logo

Astronomy Picture of the Day
Search Results for "International"




Found 433 items.
Displaying 200 of them.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2023 November 19 – Space Station, Solar Prominences, Sun
Explanation: That's no sunspot. It's the International Space Station (ISS) caught passing in front of the Sun. Sunspots, individually, have a dark central umbra, a lighter surrounding penumbra, and no Dragon capsules attached. By contrast, the ISS is a complex and multi-spired mechanism, one of the largest and most complicated spacecraft ever created by humanity. Also, sunspots circle the Sun, whereas the ISS orbits the Earth. Transiting the Sun is not very unusual for the ISS, which orbits the Earth about every 90 minutes, but getting one's location, timing and equipment just right for a great image is rare. The featured picture combined three images all taken in 2021 from the same location and at nearly the same time. One image -- overexposed -- captured the faint prominences seen across the top of the Sun, a second image -- underexposed -- captured the complex texture of the Sun's chromosphere, while the third image -- the hardest to get -- captured the space station as it shot across the Sun in a fraction of a second. Close inspection of the space station's silhouette even reveals a docked Dragon Crew capsule.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2023 January 7 - Space Stations in Low Earth Orbit
Explanation: On January 3, two space stations already illuminated by sunlight in low Earth orbit crossed this dark predawn sky. Moving west to east (left to right) across the composited timelapse image China's Tiangong Space Station traced the upper trail captured more than an hour before the local sunrise. Seen against a starry background Tiangong passes just below the inverted Big Dipper asterism of Ursa Major near the peak of its bright arc, and above north pole star Polaris. But less than five minutes before, the International Space Station had traced its own sunlit streak across the dark sky. Its trail begins just above the W-shape outlined by the bright stars of Cassiopeia near the northern horizon. The dramatic foreground spans an abandoned mine at Achada do Gamo in southeastern Portugal.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2022 December 18 - The 25 Brightest Stars in the Night Sky
Explanation: Do you know the names of some of the brightest stars? It's likely that you do, even though some bright stars have names so old they date back to near the beginning of written language. Many world cultures have their own names for the brightest stars, and it is culturally and historically important to remember them. In the interest of clear global communication, however, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) has begun to designate standardized star names. Featured here in true color are the 25 brightest stars in the night sky, currently as seen by humans, coupled with their IAU-recognized names. Some star names have interesting meanings, including Sirius ("the scorcher" in Latin), Vega ("falling" in Arabic), and Antares ("rival to Mars" in Greek). You are likely even familiar with the name of at least one star too dim to make this list: Polaris.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2022 November 12 - Eclipse in the City
Explanation: A darker Moon sets over Manhattan in this night skyscape. The 16 frame composite was assembled from consecutive exposures recorded during the November 8 total lunar eclipse. In the timelapse sequence stars leave short trails above the urban skyline, while the Moon remains immersed in Earth's shadow. But the International Space Station was just emerging from the shadow into the sunlit portion of its low Earth orbit. As seen from New York City, the visible streak of this ISS flyover starts near a star in Taurus and tracks right to left, through the belt of Orion and over Sirius, alpha star of Canis Major. Gaps along the bright trail of the fast moving orbital outpost (and an aircraft flying closer to the horizon) mark the time between individual exposures in the sequence. The trail of bright planet Mars is at the top of the frame. Pleiades star cluster trails are high over the eclipsed Moon and Empire State Building.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2022 July 9 - Saturn and ISS
Explanation: Soaring high in skies around planet Earth, bright planet Saturn was a star of June's morning planet parade. But very briefly on June 24 it posed with a bright object in low Earth orbit, the International Space Station. On that date from a school parking lot in Temecula, California the ringed-planet and International Space Station were both caught in this single high-speed video frame. Though Saturn was shining at +0.5 stellar magnitude the space station was an even brighter -3 on the magnitude scale. That difference in brightness is faithfully represented in the video capture frame. In the challenging image, the orbiting ISS was at a range of 602 kilometers. Saturn was about 1.4 billion kilometers from the school parking lot.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2022 May 20 - A View from Earth's Shadow
Explanation: This serene sand and skyscape finds the Dune of Pilat on the coast of France still in Earth's shadow during the early morning hours of May 16. Extending into space, the planet's dark umbral shadow covered the Moon on that date. From that location the total phase of a lunar eclipse had begun before moonset. Still in sunlight though, the International Space Station crossed from the western horizon and Earth's largest artificial moon traced the bright flat arc through the sky over 400 km above. Simply constructed, the well-planned panoramic scene was captured over a 5 minutes in a series of consecutive images.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2022 April 11 - A Space Station Crosses a Busy Sun
Explanation: Typically, the International Space Station is visible only at night. Slowly drifting across the night sky as it orbits the Earth, the International Space Station (ISS) can be seen as a bright spot several times a year from many locations. The ISS is then visible only just after sunset or just before sunrise because it shines by reflected sunlight -- once the ISS enters the Earth's shadow, it will drop out of sight. The only occasion when the ISS is visible during the day is when it passes right in front of the Sun. Then, it passes so quickly that only cameras taking short exposures can visually freeze the ISS's silhouette onto the background Sun. The featured picture did exactly that -- it is actually a series of images taken earlier this month from Beijing, China with perfect timing. This image series was later combined with separate images taken at nearly the same time but highlighting the texture and activity on the busy Sun. The solar activity included numerous gaseous prominences seen around the edge, highlighted in red, filaments seen against the Sun's face, and a dark sunspot.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2022 March 24 - Arp 78: Peculiar Galaxy in Aries
Explanation: Peculiar spiral galaxy Arp 78 is found within the boundaries of the head strong constellation Aries. Some 100 million light-years beyond the stars and nebulae of our Milky Way galaxy, the island universe is over 100,000 light-years across. Also known as NGC 772, it sports a prominent, outer spiral arm in this detailed cosmic portrait from the large Gemini North telescope near the summit of Maunakea, Hawaii, planet Earth. Tracking along sweeping dust lanes and lined with young blue star clusters, Arp 78's spiral arm is likely pumped-up by galactic-scale gravitational tidal interactions The close companion galaxy responsible is NGC 770, located off the upper right of this frame. But more distant background galaxies are clearly visible in the cosmic field of view.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2021 December 6 - Space Station Silhouette on the Moon
Explanation: What's that unusual spot on the Moon? It's the International Space Station. Using precise timing, the Earth-orbiting space platform was photographed in front of a partially lit gibbous Moon last month. The featured composite, taken from Payson, Arizona, USA last month, was intricately composed by combining, in part, many 1/2000-second images from a video of the ISS crossing the Moon. A close inspection of this unusually crisp ISS silhouette will reveal the outlines of numerous solar panels and trusses. The bright crater Tycho is visible on the upper left, as well as comparatively rough, light colored terrain known as highlands, and relatively smooth, dark colored areas known as maria. On-line tools can tell you when the International Space Station will be visible from your area.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2021 October 12 - Fireball over Lake Louise
Explanation: What makes a meteor a fireball? First of all, everyone agrees that a fireball is an exceptionally bright meteor. Past that, the International Astronomical Union defines a fireball as a meteor brighter than apparent magnitude -4, which corresponds (roughly) to being brighter than any planet -- as well as bright enough to cast a human-noticeable shadow. Pictured, an astrophotographer taking a long-duration sky image captured by accident the brightest meteor he had ever seen. Clearly a fireball, the disintegrating space-rock created a trail so bright it turned night into day for about two seconds earlier this month. The fireball has been artificially dimmed in the featured image to bring up foreground Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada. Although fireballs are rare, many people have been lucky enough to see them. If you see a fireball, you can report it. If more than one person recorded an image, the fireball might be traceable back to the Solar System body from which it was ejected.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2021 October 10 - Full Moon Silhouettes
Explanation: Have you ever watched the Moon rise? The slow rise of a nearly full moon over a clear horizon can be an impressive sight. One impressive moonrise was imaged in early 2013 over Mount Victoria Lookout in Wellington, New Zealand. With detailed planning, an industrious astrophotographer placed a camera about two kilometers away and pointed it across the lookout to where the Moon would surely soon be making its nightly debut. The featured single shot sequence is unedited and shown in real time -- it is not a time lapse. People on Mount Victoria Lookout can be seen in silhouette themselves admiring the dawn of Earth's largest satellite. Seeing a moonrise yourself is not difficult: it happens every day, although only half the time at night. Each day the Moon rises about fifty minutes later than the previous day, with a full moon always rising at sunset. This Saturday, October 16, is International Observe the Moon Night, where you observe a first-quarter Moon along with other lunar enthusiasts.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2021 September 27 - Unwrapped: Five Decade Old Lunar Selfie
Explanation: Here is one of the most famous pictures from the Moon -- but digitally reversed. Apollo 11 landed on the moon in 1969 and soon thereafter many pictures were taken, including an iconic picture of Buzz Aldrin taken by Neil Armstrong. The original image captured not only the magnificent desolation of an unfamiliar world, but Armstrong himself reflected in Aldrin's curved visor. Enter modern digital technology. In the featured image, the spherical distortion from Aldrin's helmet has been reversed. The result is the famous picture -- but now featuring Armstrong himself from Aldrin's perspective. Even so, since Armstrong took the picture, the image is effectively a five-decade old lunar selfie. The original visor reflection is shown on the left, while Earth hangs in the lunar sky on the upper right. A foil-wrapped leg of the Eagle lander is prominently visible. Preparations to return humans to the Moon in the next few years include the Artemis program, an international collaboration led by NASA.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2021 June 26 - Pixels in the Sun
Explanation: These two panels, composed of video frames made with a safe solar telescope and hydrogen alpha filter, show remarkably sharp details on the solar disk and giant prominences along the Sun's edge on June 6 (top) and June 18. Taken from Beijing, China, they also show a transit of the International Space Station and China's new Tiangong Space Station in silhouette against the bright Sun. The International Space Station is near center in the bottom panel, crossing the solar disk left of bright active region AR2833 and below a large looping solar filament. China's space station is below solar active region AR2827 and right of center in the top panel, seen as a smaller, combined "+" and "-" shape. The pictures of the transiting orbital outposts were taken with the same equipment and at the same pixel scale, with the International Space Station some 492 kilometers away. China's space station was over 400 kilometers from the camera.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2021 April 29 - Apollo 17: The Crescent Earth
Explanation: Our fair planet sports a curved, sunlit crescent against the black backdrop of space in this stunning photograph. From the unfamiliar perspective, the Earth is small and, like a telescopic image of a distant planet, the entire horizon is completely within the field of view. Enjoyed by crews on board the International Space Station, only much closer views of the planet are possible from low Earth orbit. Orbiting the planet once every 90 minutes, a spectacle of clouds, oceans, and continents scrolls beneath them with the partial arc of the planet's edge in the distance. But this digitally restored image presents a view so far only achieved by 24 humans, Apollo astronauts who traveled to the Moon and back again between 1968 and 1972. The original photograph, AS17-152-23420, was taken by the homeward bound crew of Apollo 17, on December 17, 1972. For now it's the last picture of Earth from this planetary perspective taken by human hands.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2021 April 22 - Planet Earth at Twilight
Explanation: No sudden, sharp boundary marks the passage of day into night in this gorgeous view of ocean and clouds over our fair planet Earth. Instead, the shadow line or terminator is diffuse and shows the gradual transition to darkness we experience as twilight. With the Sun illuminating the scene from the right, the cloud tops reflect gently reddened sunlight filtered through the dusty troposphere, the lowest layer of the planet's nurturing atmosphere. A clear high altitude layer, visible along the dayside's upper edge, scatters blue sunlight and fades into the blackness of space. This picture was taken in June of 2001 from the International Space Station orbiting at an altitude of 211 nautical miles. But you can check out the vital signs of Planet Earth Now.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2021 March 28 - SuitSat 1: A Spacesuit Floats Free
Explanation: A spacesuit floated away from the International Space Station 15 years ago, but no investigation was conducted. Everyone knew that it was pushed by the space station crew. Dubbed Suitsat-1, the unneeded Russian Orlan spacesuit filled mostly with old clothes was fitted with a faint radio transmitter and released to orbit the Earth. The suit circled the Earth twice before its radio signal became unexpectedly weak. Suitsat-1 continued to orbit every 90 minutes until it burned up in the Earth's atmosphere after a few weeks. Pictured, the lifeless spacesuit was photographed in 2006 just as it drifted away from space station.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2021 January 14 - Aurora Slathers Up the Sky
Explanation: Like salsa verde on your favorite burrito, a green aurora slathers up the sky in this 2017 June 25 snapshot from the International Space Station. About 400 kilometers (250 miles) above Earth, the orbiting station is itself within the upper realm of the auroral displays. Aurorae have the signature colors of excited molecules and atoms at the low densities found at extreme altitudes. Emission from atomic oxygen dominates this view. The tantalizing glow is green at lower altitudes, but rarer reddish bands extend above the space station's horizon. The orbital scene was captured while passing over a point south and east of Australia, with stars above the horizon at the right belonging to the constellation Canis Major, Orion's big dog. Sirius, alpha star of Canis Major, is the brightest star near the Earth's limb.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2020 November 19 - Crew-1 Mission Launch Streak
Explanation: Leaving planet Earth for a moment, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket arced into the early evening sky last Sunday at 7:27 pm EST from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A. This 3 minute 20 second exposure traces the launch streak as seen over watery reflections from Port Canaveral, about 15 miles south of the launch. The rocket carried four astronauts en route to the International Space Station on the first flight of a NASA-certified commercial human spacecraft system. Dubbed Resilience, the astronauts' Crew Dragon spacecraft successfully docked with the orbital outpost one day later, on Monday, November 16. At the conclusion of their six-month stay on the ISS, the Crew-1 astronauts will use their spacecraft to return to Earth. Of course about 9 minutes after launch the Falcon 9 rocket's first stage returned to Earth, landing in the Atlantic Ocean on autonomous spaceport drone ship Just Read The Instructions.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2020 June 27 - Eclipse under the ISS
Explanation: The dark shadow of the New Moon reached out and touched planet Earth on June 21. A high definition camera outside the International Space Station captured its passing in this snapshot from low Earth orbit near the border of Kazakhstan and China. Of course those along the Moon's central shadow track below could watch the much anticipated annular eclipse of the Sun. In the foreground a cargo spacecraft is docked with the orbital outpost. It's the H-II Transfer Vehicle-9 from JAXA the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2020 June 24 - Inverted City Beneath Clouds
Explanation: How could that city be upside-down? The city, Chicago, was actually perfectly right-side up. The long shadows it projected onto nearby Lake Michigan near sunset, however, when seen in reflection, made the buildings appear inverted. This fascinating, puzzling, yet beautiful image was captured by a photographer in 2014 on an airplane on approach to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. The Sun can be seen both above and below the cloud deck, with the latter reflected in the calm lake. As a bonus, if you look really closely -- and this is quite a challenge -- you can find another airplane in the image, likely also on approach to the same airport.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2020 May 28 - Reflecting the International Space Station
Explanation: Still bathed in sunlight, the International Space Station arced through the evening sky over lake Wulfsahl-Gusborn in northern Germany, just after sunset on March 25. The familiar constellation of Orion can be seen left of the trail of the orbital station's bright passage. On the right, Venus is the brilliant evening star above the western horizon. With the camera fixed to a tripod, this scene was captured in a series of five exposures. How can you tell? The short time delay between the end of one exposure and the beginning of the next leaves small gaps in the ISS light trail. Look closely and you'll also see that the sky that appears to be above the horizon is actually a reflection though. The final image has been vertically inverted and the night skyscape recorded in the mirror-like waters of the small lake.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2020 May 13 - Jupiter in Infrared from Gemini
Explanation: In infrared, Jupiter lights up the night. Recently, astronomers at the Gemini North Observatory in Hawaii, USA, created some of the best infrared photos of Jupiter ever taken from Earth’s surface, pictured. Gemini was able to produce such a clear image using a technique called lucky imaging, by taking many images and combining only the clearest ones that, by chance, were taken when Earth's atmosphere was the most calm. Jupiter’s jack-o’-lantern-like appearance is caused by the planet’s different layers of clouds. Infrared light can pass through clouds better than visible light, allowing us to see deeper, hotter layers of Jupiter's atmosphere, while the thickest clouds appear dark. These pictures, together with ones from the Hubble Space Telescope and the Juno spacecraft, can tell us a lot about weather patterns on Jupiter, like where its massive, planet-sized storms form.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2020 April 24 - Look Up Together
Explanation: Watch this video. In only a minute or so you can explore the night skies around planet Earth through a compilation of stunning timelapse sequences. The presentation will take you to sites in the United States, Germany, Russia, Iran, Nepal, Thailand, Laos and China. You might even catch the view from a small island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean. But remember that while you're home tonight, the night sky will come to you. Look up and celebrate the night during this International Dark Sky Week.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2020 April 3 - The Traffic in Taurus
Explanation: There's a traffic jam in Taurus lately. On April 1, this celestial frame from slightly hazy skies over Tapiobicske, Hungary recorded an impressive pile up toward the zodiacal constellation of the Bull and the Solar System's ecliptic plane. Streaking right to left the International Space Station speeds across the bottom of the telescopic field of view. Wandering about as far from the Sun in planet Earth's skies as it can get, inner planet Venus is bright and approaching much slower, overexposed at the right. Bystanding at the upper left are the sister stars of the Pleiades. No one has been injured in the close encounter though, because it really isn't very close. Continuously occupied since November 2000, the space station orbits some 400 kilometers above the planet's surface. Venus, currently the brilliant evening star, is almost 2/3 of an astronomical unit away. A more permanent resident of Taurus, the Pleiades star cluster is 400 light-years distant.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2020 February 20 - Trifecta at Twilight
Explanation: On February 18, as civil twilight began in northern New Mexico skies, the International Space Station, a waning crescent Moon, and planet Mars for a moment shared this well-planned single field of view. From the photographer's location the sky had just begun to grow light, but the space station orbiting 400 kilometers above the Earth was already bathed in the morning sunlight. At 6:25am local time it took about a second to cross in front of the lunar disk moving right to left in the composited successive frames. At the time, Mars itself had already emerged from behind the Moon following its much anticipated lunar occultation. The yellowish glow of the Red Planet is still in the frame at the upper right, beyond the Moon's dark edge.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2019 October 28 - The Space Station Crosses a Spotless Sun
Explanation: Typically, the International Space Station is visible only at night. Slowly drifting across the night sky as it orbits the Earth, the International Space Station (ISS) can be seen as a bright spot about once a month from many locations. The ISS is then visible only just after sunset or just before sunrise because it shines by reflected sunlight -- once the ISS enters the Earth's shadow, it will drop out of sight. The only occasion when the ISS is visible during the day is when it passes right in front of the Sun. Then, it passes so quickly that only cameras taking short exposures can visually freeze the ISS's silhouette onto the background Sun. The featured picture did exactly that -- it is actually a series of images taken a month ago from Santa Fe, Argentina with perfect timing. This image series was later combined with a separate image highlighting the texture of the spotless Sun, and an image bringing up the Sun's prominences around the edge. At an unusually low Solar Minimum, the Sun has gone without sunspots now for most of 2019.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2019 October 19 - All Female Spacewalk Repairs Space Station
Explanation: The failed unit was beyond the reach of the robotic Canadarm2. Therefore, this repair of the International Space Station would require humans. The humans on duty were NASA's Jessica Meir and Christina Koch. This was the fourth spacewalk for Koch, the first for Meir, and the first all-female spacewalk in human history. The first woman to walk in space was Svetlana Savitskaya in 1984. Koch (red stripe) and Meir are pictured hard at work on the P6 Truss, with solar panels and the darkness of space in the background. Working over seven hours, the newly installed Battery Charge / Discharge Unit (BCDU) was successfully replaced and, when powered up, operated normally.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2019 July 15 - The Space Station Crosses a Spotless Sun
Explanation: That's no sunspot. It's the International Space Station (ISS) caught passing in front of the Sun. Sunspots, individually, have a dark central umbra, a lighter surrounding penumbra, and no solar panels. By contrast, the ISS is a complex and multi-spired mechanism, one of the largest and most sophisticated machines ever created by humanity. Also, sunspots occur on the Sun, whereas the ISS orbits the Earth. Transiting the Sun is not very unusual for the ISS, which orbits the Earth about every 90 minutes, but getting one's timing and equipment just right for a great image is rare. Strangely, besides that fake spot, in this recent two-image composite, the Sun lacked any real sunspots. The featured picture combines two images -- one capturing the space station transiting the Sun -- and another taken consecutively capturing details of the Sun's surface. Sunspots have been rare on the Sun since the dawn of the current Solar Minimum, a period of low solar activity. For reasons not yet fully understood, the number of sunspots occurring during both the previous and current solar minima have been unusually low.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2019 June 2 - A Live View from the International Space Station
Explanation: If you were floating above the Earth right now, this is what you might see. In 2014, a robotic SpaceX Dragon capsule that delivered supplies to the Earth-orbiting International Space Station (ISS) also delivered High Definition Earth Viewing (HDEV) cameras that take and transmit live views of Earth. Pictured here, when working, is the live video feed that switches between four cameras, each pointed differently. Watch white clouds, tan land, and blue oceans drift by. The featured live view will appear black when it is nighttime on the Earth below, but the space station's rapid 90-minute orbit compresses this dark time into only 45 minutes. The present location of the ISS above the Earth can be found on the web. If the video appears gray, this indicates that the view is either being switched between cameras, or communications with the ISS is temporarily unavailable. As the HDEV project continues, video quality will be monitored to assess the effects of high energy radiation, which types of cameras work best, and which Earth views are the most popular.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2019 May 16 - Dark Skies: Turn on the Night
Explanation: Have you ever experienced a really dark night sky? One common and amazing feature is the glowing band of our Milky Way galaxy stretching from horizon to horizon. If you live in or near a big city, though, you might not know this because city lights reflecting off the Earth's atmosphere could only allow you to see the Moon and a few stars. Today, however, being UNESCO's International Day of Light, the International Astronomical Union is asking people to Turn on the Night by trying to better understand, and in the future better reduce, light pollution. You can practice even now by going to the main APOD website at NASA and hovering your cursor over the Before image. The After picture that comes up is a panorama of four exposures taken with the same camera and from the same location, showing what happened recently in China when people in Kaihua County decided to turn down many of their lights. Visible in the Before picture are the stars Sirius (left of center) and Betelgeuse, while visible in the After picture are thousands of stars with the arching band of our Milky Way Galaxy. Humanity has lived for millennia under a dark night sky, and connecting to it has importance for both natural and cultural heritage.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2019 May 11 - Milky Way, Launch, and Landing
Explanation: The Milky Way doesn't look quite this colorful and bright to the eye, but a rocket launch does. So a separate deep exposure with a sensitive digital camera was used in this composite skyscape to bring out our galaxy's central crowded starfields and cosmic dust clouds. In the scene from Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, a nine minute long exposure begun about 20 minutes after the Miky Way image recorded a rocket launch and landing. The Falcon 9 rocket, named for the Millennium Falcon of Star Wars fame, appropriately launched a Dragon resupply ship to the International Space Station in the early morning hours of May the 4th. The plume and flare at the peak of the launch arc mark the rocket's first stage boost back burn. Two shorter diagonal streaks are the rocket engines bringing the Falcon 9 stage back to an offshore landing on autonomous drone ship Of course I Still Love You.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2019 May 2 - Manicouagan Impact Crater from Space
Explanation: Orbiting 400 kilometers above Quebec, Canada, planet Earth, the International Space Station Expedition 59 crew captured this snapshot of the broad St. Lawrence River and curiously circular Lake Manicouagan on April 11. Right of center, the ring-shaped lake is a modern reservoir within the eroded remnant of an ancient 100 kilometer diameter impact crater. The ancient crater is very conspicuous from orbit, a visible reminder that Earth is vulnerable to rocks from space. Over 200 million years old, the Manicouagan crater was likely caused by the impact of a rocky body about 5 kilometers in diameter. Currently, there is no known asteroid with a significant probability of impacting Earth in the next century. But a fictional scenario to help practice for an asteroid impact is on going at the 2019 IAA Planetary Defense Conference.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2019 April 2 - Space Station Silhouette on the Moon
Explanation: What's that unusual spot on the Moon? It's the International Space Station. Using precise timing, the Earth-orbiting space platform was photographed in front of a partially lit gibbous Moon last month. The featured image was taken from Palo Alto, California, USA with an exposure time of only 1/667 of a second. In contrast, the duration of the transit of the ISS across the entire Moon was about half a second. A close inspection of this unusually crisp ISS silhouette will reveal the outlines of numerous solar panels and trusses. The bright crater Tycho is visible on the lower left, as well as comparatively rough, light colored terrain known as highlands, and relatively smooth, dark colored areas known as maria. On-line tools can tell you when the International Space Station will be visible from your area.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2019 March 13 - Highlights of the North Spring Sky
Explanation: 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) spring sky events fan out toward the left, while late spring 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. As happens during any season, constellations appear the same year to year, and, as usual, the Lyrids meteor shower will peak in mid-April. Also as usual, the International Space Station (ISS) can be seen, at times, as a bright spot drifting across the sky after sunset. After the Vernal Equinox next week, the length of daytime will be greater than the length of nighttime in Earth's northern hemisphere, an inequality that will escalate as the spring season develops. Also as spring ages, Jupiter becomes visible increasingly earlier in the night. As spring draws to a close, the month of May will feature the third of four full moons of the season, one of the definiitions of a Blue Moon.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2018 September 25 - Highlights of the North Autumn Sky
Explanation: 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. As happens during any season, constellations appear the same year to year, and, as usual, the Leonids meteor shower will peak in mid-November. Also as usual, the International Space Station (ISS) can be seen, at times, as a bright spot drifting across the sky after sunset. Planets visible after sunset this autumn include Jupiter and Mars, and during late autumn, Saturn.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2018 May 29 - Aurora and Manicouagan Crater from the Space Station
Explanation: How many of these can you find in today's featured photograph: an aurora, airglow, one of the oldest impact craters on the Earth, snow and ice, stars, city lights, and part of the International Space Station? Most of these can be identified by their distinctive colors. The aurora here appears green at the bottom, red at the top, and is visible across the left of image. Airglow appears orange and can be seen hovering over the curve of the Earth. The circular Manicouagan Crater in Canada, about 100 kilometers across and 200 million years old, is visible toward the lower right and is covered in white snow and ice. Stars, light in color, dot the dark background of space. City lights appear a bright yellow and dot the landscape. Finally, across the top, part of the International Space Station (ISS) appears mostly tan. The featured image was taken from the ISS in 2012.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2018 May 1 - The Aurora and the Sunrise
Explanation: On the International Space Station (ISS), you can only admire an aurora until the sun rises. Then the background Earth becomes too bright. Unfortunately, after sunset, the rapid orbit of the ISS around the Earth means that sunrise is usually less than 47 minutes away. In the featured image, a green aurora is visible below the ISS -- and on the horizon to the upper right, while sunrise approaches ominously from the upper left. Watching an aurora from space can be mesmerizing as its changing shape has been compared to a giant green amoeba. Auroras are composed of energetic electrons and protons from the Sun that impact the Earth's magnetic field and then spiral down toward the Earth so fast that they cause atmospheric atoms and molecules to glow. The ISS orbits at nearly the same height as auroras, many times flying right through an aurora's thin upper layers, an event that neither harms astronauts nor changes the shape of the aurora.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2018 March 12 - Flying over the Earth at Night II
Explanation: What would it be like to orbit the Earth? The International Space Station (ISS) does this every 90 minutes, and sometimes the astronauts on board take image sequences that are made into videos. The featured time-lapse video shows many visual spectacles of the dark Earth below. First, as the video begins, green and red auroras are visible on the upper left above white clouds. Soon city lights come into view, and it becomes clear you are flying over North America, eventually passing over Florida. In the second sequence you fly over Europe and Africa, eventually passing over the Nile River. Brief flashes of light are lightning in storms. Stars far in the distance can be seen rising through the greenish-gold glow of the Earth's atmosphere.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2018 February 17 - Manhattan Skylines
Explanation: City lights shine along the upper east side of Manahattan in this dramatic urban night skyscape from February 13. Composed from a series of digital exposures, the monochrome image is reminiscent of the time when sensitive black and white film was a popular choice for dimly lit night and astro-photography. Spanning 2 minutes and 40 seconds, the combined 22 frames look across the reservoir in New York City's Central Park. Stars trail in the time-lapse view while drifting clouds make patterns in the sky. Traced from top to bottom, the dashed line in the surreal scene is the International Space Station still in sunlight and heading for the southeast horizon. The short time intervals between the exposures leave gaps in the space station's bright trail.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2017 May 2 - Approach above Sunset
Explanation: There it is! The Cygnus supply ship was a welcome sight to the astronauts on the International Space Station just over a week ago. Launched three days before on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V from Cape Canaveral, Florida, the Orbital ATK's Cygnus spacecraft approached the International Space Station above the backdrop of a picturesque planet Earth. The Sun was setting off the image to the upper left, illuminating clouds well below the approaching vehicle. The robotic Cygnus spacecraft was captured first on camera and later with the space station's Canadarm2 by ESA's Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet and NASA's Expedition-51 Commander Peggy Whitson. Commander Whitson, a biochemist, has now set a new American record for the most total days in space. Besides essentials, the Cygnus carried equipment to bolster over 200 science experiments being conducted on the football-field sized Earth-orbiting outpost.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2016 December 22 - An Airplane Glory
Explanation: Looking out the window of an airplane, you might be lucky enough to see "the glory" in the direction directly opposite the Sun. Before airplanes, the phenomenon, known to some as the heiligenschein or the Specter of the Brocken, was sometimes seen from mountaintops. There, when conditions were right, one could look away from the Sun and see what appeared to be the shadow of a giant surrounded by a bright halo. The giant turns out to be the observer, as in the modern version a silhouette of an airplane frequently occupies the glory's center. This bright glory was photographed two weeks ago over Michigan from an airplane on approach to O'Hare International Airport. The cause of the glory is still being researched and is relatively complex. Surely, small droplets of water in some way reflect, refract, and diffract sunlight backwards towards the Sun. The phenomenon has similar counterparts in other branches of science including astronomy, where looking out from the Earth in the direction opposite the Sun yields a bright spot called the gegenschein.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2016 November 5 - ISS Fisheye Flythrough
Explanation: Shot in Ultra HD, this stunning video can take you on a tour of the International Space Station. A fisheye lens with sharp focus and extreme depth of field provides an immersive visual experience of life in the orbital outpost. In the 18 minute fly-through, your point of view will float serenely while you watch our fair planet go by 400 kilometers below the seven-windowed Cupola, and explore the interior of the station's habitable nodes and modules from an astronaut's perspective. The modular International Space Station is Earth's largest artificial satellite, about the size of a football field in overall length and width. Its total pressurized volume is approximately equal to that of a Boeing 747 aircraft.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2016 October 9 - Hurricane Ivan from the Space Station
Explanation: Ninety percent of the houses on Grenada were damaged by the destructive force of Hurricane Ivan. At its peak in 2004, Ivan was a Category 5 hurricane, the highest power category on the Saffir-Simpson Scale, and created sustained winds in excess of 200 kilometers per hour. Ivan was the largest hurricane to strike the US in 2004, and one of the more powerful in recorded history. As it swirled in the Atlantic Ocean, the tremendous eye of Hurricane Ivan was photographed from above by the orbiting International Space Station. The name Ivan has now been retired from Atlantic Ocean use by the World Meteorological Organization. This month, Hurricane Matthew devastated part of Haiti and is currently swirling just off the east coast of the USA.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2016 September 2 - Little Planet Astro Camp
Explanation: Day and night on this little planet look a lot like day and night on planet Earth. In fact, the images used to construct the little planet projection, a digitally warped and stitched mosaic covering 360x180 degrees, were taken during day and night near Tarján, Hungary, planet Earth. They span a successful 33-hour-long photo experiment at July's Hungarian Astronomical Association Astro Camp. The time-series composite follows the solar disk in 20 minute intervals from sunrise to sunset and over six hours of star trails in the northern night sky centered on the North Celestial Pole near bright star Polaris. The orbiting International Space Station traced the offset arc across the northern night. Below the little planet's nightside horizon, red light lamps of fellow astro-campers left the night-long, dancing trails.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2016 June 16 - Northern Lights above Lofoten
Explanation: The Aurora Borealis or northern lights are familiar visitors to night skies above the village of Reine in the Lofoten Islands, Norway, planet Earth. In this scene, captured from a mountaintop camp site, the auroral curtains do seem to create an eerie tension with the coastal lights though. A modern perspective on the world at night, the stunning image was chosen as the over all winner in The World at Night's 2016 International Earth and Sky Photo Contest. Selections were made from over 900 entries highlighting the beauty of the night sky and its battle with light pollution.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2016 May 13 - ISS and Mercury Too
Explanation: Transits of Mercury are relatively rare. Monday's leisurely 7.5 hour long event was only the 3rd of 14 Mercury transits in the 21st century. If you're willing to travel, transits of the International Space Station can be more frequent though, and much quicker. This sharp video frame composite was taken from a well-chosen location in Philadelphia, USA. It follows the space station, moving from upper right to lower left, as it crossed the Sun's disk in 0.6 seconds. Mercury too is included as the small, round, almost stationary silhouette just below center. In apparent size, the International Space Station looms larger from low Earth orbit, about 450 kilometers from Philadelphia. Mercury was about 84 million kilometers away. (Editor's note: The stunning video includes another double transit, Mercury and a Pilatus PC12 aircraft. Even quicker than the ISS to cross the Sun, the aircraft was about 1 kilometer away.)

