up in the Sun's corona -- can be hundreds of times hotter. To help find the cause, NASA directed the Earth-orbiting Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) satellite to point its very sensitive X-ray telescope at the Sun. Featured here is the Sun in ultraviolet light, shown in a red hue as taken by the orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). Superimposed in false-colored green and blue is emission above sunspots detected by NuSTAR in different bands of high-energy X-rays, highlighting regions of extremely high temperature. Clues about the Sun's atmospheric heating mechanisms come from NuSTAR images like this and shed light on solar nanoflares and microflares as brief bursts of energy that may drive the unusual heating.



Rain clouds passed and the dome of the Lick Observatory's 36 inch Great Refractor opened on November 19. The historic telescope was pointed toward a partially eclipsed Moon. Illuminated by dim red lighting to preserve an astronomer's night vision, telescope controls, coordinate dials, and the refractor's 57 foot long barrel were captured in this high dynamic range image. Visible beyond the foreshortened barrel and dome slit, growing brighter after its almost total eclipse phase, the lunar disk created a colorful halo through lingering clouds. From the open dome, the view of the clearing sky above includes the Pleiades star cluster about 5 degrees from Moon and Earth's shadow.

Notable APOD Submissions: Lunar Eclipse of 2021 November 19


Shaped like a cone tapering into space, the Earth's dark central shadow or umbra has a circular cross-section. It's wider than the Moon at the distance of the Moon's orbit though. But during the lunar eclipse of November 18/19, part of the Moon remained just outside the umbral shadow. The successive pictures in this composite of 5 images from that almost total lunar eclipse were taken over a period of about 1.5 hours. The series is aligned to trace part of the cross-section's circular arc, with the central image at maximum eclipse. It shows a bright, thin sliver of the lunar disk still beyond the shadow's curved edge. Of course, even within the shadow the Moon's surface is not completely dark, reflecting the reddish hues of filtered sunlight scattered into the shadow by Earth's atmosphere.

Notable APOD Submissions: Lunar Eclipse of 2021 November 19


Shaped like a cone tapering into space, the Earth's dark central shadow or umbra has a circular cross-section. It's wider than the Moon at the distance of the Moon's orbit though. But during the lunar eclipse of November 18/19, part of the Moon remained just outside the umbral shadow. The successive pictures in this composite of 5 images from that almost total lunar eclipse were taken over a period of about 1.5 hours. The series is aligned to trace part of the cross-section's circular arc, with the central image at maximum eclipse. It shows a bright, thin sliver of the lunar disk still beyond the shadow's curved edge. Of course, even within the shadow the Moon's surface is not completely dark, reflecting the reddish hues of filtered sunlight scattered into the shadow by Earth's atmosphere.

Notable APOD Submissions: Lunar Eclipse of 2021 November 19

Hubble image of elongated rusty and blue nebula

Mounded, luminous clouds of gas and dust glow in this Hubble image of a Herbig-Haro object known as HH 45. Herbig-Haro objects are a rarely seen type of nebula that occurs when hot gas ejected by a newborn star collides with the gas and dust around it at hundreds of miles per second, creating bright shock waves. In this image, blue indicates ionized oxygen (O II) and purple shows ionized magnesium (Mg II). Researchers were particularly interested in these elements because they can be used to identify shocks and ionization fronts.

This object is located in the nebula NGC 1977, which itself is part of a complex of three nebulae called The Running Man. NGC 1977 –  like its companions NGC 1975 and NGC 1973 – is a reflection nebula, which means that it doesn’t emit light on its own, but reflects light from nearby stars, like a streetlight illuminating fog.

Hubble observed this region to look for stellar jets and planet-forming disks around young stars, and examine how their environment affects the evolution of such disks.

Lower left: full view of the blue-white nebula with wispy purple edges Right side: Hubble image of elongated rusty and blue nebula "fingers" whose tips are bright-blue and white
hubble_ngc1977_hh45b_inset_display.jpg
Hubble imaged a small section of the Running Man Nebula, which lies close to the famed Orion Nebula and is a favorite target for amateur astronomers to observe and photograph.
Credits: NASA, ESA, J. Bally (University of Colorado at Boulder), and DSS; Processing: Gladys Kober (NASA/Catholic University of America)
 

Main Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and J. Bally (University of Colorado at Boulder); Processing: Gladys Kober (NASA/Catholic University of America)

Media Contact:
Claire Andreoli
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
301-286-1940


Source: www.nasa.gov
Historical stylization — Slavic of the 12-13th centuries, Karoling Club Ruza.jpg

Training in preparation for Slavic festivals of the 12-13th centuries in the Ruza urban district of Moscow Oblast.



