Perihelion to Aphelion

Perihelion for 2020, the point in Earth’s elliptical orbit when it is closest to the Sun, occurred on January 5th. The distance from the Sun doesn’t determine the seasons, though. Those are governed by the tilt of Earth’s axis of...

/ January 9, 2020

Galaxies in the River

Large galaxies grow by eating small ones. Even our own galaxy engages in a sort of galactic cannibalism, absorbing small galaxies that are too close and are captured by the Milky Way’s gravity. In fact, the practice is common in...

/ January 8, 2020

IC 405: The Flaming Star Nebula

Rippling dust and gas lanes give the Flaming Star Nebula its name. The orange and purple colors of the nebula are present in different regions and are created by different processes. The bright star AE Aurigae, visible toward the image...

/ January 7, 2020

Tumultuous Clouds of Jupiter

Some cloud patterns on Jupiter are quite complex. The featured tumultuous clouds were captured in May by NASA’s robotic Juno spacecraft currently orbiting our Solar System’s largest planet. The image was taken when Juno was only about 15,000 kilometers over...

/ January 6, 2020

A Starry Night of Iceland

On some nights, the sky is the best show in town. On this night, the sky was not only the best show in town, but a composite image of the sky won an international competition for landscape astrophotography. The featured...

/ January 5, 2020

Quadrantids over the Great Wall

Named for a forgotten constellation, the Quadrantid Meteor Shower is an annual event for planet Earth’s northern hemisphere skygazers The shower’s radiant on the sky lies within the old, astronomically obsolete constellation Quadrans Muralis. That location is not far from...

/ January 3, 2020

The Fainting of Betelgeuse

Begirt with many a blazing star, Orion the Hunter is one of the most recognizable constellations. In this night skyscape the Hunter’s stars rise in the northern hemisphere’s winter sky on December 30, 2019, tangled in bare trees near Newnan,...

/ January 2, 2020

Betelgeuse Imagined

Why is Betelgeuse fading? No one knows. Betelgeuse, one of the brightest and most recognized stars in the night sky, is only half as bright as it used to be only five months ago. Such variability is likely just normal...

/ January 1, 2020

Cassini Spacecraft Crosses Saturns Ring Plane

If this is Saturn, where are the rings? When Saturn’s “appendages” disappeared in 1612, Galileo did not understand why. Later that century, it became understood that Saturn’s unusual protrusions were rings and that when the Earth crosses the ring plane,...

/ December 29, 2019

A Distorted Sunrise Eclipse

Yes, but have you ever seen a sunrise like this? Here, after initial cloudiness, the Sun appeared to rise in two pieces and during partial eclipse, causing the photographer to describe it as the most stunning sunrise of his life....

/ December 28, 2019