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2016 April 18 - The International Space Station over Earth
Explanation: The International Space Station is the largest object ever constructed by humans in space. The station perimeter extends over roughly the area of a football field, although only a small fraction of this is composed of modules habitable by humans. The station is so large that it could not be launched all at once -- it continues to be built piecemeal. To function, the ISS needs huge trusses, some over 15 meters long and with masses over 10,000 kilograms, to keep it rigid and to route electricity and liquid coolants. Pictured above, the immense space station was photographed from the now-retired space shuttle Atlantis after a week-long stay in 2010. Across the image top hangs part of a bright blue Earth, in stark contrast to the darkness of interstellar space across the bottom.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2016 February 24 - USA's Northeast Megalopolis from Space
Explanation: Can you identify a familiar area in the northeast USA just from nighttime lights? It might be possible because many major cities are visible, including (right to left) New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Richmond and Norfolk -- Boston of the USA's Northeast megalopolis is not pictured. The featured image was taken in 2012 from the International Space Station. In the foreground are two Russian cargo ships with prominent solar panels. This Northeast megalopolis of the USA contains almost 20 percent of the people of the USA but only about 2 percent of the land area. Also known also as the Northeast Corridor and part of the Eastern Seaboard, about 10 percent of the world's largest companies are headquartered here. The near continuity of the lights seem to add credence to the 1960s-era prediction that the entire stretch is evolving into one continuous city.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2015 November 9 - Assembly of The International Space Station
Explanation: It is the largest and most sophisticated object ever built off the Earth. It has taken numerous spaceflights and over a decade to construct. The International Space Station (ISS) is currently the premiere habitat for humans in Earth orbit, and an amalgamation of sophisticated orbiting laboratories that have examined everything from the formation of new materials and medicines created in microgravity -- to the limitations of the human body -- to the composition of the universe. This month, the ISS is celebrating 15 years of continuous human habitation. The ISS has been visited by astronauts from 15 countries, so far, and has international partners led by NASA (USA), Roscosmos (Russia), CSA (Canada), JAXA (Japan), and ESA (Europe). The featured animation shows the piece-by-piece construction of the ISS from 1998 to 2011. Spanning the length of a football field, the ISS can be seen as an unusually bright spot drifting slowly overhead by anyone who knows when and where to look.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2015 July 22 - Gamma ray Rain from 3C 279
Explanation: If gamma-rays were raindrops a flare from a supermassive black hole might look like this. Not so gently falling on the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope from June 14 to June 16 the gamma-ray photons, with energies up to 50 billion electron volts, originated in active galaxy 3C 279 some 5 billion light-years away. Each gamma-ray "drop" is an expanding circle in the timelapse visualization, the color and maximum size determined by the gamma-ray's measured energy. Starting with a background drizzle, the sudden downpour that then trails off is the intense, high energy flare. The creative and calming presentation of the historically bright flare covers a 5 degree wide region of the gamma-ray sky centered on 3C 279.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2015 April 27 - Space Station over Lunar Terminator
Explanation: What's that in front of the Moon? It's the International Space Station. Using precise timing, the Earth-orbiting space platform was photographed in front of a partially lit Moon last year. The featured image was taken from Madrid, Spain with an exposure time of only 1/1000 of a second. In contrast, the duration of the transit of the ISS across the entire Moon was about half a second. The sun-glinting station can be seen just to the dark side of the day / night line known as the terminator. Numerous circular craters are visible on the distant Moon, as well as comparatively rough, light colored terrain known as highlands, and relatively smooth, dark colored areas known as maria. On-line tools can tell you when the International Space Station will be visible from your area.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2015 March 2 - Lenticular Cloud, Moon, Mars, Venus
Explanation: It is not every day that such an interesting cloud photobombs your image. The original plan was to photograph a rare angular conjunction of Mars and Venus that occurred a week and a half ago, with the added bonus of a crescent Moon and the International Space Station (ISS) both passing nearby. Unfortunately, on Madeira Island, Portugal, this event was clouded out. During the next day, however, a spectacular lenticular cloud appeared before sunset, so the industrious astrophotographer quickly formulated a new plan. A close look at the resulting image reveals the Moon visible toward the left of the frame, while underneath, near the bottom, are the famous planets with Venus being the brighter. It was the unexpected lenticular cloud, though, perhaps looking like some sort of futuristic spaceship, that stole the show. The setting Sun illuminated the stationary cloud (and everything else) from the bottom, setting up an intricate pattern of shadows, layers, and brightly illuminated regions, all seen evolving in a corresponding video. Mars and Venus will next appear this close on the sky in late August, but whether any place on Earth will catch them behind such a photogenic cloud is unknown.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2014 December 6 - Orion Launch
Explanation: Headed for two orbits of planet Earth and a splashdown in the Pacific, Orion blazed into the early morning sky on Friday at 7:05am ET. The spacecraft was launched atop a United Launch Aliance Delta IV Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Its first voyage into space on an uncrewed flight test, the Orion traveled some 3,600 miles from Earth, about 15 times higher than the orbital altitude of the International Space Station. In fact, Orion traveled farther into space than any spacecraft designed for astronauts since the Apollo missions to the Moon. The Orion crew module reached speeds of 20,000 miles per hour and temperatures approaching 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit as it re-entered Earth's atmosphere about 4.5 hours after launch.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2014 October 6 - Space Station Detector Finds Unexplained Positron Excess
Explanation: Where did all these high energy positrons come from? The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-02) onboard the International Space Station (ISS) has been meticulously recording how often it is struck by both high energy electrons and positrons since 2011. After accumulating years of data, it has now become clear that there are significantly more positrons than expected at the highest energies detected. The excess may have a very exciting and profound origin -- the annihilation of distant but previously undetected dark matter particles. However, it is also possible that astronomical sources such as pulsars are creating the unexplained discrepancy. The topic remains a very active area of research. Pictured here, the AMS is visible on the ISS just after being installed, with a US Space Shuttle docked on the far right, a Russian Soyuz capsule docked on the far left, and the blue Earth that houses all nations visible across the background.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2014 September 27 - A Launch and a Landing
Explanation: Taken from an Atlantic beach, Cape Canaveral, planet Earth, four identically framed digital images are combined in this night skyscape. Slightly shifted short star trails dot the sky, but the exposure times were adjusted to follow the flight of a Falcon 9 rocket. The September 21 launch delivered a Dragon X capsule filled with supplies to the International Space Station. Above the bright flare seen just after launch, the rocket's first stage firing trails upward from the left. After separation, the second stage burn begins near center with the vehicle climbing toward low Earth orbit. At the horizon, the flare near center records the re-ignition and controlled descent of the Falcon 9's first stage to a soft splashdown off the coast.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2014 August 3 - Dark Shuttle Approaching
Explanation: What's that approaching? Astronauts on board the International Space Station first saw it in early 2010 far in the distance. Soon it enlarged to become a dark silhouette. As it came even closer, the silhouette appeared to be a spaceship. Finally, the object revealed itself to be the Space Shuttle Endeavour, and it soon docked as expected with the Earth-orbiting space station. Pictured above, Endeavour was imaged near Earth's horizon as it approached, where several layers of the Earth's atmosphere were visible. Directly behind the shuttle is the mesosphere, which appears blue. The atmospheric layer that appears white is the stratosphere, while the orange layer is Earth's Troposphere. This shuttle mission, began with a dramatic night launch. Tasks completed during this shuttle's visit to the ISS included the delivery of the Tranquility Module which contained a cupola bay window complex that allows even better views of spaceships approaching and leaving the space station.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2014 June 28 - Orion Arising
Explanation: Orion's belt runs just along the horizon, seen through Earth's atmosphere and rising in this starry snapshot from low Earth orbit on board the International Space Station. The belt stars, Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka run right to left and Orion's sword, home to the great Orion Nebula, hangs above his belt, an orientation unfamiliar to denizens of the planet's northern hemisphere. That puts bright star Rigel, at the foot of Orion, still higher above Orion's belt. Of course the brightest celestial beacon in the frame is Sirius, alpha star of the constellation Canis Major. The station's Destiny Laboratory module is in the foreground at the top right.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2014 May 25 - Camelopardalids and ISS
Explanation: From a camp on the northern shores of the Great Lake Erie, three short bright meteor streaks were captured in this composited night skyscape. Recorded over the early morning hours of May 24, the meteors are elusive Camelopardalids. Their trails point back to the meteor shower's radiant near Polaris, in the large but faint constellation Camelopardalis the camel leopard, or in modern terms the Giraffe. While a few meteors did appear, the shower was not an active one as the Earth crossed through the predicted debris trail of periodic comet 209P/LINEAR. Of course, the long bright streak in the image did appear as predicted. Early on May 24, the International Space Station made a bright passage through northern skies.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2014 May 14 - A Live View from the International Space Station
Explanation: If you were floating above the Earth right now, this is what you might see. Two weeks ago, the robotic SpaceX Dragon capsule that delivered supplies to the Earth-orbiting International Space Station (ISS) also delivered High Definition Earth Viewing (HDEV) cameras that take and transmit live views of Earth. Pictured above, when working, is the live video feed that switches between four cameras, each pointed differently. Watch white clouds, tan land, and blue oceans drift by. The above video will appear black when it is nighttime on the Earth below, but the space station's rapid 90-minute orbit compresses this dark time into only 45 minutes. The present location of the ISS above the Earth can be found on the web. If the video appears gray, this indicates that the view is either being switched between cameras, or communications with the ISS is temporarily unavailable. As the HDEV project continues, video quality will be monitored to assess the effects of high energy radiation, which types of cameras work best, and which Earth views are the most popular. Although this feed will eventually be terminated, lessons learned will enable better cameras to be deployed to the ISS in the future, likely returning even more interesting live feeds.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2014 April 1 - Space Station Robot Forgets Key Again
Explanation: Space station robot AFJ013 has forgotten her space lock key again. The frustrated robot was reduced to tapping on a space station window and asking for a human to let her back in -- for the third time this week. "Yes, she did a great job adjusting the tolerances on the new science module, but why she can't remember to take her key is beyond me," said incredulous station commander Koichi Wakata (Japan). "We would keep the entry unlocked but we are afraid that space aliens will come in and raid our refrigerator", the astronaut lamented. Happy April Fools' Day from the folks at APOD. In reality, International Space Station astronaut Wakata poses in front of a Cupola window while the Latching End Effector, attached to Canadarm2, is visible just outside.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2014 January 6 - Three CubeSats Released
Explanation: Cubes are orbiting the Earth. Measuring ten-centimeters on a side, CubeSats -- each roughly the size of a large coffee mug -- are designed to be inexpensive both to build and to launch. Pictured above, three CubeSats were released from the International Space Station (ISS) last November by the arm of the Japanese Kibo Laboratory module. CubeSats are frequently created by students as part of university science or engineering projects and include missions such as collecting wide angle imagery of the Earth, testing orbital radio communications, monitoring the Earth's magnetic field, and exploring the Earth's surrounding radiations. Depending on the exact height of their release, CubeSats will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere on the time scale of months to years.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2014 January 2 - Reflections on Planet Earth
Explanation: Catching sight of your reflection in a store window or shiny hubcap can be entertaining and occasionally even inspire a thoughtful moment. So consider this reflective view from 300 kilometers above planet Earth. The picture is actually a self-portrait taken by astronaut Michael Fossum on July 8, 2006 during a space walk or extravehicular activity while the Discovery orbiter was docked with the International Space Station. Turning his camera to snap a picture of his own helmet visor, he also recorded the reflection of his fellow mission specialist, Piers Sellers, near picture center and one of the space station's gold-tinted solar power arrays arcing across the top. Of course, the horizon of our fair planet lies in background.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2013 December 6 - Gamma Ray Earth and Sky
Explanation: For an Earth-orbiting gamma-ray telescope, Earth is actually the brightest source of gamma-rays, the most energetic form of light. Gamma-rays from Earth are produced when high energy particles, cosmic rays from space, crash into the atmosphere. While that interaction blocks harmful radiation from reaching the surface, those gamma-rays dominate in this remarkable Earth and sky view from the orbiting Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope's Large Area Telescope. The image was constructed using only observations made when the center of our Milky Way galaxy was near the zenith, directly above the Fermi satellite. The zenith is mapped to the center of the field. The Earth and points near the nadir, directly below the satellite, are mapped to the edges of the field resulting in an Earth and all-sky projection from Fermi's orbital perspective. The color scheme shows low intensities of gamma-rays as blue and high intensities as yellowish hues on a logarithmic scale. Our fair planet's brighter gamma-ray glow floods the edges of field, the high intensity yellow ring tracing Earth's limb. Gamma-ray sources in the sky along the relatively faint Milky Way stretch diagonally across the middle. Launched June 11, 2008 to explore the high-energy Universe, this week Fermi celebrated its 2,000th day in low Earth orbit.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2013 July 8 - Pluto's Newly Discovered Moons Receive Names
Explanation: Pluto's newly discovered moons now have names. Known previously as P4 and P5, the International Astronomical Union has now given the fourth and fifth discovered moons of Pluto the names Kerberos and Styx. The small moons were discovered in 2011 and 2012 by the Hubble Space Telescope in preparation for the close passing of the New Horizons spacecraft by Pluto in 2015. Kerberos is named for the many headed dog in Greek mythology that guards the entrance to the underworld, while Styx is named for the goddess who overlooks the mythological river that runs between the Earth and the underworld. Both monikers are related to the name of Pluto, who rules the mythical nether region. Because their reflectivity is unknown, the size of each moon is quite uncertain -- but each is crudely estimated to be about 20 kilometers in diameter. The robotic New Horizons spacecraft is on schedule to pass by Pluto in 2015 and provide the first clear images of the dwarf planet and its companions.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2013 April 24 - Wringing a Wet Towel in Orbit
Explanation: What happens if you wring out a wet towel while floating in space? The water shouldn't fall toward the floor because while orbiting the Earth, free falling objects will appear to float. But will the water fly out from the towel, or what? The answer may surprise you. To find out and to further exhibit how strange being in orbit can be, Expedition 35 Commander Chris Hadfield did just this experiment last week in the microgravity of the Earth orbiting International Space Station. As demonstrated in the above video, although a few drops do go flying off, most of the water sticks together and forms a unusual-looking cylindrical sheath in and around the towel. The self-sticking surface tension of water is well known on Earth, for example being used to create artistic water cascades and, more generally, raindrops.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2013 April 6 - Earth at Twilight
Explanation: No sudden, sharp boundary marks the passage of day into night in this gorgeous view of ocean and clouds over our fair planet Earth. Instead, the shadow line or terminator is diffuse and shows the gradual transition to darkness we experience as twilight. With the Sun illuminating the scene from the right, the cloud tops reflect gently reddened sunlight filtered through the dusty troposphere, the lowest layer of the planet's nurturing atmosphere. A clear high altitude layer, visible along the dayside's upper edge, scatters blue sunlight and fades into the blackness of space. This picture actually is a single digital photograph taken in June of 2001 from the International Space Station orbiting at an altitude of 211 nautical miles.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2013 March 31 - Flying Over the Earth at Night
Explanation: Many wonders are visible when flying over the Earth at night. A compilation of such visual spectacles was captured recently from the International Space Station (ISS) and set to rousing music. Passing below are white clouds, orange city lights, lightning flashes in thunderstorms, and dark blue seas. On the horizon is the golden haze of Earth's thin atmosphere, frequently decorated by dancing auroras as the video progresses. The green parts of auroras typically remain below the space station, but the station flies right through the red and purple auroral peaks. Solar panels of the ISS are seen around the frame edges. The ominous wave of approaching brightness at the end of each sequence is just the dawn of the sunlit half of Earth, a dawn that occurs every 90 minutes.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2013 February 1 - Atlas V Launches TDRS-K
Explanation: Beyond a fertile field of satellite communication antennas at Kennedy Space Center, an Atlas V rocket streaks into orbit in this long exposure photograph. In the thoughtfully composed image recorded on the evening of January 30, the antennas in the foreground bring to mind the rocket's payload, a Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS; sounds like TEE-dress). This TDRS-K is the first in a next-generation series adding to the constellation of NASA's communication satellites. Operating from geosynchronous orbit 22,300 miles (36,000 kilometers) above planet Earth, the network of TDRS satellites relays communications, data, and commands between spacecraft and ground stations. Formerly the TDRS network provided communications for space shuttle missions. In fact, many TDRS satellites were ferried as far as low Earth orbit on space shuttles. The TDRS network continues to support major spacecraft like the International Space Station, the Hubble Space Telescope, and the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2013 January 24 - ISS and the Summer Milky Way
Explanation: Clouds on a summer night frame this sea and skyscape, recorded earlier this month near Buenos Aires, Argentina. But planet Earth's clouds are not the only clouds on the scene. Starry clouds and nebulae along the southern hemisphere's summer Milky Way arc above the horizon, including the dark Coal Sack near the Southern Cross and the tantalizing pinkish glow of the Carina Nebula. Both the Large (top center) and Small Magellanic Clouds are also in view, small galaxies in their own right and satellites of the Milky Way up to 200,000 light-years distant. Alpha star of the Carina constellation and second brightest star in Earth's night, Canopus shines above about 300 light-years away. Still glinting in sunlight at an altitude of 400 kilometers, the orbiting International Space Station traces a long streak through the single, 5 minute, star-tracking exposure.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2012 September 18 - Orbiting Astronaut Self Portrait
Explanation: Is it art? Earlier this month, space station astronaut Aki Hoshide (Japan) recorded this striking image while helping to augment the capabilities of the Earth-orbiting International Space Station (ISS). Visible in this outworldly assemblage is the Sun, the Earth, two portions of a robotic arm, an astronaut's spacesuit, the deep darkness of space, and the unusual camera taking the picture. This image joins other historic -- and possibly artistic -- self-portraits taken previously in space. The Expedition 32 mission ended yesterday when an attached capsule undocked with the ISS and returned some of the crew to Earth.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2012 August 29 - A Dark Earth with a Red Sprite
Explanation: There is something very unusual in this picture of the Earth -- can you find it? A fleeting phenomenon once thought to be only a legend has been newly caught if you know just where to look. The above image was taken from the orbiting International Space Station (ISS) in late April and shows familiar ISS solar panels on the far left and part of a robotic arm to the far right. The rarely imaged phenomenon is known as a red sprite and it can be seen, albeit faintly, just over the bright area on the image right. This bright area and the red sprite are different types of lightning, with the white flash the more typical type. Although sprites have been reported anecdotally for as long as 300 years, they were first caught on film in 1989 -- by accident. Much remains unknown about sprites including how they occur, their effect on the atmospheric global electric circuit, and if they are somehow related to other upper atmospheric lightning phenomena such as blue jets or terrestrial gamma flashes.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2012 July 28 - Trails in the Morning Sky
Explanation: Brilliant Venus and bright Jupiter still rise together before dawn. The peaceful waters by a small lakeside house near Stuttgart, Germany reflect their graceful arcing trails in this composited series of exposures, recorded on the morning of July 26. A reflection of planet Earth's rotation on its axis, the concentric trails of these celestial beacons along with trails of stars are punctuated at their ends by a separate final frame in the morning skyview. Easy to pick out, Venus is brightest and near the trees close to the horizon. Jupiter arcs above it, toward the center of the image along with the compact Pleiades star cluster and V-shaped Hyades anchored by bright star Aldebaran. One trail looks wrong, though. Not concentric with the others and so not a reflection of Earth's rotation, the International Space Station streaks off the right side of this scene, glinting in sunlight as it orbits planet Earth.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2012 June 3 - A Picturesque Venus Transit
Explanation: The rare transit of Venus across the face of the Sun in 2004 was one of the better-photographed events in sky history. Both scientific and artistic images flooded in from the areas that could see the transit: Europe and much of Asia, Africa, and North America. Scientifically, solar photographers confirmed that the black drop effect is really better related to the viewing clarity of the camera or telescope than the atmosphere of Venus. Artistically, images might be divided into several categories. One type captures the transit in front of a highly detailed Sun. Another category captures a double coincidence such as both Venus and an airplane simultaneously silhouetted, or Venus and the International Space Station in low Earth orbit. A third image type involves a fortuitous arrangement of interesting looking clouds, as shown by example in the above image taken from North Carolina, USA. Sky enthusiasts worldwide are abuzz about the coming transit of Venus on Tuesday. It is perhaps interesting to wonder whether any person will live to see -- and remember seeing -- both Tuesday's Venus transit and the next one in 2117.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2012 May 4 - Fermi Epicycles: The Vela Pulsar's Path
Explanation: Exploring the cosmos at extreme energies, the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope orbits planet Earth every 95 minutes. By design, it rocks to the north and then to the south on alternate orbits in order to survey the sky with its Large Area Telescope (LAT). The spacecraft also rolls so that solar panels are kept pointed at the Sun for power, and the axis of its orbit precesses like a top, making a complete rotation once every 54 days. As a result of these multiple cycles the paths of gamma-ray sources trace out complex patterns from the spacecraft's perspective, like this mesmerising plot of the path of the Vela Pulsar. Centered on the LAT instrument's field of view, the plot spans 180 degrees and follows Vela's position from August 2008 through August 2010. The concentration near the center shows that Vela was in the sensitive region of the LAT field during much of that period. Born in the death explosion of a massive star within our Milky Way galaxy, the Vela Pulsar is a neutron star spinning 11 times a second, seen as the brightest persistent source in the gamma-ray sky.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2011 December 31 - Comet Lovejoy and the ISS
Explanation: On December 24, Comet Lovejoy rose in dawn's twilight, arcing above the eastern horizon, its tails swept back by the solar wind and sunlight. Seen on the left is the comet's early morning appearance alongside the southern Milky Way from the town of Intendente Alvear, La Pampa province, Argentina. The short star trails include bright southern sky stars Alpha and Beta Centauri near the center of the frame, but the long bright streak that crosses the comet tails is a little closer to home. Waiting for the proper moment to start his exposure, the photographer has also caught the International Space Station still glinting in the sunlight as it orbits (top to bottom) above the local horizon. The right panel is the near horizon view of Comet Lovejoy from the space station itself, captured only two days earlier. In fact, Dan Burbank, Expedition 30 commander, recorded Comet Lovejoy rising just before the Sun in a spectacular video (linked here). Even considering the other vistas available from low Earth orbit, Burbank describes the comet as "the most amazing thing I have ever seen in space."

