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NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

Have you contemplated your home galaxy lately? If your sky looked like this, perhaps you'd contemplate it more often! The featured picture is actually a composite of two images taken last month from the same location in south Brazil and with the same camera -- but a few hours apart. The person in the image -- also the astrophotographer -- has much to see in the Milky Way Galaxy above. The central band of our home Galaxy stretches diagonally up from the lower left. This band is dotted with spectacular sights including dark nebular filaments, bright blue stars, and red nebulas. Millions of fainter and redder stars fill in the deep Galactic background. To the lower right of the Milky Way are the colorful gas and dust clouds of Rho Ophiuchi, featuring the bright orange star Antares. On this night, just above and to the right of Antares was the bright planet Jupiter. The sky is so old and so familiar that humanity has formulated many stories about it, some of which inspired this very picture.

Photo by Rodrigo Guerra

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

What happens if you keep going north? The direction north on the Earth, the place on your horizon below the northern spin pole of the Earth -- around which other stars appear to slowly swirl, will remain the same. This spin-pole-of-the-north will never move from its fixed location on the sky -- night or day -- and its height will always match your latitude. The further north you go, the higher the north spin pole will appear. Eventually, if you can reach the Earth's North Pole, the stars will circle a point directly over your head. Pictured, a four-hour long stack of images shows stars trailing in circles around this north celestial pole. The bright star near the north celestial pole is Polaris, known as the North Star. The bright path was created by the astrophotographer's headlamp as he zigzagged up a hill just over a week ago in Lower Saxony, Germany. The astrophotographer can be seen, at times, in shadow. Actually, the Earth has two spin poles -- and much the same would happen if you started below the Earth's equator and went south.

Photo by Mario Konang

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

Many spiral galaxies have bars across their centers. Even our own Milky Way Galaxy is thought to have a modest central bar. Prominently barred spiral galaxy NGC 1672, featured here, was captured in spectacular detail in an image taken by the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope. Visible are dark filamentary dust lanes, young clusters of bright blue stars, red emission nebulas of glowing hydrogen gas, a long bright bar of stars across the center, and a bright active nucleus that likely houses a supermassive black hole. Light takes about 60 million years to reach us from NGC 1672, which spans about 75,000 light years across. NGC 1672, which appears toward the constellation of the Dolphinfish (Dorado), has been studied to find out how a spiral bar contributes to star formation in a galaxy's central regions. Notable APOD Submissions: Gallery of Venus passing in front of the Pleiades

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

Wouldn't it be fun to color in the universe? If you think so, please accept this famous astronomical illustration as a preliminary substitute. You, your friends, your parents or children, can print it out or even color it digitally. While coloring, you might be interested to know that even though this illustration has appeared in numerous places over the past 100 years, the actual artist remains unknown. Furthermore, the work has no accepted name -- can you think of a good one? The illustration, first appearing in a book by Camille Flammarion in 1888, is used frequently to show that humanity's present concepts are susceptible to being supplanted by greater truths.

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