cosmicvastness:

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 2016 July 16 

The North Celestial Tower 

If you climbed to the top of this 13th century stone tower, it looks like you could reach out and touch the North Celestial Pole, the point at the center of all the star trail arcs. The well-composed image with scattered meteor streaks was recorded over a period of five and half hours as a series of 45 second long exposures spanning the dark of the night on July 7/8. The exposures were made with a digital camera fixed to a tripod near Marathon, Greece, planet Earth. Of course, the graceful star trails reflect the Earth’s daily rotation around its axis. By extension, the axis of rotation leads to the center of the concentric arcs in the night sky. Convenient for northern hemisphere night sky photographers and celestial navigators alike, the bright star Polaris is very close to the North Celestial Pole and so makes the short bright trail in the tower’s central gap.

Views of Pluto

nasa:

10 Images to Celebrate the Historic Exploration of the Pluto System

One year ago, our New Horizons mission made history by exploring Pluto and its moons – giving humankind our first close-up look at this fascinating world on the frontier of our solar system.

image

Since those amazing days in July 2015, the New Horizons spacecraft has transmitted numerous images and many other kinds of data home for scientists and the public alike to study, analyze, and just plain love. From Pluto’s iconic “heart” and sweeping ice-mountain vistas to its flowing glaciers and dramatic blue skies, it’s hard to pick just one favorite picture. So the mission team has picked 10 – and in no special order, placed them here.

Click the titles for more information about each image. You’ve seen nine of them before, and the team added a 10th favorite, also sure to become one of New Horizons’ “greatest hits.”

Vast Glacial Flows

image

In the northern region of Pluto’s Sputnik Planum, swirl-shaped patterns of light and dark suggest that a surface layer of exotic ices has flowed around obstacles and into depressions, much like glaciers on Earth.

Jagged Ice Shorelines and Snowy Pits

image

This dramatic image from our New Horizons spacecraft shows the dark, rugged highlands known as Krun Macula (lower right), which border a section of Pluto’s icy plains.

Blue Skies

image

Pluto’s haze layer shows its blue color in this picture taken by the New Horizons Ralph/Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC). The high-altitude haze is thought to be similar in nature to that seen at Saturn’s moon Titan.

Charon Becomes a Real World

image

At half the diameter of Pluto, Charon is the largest satellite relative to its planet in the solar system. Many New Horizons scientists expected Charon to be a monotonous, crater-battered world; instead, they’re finding a landscape covered with mountains, canyons, landslides, surface-color variations and more. 

The Vistas of Pluto

image

Our New Horizons spacecraft looked back toward the sun and captured this near-sunset view of the rugged, icy mountains and flat ice plains extending to Pluto’s horizon. The backlighting highlights over a dozen layers of haze in Pluto’s tenuous but distended atmosphere.

The Dynamic Duo: Pluto and Charon in Enhanced Color

image

The color and brightness of both Pluto and Charon have been processed identically to allow direct comparison of their surface properties, and to highlight the similarity between Charon’s polar red terrain and Pluto’s equatorial red terrain. Pluto and Charon are shown with approximately correct relative sizes, but their true separation is not to scale. 

Strange Snakeskin Terrain

image

A moment’s study reveals surface features that appear to be texturally ‘snakeskin’-like, owing to their north-south oriented scaly raised relief. A digital elevation model created by the New Horizons’ geology shows that these bladed structures have typical relief of about 550 yards (500 meters). Their relative spacing of about 3-5 kilometers makes them some of the steepest features seen on Pluto.

Pluto’s Heart

image

This view is dominated by the large, bright feature informally named the “heart,” which measures approximately 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) across. The heart borders darker equatorial terrains, and the mottled terrain to its east (right) are complex. However, even at this resolution, much of the heart’s interior appears remarkably featureless—possibly a sign of ongoing geologic processes.

Far Away Snow-Capped Mountains

image

One of Pluto’s most identifiable features, Cthulhu (pronounced kuh-THU-lu) stretches nearly halfway around Pluto’s equator, starting from the west of the great nitrogen ice plains known as Sputnik Planum. Measuring approximately 1,850 miles (3,000 kilometers) long and 450 miles (750 kilometers) wide, Cthulhu is a bit larger than the state of Alaska.