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2011 July 9 - Atlantis Reflection
Explanation: Space shuttle orbiter Atlantis left planet Earth on Friday, July 8, embarking on the STS-135 mission to the International Space Station. The momentous launch was the final one in NASA's 30 year space shuttle program that began with the launch of the first reusable spacecraft on April 12, 1981. In this reflective prelaunch image from July 7, Atlantis stands in a familiar spot on the Kennedy Space Center's pad 39A, after an early evening roll back of the pad's Rotating Service Structure. The historic orbital voyages of Atlantis have included a Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission, deployment of Magellan, Galileo, and the Compton Gamma-ray Observatory, and seven trips to the Russian space station Mir. Scheduled to dock once again with the International Space Station on Sunday, Atlantis has now made its 33rd and final trip to orbit.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2011 May 21 - Planets, Endeavour at Dawn
Explanation: When dawn broke over Kennedy Space Center on Monday, May 16, the space shuttle orbiter Endeavour still stood on pad 39A. Its final launch, on mission STS-134 to the International Space Station, was only hours away. Shining through the early morning twilight four planets were also poised above the eastern horizon, a moving scene captured here from across the Banana River at the center's Saturn V VIP viewing site. Scattered by planet Earth's dense atmosphere, floodlight beams play over the launch pad, glancing skyward toward the celestial beacons. Jupiter is highest, near the top of the frame, but even the solar sytem's ruling gas giant is outshone by brilliant Venus near picture center. Innermost planet Mercury is below Venus, to the right. Below and left, Mars almost fades into the twilight glow. The four planets continue to hug the eastern horizon at dawn throughout the month, while Endeavour is now scheduled to make its final approach to planet Earth on June 1.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2011 April 12 - 50 Years Ago: Yuri's Planet
Explanation: On April 12th, 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Alexseyevich Gagarin became the first human in space. His remotely controlled Vostok 1 spacecraft lofted him to an altitude of 200 miles and carried him once around planet Earth. Commenting on the first view from space he reported, "The sky is very dark; the Earth is bluish. Everything is seen very clearly". His view could have resembled this image taken in 2003 from the International Space Station. Alan Shepard, the first US astronaut, would not be launched until almost a month later and then on a comparatively short suborbital flight. Born on March 9, 1934, Gagarin was a military pilot before being chosen for the first group of cosmonauts in 1960. As a result of his historic flight he became an international hero and legend. Killed when his MIG jet crashed during a training flight in 1968, Gagarin was given a hero's funeral, his ashes interred in the Kremlin Wall. Twenty years later, on yet another April 12th, in 1981, NASA launched the first space shuttle.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2011 March 9 - The International Space Station Expands Again
Explanation: The developing International Space Station (ISS) has changed its appearance again. In a recently completed rendezvous, the Space Shuttle orbiter Discovery, in its final flight, visited the ISS and added components that included the Leonardo Multi Purpose Logistics Module. The ISS and many of its modules and expansive solar panels are visible in the above picture taken by the Discovery Crew after leaving the ISS to return to Earth. The world's foremost space outpost can be seen developing over the past several years by comparing the above image to other past images. Also visible above are many different types of modules and supply ships. Construction began on the ISS in 1998.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2011 January 31 - Japan's Kounotori2 Supply Ship Approaches the Space Station
Explanation: The care package from Earth had arrived. Last week, Japan launched the robotic Kounotori2 spacecraft to bring needed supplies, including food, to the International Space Station (ISS). Kountori2 launched from Japan's Tanegashima Space Center a little over a week ago reached the ISS in low Earth late last week. Pictured above, Kountori2 approached the ISS and was about to be grabbed by astronauts with the Canadarm2 and attached to the Harmony Module. In the above picture as seen through a window on the ISS, the limb of the Earth is visible, including white clouds, blue water, and various tan colored landforms. In addition to launches including humans, as many as ten robotic spacecraft may be launched to the space station this year, potentially including spacecraft from Russia, Europe, Japan, and a private company in the USA.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2011 January 5 - Eclipsing the Sun
Explanation: Skywatchers throughout much of Europe, North Africa, and Central Asia, were treated to the first eclipse of the new year on January 4, a partial eclipse of the Sun. But traveling to the area around Muscat, capital city of Oman, photographer Thierry Legault planned to simultaneously record two eclipses on that date, calculating from that position, for a brief moment, both the Moon and the International Space Station could be seen in silhouette, crossing the Sun. His sharp, 1/5000th second exposure is shown here, capturing planet Earth's two largest satellites against the bright solar disk. As the partial solar eclipse unfolded, the space station (above and left of center) zipped across the scene in less than 1 second, about 500 kilometers from the photographer's telescope and camera. Of course, the Moon was 400 thousand kilometers away. Complete with sunspots, the Sun was 150 million kilometers distant.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2010 November 4 - Night Lights
Explanation: Constellations of lights sprawl across this night scene, but they don't belong in the skies of planet Earth. Instead, the view looks down from the International Space Station as it passed over the United States along the northern Gulf Coast on October 29. A Russian Soyuz spacecraft is docked in the foreground. Behind its extended solar panels, some 360 kilometers below, are the recognizable city lights of New Orleans. Looking east along the coast to the top of the frame finds Mobile, Alabama while Houston city lights stand out to the west, toward the bottom. North (left) of New Orleans, a line of lights tracing central US highway I55 connects to Jackson, Mississippi and Memphis, Tennessee. Of course, the lights follow the population centers, but not everyone lives on planet Earth all the time these days. November 2nd marked the first decade of continuous human presence in space on board the International Space Station.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2010 June 23 - Sunset from the International Space Station
Explanation: What are these strange color bands being seen from the International Space Station? The Sun setting through Earth's atmosphere. Pictured above, a sunset captured last month by the ISS's Expedition 23 crew shows in vivid detail many layers of the Earth's thin atmosphere. Part of the Earth experiencing night crosses the bottom of the image. Above that, appearing in deep orange and yellow, is the Earth's troposphere, which contains 80 percent of the atmosphere by mass and almost all of the clouds in the sky. Above the troposphere, seen as a light blue band with white clouds, is the stratosphere, part of the Earth's atmosphere where airplanes fly and some hardy bacteria float. Above the stratosphere, visible as a darker blue bands, are higher and thinner atmospheric levels that gradually fade away into the cold dark vacuum of outer space. Sunset is not an uncommon sight for occupants of the International Space Station, because it can be seen as many as 16 times a day.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2010 May 23 - Station and Shuttle Transit the Sun
Explanation: That's no sunspot. On the upper right of the above image of the Sun, the dark patches are actually the International Space Station (ISS) and the Space Shuttle Atlantis on mission STS-132. In the past, many skygazers have spotted the space station and space shuttles as bright stars gliding through twilight skies, still glinting in the sunlight while orbiting about 350 kilometers above the Earth's surface. But here, astrophotographer Thierry Lagault accurately computed the occurrence of a rarer opportunity to record the spacefaring combination moving quickly in silhouette across the solar disk. He snapped the above picture on last Sunday on May 16, about 50 minutes before the shuttle docked with the space station. Atlantis was recently launched to the ISS for its last mission before being retired.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2010 April 8 - Discovery's Cloud
Explanation: The space shuttle orbiter Discovery is now docked with the International Space Station, some 350 kilometers above planet Earth. Last Monday, its launch to orbit was a beautiful one as it rose into clear, predawn skies at 6:21am EDT from Kennedy Space Center's pad 39A. Looking east, this time exposure was taken shortly after lift off from a marina about 13 miles west of the launch site in Titusville, Florida. It shows the dawn's emerging colors along the horizon, with wafting rocket contrails at the upper right. The bright streak surrounded by the remarkable, elongated, vapor cloud near the center of the image is the actual track of Discovery, arcing toward the horizon and its orbital rendezvous.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2010 March 3 - The International Space Station from Above
Explanation: The International Space Station (ISS) is the largest human-made object ever to orbit the Earth. The ISS is so large that it can be seen drifting overhead with the unaided eye, and is frequently imaged from the ground in picturesque fashion. Last month, the station was visited again by space shuttle, which resupplied the station and added a new module. The ISS is currently operated by the Expedition 22 crew, now consisting five astronauts including two supplied by USA's NASA, two by Russia's RKA, and one by Japan's JAXA. After departing the ISS, the crew of the space shuttle Endeavour captured the above spectacular vista of the orbiting space city high above the clouds, waters, and lands of Earth. Visible components include modules, trusses, and expansive solar arrays that gather sunlight that is turned into needed electricity.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2010 February 27 - Dawn's Endeavour
Explanation: On February 21st, the Space Shuttle Endeavour and the International Space Station (ISS) flew through the sky near dawn over Whitby, Ontario, Canada. Along with star trails, both were captured in this single time exposure. Glinting in sunlight 350 kilometers above the Earth, Endeavour slightly preceeded the ISS arcing over the horizon. But the brighter trail and the brighter flare belongs to the space station just visited by Endeavour. Near the completion of the STS-130 mission, hours later Endeavour made a night landing at Kennedy Space Center.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2010 February 16 - Dark Shuttle Approaching
Explanation: What's that approaching? Astronauts on board the International Space Station first saw it far in the distance. Soon it enlarged to become a dark silhouette. As it came even closer, the silhouette appeared to be a spaceship. Finally, at just past 11 pm (CST) last Tuesday, the object, revealed to be the Space Shuttle Endeavour, docked as expected with the Earth-orbiting space station. Pictured above, Endeavour was imaged near Earth's horizon as it approached, where several layers of the Earth's atmosphere were visible. Directly behind the shuttle is the mesosphere, which appears blue. The atmospheric layer that appears white is the stratosphere, while the orange layer is Earth's Troposphere. This shuttle mission, which began with a dramatic night launch and will continue into next week, has many tasks planned. These tasks include the delivery of the Tranquility Module which includes a cupola bay window complex that may allow even better views of spaceships approaching and leaving the space station.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2010 January 17 - Atlantis to Orbit
Explanation: Birds don't fly this high. Airplanes don't go this fast. The Statue of Liberty weighs less. No species other than human can even comprehend what is going on, nor could any human just a millennium ago. The launch of a rocket bound for space is an event that inspires awe and challenges description. Pictured above, the Space Shuttle Atlantis lifted off to visit the International Space Station during the early morning hours of 2001 July 12. From a standing start, the two million kilogram rocket ship left to circle the Earth where the outside air is too thin to breathe and where there is little noticeable onboard gravity. Rockets bound for space are now launched from somewhere on Earth about once a week.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2009 December 7 - The International Space Station Over the Horizon
Explanation: This was home. Just over a week ago, the STS-129 crew of the Space Shuttle Atlantis undocked from the International Space Station (ISS) and returned to Earth. As the shuttle departed the space station, they took the above image. Visible on the ISS are numerous modules, trusses, and long wing-like solar panels. The space shuttle crew spent almost 12 days calling the space station home. The shuttle crew resupplied the space station and delivered valuable spare parts. The ISS continues to be home for five astronauts of Expedition 21. The ISS's crew now includes astronauts representing NASA, the European Space Agency, the Russian Federal Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2009 November 30 - Bright Sun and Crescent Earth from the Space Station
Explanation: This was just one more breathtaking view from the International Space Station. The Sun, a crescent Earth, and the long arm of a solar panel were all visible outside a window when the Space Shuttle Atlantis visited the orbiting outpost last week. Reflections from the window and hexagonal lens flares from the camera are superposed. The space shuttle landed Friday after a successful 10 day mission to expand and resupply the ISS. Numbered STS-129, the space shuttle mission returned astronaut Nicole Stott to Earth from her stay on the ISS as a Flight Engineer in the Expedition 20 and 21 crews.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2009 October 22 - Moon and Planets in the Morning
Explanation: Last Friday, a gathering of three bright planets and the Moon graced the morning sky. With Mercury, Venus, Saturn, and a narrow lunar crescent close to the eastern horizon in the dawn twilight, this picture of the beautiful conjunction was recorded near Noerdlingen, Germany. These planets are wandering apart now and Mercury is sinking closer toward the rising Sun. But if you also scan the rest of the sky this week you should be able to add Jupiter and Mars to your planet spotting list, as Mars rises around midnight and Jupiter shines brightly after sunset. In fact, if you want a better view of Jupiter than Galileo had, you might check out the 2009 International Year of Astronomy activities and events during these next few Galilean Nights (October 22-24).

