Does the Moon ever block out Mars? Yes, the Moon occasionally moves in front of all of the Solar System’s planets. Just this past Sunday, as visible from some locations in South America, a waning gibbous Moon eclipsed Mars. The featured image from Córdoba, Argentina captured this occultation well, showing a familiar cratered Moon in the foreground with the bright planet Mars unusually adjacent. Within a few seconds, Mars then disappeared behind the Moon, only to reappear a few minutes later across the Moon. Today the Moon moves close to, but not in front of, Venus. Because alignments will not Read more »

Why is this nebula so complex? When a star like our Sun is dying, it will cast off its outer layers, usually into a simple overall shape. Sometimes this shape is a sphere, sometimes a double lobe, and sometimes a ring or a helix. In the case of planetary nebula NGC 5189, however, besides an overall „Z“ shape (the featured image is flipped horizontally and so appears as an „S“), no such simple structure has emerged. To help find out why, the Earth-orbiting Hubble Space Telescope has observed NGC 5189 in great detail. Previous findings indicated the existence of multiple Read more »

NASA TV to Air Departure of Japanese Cargo Ship from Space Station

Eleven years after the launch of the first H-II Transfer cargo vehicle (HTV) to the International Space Station, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA’s) HTV-9 will depart the orbital laboratory Tuesday, Aug. 18, with live coverage beginning at 1:15 p.m. EDT on NASA Television and the agency’s website. from NASA via IFTTT

What planets are those behind that unusual rock spire? Saturn (lower left) and Jupiter.  This month, after sunset, the bright planetary duo are quite prominent toward the southeast.  Now your view of our Solar System’s largest planets might not include a picturesque hoodoo in the foreground, nor the spectacular central band of our Milky Way Galaxy across the background, but should be quite eye-catching anyway.  The featured image is a composite of consecutive foreground and background exposures all taken in late May with the same camera and from the same location — the badlands of the  Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness in the San Juan Basin Read more »

The Shifting Tails of Comet NEOWISE

Keep your eye on the ion tail of Comet NEOWISE. A tale of this tail is the trail of the Earth. As with all comets, the blue ion tail always points away from the Sun. But as Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) rounded our Sun, its ion tail pointed in slightly different directions. This is because between 2020 July 17 and July 25 when the featured images were taken, the Earth moved noticeably in its orbit around the Sun. But the Earth’s motion made the Sun appear to shift in the sky. So even though you can’t see the Sun directly Read more »