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NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

Not one, but two comets appeared near the Sun during last week's total solar eclipse. The expected comet was Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks, but it was disappointingly dimmer than many had hoped. However, relatively unknown Comet SOHO-5008 also appeared in long duration camera exposures. This comet was the 5008th comet identified on images taken by ESA & NASA's Sun-orbiting SOHO spacecraft. Likely much smaller, Comet SOHO-5008 was a sungrazer which disintegrated within hours as it passed too near the Sun. The featured image is not only unusual for capturing two comets during an eclipse, but one of the rare times that a sungrazing comet has been photographed from the Earth's surface. Also visible in the image is the sprawling corona of our Sun and the planets Mercury (left) and Venus (right). Of these planets and comets, only Venus was easily visible to millions of people in the dark shadow of the Moon that crossed North America on April 8. Solar Eclipse Imagery: Notable Submissions to APOD

Photo by Lin Zixuan (Tsinghua U.)

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

The explosion is over, but the consequences continue. About eleven thousand years ago, a star in the constellation of Vela could be seen to explode, creating a strange point of light briefly visible to humans living near the beginning of recorded history. The outer layers of the star crashed into the interstellar medium, driving a shock wave that is still visible today. The featured image captures some of that filamentary and gigantic shock in visible light. As gas flies away from the detonated star, it decays and reacts with the interstellar medium, producing light in many different colors and energy bands. Remaining at the center of the Vela Supernova Remnant is a pulsar, a star as dense as nuclear matter that spins around more than ten times in a single second. Monday's Eclipse Imagery: Notable Submissions to APOD

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

Something strange happened to this galaxy, but what? Known as the Cigar Galaxy and cataloged as M82, red glowing gas and dust are being cast out from the center. Although this starburst galaxy was surely stirred up by a recent pass near its neighbor, large spiral galaxy M81, this doesn't fully explain the source of the red-glowing outwardly expanding gas and dust. Evidence indicates that this material is being driven out by the combined emerging particle winds of many stars, together creating a galactic superwind. In the featured images, a Hubble Space Telescope image in visible light is shown on the left, while a James Webb Space Telescope image of the central region in infrared light is shown on the right. Detailed inspection of the new Webb image shows, unexpectedly, that this red-glowing dust is associated with hot plasma. Research into the nature of this strange nearby galaxy will surely continue. Total Eclipse Imagery: Notable Submissions to APOD

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

How does a total solar eclipse end? Yes, the Moon moves out from fully blocking the Sun, but in the first few seconds of transition, interesting things appear. The first is called a diamond ring. Light might stream between mountains or through relative lowlands around the Moon's edge, as seen from your location, making this sudden first light, when combined with the corona that surrounds the Moon, look like a diamond ring. Within seconds other light streams appear that are called, collectively, Bailey's beads. In the featured video, it may seem that the pink triangular prominence on the Sun is somehow related to where the Sun begins to reappear, but it is not. Observers from other locations saw Bailey's beads emerge from different places around the Moon, away from the iconic triangular solar prominence visible to all. The video was captured with specialized equipment from New Boston, Texas, USA on April 8, 2024. Solar Eclipse Imagery: Notable Submissions to APOD

Video by David Duarte

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

Only those along the narrow track of the Moon's shadow on April 8 saw a total solar eclipse. But most of North America still saw a partial eclipse of the Sun. From Clearwater, Florida, USA this single snapshot captured multiple images of that more widely viewed celestial event without observing the Sun directly. In the shade of a palm tree, criss-crossing fronds are projecting recognizable eclipse images on the ground, pinhole camera style. In Clearwater the maximum eclipse phase was about 53 percent. Solar Eclipse Imagery: Notable Submissions to APOD

Photo by Lori Haffelt

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

Baily's beads often appear at the boundaries of the total phase of an eclipse of the Sun. Pearls of sunlight still beaming through gaps in the rugged terrain along the lunar limb silhouette, their appearance is recorded in this dramatic timelapse composite. The series of images follows the Moon's edge from beginning through the end of totality during April 8's solar eclipse from Durango, Mexico. They also capture pinkish prominences of plasma arcing high above the edge of the active Sun. One of the first places in North America visited by the Moon's shadow on April 8, totality in Durango lasted about 3 minutes and 46 seconds. Solar Eclipse Imagery: Notable Submissions to APOD