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2009 October 5 - The International Space Station Over Earth
Explanation: After undocking, the space shuttle Discovery crew got a memorable view of the developing International Space Station (ISS). Pictured orbiting high above Earth last month, numerous solar panels, trusses, and science modules of the ISS were visible. The Discovery crew brought mission specialist Nicole Stott to the ISS, and returned astronaut Timothy Kopra to Earth. Among the many mission and expedition accomplishments of the Discovery crew included delivering and placing the Fluids Integrated Rack and the Materials Science Research Rack in the Destiny module as well as the Minus Eighty Degree Laboratory Freezer in the Kibo module. Better known, however, was the delivery of the COLBERT treadmill for keeping astronauts fit. Over this past week the Soyuz TMA-16 spacecraft carrying three more astronauts docked with the ISS as Expedition 21 is set to begin. The next shuttle trip to the ISS is currently scheduled for 2009 November 12.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2009 June 25 - Sarychev Peak Volcano in Stereo
Explanation: From 400 kilometers above planet Earth, the Expedition 20 Crew onboard the International Space Station (ISS) was able to witness a remarkable event from a remarkable vantage point -- the June 12 eruption of the Sarychev Peak Volcano. The active volcano is located in Russia's Kuril Island chain, stretching to the northeast of Japan. Emphasizing the orbital perspective, this stunning color stereo view was made by combining two images from the ISS and is intended to be viewed with red/blue glasses (red for the left eye). Punching upwards into the atmosphere at an early stage of the eruption, the volcanic plume features a brown column of ash topped with a smooth, bubble-like, white cloud that is likely water condensation. Below, a cloud of denser grey ash slides down the volcanic slope. About 1.5 kilometers of the island coastline is visible at ground level. The evolving ash plume posed no danger to the Expedition 20 crew, but commercial airline flights were diverted away from the region to minimize the danger of engine failures from ash intake.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2009 June 13 - The Milky Road
Explanation: Inspired by the night skies of planet Earth in the International Year of Astronomy, photographer Larry Landolfi created this tantalizing fantasy view. The composited image suggests a luminous Milky Way is the heavenly extension of a country road. Of course, the name for our galaxy, the Milky Way (in Latin, Via Lactea), does refer to its appearance as a milky band or path in the sky. In fact, the word galaxy itself derives from the Greek for milk. Visible on moonless nights from dark sky areas, though not so bright or colorful as in this image, the glowing celestial band is due to the collective light of myriad stars along the plane of our galaxy, too faint to be distinguished individually. The diffuse starlight is cut by dark swaths of obscuring galactic dust clouds. Four hundred years ago, Galileo turned his telescope on the Milky Way and announced it to be "... a congeries of innumerable stars ..."

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2009 April 6 The International Space Station Expands Again
Explanation: The developing International Space Station (ISS) has changed its appearance again. In a recently completed mission, the Space Shuttle orbiter Discovery visited the ISS and added components that included a new truss and new solar panels. The entire array of expansive solar panels is visible in the above picture taken by the Discovery Crew after leaving the ISS to return to Earth. The world's foremost space outpost can be seen developing over the past several years by comparing the above image to past images. Also visible above are many different types of modules, a robotic arm, and a supply ship. Construction began on the ISS in 1998.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2009 April 3 - Around the World in 80 Telescopes
Explanation: Want to go on an extraordinary voyage? Today you can, by watching Around the World in 80 Telescopes. The 24-hour long webcast is organized by the European Southern Observatory for the International Year of Astronomy cornerstone project 100 Hours of Astronomy. As suggested in this astronomically intense composite, the webcast event follows night and day around the globe to visit some of the most advanced observatories on Earth and in space, exploring the universe in visible light and beyond. The Gemini North Telescope (Hawaii, USA) and the large observatories at the summit of volcanic Mauna Kea are scheduled for the first stops in the program beginning April 3 at 09:00 UT. Others on the schedule include the Swift Satellite and Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, the Himalayan Chandra Telescope (Hanle, India), and the 10-meter South Pole Telescope and IceCube Neutrino Telescope (South Pole, Antarctica).