Why are the regions above sunspots so hot? Sunspots themselves are a bit cooler than the surrounding solar surface because the magnetic fields that create them reduce convective heating. It is therefore unusual that regions overhead -- even much higher up in the Sun's corona -- can be hundreds of times hotter. To help find the cause, NASA directed the Earth-orbiting Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) satellite to point its very sensitive X-ray telescope at the Sun. Featured here is the Sun in ultraviolet light, shown in a red hue as taken by the orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). Superimposed in false-colored green and blue is emission above sunspots detected by NuSTAR in different bands of high-energy X-rays, highlighting regions of extremely high temperature. Clues about the Sun's atmospheric heating mechanisms come from NuSTAR images like this and shed light on solar nanoflares and microflares as brief bursts of energy that may drive the unusual heating.


dark nebula looking like a flame rising through the center of the image against a turquoise and blue glowing nebula, stars dotted throughout

The Flame Nebula, also called NGC 2024, is a large star-forming region in the constellation Orion that lies about 1,400 light-years from Earth. It’s a portion of the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex, which includes such famous nebulae as the Horsehead Nebula and Orion Nebula. This image focuses on the dark, dusty heart of the nebula, where a star cluster resides, mostly hidden from view. Nearby (but not visible in this image) is the bright star Alnitak, the easternmost star in the Belt of Orion. Radiation from Alnitak ionizes the Flame Nebula’s hydrogen gas. As the gas begins to cool from its higher-energy state to a lower-energy state, it emits energy in the form of light, causing the visible glow behind the swirled wisps of dust.

Researchers have used Hubble to measure the mass of stars in the cluster as they search for brown dwarfs, a type of dim object that’s too hot and massive to be classified as a planet but also too small and cool to shine like a star.

dark nebula looking like a flame rising through the center of the image against a turquoise and blue glowing nebula, stars dotted throughout
hubble_ngc2024_flame1_wfc3_ir_inset_display.jpg
The Flame Nebula, also called NGC 2024, is part of the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex and is found near the Horsehead Nebula.
Credits: NASA, ESA, and N. Da Rio (University of Virginia), ESO, DSS2, and D. De Martin; Processing: Gladys Kober (NASA/Catholic University of America)

Main Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and N. Da Rio (University of Virginia); Processing: Gladys Kober (NASA/Catholic University of America)

Media Contact:
Claire Andreoli
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
301-286-1940


Source: www.nasa.gov

Why is the Moon on top of this building? Planning. It took the astrophotographer careful planning -- including figuring out exactly where to place the camera and exactly when to take the shot -- to create this striking superposition. The single image featured was taken in the early morning hours of November 19, near the peak of the partial lunar eclipse that was occurring as the Moon passed through the Earth's shadow. At this time, almost the entire Moon -- 99.1 percent of its area -- was in the darkest part of the Earth's shadow. The building is the Gran Torre Santiago building in Chile, the tallest building in South America. Although the entire eclipse lasted an impressive six hours, this image had to be taken within just a few seconds to get the alignment right -- the Earth's rotation soon moved the building out of alignment. The next Earth-Moon eclipse will be a total eclipse of the Sun that will occur on December 4 -- but only be visible from the bottom of our world.

APOD Editor (RJN) Online Monday: NASA's Best Space Images (& Videos)
Notable APOD Submissions: Lunar Eclipse of 2021 November 19


Here comes Comet Leonard. Comet C/2021 A1 (Leonard) was discovered as a faint smudge in January 2021 when it was out past Mars -- but its orbit will take the giant shedding ice-ball into the inner Solar System, passing near both Earth and Venus in December before it swoops around the Sun in early January 2022. Although comets are notoriously hard to predict, some estimations have Comet Leonard brightening to become visible to the unaided eye in December. Comet Leonard was captured just over a week ago already sporting a green-tinged coma and an extended dust tail. The featured picture was composed from 62 images taken through a moderate-sized telescope -- one set of exposures tracking the comet, while another set tracking the background stars. The exposures were taken from the dark skies above the Eastern Sierra Mountains, near June Lake in California, USA. Soon after passing near the Earth in mid-December, the comet will shift from northern to southern skies.

APOD Editor (RJN) Online Monday: NASA's Best Space Images (& Videos)


Predawn hours of November 19 found the Moon in partly cloudy skies over Cancun, Mexico. Captured in this telephoto snapshot, the lunar disk is not quite entirely immersed in Earth's dark umbral shadow during a long partial lunar eclipse. The partial eclipse was deep though, deep enough to show the dimmed but reddened light in Earth's shadow. That's a sight often anticipated by fans of total lunar eclipses. Wandering through the constellation Taurus, the eclipsed Moon's dimmer light also made it easier to spot the Pleiades star cluster. The stars of the Seven Sisters share this frame at the upper right, with the almost totally eclipsed Moon.

Notable APOD Submissions (so far): Lunar Eclipse of 2021 November 19


Returning along its 6.4 year orbit, periodic comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko (67P) is caught in this telescopic frame from November 7. Sweeping past background stars in the constellation Gemini the comet's dusty tail stretches toward the upper right to Upsilon Geminorum. Also known as Pollux, Beta Geminorum, Gemini's brightest star, shines just off the upper left edge of the field-of-view. Churyumov-Gerasimenko reached its 2021 perihelion or closest approach to the Sun on November 2. At perigee, its closest approach to planet Earth on November 12, this comet was about 0.42 astronomical units away, though it remains too faint to be seen by eye alone. The well-studied comet was explored by robots from planet Earth during its last trip through the inner solar system. It's now famous as the final resting place for the historic Rosetta spacecraft and Philae lander.