Photo by Daniel Korona

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

Start at the upper left above and you can follow the progress of April 8's total eclipse of the Sun in seven sharp, separate exposures. The image sequence was recorded with a telescope and camera located within the narrow path of totality as the Moon's shadow swept across Newport, Vermont, USA. At center is a spectacular view of the solar corona. The tenuous outer atmosphere of the Sun is only easily visible to the eye in clear dark skies during the total eclipse phase. Seen from Newport, the total phase for this solar eclipse lasted about 3 minutes and 26 seconds. Monday's Eclipse Imagery: Notable Submissions to APOD

Photo by April 8's

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

What wonders appear when the Moon blocks the Sun? For many eager observers of Monday’s total eclipse of the Sun, the suddenly dark sky included the expected corona and two (perhaps surprise) planets: Venus and Jupiter. Normally, in recent days, Venus is visible only in the morning when the Sun and Jupiter are below the horizon, while Jupiter appears bright only in the evening. On Monday, though, for well-placed observers, both planets became easily visible during the day right in line with the totally eclipsed Sun. This line was captured Monday afternoon in the featured image from Mount Nebo, Arkansas, USA, along with a line of curious observers — and a picturesque tree. Monday's Eclipse Imagery: Notable Submissions to APOD

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

Captured in this snapshot, the shadow of the Moon came to Lake Magog, Quebec, North America, planet Earth on April 8. For the lakeside eclipse chasers, the much anticipated total solar eclipse was a spectacle to behold in briefly dark, but clear skies. Of course Lake Magog was one of the last places to be visited by the Moon's shadow. The narrow path of totality for the 2024 total solar eclipse swept from Mexico's Pacific Coast north and eastward through the US and Canada. But a partial eclipse was visible across the entire North American continent. Total Eclipse Imagery: Notable Submissions to APOD

Photo by Stan Honda

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

How does a comet tail change? It depends on the comet. The ion tail of Comet 12P/Pons–Brooks has been changing markedly, as detailed in the featured image sequenced over nine days from March 6 to 14 (top to bottom). On some days, the comet's ion tail was relatively long and complex, but not every day. Reasons for tail changes include the rate of ejection of material from the comet's nucleus, the strength and complexity of the passing solar wind, and the rotation rate of the comet. Over the course of a week, apparent changes even include a change of perspective from the Earth. In general, a comet's ion tail will point away from the Sun, as gas expelled is pushed out by the Sun's wind. Today, Pons-Brooks may become a rare comet suddenly visible in the middle of the day for those able to see the Sun totally eclipsed by the Moon. NASA Coverage: Today's Total Solar Eclipse Total Eclipse Imagery: Notable Submissions to APOD

Photo by Shengyu Li & Shaining

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

Will the sky be clear enough to see the eclipse? This question is already on the minds of many North Americans hoping to see tomorrow's solar eclipse. This question was also on the mind of many people attempting to see the total solar eclipse that crossed North America in August 2017. Then, the path of total darkness shot across the mainland of the USA from coast to coast, from Oregon to South Carolina -- but, like tomorrow's event, a partial eclipse occurred above most of North America. Unfortunately, in 2017, many locations saw predominantly clouds. One location that did not was a bank of the Green River Lakes, Wyoming. Intermittent clouds were far enough away to allow the center image of the featured composite sequence to be taken, an image that shows the corona of the Sun extending out past the central dark Moon that blocks our familiar Sun. The surrounding images show the partial phases of the solar eclipse both before and after totality. NASA Coverage: Tomorrow's Total Solar Eclipse

Photo by Ben Cooper

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

The arms of a grand design spiral galaxy 60,000 light-years across are unwound in this digital transformation of the magnificent 2005 Hubble Space Telescope portrait of M51. In fact, M51 is one of the original spiral nebulae, its winding arms described by a mathematical curve known as a logarithmic spiral, a spiral whose separation grows in a geometric way with increasing distance from the center. Applying logarithms to shift the pixel coordinates in the Hubble image relative to the center of M51 maps the galaxy's spiral arms into diagonal straight lines. The transformed image dramatically shows the arms themselves are traced by star formation, lined with pinkish starforming regions and young blue star clusters. Companion galaxy NGC 5195 (top) seems to alter the track of the arm in front of it though, and itself remains relatively unaffected by this unwinding of M51. Also known as the spira mirabilis, logarthimic spirals can be found in nature on all scales. For example, logarithmic spirals can also describe hurricanes, the tracks of subatomic particles in a bubble chamber and, of course, cauliflower. NASA Coverage: Total Solar Eclipse of 2024 April 8

Photo by Hubble Heritage Project

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