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2009 April 2 - 100 Hours of Astronomy Begins
Explanation: Today, 100 Hours of Astronomy begins, a cornerstone project of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 celebrating the 400th anniversary of Galileo's original telescopic exploration of the sky. Running from April 2 through April 5, many different public programs are planned worldwide as part of the project, starting with today's opening event at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. Featuring one of Galileo's two remaining telescopes, the event will be webcast live. Of course, the sky examined by Galileo can still be appreciated today, with much more capable instruments that are widely available. But this skyward view from a private observatory in Veszprem, Hungary also includes objects Galileo did not see when he gazed into the night. Recorded on March 26, the image captures the paired trails of the International Space Station (the brighter trail) and the shuttle orbiter Discovery in low Earth orbit, as well as the streak of a passing airplane.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2009 April 1 - Astronauts Head Upgraded During Spacewalk
Explanation: First, a new truss was added. Then, new solar panels were installed. Now, as part of the planned upgrade of the International Space Station, an Expedition 18 astronaut has upgraded her own head. The Human Extended Analog Device 9000 was attached with only minor delays, making the astronaut's remaining spacewalks over 40 percent more efficient. With the HEAD 9000 attached, an astronaut can now directly access 4 Gigabytes of computer flash memory with their own brain, perform complex mathematics by "directed thinking", and play a pre-installed game of Tetris at no additional charge. Happy April Fools' Day from the folks at APOD. In reality, the space shuttle Discovery's mission to upgrade the International Space Station ended Saturday after upgrading only the space station. The above image of astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper handling the box-like Nitrogen Tank Assembly was actually taken last November. For some reason, however, Astronaut Stefanyshyn-Piper can now factor 11 digit prime numbers in her head.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2009 March 18 - GLOBE at Night: Help Track Light Pollution
Explanation: How many stars can you see? Through next week, the GLOBE at Night project invites people from all over the world to go outside at night, look up, and see! Specifically, people are invited to go out an hour after sunset and look for the constellation Orion toward the west. Rather than count Orion's stars directly, however, the GLOBE at Night website has made things easier by providing several star charts to which you can compare your view of Orion. Possible matches extend from a bright sky where only a few Orion stars are visible, to a very dark sky where over 100 Orion stars are visible. Pictured above are results from last year's sky observation campaign. Since 2009 is the International Year of Astronomy, it is hoped that an even better map can be created this year. By participating in this easy and fun activity, you are helping humanity to better understand how light pollution is changing across the Earth.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2009 February 6 - Space Station in the Moon
Explanation: On February 2nd, a first quarter Moon shone in planet Earth's early evening sky. As seen from a location on the US west coast near Mt. Hamilton, California, the International Space Station also arched above the horizon, crossing in front of the Moon's sunlit surface. The space station's transit lasted 0.49 seconds. This sharp exposure, a well-timed telescopic image, recorded the space station during the transit against the background of the Moon's smooth Mare Serenitatis (Sea of Serenity). The orbital outpost was traveling northwest to southeast (from 2 o'clock to 8 o'clock) at a range of 389 kilometers or about 230 miles. Of course, the Moon itself was 1,000 times farther away. In the remarkable photo, the glinting station also offers a hint of the bluish reflection of earthlight.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2009 January 1 - Welcome to the International Year of Astronomy
Explanation: Astronomers all over planet Earth invite you to experience the night sky as part of the International Year of Astronomy 2009. This year was picked by the International Astronomical Union and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization because it occurs 400 years after Galileo turned one of the first telescopes toward the heavens. Peering through that small window, Galileo discovered that the Moon has craters, Venus has phases, Jupiter has moons, and Saturn has rings. This year you can discover these and many modern wonders of the amazing overhead tapestry that is shared by all of humanity. If, like many others, you find the night sky wondrous and educational, be sure to attend an IYA2009 event in your area, and tell any schools and children that might be interested. Also, please feel free to explore the extensive IYA2009 web pages to find international media events that include blogs, webcasts and much much more.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 December 31 - The Sky in Motion
Explanation: Still need to come up with a good new year's resolution? Consider one appropriate for 2009, the International Year of Astronomy; just look up -- experience, learn, and enjoy the changing sky. This 4-minute, time-lapse video is composed from a series of 7,000 images highlighting much of what you could see. Arcing through the sky in a stately reflection of planet Earth's own rotation are Moon, Sun and stars. But the sequence also features satellites and meteors streaking overhead, clouds moving along the horizon changing in a beautiful iridescence, and beaming crepuscular rays.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 December 2 - International Space Station: Find the Astronaut
Explanation: Where's the astronaut? Somewhere in this impressive array of International Space Station (ISS) hardware, astronaut Steve Bowen can be found upgrading and cleaning key parts of Earth's most prominent orbital outpost. Astronaut Bowen and Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper (not pictured), part of the Space Shuttle Endeavour's recently ended STS-126 mission to the ISS, spent nearly three hours on this spacewalk hovering high above planet Earth. Bowen progressed toward achieving a key goal of the mission -- servicing of the Solar Alpha Rotary Joints to better allow some solar arrays to track the Sun. In the lower foreground of the above image is the cylindrical Columbus Laboratory, protruding from the right is an impressively large space station truss, while in the background are some of the expansive solar arrays that collect sunlight to power the ISS. Far in the distance, a blue arc of Earth's thin atmosphere is visible on the horizon. The next space shuttle flight is scheduled for 2009 February, when Discovery will deliver elements to further expand the ISS.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 November 20 - Endeavour in the Moon
Explanation: Glaring near the top of the frame, the shuttle orbiter Endeavour rockets into the night on the STS-126 mission. Endeavour left planet Earth on November 14 from Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, making the 27th flight to the International Space Station. To record the dramatic view, the camera was placed so the shuttle's flight path tracked across the Moon, from a vantage point in Indian River City, Florida. Near picture center the almost full, perigee Moon shining through thin clouds silhouettes the shuttle's dense exhaust trail. On board the space station, the crew and the STS-126 astronauts can celebrate the orbital outpost's 10th anniversary today. Construction of the International Space Station officially began with the November 20, 1998 Russian launch of the station's first element, the bus-sized Zarya module.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 November 13 - A Bubble in Cygnus
Explanation: Adrift in the rich star fields of the constellation Cygnus, this lovely, symmetric bubble nebula was only recently recognized and may not yet appear in astronomical catalogs. In fact, amateur astronomer Dave Jurasevich identified it as a nebula on July 6 in his images of the complex Cygnus region that included the Crescent Nebula (NGC 6888). He subsequently notified the International Astronomical Union. Only eleven days later the same object was independently identified by Mel Helm at Sierra Remote Observatories, imaged by Keith Quattrocchi and Helm, and also submitted to the IAU as a potentially unknown nebula. Their final composite image is seen here, including narrow-band image data that highlights the nebula's delicate outlines. What is the newly recognized bubble nebula? Like the Crescent Nebula itself, this cosmic bubble could be blown by winds from a massive Wolf-Rayet star, or it could be a spherically-shaped planetary nebula, a final phase in the life of a sun-like star.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 October 17 - An Extraordinary Voyage
Explanation: Nineteenth century science fiction author Jules Verne wrote visionary works about Extraordinary Voyages including tales of space flight and the story of a journey From the Earth to the Moon. Fittingly, the European Space Agency's newly developed Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), a robotic spacecraft intended to deliver cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) was named in his honor and successfully docked with the ISS earlier this year. When the Jules Verne ATV was undocked and deorbited last month, its safely controlled reentry over the Pacific Ocean was followed by astronomers in order to make detailed comparisons of the actual event with computer models of spacecraft reentry and breakup in the atmosphere. This dramatic image of the fragmenting, 13-ton spacecraft is a high definition video frame recorded from NASA's DC-8 Airborne Laboratory. The observations were part of the joint ESA/NASA Jules Verne Multi-Instrument Aircraft Campaign.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 October 16 - 48 Years of Space Flight
Explanation: This year, NASA celebrated its 50th anniversary. Inspired to make his own contribution, astronomer Ralf Vandebergh set out to record images of some historic spacecraft in Earth orbit -- captured with his own modest equipment and a hand-guided, 10-inch, Newtonian reflecting telescope. One result is this intriguing composite effectively spanning 48 years of space flight! From a 1960 launch, on the left is the TIROS 2 satellite, one of the first successful weather satellites. While this TIROS (Television InfraRed Observation System) satellite stopped functioning in 1961, Vandebergh notes that if we could visit it now, we would still find video cameras and magnetic tape recorders. On the right, of course, is the ISS (International Space Station) including its recent addition, the Progress M-65 cargo vehicle, launched to the ISS just last month.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 August 30 - The View from Everest
Explanation: What would it be like to stand atop the tallest mountain on Earth? To see a full panoramic vista from there, scroll right. Visible are snow peaked mountains near and far, tremendous cliffs, distant plateaus, the tops of clouds, and a dark blue sky. Mt. Everest stands 8.85 kilometers above sea level, roughly the maximum height reached by international airplane flights, but much less than the 300 kilometers achieved by a space shuttle. Hundreds of people have tried and failed to climb the behemoth by foot, a feat first accomplished successfully in 1953. About 1000 people have now made it to the summit. Roddy Mackenzie, who climbed the mountain in 1989, captured the above image. Mt. Everest lies in the Himalaya mountains in the country of Nepal. In the native language of Nepal, the mountain's name is "Sagarmatha" which means "forehead of the sky."

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 August 28 - Fermi's First Light
Explanation: Launched on June 11 to explore the universe at extreme energies, the Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope has been officially renamed the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, in honor of Nobel Laureate Enrico Fermi (1901-1954), pioneer in high-energy physics. After testing, Fermi's two instruments, the Gamma-ray Burst Monitor (GBM) and the Large Area Telescope (LAT), are now regularly returning data. Fermi's first map of the gamma-ray sky from the LAT is shown in this false-color image, an all-sky view that looks toward the center of our Milky Way Galaxy with the galactic plane projected across the middle. What shines in the gamma-ray sky? Along the galactic plane, energetic cosmic rays collide with gas and dust to produce the diffuse gamma-ray glow. Strong emission from spinning neutron stars or pulsars, and distant active galaxies known as blazars, can be identified by placing your cursor over the map. A prelude to future discoveries, the remarkable result combines only 4 days of observations, equivalent to a year of observations with the Compton Gamma-ray Observatory mission of the 1990s. In addition to the ability to monitor gamma-ray bursts, the greatly improved sensitivity will allow Fermi to look deeper into the high-energy Universe.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 July 30 - The International Space Station Transits the Sun
Explanation: That's no sunspot. It's the International Space Station (ISS) caught by chance passing in front of the Sun. Sunspots, individually, have a dark central umbra, a lighter surrounding penumbra, and no solar panels. By contrast, the ISS is a complex and multi-spired mechanism, one of the largest and most sophisticated machines ever created by humanity. Also, sunspots occur on the Sun, whereas the ISS orbits the Earth. Transiting the Sun is not very unusual for the ISS, which orbits the Earth about every 90 minutes, but getting one's timing and equipment just right for a great image is rare. Strangely, besides that fake spot, the Sun, last week, lacked any real sunspots. Sunspots have been rare on the Sun since the dawn of the current Solar Minimum, a period of low solar activity. Although fewer sunspots have been recorded during this Solar Minimum than for many previous decades, the low solar activity is not, as yet, very unusual.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 July 13 - A Dark Sky Over Death Valley
Explanation: This eerie glow over Death Valley is in danger. Scrolling right will show a spectacular view from one of the darkest places left in the continental USA: Death Valley, California. The above 360-degree full-sky panorama is a composite of 30 images taken two years ago in Racetrack Playa. The image has been digitally processed and increasingly stretched at high altitudes to make it rectangular. In the foreground on the image right is an unusually placed rock that was pushed by high winds onto Racetrack Playa after a slick rain. In the background is a majestic night sky, featuring thousands of stars and many constellations. The arch across the middle is the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy. Light pollution is threatening dark skies like this all across the US and the world, and therefore the International Dark-Sky Association and the US National Parks Service are suggesting methods that can protect them.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 June 23 - The International Space Station Expands Again
Explanation: The developing International Space Station (ISS) has changed its appearance again. Earlier this month, the Space Shuttle orbiter Discovery visited the ISS and added components that included Japan's Kibo Science Laboratory. The entire array of expansive solar panels is visible in this picture taken by the Discovery Crew after leaving the ISS to return to Earth. The world's foremost space outpost can be seen developing over the past several years by comparing the above image to past images. Also visible above are many different types of modules, a robotic arm, another impressive set of solar panels, and a supply ship. Construction began on the ISS in 1998.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 May 14 - A Supply Ship Docks with the International Space Station
Explanation: Looking out a window of the International Space Station brings breathtaking views. Visible vistas include a vast and colorful Earth, a deep dark sky, and an occasional spaceship sent to visit the station. Visible early last month was a Soyuz TMA-12 spacecraft carrying not only supplies but also three newcomers. The three new astronauts were Expedition 17 commander Sergei Volkov, flight engineer Oleg Kononenko, and spaceflight participant So-yeon Yi. Yi returned to Earth a few days later, while Volkov and Konenenko are scheduled to return in a few months. The docking module pictured above involved the Pirs Docking Compartment. The Expedition 17 crew, including NASA flight engineer Gregory Chamitoff, will carry out repairs on the ISS, explore new methods of living in space, and conduct research in space including the effects of space radiation on vitamin molecules.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 March 16 - Endeavour to Orbit
Explanation: Birds don't fly as high. Airplanes don't go as fast. The Statue of Liberty weighs less. No species other than human can even comprehend what is going on, nor could any human just a millennium ago. The launch of a rocket bound for space is an event that inspires awe and challenges description. The exhaust column pictured is from the Space Shuttle Endeavour after last week's night launch to visit the International Space Station. Endeavour's rocket engines create the dramatic glow from above the clouds. From a standing start, the two million kilogram rocket ship left to circle the Earth where the outside air is too thin to breathe and where there is little noticeable onboard gravity. Rockets bound for space are now launched from somewhere on Earth about once a week.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 March 14 - Endeavour into the Night
Explanation: Blasting into a dark night sky, the Space Shuttle Endeavour began its latest journey to orbit in the early morning hours of March 11. In this stunning picture following the launch, the glare from Endeavour's three main rocket engines and flanking solid fuel booster rockets illuminates the orbiter's tail section and the large, orange external fuel tank. Embarking on mission STS-123, Endeavour left Kennedy Space Center's pad 39A, ferrying a crew of seven astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). The cargo included the first section of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kibo laboratory and the Canadian Space Agency's two-armed robotic system. Astronauts will conduct a series of space walks to install the new equipment during the 16-day mission, the longest shuttle mission to the ISS.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 March 5 - The International Space Station Expands Again
Explanation: The developing International Space Station (ISS) has changed its appearance again. Last month, the Space Shuttle orbiter Atlantis visited the ISS and added components that included the Columbus Science Laboratory. The entire array of expansive solar panels is visible in this picture taken by the Atlantis Crew after leaving the ISS to return to Earth. The world's foremost space outpost can be seen developing over the past several years by comparing the above image to past images. Also visible above are many different types of modules, a robotic arm, another impressive set of solar panels, and a supply ship. Construction began on the ISS in 1998.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 February 28 - ISS: Sunlight to Shadow
Explanation: Orbiting 400,000 kilometers above the Earth, the Moon slid into Earth's shadow to begin last week's total lunar eclipse. Of course the International Space Station (ISS) slides into Earth's shadow every 90 minutes, the time it takes it to complete one orbit at an altitude of about 400 kilometers. Recorded near sunset on February 7, looking toward the north, this composite of 70 exposures shows the trail of the ISS (with gaps between exposures) as it moved left to right over the city of Tübingen in southern Germany. Beginning in sunlight on the left, the ISS vanishes as it enters Earth's shadow at the far right, above the northeastern horizon. As seen from Tübingen, the passage took about 4 minutes. Clicking on the image will download a time-lapse animation (mpg file) based on the individual exposures that includes a plane flying along the horizon.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 February 19 - Columbus Laboratory Installed on Space Station
Explanation: The International Space Station (ISS) has been equipped with a powerful new scientific laboratory. The Space Shuttle Atlantis delivered the Columbus Laboratory to the ISS and installed the seven meter long module over the past week. Columbus has ten racks for experiments that can be controlled from the station or the Columbus Control Center in Germany. The first set of experiments includes the Fluid Science Laboratory that will explore fluid properties in the microgravity of low Earth orbit, and Biolab which supports experiments on microorganisms. Future Columbus experiments include an atomic clock that will test minuscule timing effects including those expected by Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. Pictured above, mission specialist Hans Schlegel works on the outside of Columbus. Scientists from all over the world may propose and carry out experiments to be done on the laboratory during its ten year mission.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 January 13 - Hurricane Ivan from the Space Station
Explanation: Ninety percent of the houses on Grenada were damaged by the destructive force of Hurricane Ivan. At its peak, Ivan was a Category 5 hurricane, the highest power category on the Saffir-Simpson Scale, and created sustained winds in excess of 200 kilometers per hour. Ivan was the largest hurricane to strike the US in 2004, and, so far, the 10th most powerful in recorded history. As it swirled in the Atlantic Ocean, the tremendous eye of Hurricane Ivan was photographed from above by the orbiting International Space Station. The name Ivan has now been retired from Atlantic Ocean use by the World Meteorological Organization.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 December 27 - Earth at Twilight
Explanation: No sudden, sharp boundary marks the passage of day into night in this gorgeous view of ocean and clouds over our fair planet Earth. Instead, the shadow line or terminator is diffuse and shows the gradual transition to darkness we experience as twilight. With the Sun illuminating the scene from the right, the cloud tops reflect gently reddened sunlight filtered through the dusty troposphere, the lowest layer of the planet's nurturing atmosphere. A clear high altitude layer, visible along the dayside's upper edge, scatters blue sunlight and fades into the blackness of space. This picture actually is a single digital photograph taken in June of 2001 from the International Space Station orbiting at an altitude of 211 nautical miles.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 November 8 - VERITAS and Venus
Explanation: Early morning risers and late to bed astronomers have recently enjoyed bright planets in predawn skies, with brilliant Venus above the eastern horizon. On November 5, Venus was joined by the waning crescent Moon. This self-portrait by astronomer Larry Ciupik captures the lovely pairing of the two brightest celestial beacons on the scene, though the Moon, right of Venus, is strongly over exposed. Included at the far left in the 30 second exposure is the bright streak of the International Space Station still docked with shuttle orbiter Discovery. Together in Earth orbit, the spacefaring combination was momentarily the third brightest sky light in view. In dim silhouette, a multi-mirrored unit of the Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System (VERITAS) is also visible in the foreground. VERITAS operates at the Whipple Observatory near Tucson, Arizona to detect high-energy gamma-rays from the cosmos.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 September 29 - Dawn Launch Mosaic
Explanation: Shortly after sunrise on Thursday at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the Dawn spacecraft began its journey to the asteroid belt, arcing eastward into a blue and cloudy sky. Dawn's voyage began on a conventional, chemically fueled Delta II rocket, but will continue with an innovative ion propulsion system. The spacecraft's extremely efficient ion engines will use electricity derived from solar power to ionize xenon atoms and generate a gentle but continuous thrust. After a four year interplanetary cruise, Dawn will orbit two small worlds, first Vesta and then Ceres. Vesta is one of the largest main belt asteroids, while nomenclature introduced by the International Astronomical Union in 2006 classifies nearly spherical Ceres as a dwarf planet.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 June 25 - The International Space Station Expands Again
Explanation: The developing International Space Station (ISS) has changed its appearance again. During the past week, the Space Shuttle Atlantis visited the ISS and added pieces of the Integrated Truss Structure that mirrored those added in September 2006, including a second impressively long array of solar panels. The entire array of expansive solar panels are visible at the edges of the above image taken by the Shuttle Atlantis Crew after leaving the ISS to return to Earth. The world's foremost space outpost can be seen developing over the past several years by comparing the above image to past images. Also visible above are many different types of modules, a robotic arm, another impressive set of solar panels, and a supply ship. Construction began on the ISS in 1998.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 June 22 - Small Worlds Ceres and Vesta
Explanation: Ceres and Vesta are, respectively, only around 950 kilometers and 530 kilometers in diameter - about the size of Texas and Arizona. But they are two of the largest of over 100,000 minor bodies orbiting in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. These remarkably detailed Hubble Space Telescope images show brightness and color variations across the surface of the two small worlds. The variations could represent large scale surface features or areas of different compositon. The Hubble image data will help astronomers plan for a visit by the asteroid-hopping Dawn spacecraft, scheduled for launch on July 7 and intended to orbit first Vesta and then Ceres after a four year interplanetary cruise. Though Shakespeare might not have been impressed, nomenclature introduced by the International Astronomical Union in 2006 classifies nearly spherical Ceres as a dwarf planet.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 June 12 - Shuttle Plume
Explanation: What kind of cloud is that? Not a naturally occurring one. Pictured above is the drifting smoke plume left over from last Friday's launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis. The twisted plume was captured shortly after launch high above NASA's massive Vehicle Assembly Building, the largest single story building in the world. Rockets frequently create picturesque plumes during launch. The Space Shuttle is currently visiting the International Space Station and delivering a new backbone truss segment to the continually developing and occupied spaceport. This trip, officially labeled STS-117, is the 118th space shuttle flight overall and the 28th for the Atlantis Orbiter.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 May 8 - A Dark Sky over Death Valley
Explanation: This eerie glow over Death Valley is in danger. Scrolling right will show a spectacular view from one of the darkest places left in the continental USA: Death Valley, California. The above 360-degree full-sky panorama is a composite of 30 images taken two years ago in Racetrack Playa. The image has been digitally processed and increasingly stretched at high altitudes to make it rectangular. In the foreground on the image right is an unusually placed rock that was pushed by high winds onto Racetrack Playa after a slick rain. In the background is a majestic night sky, featuring thousands of stars and many constellations. The arch across the middle is the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy. Light pollution is threatening dark skies like this all across the US, and therefore the International Dark-Sky Association and the US National Parks Service are suggesting methods that can protect them.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 April 23 - A Supply Ship Approaches the Space Station
Explanation: Looking out a window of the International Space Station brings breathtaking views. Visible vistas include a vast and colorful Earth, a deep dark sky, and an occasional spaceship sent to visit the station. Visible on September 20 of last year was a Soyuz TMA-9 spacecraft carrying not only supplies but also three new astronauts. A few days before this picture was taken, the U.S. Space Shuttle Atlantis had just departed. The three new approaching astronauts were American Michael E. Lopez-Alegria, Russian Mikhail Tyurin, and Iranian-American Anousheh Ansari. Ms. Ansari visited the International Space Station (ISS) briefly as a paying spaceflight participant for the Federal Space Agency of Russia, and wrote a popular blog about her experiences. Lopez-Alegria would lead the ISS crew dubbed Expedition 14, which included the flight engineer and Soyuz pilot Tyurin, flight engineer American Sunita Williams, and flight engineer German Thomas Reiter. Tyurin returned to the Earth with Lopez-Alegria this past week.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 April 8 - The View from Everest
Explanation: What would it be like to stand atop the tallest mountain on Earth? To see a full panoramic vista from there, scroll right. Visible are snow peaked mountains near and far, tremendous cliffs, distant plateaus, the tops of clouds, and a dark blue sky. Mt. Everest stands 8.85 kilometers above sea level, roughly the maximum height reached by international airplane flights, but much less than the 300 kilometers achieved by a space shuttle. Hundreds of people have tried and failed to climb the behemoth by foot, a feat first accomplished successfully in 1953. About 1000 people have now made it to the summit. Roddy Mackenzie, who climbed the mountain in 1989, captured the above image. Mt. Everest lies in the Himalayan mountains in the country of Nepal. In the native language of Nepal, the mountain's name is "Sagarmatha" which means "forehead of the sky."

