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NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

Why is Venus surrounded by a bright ring? Sometimes called a ring of fire, this rare ring is caused by the Sun's light being visible all around an object. Usually seen around the Moon during an annular solar eclipse, the ring of fire is also visible when either Venus or Mercury cross the face of our Sun. In the featured pictured taken last week, though, Venus did not pass directly in front of the Sun -- the complete atmospheric ring was caused by sunlight defracting around the planet. Venus passed within one degree of the Sun during its inferior conjunction, as it moved from the evening to the morning sky.  The extreme brightness of the nearby Sun made capturing such an image very difficult -- the featured image was only made possible by using a temporary filter to block direct sunlight. The image was captured from Thorton, Leicestershire, UK. The pervasive blue sky glow indicates that the image was actually captured during the day. Follow APOD on: Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, or Twitter

Photo by Pete LawrenceDigital Sky

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

These silvery blue waves washing over a tree-lined horizon in the eastern French Alps are noctilucent clouds. From high in planet Earth's mesosphere, they reflect sunlight in this predawn skyscape taken on July 8. This summer, the night-shining clouds are not new to the northern high-latitudes. Comet NEOWISE is though. Also known as C/2020 F3, the comet was discovered in March by the Earth-orbiting Near Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) satellite. It's now emerging in morning twilight only just visible to the unaided eye from a clear location above the northeastern horizon.

Photo by Emmanuel Paoly

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

What is that fuzzy streak extending from Mercury? Long exposures of our Solar System's innermost planet may reveal something unexpected: a tail. Mercury's thin atmosphere contains small amounts of sodium that glow when excited by light from the Sun. Sunlight also liberates these molecules from Mercury's surface and pushes them away. The yellow glow from sodium, in particular, is relatively bright. Pictured, Mercury and its sodium tail are visible in a deep image taken in late May from Italy through a filter that primarily transmits yellow light emitted by sodium. First predicted in the 1980s, Mercury's tail was first discovered in 2001. Many tail details were revealed in multiple observations by NASA's robotic MESSENGER spacecraft that orbited Mercury between 2011 and 2015. Tails are usually associated with comets. The tails of Comet NEOWISE are currently visible with the unaided eye in the morning sky. Comet NEOWISE from Around the Globe: Notable Images Submitted to APOD

Photo by Andrea Alessandrini

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

A comet has suddenly become visible to the unaided eye. Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) was discovered in late March and brightened as it reached its closest approach to the Sun, inside the orbit of Mercury, late last week. The interplanetary iceberg survived solar heating, so far, and is now becoming closer to the Earth as it starts its long trek back to the outer Solar System. As Comet NEOWISE became one of the few naked-eye comets of the 21st Century, word spread quickly, and the comet has already been photographed behind many famous sites and cities around the globe. Featured, Comet NEOWISE was captured over Lebanon two days ago just before sunrise. The future brightness of Comet NEOWISE remains somewhat uncertain but the comet will likely continue to be findable not only in the early morning sky, but also next week in the early evening sky. Comet NEOWISE from Around the Globe: Notable Images Submitted to APOD

Photo by Moophz

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