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NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

A dramatic nocturnal landscape from around 1850, this oil painting is the work of French artist Jean-Francois Millet. In the dark and atmospheric night sky are shooting stars, known too as meteors, above a landscape showing a path through the faintly lit countryside that leads toward trees and a cart in silhouette on the horizon. Millet was raised in a farming family in Normandy and is known for his paintings of rural scenes and peasant life. This Starry Night was painted after the artist moved to Barbizon, about 30 kilometers southeast of any 19th century light pollution from Paris. Millet wrote to his brother at this time, "If only you knew how beautiful the night is ... the calm and grandeur of it are so awesome that I find that I actually feel overwhelmed." Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh was an admirer of Millet's work, and later also painted two dramatic starry nights.

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.

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

After wandering about as far from the Sun on the sky as Venus can get, the brilliant evening star is crossing paths with the sister stars of the Pleiades cluster. Look west after sunset and you can share the ongoing conjunction with skygazers around the world. Taken on April 2, this celestial group photo captures the view from Portal, Arizona, USA. Even bright naked-eye Pleiades stars prove to be much fainter than Venus though. Apparent in deeper telescopic images, the cluster's dusty surroundings and familiar bluish reflection nebulae aren't quite visible, while brighter Venus itself is almost overwhelming in the single exposure. And while Venus and the Sisters do look a little star-crossed, their spiky appearance is the diffraction pattern caused by multiple leaves in the aperture of the telephoto lens. The last similar conjunction of Venus and Pleiades occurred nearly 8 years ago.

Photo by Fred Espenak

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