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 April 1- Americans Defeat Russians in First Space Quidditch Match
Explanation: A historic first Space Quidditch match came to a spectacular conclusion last night as astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria caught the Golden Snitch to give the Americans a hard fought victory over the Russians. "The Russians used brilliant strategy, but only NASA had the T2KQMU (Thunderbolt 2000 Quidditch Maneuvering Unit)," commented Lopez-Alegria, pictured above squeezing the elusive Golden Snitch in his left hand. Happy April Fools Day from the folks at APOD. In reality, Astronauts Jeff Wisoff and Lopez-Alegria are shown space-walking in 2001 October during a space shuttle mission to help build the International Space Station.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 March 20 - A Blue Crescent Moon from Space
Explanation: What's happening to the Moon? Drifting around the Earth in 2006 July, astronauts from the International Space Station (ISS) captured a crescent Moon floating far beyond the horizon. The captured above image is interesting because part of the Moon appears blue, and because part of the moon appears missing. Both effects are created by the Earth's atmosphere. Air molecules more efficiently scatter increasingly blue light, making the clear day sky blue for ground observers, and the horizon blue for astronauts. Besides reflecting sunlight, these atmospheric molecules also deflect moonlight, making the lower part of the moon appear to fade away. As one looks higher in the photograph, the increasingly thin atmosphere appears to fade to black.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2006 December 25 - Upgrading the International Space Station
Explanation: The International Space Station (ISS) will be the largest human-made object ever to orbit the Earth. The station is so large that it could not be launched all at once -- it is being built piecemeal with large sections added continually by flights of the Space Shuttle. To function, the ISS needs trusses to keep it rigid and to route electricity and liquid coolants. These trusses are huge, extending over 15 meters long, and with masses over 10,000 kilograms. Pictured above earlier this month, astronauts Robert L. Curbeam (USA) and Christer Fuglesang (Sweden) work to attach a new truss segment to the ISS and begin to upgrade the power grid.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2006 October 14 - Full Moon Crossing
Explanation: On October 6th, a nearly full perigee Moon shone in Earth's night sky. The bright moonlight, accurate planning, and proper equipment resulted in this amazing composite featuring sharp silhouettes of the International Space Station (ISS) as it rapidly crossed (right to left) in front of the lunar disk. The picture was constructed using six video frames recorded from a site just outside Tracy, California, USA. Sporting newly deployed solar arrays, the ISS was at a range of about 260 miles from the telescope/video camera setup. In the background, about a thousand times more distant than the ISS, lies bright lunar ray crater Tycho.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2006 September 20 - The International Space Station Expands Again
Explanation: The developing International Space Station (ISS) has changed its appearance again. Over the past few days, the Space Shuttle Atlantis visited the ISS and added pieces of the Integrated Truss Structure, including an impressively long array of solar panels. These expansive solar panels are visible extending from the lower right of the above image taken by the Shuttle Atlantis Crew after leaving the ISS to return to Earth. The world's foremost space outpost can be seen developing over the past several years by comparing the above image to past images. Also visible above are many different types of modules, a robotic arm, another impressive set of solar panels, and a supply ship. Construction began on the ISS in 1998.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2006 September 16 - Discovery Orbiter Anaglyph
Explanation: Approaching the International Space Station on STS-121 in July, the Shuttle Orbiter Discovery posed for a series of photographs. The process was part of an inspection to check for damage to the orbiter, but against the backdrop of planet Earth 300 kilometers below, the pictures themselves are stunning. Stereo artist Patrick Vantuyne has combined two of them (ISS013e48787 and ISS013e48788) to produce this dramatic 3D image. The stereo anaglyph is intended to be viewed with red/blue glasses. Details visible along the forward fuselage include high temperature (black) and low temperature (white) insulation tiles, thrusters used for steering and attitude control, and crew compartment windows.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2006 August 28 - Eight Planets and New Solar System Designations
Explanation: How many planets are in the Solar System? This popular question now has a new formal answer according the International Astronomical Union (IAU): eight. Last week, the IAU voted on a new definition for planet and Pluto did not make the cut. Rather, Pluto was re-classified as a dwarf planet and is considered as a prototype for a new category of trans-Neptunian objects. The eight planets now recognized by the IAU are: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Solar System objects now classified as dwarf planets are: Ceres, Pluto, and the currently unnamed 2003 UB313. Planets, by the new IAU definition, must be in orbit around the sun, be nearly spherical, and must have cleared the neighborhood around their orbits. The demotion of Pluto to dwarf planet status is a source of continuing dissent and controversy in the astronomical community.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2006 July 24 - The International Space Station on the Horizon
Explanation: This was home. Last week, the STS-121 crew of the Space Shuttle Discovery undocked from the International Space Station (ISS) and returned to Earth. As the shuttle departed the space station, they took the above image. Visible on the ISS are numerous modules, trusses, and long wing-like solar panels. The space shuttle crew spent over 12 days calling the space station home. The shuttle crew resupplied the space station and prepared it for future assembly. The ISS's crew of two was expanded to three by the shuttle visit, and now includes one Russian, one American, and one European.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2006 July 19 - Reflections on Planet Earth
Explanation: Catching sight of your reflection in a store window or shiny hubcap can be entertaining and occasionally even inspire a thoughtful moment. So consider this reflective view from 300 kilometers above planet Earth. The picture is actually a self-portrait taken by astronaut Michael Fossum on July 8 during a space walk or extravehicular activity while the Discovery orbiter was docked with the International Space Station. Turning his camera to snap a picture of his own helmet visor, he also recorded the reflection of his fellow mission specialist, Piers Sellers, near picture center and one of the space station's gold-tinted solar power arrays arcing across the top. Of course, the horizon of our fair planet lies in background.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2006 July 8 - Discovery in Motion
Explanation: On July 4th, the space shuttle orbiter Discovery rocketed into space on mission STS-121. Now docked with the International Space Station, Discovery orbits planet Earth at about 27 thousand kilometers per hour. But in this dramatic sunset view taken in May, Discovery is approaching the service structures at Kennedy Space Center's launch pad 39B at the blinding speed of (less than) 2 kilometers per hour. Of course, the orbiter, booster rockets, and external fuel tank ride on one of NASA's workhorse crawler transporters. Built for the Apollo program to carry the giant Saturn V rocket, the crawler transporters have seen four decades of service.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2006 June 7 - An Alaskan Volcano Erupts
Explanation: What is happening to that volcano? It's erupting! The first person to note that the Aleutian Cleveland Volcano was spewing ash was astronaut Jeffrey N. Williams aboard the International Space Station. Looking down on the Alaskan Aleutian Islands two weeks ago, Williams noted, photographed, and reported a spectacular ash plume emanating from the Cleveland Volcano. Starting just before this image was taken, the Cleveland Volcano underwent a short eruption lasting only about two hours. The Cleveland stratovolcano is one of the most active in the Aleutian Island chain. The volcano is fueled by magma displaced by the subduction of the northwest-moving tectonic Pacific Plate under the tectonic North America Plate.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2006 May 16 - The International Space Station from Above
Explanation: The International Space Station (ISS) is the largest human-made object ever to orbit the Earth. Last August, the station was visited and resupplied by space shuttle Discovery. The ISS is currently operated by the Expedition 13 crew, consisting a Russian and an American astronaut. After departing the ISS, the crew of Discovery captured this spectacular vista of the orbiting space city high above the Caspian Sea. Visible components include modules, trusses, and expansive solar arrays that gather sunlight that is turned into needed electricity.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2006 February 20 - SuitSat1: A Spacesuit Floats Free
Explanation: Who dunnit? Like a scene from a space mystery movie, a spacesuit floated away from the International Space Station earlier this month, but no investigation was needed. It was pushed out by the space station crew. Dubbed Suitsat-1, the unneeded Russian Orlan spacesuit filled mostly with old clothes was fitted with a faint radio transmitter and released to orbit the Earth. Suitsat-1 will orbit once every 90 minutes until it burns up in the Earth's atmosphere within a few weeks. The suit circled the Earth twice before its radio signal became unexpectedly weak. Pictured above, the lifeless spacesuit was photographed as it drifted away from the Earth-orbiting space station earlier this month.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2006 February 7 - UB313: Larger than Pluto
Explanation: What do you call an outer Solar System object that is larger than Pluto? Nobody is yet sure. The question arose recently when 2003 UB313, an object currently twice as far out as Pluto and not in the plane with the rest of the planets, was verified recently to be 30 percent wider than Pluto. UB313's size was measured by a noting its distance from the Sun and how much infrared light it emits. Previous size estimates were based only on visible light and greatly affected by how reflective the object is. Whether 2003 UB313 is officially declared a planet will be answered shortly by the International Astronomical Union. In the above picture, a scientific artist has imagined UB313 in its distant orbit around the Sun coupled with a hypothetical moon.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2005 November 5 - Aurora from Space
Explanation: From the ground, spectacular auroras seem to dance high above. But the International Space Station (ISS) orbits at nearly the same height as many auroras, sometimes passing over them, and sometimes right through them. Still, the auroral electron and proton streams pose no direct danger to the ISS. In 2003, ISS Science Officer Don Pettit captured the green aurora, pictured above in a digitally sharpened image. From orbit, Pettit reported that changing auroras appeared to crawl around like giant green amoebas. Over 300 kilometers below, the Manicouagan Impact Crater can be seen in northern Canada, planet Earth.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2005 November 1 - A Soyuz Spacecraft Approaches the Space Station
Explanation: Last month, a Soyuz TMA-7 spacecraft docked with the International Space Station. The spacecraft was launched a few days earlier from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Pictured above, the approaching Soyuz spacecraft carried the new Expedition 12 crew to the Earth-orbiting International Space Station (ISS), as well as fee-paying spaceflight participant. The Expedition 12 crew is expected to stay on the ISS for about six months, while replacing the Expedition 11 crew who had been on the station for about six months themselves. About a week after this image was taken, the Expedition 11 crew returned to Earth in the Soyuz capsule, along with the spaceflight participant. The Expedition 12 crew will carry out repairs on the ISS, explore new methods of living in space, and conduct research in space including a kidney stone experiment.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2005 October 9 - Rollout of Soyuz TMA 2 Aboard an R7 Rocket
Explanation: It takes a big rocket to go into space. In 2003 April, this huge Russian rocket was launched toward Earth-orbiting International Space Station (ISS), carrying two astronauts who will make up the new Expedition 7 crew. Seen here during rollout at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, the rocket's white top is actually the Soyuz TMA-2, the most recent version of the longest serving type of human spacecraft. The base is a Russian R7 rocket, originally developed as a prototype Intercontinental Ballistic Missile in 1957. The rocket spans the width of a football field and has a fueled mass of about half a million kilograms. Russian rockets like this remain a primary transportation system to the International Space Station (ISS). Last week, a similar rocket successfully launched a spaceflight participant and two Expedition 12 astronauts to the space station.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2005 August 27 - 3D International Space Station
Explanation: Get out your red-blue glasses and float next to the International Space Station (ISS), planet Earth's largest artificial moon. This breathtaking stereo view was constructed from two separate images (S114-E-7245, S114-E-7246) recorded as the shuttle orbiter Discovery undocked from the ISS on August 6. As seen here, from left to right the ISS structure covers about 27 meters (90 feet). The span from the automated Progress supply ship docked in the foreground to the Destiny module hidden behind the station structure is about 52 meters (171 feet) long, while the full (top to bottom) reach of the solar arrays at the left would cover about 73 meters (240 feet). Resupplied by Discovery, the ISS is currently operated by the two member Expedition 11 crew, Sergei Krikalev and John Phillips.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2005 August 16 - The International Space Station from Orbit
Explanation: The International Space Station (ISS) is the largest human-made object ever to orbit the Earth. Late last month and earlier this month, the station was visited and resupplied by space shuttle Discovery. The ISS is currently operated by the Expedition 11 crew, consisting a Russian and an American astronaut. After departing the ISS, the crew of Discovery captured this spectacular vista of the orbiting space city. Visible components include modules, trusses, and expansive solar arrays that gather sunlight that is turned into needed electricity.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2005 July 29 - ISS and Discovery Transit the Sun
Explanation: That large sunspot near the right edge of the Sun is actually not a sunspot at all. It's the International Space Station (ISS) and the Space Shuttle Discovery on mission STS-114. In the past, many skygazers have spotted the space station and space shuttles as bright stars gliding through twilight skies, still glinting in the sunlight while orbiting 200 kilometers or so above the Earth's surface. But here, astronomer Anthony Ayiomamitis took advantage of a rarer opportunity to record the spacefaring combination moving quickly in silhouette across the solar disk. He snapped the picture on Thursday, July 28th from Athens, Greece. Launched on Tuesday, Discovery joined with the ISS Thursday, making the already large space station seem to loom even larger.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2005 July 27 - America Returns to Human Space Flight
Explanation: NASA's launch of the massive Space Shuttle Discovery yesterday brought a nation known for its tremendous space program back to human space flight. Shuttle flights had been suspended for over two years previously following the tragic loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia crew on 2003 February 1. The complex, powerful Space Shuttle Discovery lifted a crew of seven into an Earth orbit that will bring them to the International Space Station (ISS). The shuttle crew will deliver supplies to the ISS, perform repairs, and test new methods for inspecting and repairing the shuttle's thermal protection system. Three space walks are planned. This Return to Flight Mission STS-114 is pictured above launching from Pad 39B on Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2005 May 28 - Himalayan Horizon From Space
Explanation: This stunning aerial view shows the rugged snow covered peaks of a Himalayan mountain range in Nepal. The seventh-highest peak on the planet, Dhaulagiri, is the high point on the horizon at the left while in the foreground lies the southern Tibetan Plateau of China. But, contrary to appearances, this picture wasn't taken from an airliner cruising at 30,000 feet. Instead it was taken with a 35mm camera and telephoto lens by the Expedition 1 crew aboard the International Space Station -- orbiting 200 nautical miles above the Earth. The Himalayan mountains were created by crustal plate tectonics on planet Earth some 70 million years ago, as the Indian plate began a collision with the Eurasian plate. Himalayan uplift still continues today at a rate of a few millimeters per year.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2004 September 15 - Above the Eye of Hurricane Ivan
Explanation: Ninety percent of the houses on Grenada were damaged. Such is the destructive force of Hurricane Ivan, already one of the most powerful and destructive hurricanes on record. And the storm will likely make landfall in southern USA tomorrow. Ivan is the currently the third - and largest - hurricane set to strike the US this hurricane season. The swirling eye of Hurricane Ivan was photographed above from the orbiting International Space Station (ISS) on Saturday as the storm's sustained 200 kilometer per hour winds wreaked havoc in the Caribbean. The bad news is that hurricane season in the Atlantic typically lasts until November 30, still over two months away. The more immediate bad news is that tropical storm Jeanne is next in line coming across the mid-Atlantic Ocean and could pass Puerto Rico sometime today.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2004 May 30 - Astronaut at Work
Explanation: Did you ever have a day where everything got turned around and you just couldn't tell which way was up? Fortunately, this didn't happen to astronaut James S. Voss on 2000 May 21, who spent six hours preparing to fix and upgrade the International Space Station. Voss is shown above anchored in the clutches of Space Shuttle Atlantis' mechanical arm, maneuvering outside the shuttle's cargo bay high above planet Earth. This space walk was the 85th in US history and the fifth dedicated to the construction of the International Space Station. The STS-101 mission returned after successfully replacing the station's batteries, lifting the station into a higher orbit, and replenishing needed supplies.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2003 October 6 - A Near Record Ozone Hole in 2003
Explanation: As expected, the ozone hole near Earth's South Pole is back again this year. This year's hole, being slightly larger than North America, is larger than last year but short of the record set on 2000 September 10. Ozone is important because it shields us from damaging ultraviolet sunlight. Ozone is vulnerable, though, to CFCs and halons being released into the atmosphere. International efforts to reduce the use of these damaging chemicals appear to be having a positive effect on their atmospheric abundance. The relatively large size of the ozone hole this year, however, is attributed partly to colder than normal air in the surrounding stratosphere. The above picture of the ozone hole was taken on September 11 by TOMS on board the orbiting Earth Probe satellite.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2003 August 31 - The View from Everest
Explanation: What would it be like to stand atop the tallest mountain on Earth? To see a full panoramic vista from there, scroll right. Visible are snow peaked mountains near and far, tremendous cliffs, distant plateaus, the tops of clouds, and a dark blue sky. Mt. Everest stands 8.85 kilometers above sea level, roughly the maximum height reached by international airplane flights, but much less than the 300 kilometers achieved by a space shuttle. Hundreds of people have tried and failed to climb the behemoth by foot, a feat first accomplished successfully in 1953. About 1000 people have now made it to the summit. Roddy Mackenzie, who climbed the mountain in 1989, captured the above image. Mt. Everest lies in the Himalayan mountains in the country of Nepal. In the native language of Nepal, the mountain's name is "Sagarmatha" which means "forehead of the sky."