Colorful Composition Maps of Pluto

image

The powerful instruments on New Horizons not only gave scientists insight on what Pluto looked like, their data also confirmed (or, in many cases, dispelled) their ideas of what Pluto was made of. These compositional maps – assembled using data from the Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array (LEISA) component of the Ralph instrument – indicate the regions rich in ices of methane (CH4), nitrogen (N2) and carbon monoxide (CO),  and, of course, water ice (H2O).

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com

Solar System: Things to Know This Week

nasa:

Our solar system is huge, let us break it down for you. Here are a few things to know this week:

1. Up at Jupiter, It’s Down to Business

Ever since our Juno mission entered Jupiter’s orbit on July 4, engineers and scientists have been busy getting their newly arrived spacecraft ready for operations. Juno’s science instruments had been turned off in the days leading up to Jupiter orbit insertion. As planned, the spacecraft powered up five instruments on July 6, and the remaining instruments should follow before the end of the month. The Juno team has also scheduled a short trajectory correction maneuver on July 13 to refine the orbit.

2. The Shadows Know

Scientists with our Dawn mission have identified permanently shadowed regions on the dwarf planet Ceres. Most of these areas likely have been cold enough to trap water ice for a billion years, suggesting that ice deposits could exist there now (as they do on the planet Mercury). Dawn is looking into it.

3. Frosts of Summer

Some dusty parts of Mars get as cold at night year-round as the planet’s poles do in winter, even in regions near the equator in summer, according to new findings based on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter observations. The culprit may be Mars’ ever-present dust.

4. Can You Hear Me Now?

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is designed to sample an asteroid and return that sample to Earth. After launch in Sept., the mission’s success will depend greatly on its communications systems with Earth to relay everything from its health and status to scientific findings from the asteroid Bennu. That’s why engineers from our Deep Space Network recently spent a couple of weeks performing detailed tests of the various communications systems aboard OSIRIS-REx.

5. Cometary Close-ups

The Rosetta spacecraft has taken thousands of photographs of Comet 67/P. The European Space Agency (ESA) is now regularly releasing the highest-resolution images. The word “stunning” is used a lot when referring to pictures from space—and these ones truly are. See the latest HERE.

Want to learn more? Read our full list of the 10 things to know this week about the solar system HERE.

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com

coolthingoftheday:

Canada’s northernmost capital city, Iqaluit, briefly turned pink and purple on January 12th, 2016. A CBC meteorologist explained that the incident was most likely due to a phenomenon called light scattering, which is caused by the refraction of the setting sun on particles in the atmosphere. Neither of these two pictures have been edited.

(Source)

coolthingoftheday:

Can you guess which famous cartoons these are? 

ANSWER KEY:

1. The Simpsons

2. The Flintstones

3. Scooby Doo

4. Winnie the Pooh

5. Dexter’s Lab

6. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

7. SpongeBob Squarepants

8. PopEye

9. Babar

10. Pink Panther

11. Sylvester and Tweety

coolthingoftheday:

The village of Oymyakon in northern Russia is one of the coldest permanently inhabited locales on the planet, clocking in at a yearly average of -15.5 C (4.1 F). 

Picture 1: Oymyakon. 

Picture 2: The power station is forced to burn wood when coal is unavailable due to irregular coal deliveries.

Picture 3: Modern conveniences are rare here. Many buildings use outdoor toilets.

Picture 4: The Lost Bar, sometimes described as the loneliest bar on Earth.

Picture 5: The petrol station on the way to Oymyakon.

Pictures 6 and 7: Oymyakon. 

smithsonianlibraries:

Diseases and Enemies of Poultry by Leonard Pearson has more than you ever wanted to know about sick chickens, but part 2 has the critters (beyond humans) who like to prey on poultry, such as this fox. 

And here I thought the biggest enemy to poultry was overcooking it. 

Though I do wonder about this broad winged hawk. Is it baiting the poultry with a caterpillar? 

Something tells me they didn’t quite relay the topic of the book to the illustrator…

Ah, here we go! On topic!

Though the creepiest of the creepy: albino squirrel stealing a chick: