While hunting for comets in the skies above 18th century France, astronomer Charles Messier diligently kept a list of the things he encountered that were definitely not comets. This is number 27 on his now famous not-a-comet list. In fact, 21st century astronomers would identify it as a planetary nebula, but it's not a planet either, even though it may appear round and planet-like in a small telescope. Messier 27 (M27) is an excellent example of a gaseous emission nebula created as a sun-like st [...]
Yesterday, a participant in my free PR for Technologists teleconference asked me whether the press release is dead. “When I send one out via wire services, it seems to have about as much impact as stuffing it into a bottle and tossing it in the ocean,” he said. Do reporters even respond to press releases any more? […]
NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is driving toward the southwest after departing a region where for several weeks it investigated a geological contact zone and rocks that are unexpectedly high in silica and hydrogen content. The hydrogen indicates water bound to minerals in the ground.
In this "Marias Pass" region, Curiosity successfully used its drill to sample a rock target called "Buckskin" and then used the camera on its robotic arm for multiple images to be stitched into a self-portrait at th [...]
Open star clusters like the one seen here are not just perfect subjects for pretty pictures. Most stars form within clusters and these clusters can be used by astronomers as laboratories to study how stars evolve and die. The cluster captured here by the Wide Field Imager (WFI) at ESO’s La Silla Observatory is known as IC 4651, and the stars born within it now display a wide variety of characteristics.
The loose speckling of stars in this new ESO image is the open star cluster IC 4651, loca [...]
A new Japanese cargo ship is on its way to the International Space Station after a successful launch from southern Japan. Meanwhile, the Expedition 44 crew was conducting more vision and physics research.
The fifth “Kounotori” H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-5) from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency launched Wednesday morning on a five-day trip to the station. It is delivering more than 9,500 pounds of research and supplies for the six-person station crew.
The Expedition 44 crew con [...]
In cosmic brush strokes of glowing hydrogen gas, this beautiful skyscape unfolds across the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy and the center of the northern constellation Cygnus the Swan. The featured image spans about six degrees. Bright supergiant star Gamma Cygni (Sadr) to the upper left of the image center lies in the foreground of the complex gas and dust clouds and crowded star fields.
Left of Gamma Cygni, shaped like two luminous wings divided by a long dark dust lane is IC 1318, whose po [...]
The six-member Expedition 44 crew participated in a wide array of science today as Japan counts down to Wednesday morning’s launch of its fifth resupply mission. Meanwhile, three new Soyuz taxi crew members flew to the launch site at the Baikonur Cosmodrome to finalize their mission preparations.
The majority of the station crew members had their blood pressure and vision checked today for the long-running Ocular Health study. Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui had his legs scanned with an ultra [...]