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2003 August 1 - Moons and Bright Mars
Explanation: In this serene view, the moons of Earth along with the bright planet Mars shine above the city of Turku near the southwestern tip of Finland. Of course Earth's large natural satellite, the Moon, at a distance of 400,000 kilometers, is by far the brightest object in this sky. But growing brighter and closer by the hour, Mars appears as the impressively bright "star" at the right, about 64 million kilometers from Turku. Streaking across the twilight sky between the two celestial beacons, Earth's largest artificial moon, the International Space Station, orbits about 400 kilometers above the planet's surface. To capture the moment, amateur astronomer Petteri Kankaro used a digital camera and combined exposures beginning at 23:34 Universal Time on July 17th.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2003 May 9 - International Space Station in Transit
Explanation: A stunning telescopic image of the International Space Station crossing in front of an eight day old Moon, this picture was captured on April 11th. But while Wednesday's leisurely transit of Mercury across the Sun entertained observers all over the dayside of planet Earth, the audience for this lunar transit was more restricted. Like other satellites in low Earth orbit, the space station moves quickly through the sky. Glinting in the sunlight near sunset and sunrise, its path strongly depends on the observer's longitude and latitude. So, well-placed astronomer Tom Laskowski tracked the orbiting space station from a site near South Bend, Indiana, USA and recorded a digital movie of the fleeting, dramatic event. This single frame from the movie has been enhanced to bring out detail in the space station. Seen below the lunar terminator at the lower left, the International Space Station appears here at a distance of just over 400 kilometers, with the Moon nearly 400,000 kilometers away.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2003 May 7 - The Southern Sky from the International Space Station
Explanation: Look up from Earth's South Pole, and this stellar starscape is what you might see. Alternatively, this patch of sky is also visible from many southern locations as well as the orbiting International Space Station, where the above image was recently recorded. To the left of the photograph's center are the four stars that mark the boundaries of the famous Southern Cross. The band of stars, dust, and gas crossing the middle of the photograph is part our Milky Way Galaxy. At the lower left is the dark Coal Sack Nebula, and the bright nebula on the far right is the Carina Nebula. The Southern Cross is such a famous constellation that it is depicted on the national flag of Australia.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2003 April 24 - Earth at Twilight
Explanation: No sudden, sharp boundary marks the passage of day into night in this gorgeous view of ocean and clouds over our fair planet Earth. Instead, the shadow line or terminator is diffuse and shows the gradual transition to darkness we experience as twilight. With the Sun illuminating the scene from the right, the cloud tops reflect gently reddened sunlight filtered through the dusty troposphere, the lowest layer of the planet's nurturing atmosphere. A clear high altitude layer, visible along the dayside's upper edge, scatters blue sunlight and fades into the blackness of space. This picture actually is a single digital photograph taken in June of 2001 from the International Space Station orbiting at an altitude of 211 nautical miles.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2003 January 5 - Atlantis to Orbit
Explanation: Birds don't fly this high. Airplanes don't go this fast. The Statue of Liberty weighs less. No species other than human can even comprehend what is going on, nor could any human just a millennium ago. The launch of a rocket bound for space is an event that inspires awe and challenges description. Pictured above, the Space Shuttle Atlantis lifted off to visit the International Space Station during the early morning hours of July 12. From a standing start, the two million kilogram rocket ship left to circle the Earth where the outside air is too thin to breathe and where there is little noticeable onboard gravity. Rockets bound for space are now launched from somewhere on Earth about once a week.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2003 January 2 - Mt. Etna Eruption Plume
Explanation: Mt. Etna has been erupting for hundreds of thousands of years. In late October of last year, however, earthquakes triggered a particularly vigorous outburst from this well known volcano on the Italian island of Sicily. Local schools were closed and air-traffic re-routed as hot lava poured out and ash spewed out and settled as far away as Libya. Pictured above was the Mt. Etna ash plume as it appeared to astronauts on the International Space Station. The view looks toward the southeast. Light colored smoke is due to forest fires caused by lava on the volcano's north face.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2002 December 28 - Mir Dreams
Explanation: This dream-like image of Mir was recorded by astronauts as the Space Shuttle Atlantis approached the Russian space station prior to docking during the STS-76 mission. Sporting spindly appendages and solar panels, Mir resembles a whimsical flying insect hovering about 350 kilometers above New Zealand's South Island and the city of Nelson near Cook Strait. In late March 1996, Atlantis shuttled astronaut Shannon W. Lucid to Mir for a five month visit, increasing Mir's occupancy from 2 to 3. It returned to pick Lucid up and drop off astronaut John Blaha during the STS-79 mission in August of that year. Since becoming operational in 1986, Mir has been visited by over 100 spacefarers from the nations of planet Earth including, Russia, the United States, Great Britain, Germany, France, Japan, Austria, Kazakhstan and Slovakia. After joint Shuttle-Mir training missions in support of the International Space Station, continuous occupation of Mir ended in August 1999. The Mir was deorbited in March 2001.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2002 December 17 - Beefing Up the International Space Station
Explanation: The International Space Station (ISS) will be the largest human-made object ever to orbit the Earth. The station is so large that it could not be launched all at once -- it is being built piecemeal with large sections added continually by flights of the Space Shuttle. To function, the ISS needs trusses to keep it rigid and to route electricity and liquid coolants. These trusses are huge, extending over 15 meters long, and with masses over 10,000 kilograms. Pictured above at the end of last month, astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria works to install the Port-One Truss. On the right is the end of Canadarm2, the robotic remote control arm of the ISS.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2002 December 8 - The International Space Station Expands Yet Again
Explanation: The developing International Space Station (ISS) has changed its appearance yet again. Earlier this month the Space Shuttle Endeavor visited the ISS and installed the fourth of eleven pieces that will compose the Integrated Truss Structure. The new P-1 Truss is visible on the left, below the extended solar panels. The world's foremost space outpost can be seen developing over the past few years by comparing the above image to past images. Also visible above are many different types of modules, a robotic arm, several wing-like solar panels, and a supply ship. Construction began on the ISS in 1998 and the core structure should be in place before 2005.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2002 November 3 - The International Space Station Expands Again
Explanation: The developing International Space Station (ISS) has changed its appearance yet again. Last month the Space Shuttle Atlantis visited the ISS and installed the third of eleven pieces that will compose the Integrated Truss Structure. The new S-1 Truss is visible on the right, below the extended solar panels across the top. The world's foremost space outpost can be seen developing over the past few years by comparing the above image to past images. Also visible above are many different types of modules, a robotic arm, several wing-like solar panels, and a supply ship. Construction began on the ISS in 1998 and the core structure should be in place before 2005. Yesterday, the ISS celebrated its second anniversary of continuous human habitation.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2002 October 20 - The Space Shuttle Docked with Mir
Explanation: Before there was the International Space Station, the reigning orbiting spaceport was Russia's Mir. Pictured above in 1995, the United States Space Shuttle Atlantis docked with the segmented Mir. During shuttle mission STS-71, astronauts answered questions from school students over amateur radio and performed science experiments aboard Spacelab. The Spacelab experiments helped to increase understanding of the effects of long-duration space flights on the human body. Last year, after 15 years of successful service, the decaying Mir space station broke up as it entered the Earth's atmosphere.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2002 July 23 - The View from Everest
Explanation: What would it be like to stand atop the tallest mountain on Earth? To see a full panoramic vista from there, scroll right. Visible are snow peaked mountains near and far, tremendous cliffs, distant plateaus, the tops of clouds, and a dark blue sky. Mt. Everest stands 8.85 kilometers above sea level, roughly the maximum height reached by international airplane flights, but much less than the 300 kilometers achieved by a space shuttle. Hundreds of people have tried and failed to climb the behemoth by foot, a feat first accomplished successfully in 1953. About 1000 people have now made it to the summit. Roddy Mackenzie, who climbed the mountain in 1989, captured the above image. Mt. Everest lies in the Himalayan mountains in the country of Nepal. In the native language of Nepal, the mountain's name is "Sagarmatha" which means "goddess of the sky."

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2002 April 26 - Comet Ikeya-Zhang Meets The ISS
Explanation: Still catching the Sun's rays, the International Space Station (ISS) cruises across the early evening sky above Tomahawk, Wisconsin, USA. Recorded on April 9 around 9 pm CDT in a 30 second exposure, the sunlit space station traced this bright streak moving east (right) through the constellation Cassiopeia. Below lies Comet Ikeya-Zhang sporting a visible tail. But while this photogenic comet is now fading from view, the ISS will be getting brighter. Hours after this picture was taken, the Space Shuttle Atlantis docked with the ISS, bringing another structure to add to the growing orbital outpost.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2002 April 23 - The Newly Expanded International Space Station
Explanation: What does the developing International Space Station (ISS) look like now? After delivering and deploying a crucial first backbone-like component last week, the Space Shuttle Atlantis took an inspection lap around the space station. The newly installed truss is visible toward the center of the above image. Also visible are many different types of modules, a robotic arm, several wing-like solar panels, and a supply ship. Construction began on the ISS in 1998 and the core structure should be in place before 2005.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2002 April 15 - A New Truss for the International Space Station
Explanation: The International Space Station (ISS) is being fitted with a backbone. During the present visit of Space Shuttle Atlantis, astronauts are installing a huge truss on the growing space outpost. The truss is over 13 meters long and about 4.5 meters wide. Dubbed Starboard 0, or S0 (pronounced S-Zero) for short, the truss will route electricity, vent excess heat, and allow for future ISS expansion. Pictured above, the truss was lifted out of the shuttle's cargo bay by the station's robotic Canadarm2.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2002 January 2 - International Space Station Over Earth
Explanation: High above a cloudy Earth, the International Space Station (ISS) orbits silently. The Space Shuttle Endeavor Crew took the above picture as they departed the space station in mid-December. Endeavor brought up three new astronauts to occupy the ISS and carried home the members of Expedition Three, a trio that has been housed in the ISS since August. Highlights of this Endeavor mission included fixing a solar panel and maneuvering the station to avoid a large piece of passing space junk. Visible in the above picture are the space station's robot manipulator arm as well as several modules and solar arrays.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2001 December 26 - Himalayan Horizon From Space
Explanation: This stunning aerial view shows the rugged snow covered peaks of a Himalayan mountain range in Nepal. The seventh-highest peak on the planet, Dhaulagiri, is the high point on the horizon at the left while in the foreground lies the southern Tibetan Plateau of China. But, contrary to appearances, this picture wasn't taken from an airliner cruising at 30,000 feet. Instead it was taken with a 35mm camera and telephoto lens by the Expedition 1 crew aboard the International Space Station -- orbiting 200 nautical miles above the Earth. The Himalayan mountains were created by crustal plate tectonics on planet Earth some 70 million years ago, as the Indian plate began a collision with the Eurasian plate. Himalayan uplift still continues today at a rate of a few millimeters per year.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2001 December 17 - Leaving the International Space Station
Explanation: It was time to go home. During their eight days aboard the Earth-orbiting International Space Station (ISS), ESA Flight Engineer Claudie Haigner, Russian Commander Victor Afanasyev, and Russian Flight Engineer Konstantin Kozeev had completed several experiments and successfully delivered a new lifeboat. The lifeboat was actually the new Soyuz capsule they arrived in -- they returned home in an older Soyuz capsule that had been left six months ago. Haigner, an expert in rheumatology and neuroscience, studied the development of frog embryos under microgravity conditions. Pictured above on October 31, their Soyuz spacecraft undocks from the ISS while dark space and a blue Earth hover in the background.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2001 October 12 - Space Station and Space Shuttle: Backyard View
Explanation: Knowing when and where to look, many enthusiastic sky gazers have been able to spot the International Space Station (ISS) as a bright star streaking through the twilight. But with a digital camera and a small telescope, recognizable images are possible too. Astronomer Ricardo Borba offers this example of the Space Shuttle Discovery docked with the ISS, recorded this August from his backyard in Ottawa, Canada. Operating a digital video camera on an 8 inch reflecting telescope, Borba tracked the Earth-orbiting pair by hand. Unwanted telescope motion and atmospheric blurring caused most of the video frames to be indistinct, still the single best frame (left) from his video sequence is amazingly sharp. For comparison, he constructed a computer generated image (right) showing the approximate orientation of the Shuttle/ISS docking configuration based on virtual 3D models available on the web.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2001 July 23 - Atlantis to Orbit
Explanation: Birds don't fly this high. Airplanes don't go this fast. The Statue of Liberty weighs less. No species other than human can even comprehend what is going on, nor could any human just a millennium ago. The launch of a rocket bound for space is an event that inspires awe and challenges description. Pictured above, the Space Shuttle Atlantis lifted off to visit the International Space Station during the early morning hours of July 12. From a standing start, the two million kilogram rocket ship left to circle the Earth where the outside air is too thin to breathe and where there is little noticeable onboard gravity. Rockets bound for space are now launched from somewhere on Earth about once a week.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2001 July 13 - Welcome to the Moon Hotel
Explanation: The most detailed proposal so far for a hotel and resort destination on the Moon (!) has been prepared by Dutch architect Hans-Jurgen Rombaut. The harsh lunar environment posed serious design challenges but the Moon's low, one-sixth-Earth gravity, and the absence of wind were an architectural boon allowing a much more slender and fragile-looking building than would have been possible on Earth. Illustrated here, the structure's two 160 meter high needle-like towers soar over the rim of a deep canyon as planet Earth hangs in the lunar sky. To shield the interior, Rombaut designed 50 centimeter thick walls with two outer layers of Moon rock and a 35 centimeter layer of water held between glass planes. The water absorbs energetic cosmic rays and along with the rock helps keep the temperature constant. Windows are framed as holes in the rock layers. Construction materials are intended to be manufactured on the Moon itself. This Moon Hotel design is welcomed by the international Lunar Explorers Society, LUNEX, who hope to construct a robotic Moon base by 2015, ultimately supporting a lunar village by 2040.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2001 April 30 - Approaching the International Space Station
Explanation: Earlier this month the crew of the US Space Shuttle Endeavor took in this view as they approached the developing International Space Station (ISS). The Endeavor and ISS crew installed Italy's Raffaello, a Multi-Purpose Logistics Module and successfully deployed Canada's Canadarm2, a robot remote-controlled arm that can move about the outside of the station. The shuttle undocked from the ISS yesterday and is scheduled to return to Earth today. A manned Russian Soyuz spacecraft is scheduled to dock with Earth's busiest orbiting outpost early today.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2001 April 23 - Space Shuttle Lifts Off for Space Station
Explanation: Last Thursday, Space Shuttle Endeavor lifted off on course for the latest round of building the International Space Station (ISS) in orbit around Earth. One of the highlights of the 11-day mission promises to be the installation of Canadarm2, a robotic arm that will assist in the future construction and utilization of the ISS. Canadarm2, a larger and more sophisticated version of the shuttle's own robotic arm, will be able to move around the station's exterior. This is the ninth shuttle mission to build the ISS -- many more are planned over the next several years. When completed, the ISS should enclose about the same room as the passenger cabin of a 747 jet.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2001 March 20 - Discovery Spring
Explanation: Welcome to the equinox! Moving northward in Earth's sky, today the Sun crosses the celestial equator at 13:31 Universal Time bringing Spring to the north and Fall to the south. The change of season is known as an equinox as the Sun rises due east on the horizon and sets due west -- providing an equal night, 12 night and 12 daylight hours, for both northern and southern hemispheres. In this picture from March 8, the Sun peers over the eastern horizon at the space shuttle Discovery's dramatic morning launch on mission STS-102. Having delivered supplies and taxied crew to the International Space Station, Discovery will remain in orbit for this first day of northern hemisphere Spring. Discovery is scheduled to land at Kennedy Space Center in Florida early tomorrow.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2001 February 28 - A Space Station Meets its Destiny
Explanation: The International Space Station (ISS) had a date with Destiny earlier this month. More specifically, the crew of the Space Shuttle Atlantis installed the science laboratory named Destiny on the ISS. Destiny, pictured here, will also serve as a control center for the Earth orbiting space station. To help install this module, space shuttle astronauts conducted the 100th space walk by an American, an event that occurred nearly 40 years after Ed White first ventured outside of his Gemini 4 spacecraft. The space shuttle's crew took the above picture after their spacecraft had undocked from the space station. Over two hundred kilometers below lies the Rio Negro region of Argentina.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2000 December 14 - International Space Station Trail
Explanation: Still under construction, the International Space Station is becoming one of the brightest, fastest moving "stars" in the heavens. Despite illuminated clouds and bright light from a nearly full moon (lower left), this 5 minute time exposure easily captures the Space Station's trail as it arcs through early evening skies above Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, USA on December 9. At the time, the Space Shuttle Endeavour had undocked and moved away from the orbiting platform, the shuttle crew having just completed the installation of large solar panels to power the Space Station's systems. Sunlight glinting off the large, shiny panels is likely the source of the brief flare visible along the track. Astrophotographer Doug Murray and colleague report that both Shuttle and Space Station were visible separately and on close inspection of this image they do produce distinct, parallel arcs. At the extreme right hand edge of the picture, the trails pass very near the brightest "star" in the night sky, Venus.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2000 November 3 - New Moons For Saturn
Explanation: Which planet has the most moons? For now, it's Saturn. Four newly discovered satellites bring the ringed planet's total to twenty-two, just edging out Uranus' twenty-one for the most known moons in the solar system. Of course, the newfound Saturnian satellites are not large and photogenic. The faint S/2000 S 1, the first discovered in the year 2000, is the tiny dot indicated at the lower right of this August 7th image made with the ESO 2.2 meter telescope at La Silla, Chile. (An eye-catching spiral galaxy at the upper left is in the very distant background!) Unlike Saturn's larger moons whose almost circular orbits lie near the planet's equatorial plane, all four newly discovered moons have irregular, skewed orbits drifting far from the planet. With sizes in the 10 to 50 kilometer range, they are are likely captured asteroids. The international team of astronomers involved in the discoveries hopes to get many observations of the tiny satellites allowing accurate orbital computations before Saturn is lost in the solar glare around March 2001. The team has also found several other irregular satellite candidates which are now being followed. Saturn's only previously known irregular satellite is Phoebe, discovered over 100 years ago by W. H. Pickering,

