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NGC 7822: Stars and Dust Pillars in Infrared
Within the nebula, bright edges and complex dust sculptures dominate this detailed skyscape taken in infrared light by NASA's Wide Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) satellite. NGC 7822 lies at the edge of a giant molecular cloud toward the northern constellation Cepheus, a glowing star region that lies about 3,000 light-years away. The atomic emission of light by the nebula's gas is powered by energetic radiation from the hot stars, whose powerful winds and light also sculpt and erode the denser pillar shapes. This field spans around 40 light-years at the estimated distance of NGC 7822.
Image Credit: Francesco Antonucci
Major Fireball Meteor
The sky glows with soft pinkish colors of fading twilight in this serendipitous mountaintop vista. Taken in subfreezing temperatures, the thoughtfully composed photo shows snowy, rugged peaks seen from a mountain pass on November 14. Below lies the village of La Villa, Alta Badia in Italy's Dolomite Alps. Above the nestled village lights, the constellation Ursa Major hangs over the northern horizon. But most stunning is the intense fireball meteor. It was captured during the camera's exposure by chance as it flashed east to west across the northern horizon, under Ursa Major's familiar Big Dipper asterism. In fact, sightings of this major fireball meteor were widely reported in European skies, the most reported fireball event ever for planet Earth's American Meteor Society and the International Meteor Organization. The meteor's measured track over Germany is consistent with its origin near the active radiant of November's Taurid Meteor Shower. Taurid meteors are associated with dust from Encke's comet.
Image Credit: Ollie Taylor
The Tarantula Nebula
The Tarantula Nebula is more than a thousand light-years in diameter, a giant region within nearby satellite galaxy the Large Magellanic Cloud, about 180 thousand light-years away. The cosmic arachnid sprawls across this spectacular view composed with narrowband data centered on emission from ionized hydrogen and oxygen atoms. Within the Tarantula (NGC 2070), intense radiation, stellar winds and supernova shocks from the central cluster of massive stars, cataloged as R136, energize the nebular glow and shape the spidery filaments. Around the Tarantula are regions with star clusters, filaments, and blown-out bubble-shaped clouds. In fact, the frame includes the site of the closest supernova in modern times, SN 1987A, right of center. The rich field of view spans about 1 degree or 2 full moons, in the southern constellation Dorado. But were the Tarantula Nebula closer, say 1,500 light-years distant like the local Orion Nebula, it would take up half the sky.
Image Credit: Ignacio Diaz Bobillo
NGC 7789: Caroline's Rose
Found among the rich starfields of the Milky Way, star cluster NGC 7789 lies about 8,000 light-years away toward the constellation Cassiopeia. A late 18th century deep sky discovery of astronomer Caroline Lucretia Herschel, the cluster is also known as Caroline's Rose. Its flowery visual appearance in small telescopes is created by the cluster's nestled complex of stars and voids. Over 50 light-years across, Caroline's Rose spans about half a degree (the angular size of the Moon) near the center of the wide-field telescopic image.
Image Credit: Guillaume Seigneuret
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Firefall by Moonlight
On certain dates in February, an elusive firefall can be spotted at sunset in Yosemite National Park, when the weather cooperates and the direction to the setting Sun is just right. Often photographed from vantage points below, at the right moment the park's seasonal Horsetail Fall is isolated in the shadows of the steep walls of El Capitan. Then, still illuminated with rays of sunlight reflected by the angled rockface directly behind the flow, the waterfall briefly takes on a dramatic, fiery appearance. The Horsetail firefall is more rarely photographed at moonset under a starry night sky, though. Even more elusive by moonlight, the firefall effect can also be seen when skies are clear and a bright Moon sets at the right direction along the western horizon. Skies were clear and stars were shining for this well-planned photograph of the Horsetail firefall lit by a gibbous Moon setting in the early morning hours of May 9.
Image source: Rogelio BernalAndreo
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