A Night at Poker Flat

Four NASA suborbital sounding rockets leapt into the night on January 26, from the University of Alaska’s Poker Flat Research Range. This time lapse composite image follows all four launches of the small, multi-stage rockets to explore winter’s mesmerizing, aurora-filled skies. During the exposures, stars trailed around the North Celestial Pole, high above the horizon at the site 30 miles north of Fairbanks, Alaska. Lidar, beams of pulsed green lasers, … Read More →

[NASA] Hubble’s View of the Polar Ring of Arp 230

This image shows Arp 230, also known as IC 51, observed by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Arp 230 is a galaxy of an uncommon or peculiar shape, and is therefore part of the Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies produced by Halton Arp. Its irregular shape is thought to be the result of a violent collision with another galaxy sometime in the past. The collision could also be held responsible for … Read More →

Close Encounter with M44

On Monday, January 26, well-tracked asteroid 2004 BL86 made its closest approach, a mere 1.2 million kilometers from our fair planet. That’s about 3.1 times the Earth-Moon distance or 4 light-seconds away. Moving quickly through Earth’s night sky, it left this streak in a 40 minute long exposure on January 27 made from Piemonte, Italy. The remarkably pretty telescopic field of view includes M44, also known as the Beehive or … Read More →

[NASA] Delta II Rocket With Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) Mission Onboard

A worker is seen preparing the launch gantry to be rolled back from the United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket with the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory onboard, at the Space Launch Complex 2, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Now scheduled to launch early Friday morning, SMAP is NASA’s first Earth-observing satellite designed to collect global observations of surface soil moisture and its freeze/thaw state. SMAP … Read More →

Comet Lovejoy in a Winter Sky

Which of these night sky icons can you find in this beautiful and deep exposure of the northern winter sky? Skylights include the stars in Orion‘s belt, the Orion Nebula, the Pleiades star cluster, the bright stars Betelgeuse and Rigel, the California Nebula, Barnard’s Loop, and Comet Lovejoy. The belt stars of Orion are nearly vertical in the central line between the horizon and the image center, with the lowest … Read More →