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2000 September 18 - Approaching the International Space Station
Explanation: Last Monday the crew of Space Shuttle Atlantis took in this view as they approached the developing International Space Station (ISS). From top to bottom, the astronauts saw a station currently consisting of the Progress supply module, the Zvezda service module, the Zarya cargo module, and the Unity connecting module. Never before had astronauts seen the station since the remote-controlled additions of Progress and Zvezda. Energy collecting flat solar panels can be seen extending from some of the modules. Soon after this picture was taken, Atlantis docked with the ISS at the Unity end. The astronauts have worked hard unloading supplies, installing and testing equipment, and even planning to reboost the floating space station to a higher orbit. The Shuttle and its entire crew are scheduled to return to Earth Wednesday. The Space Shuttle Discovery is then scheduled to visit the ISS in two weeks.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2000 August 26 - Mir Dreams
Explanation: This dream-like image of Mir was recorded by astronauts as the Space Shuttle Atlantis approached the Russian space station prior to docking during the STS-76 mission. Sporting spindly appendages and solar panels, Mir resembles a whimsical flying insect hovering about 350 kilometers above New Zealand's South Island and the city of Nelson, near Cook Strait. In late March 1996, Atlantis shuttled astronaut Shannon W. Lucid to Mir for a five month visit, increasing Mir's occupancy from 2 to 3. It returned to pick Lucid up and drop off astronaut John Blaha during the STS-79 mission in August of that year. Since becoming operational in 1986, Mir has been visited by over 100 spacefarers from the nations of planet Earth including, Russia, the United States, Great Britain, Germany, France, Japan, Austria, Kazakhstan and Slovakia. After joint Shuttle-Mir training missions in support of the International Space Station, continuous occupation of Mir ended in August 1999. Mir is still in orbit and its operation is now being pursued by commercial interests.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2000 May 31 - Astronaut at Work
Explanation: Did you ever have a day where everything got turned around and you just couldn't tell which way was up? Fortunately, this didn't happen to astronaut James S. Voss on May 21, who spent six hours preparing to fix and upgrade the International Space Station. Voss is shown above anchored in the clutches of Space Shuttle Atlantis' mechanical arm, maneuvering outside the shuttle's cargo bay high above planet Earth. This space walk was the 85th in US history and the fifth dedicated to the construction of the International Space Station. The STS-101 mission returned early Monday morning after successfully replacing the station's batteries, lifting the station into a higher orbit, and replenishing needed supplies. In several years, when the International Space Station is complete, a crew of up to seven astronauts will live and work in a volume similar to a 747 jumbo jet.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: December 8, 1999 - Moon Struck
Explanation: Craters produced by ancient impacts on the airless Moon have long been a familiar sight. But now observers have seen elusive optical flashes on the lunar surface - likely the fleeting result of impacting meteoroids. Orchestrated by David Dunham, president of the International Occultation Timing Association (IOTA), video recordings made with modest equipment and visual telescopic observations have, for the first time, detected and confirmed a total of six flashes on the Moon's dark side. The flashes, some initially as bright as a third magnitude star, were all seen within hours of the peak of this year's Leonid meteor shower. Their locations are indicated by the red Xs on this projection of the Moon as it appeared on the night of November 18. Similar flashes would have been difficult to see if viewed against the Moon's brightly lit portion. It has been estimated that the brightest flashes were made by meteoroids weighing around a tenth of a kilogram, resulting in lunar craters about one meter across. And ... the next chance to observe lunar impact flashes is coming up! Enterprising astronomers interested in long distance lunar prospecting should be monitoring the dark side of a nearly first quarter Moon during the Geminids meteor shower which will peak around December 13.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: October 13, 1999 - Ozone Hole Reduced
Explanation: Although a new ozone hole has formed again this year over the South Pole, this time it is a little bit smaller than the year before. Ozone is important because it shields us from damaging ultraviolet sunlight. Ozone is vulnerable, though, to CFCs and halons being released into the atmosphere. International efforts to reduce the use of these damaging chemicals really are having a positive effect on their atmospheric abundance. This year, however, the slightly reduced size of the ozone hole is mostly due to relatively mild weather, which reduces the efficiency of ozone depletion. In the above false-color picture taken earlier this month, low ozone levels are shown in blue.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: February 27, 1999 - Hamlet of Oberon
Explanation: What's in a name? Since 1919, the International Astronomical Union has been charged with the task of establishing "conventional" nomenclature for planets, satellites, and surface features. For the remote Uranian system of moons, namesakes from Shakespearean works have been chosen. Thus Oberon, king of the mid-summer night fairies, is also Uranus' most distant and second largest moon. Hamlet is the tragically dark, large and princely crater on its surface (right of center). The above image represents known surface features of Oberon and was constructed by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) based on data from NASA's robot explorer Voyager 2. In 1986, Voyager 2 flew through the Uranian system - so far it has been the only spacecraft to do so.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: February 23, 1999 - Construction of International Space Station Begins
Explanation: Move over Mir, here comes the International Space Station. In December 1998, the crew of Space Shuttle Endeavour started construction by joining the U.S.-built Unity node with the Russian-built Zarya module. A close look at the above IMAX(r) photograph will reveal two astronauts working on Unity. Below on Earth, the terminator between night and day is visible. The International Space Station's low 250-mile Earth orbit causes it to experience one complete day/night cycle in about 90 minutes.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: December 10, 1998 - Assembling The International Space Station
Explanation: Batteries and solar panels were included with this version of the International Space Station (ISS) but some assembly is still required. On Saturday, December 5th, the STS-88 crew of the Space Shuttle Endeavor achieved the in orbit docking of the Zarya and Unity (foreground) ISS modules. On Monday, astronauts James Newman (left) and Jerry Ross continued the assembly procedures connecting power and data cables during the first of three planned spacewalks. Ground controllers were then able to successfully activate the ISS. Now orbiting planet Earth at an altitude of about 248 miles, Endeavour and the ISS are reported to be in excellent shape and crew members plan to enter the new space station today. Five Americans, one Russian, and the Unity module itself were lifted into orbit by the shuttle on Friday, December 4, while the Zarya (sunrise) module was launched on a Proton rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakstan on November 20.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: October 15, 1998 - A Great Day For SOHO
Explanation: The last 10 days have been great days for SOHO, the space-based SOlar and Heliospheric Observatory. Contact was completely lost with this international research spacecraft over 3 months ago but recovery teams have reacquired control of SOHO and, beginning October 5th, have been successfully switching on its scientific instruments. This October 13th view of the Sun in the light of ionized Helium atoms was recorded by the restored EIT instrument. It shows bright active regions and lofty prominences above the solar limb. North is toward the left rather than the top as the spacecraft's orientation has not yet been fully adjusted. (For a full Sun / full resolution view, click on the picture!) With the solar cycle approaching a maximum in the coming years, excitement continues to build as it becomes very likely that SOHO will be able to resume its unprecedented exploration of solar phenomena.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: September 11, 1998 - Help Map The Moon
Explanation: You can help map the Moon. Early tomorrow morning (Saturday, September 12) the Moon will occult, or pass in front of, the bright star Aldebaran as viewed from some Southern and Eastern areas of the U.S. as well as regions in the Caribbean Sea, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Mexico, and Central America. Aldebaran will disappear behind the bright edge of the third quarter moon and reappear behind the darkened edge. Accurately timed home video camera recordings from different locations can be used to make improved maps of the height of the lunar terrain at these occultation points. Interested? Follow the instructions on the International Occultation Timing Association HomePage which detail how to tape a familiar TV channel, take your running camcorder outside to record the occultation, and then return to tape a few more minutes of the TV channel. (First, determine if the occultation will be visible from your location!) You can then donate your tape by mailing it to the address given. Leave yourself plenty of time for a practice run and be sure to check the weather before going to a lot of trouble!

This mosaic mapping the North polar region of the lunar surface was constructed from images recorded by the Galileo spacecraft in 1992.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: June 5, 1998 - Neutrinos in the Sun
Explanation: Neutrinos, along with things like electrons and quarks, are fundamental pieces of matter according to physicists' Standard Model. But neutrinos are hard to detect. Readily produced in nuclear reactions and particle collisions, they can easily pass completely through planet Earth without once interacting with any other particle. Constructed in an unused mine in Japan, an ambitious large-scale experiment designed to detect and study neutrinos is known as Super-Kamiokande or "Super-K". Only(!) 500 days worth of data was needed to produce this "neutrino image" of the Sun, using Super-K to detect the neutrinos from nuclear fusion in the solar interior. Centered on the Sun's postion, the picture covers a significant fraction of the sky (90x90 degrees in R.A. and Dec.). Brighter colors represent a larger flux of neutrinos.

News: In a tantalizing recent announcement, an international collaboration of Super-K researchers has now presented evidence that the ghostly neutrinos undergo quantum mechanical oscillations, changing their particle identities and quantum properties over time. Theorists have considered neutrinos to be massless particles but these oscillations would imply that they have a very small (but nonzero) mass. Astrophysicists are taking note because even a small mass for ubiquitous, nearly undetectable neutrinos would make them accountable for a substantial fraction of the total mass of our Universe, influencing and perhaps determining its ultimate fate! A measurable mass for neutrinos would also make them candidates for the mysterious dark matter known to affect the motions of stars and galaxies, while proof of neutrino oscillations would be a step toward resolving the decades old Solar Neutrino Problem. Even skeptical scientists will be waiting impatiently to see if these results are independently confirmed.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: January 31, 1998 - Hamlet of Oberon
Explanation: What's in a name? Since 1919, the International Astronomical Union has been charged with the task of establishing "conventional" nomenclature for planets, satellites, and surface features. For the remote Uranian system of moons, namesakes from Shakespearean works have been chosen. Thus Oberon, king of the mid-summer night fairies, is also Uranus' most distant and second largest moon. Hamlet is the tragically dark, large and princely crater on its surface (right of center). The above image represents known surface features of Oberon and was constructed by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) based on data from NASA's robot explorer Voyager 2. In 1986, Voyager 2 flew through the Uranian system - so far it has been the only spacecraft to do so.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: December 10, 1997 - Sprint the Flying Space Camera
Explanation: Yes, but can your soccer ball do this? The ball near the middle of the above photograph is actually a robotic camera designed to float about a Space Shuttle and the International Space Station and take pictures. Named "Sprint", it is NASA's first Autonomous Extravehicular Activity Robotic Camera (AERCam) and was tested earlier this month by the crew of Space Shuttle Columbia. Sprint's diameter is actually about 50 percent larger than a soccer ball, and astronauts make a goal of not kicking it.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: May 8, 1997 - Detailing Hale-Bopp
Explanation: This enhanced composite image detailing structure in the coma and dust tail of Hale-Bopp was recorded May 5 - one day before the comet's passage from north to south across the plane of Earth's orbit. As the comet descends into murky twilight for northern hemisphere observers it will become increasingly easy to view from the south. Along with Southern Hemisphere observers, astronomers and a fleet of spacecraft of the International Solar-Terrestrial Physics program have been anxiously awaiting this north/south crossing. The comet's interaction with the changing equatorial solar wind and magnetic field during this crossing is expected to produce distortions and disconnections of Hale-Bopp's ion tail. Whisker-like structures, probably part of the ion tail, are visible above extending from the lower left of the bright coma.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: December 24, 1996 - A Mirry Christmas
Explanation: Thinking about spending the Holiday Season in low Earth orbit? Astronaut John Blaha and his cosmonaut colleagues Valeri Korzun and Alexander Kaleri are doing just that onboard the Russian Mir spacestation. You can e-mail them Seasons Greetings. Blaha replaced Shanon Lucid as a Mir resident during the STS-79 mission flown by the Space Shuttle Atlantis and is scheduled to be replaced by Jerry Linenger when Atlantis makes another shuttle run to Mir during the STS-81 mission. The Mir is seen here 200 miles above the Earth as the sun sets following the latest Atlantis undocking. NASA shuttle flights to the Mir are part of the Phase 1 program for construction of the International Space Station.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: September 28, 1996 - A Soyuz at Mir
Explanation: Pictured above is a three person Russian Soyuz capsule with wing-like solar panels extended, joined to the Mir space station. In Russian soyuz means "union" and indeed one of the milestones achieved by a Soyuz spacecraft was an orbital union with a US Apollo command module during the first international space mission (Apollo-Soyuz) in 1975. The Soyuz TM spacecraft are specially modified for use with the Mir as ferries for cosmonauts and astronauts and also as lifeboats, should the need arise. This image is from an electronic still camera used by the crew of the Space Shuttle Atlantis during their latest Mir visit to pick up astronaut Shannon Lucid and drop off John Blaha.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: March 10, 1996 - Mir is 10
Explanation: The first module of the Russian Space Agency's Mir Space Station was launched into orbit 10 years ago (on February 20, 1986). Mir has since been substantially expanded in orbit by adding additional modules including the Kvant Astrophysics Module (1987) and recently a docking module. NASA's Space Shuttle Atlantis was modified to allow it to dock with Mir in 1995 (STS-71,, STS 74) beginning a series of Shuttle-Mir flights scheduled to continue through 1997. In this wide angle view - poised above planet Earth with sunlight glinting from solar panels - Mir and Atlantis are seen connected via the docking module from the perspective of the shuttle payload bay. The image is from an IMAX movie frame taken during the STS 74 mission. In late 1997, building on this jointly developed understanding and experience, the US and Russia will launch the first modules of the International Space Station.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day.APOD: September 29, 1995 - The International Ultraviolet Explorer
Explanation: The International Ultraviolet Explorer (IUE) was launched by a NASA Delta rocket in 1978 to provide a space telescope for ultraviolet astronomy. A collaborative project among NASA, ESA and the British SRC (now PPARC) agencies, IUE's estimated lifetime was 3 to 5 years. Amazingly, 17 years and 8 months later, it continues to operate, having made over 100,000 observations of comets, planets, stars, novae, supernovae, galaxies, and quasars. The IUE story is a truly remarkable but little known success story which will continue. To reduce costs, on September 30, 1995, the IUE team at GSFC will turn over its science operations to the ESA ground station in Villafranca, Spain where the ESA/PPARC teams will continue to make astronomical observations. Congratulations to the GSFC team for outstanding service to astronomy. Good luck to IUE and best wishes for continued success!


Return to Search Page
Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day