Highlights of the North Autumn Sky
What can you see in the night sky this season? The featured graphic gives a few highlights for Earth's northern hemisphere. Viewed as a clock face centered at the bottom, early (northern) autumn sky events fan out toward the left, while late autumn events are projected toward the right. Objects relatively close to Earth are illustrated, in general, as nearer to the cartoon figure with the telescope at the bottom center -- although almost everything pictured can be seen without a telescope.
Rings Around the Ring Nebula
There is much more to the familiar Ring Nebula (M57), however, than can be seen through a small telescope. The easily visiblecentral ring is about one light-year across, butthis remarkably deep exposure - a collaborative effort combining data from three different large telescopes - explores the looping filaments of glowing gas extending much farther from the nebula's central star. This remarkable composite image includes narrowband hydrogen image, visible light emission, and infrared light emission.
Seven Dusty Sisters
Is this really the famous Pleaides star cluster? Known for its iconic blue stars, thePleaides is shown here in infrared light where the surrounding dust outshines the stars. Here three infrared colors have been mapped into visual colors (R=24, G=12, B=4.6microns). The base images were taken by NASA's orbiting Wide Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) spacecraft. Cataloged asM45 and nicknamed the Seven Sisters, thePleiades star cluster is by chance situated in a passing dust cloud.
Sakurajima Volcano with Lightning
Why does a volcanic eruption sometimes create lightning? Pictured above, theSakurajima volcano in southern Japan was caught erupting in 2013 January. Magma bubbles so hot they glowed shot away as liquid rock burst through the Earth's surface from below.
Opposite the Setting Sun
On April 30, a Full Moon rose opposite the setting Sun. Its yellowish moonglow silhouettes a low tree-lined ridge along Lewis Mountain in this northeastern Alabama skyscape. Sharing the telephoto field-of-view opposite the Sun are Earth's grey shadow, the pinkish Belt of Venus, and bright planet Jupiter. Nearing its own 2018 opposition onMay 8, Jupiter is flanked by tiny pinpricks of light, three of its large Galilean moons.