More Pluto Images to Blow Your Mind

I’m over-stimulated.  I literally can’t take it anymore.  These images from Pluto are mind-blowing, but with so many incredible photos released over the past week, I have reached my limit.  I can no longer contain my excitement(not that I have in the past). Here are the newest images showing a Pluto we have never seen before. This second image is my favorite. It shows so much depth and detail, and reveals Pluto to be a world, far more than just a boring rock occupying the outer reaches of our solar system. Visible in the image is the layered atmosphere, mountain...

When Galaxies Collide

Honestly this could be the name of a new TV show, similar to ‘when buildings collapse,’ or ‘here’s what Kim Kardashian did today.’ I’ll take the colliding galaxies, simply because they can hold my attention longer.  Galaxy collisions are some of the most massive and long term events in the universe.  The result is the formation of billions of stars, the change in orbit of Billions more, and the complete restructuring of a galaxy.  Since we see a snapshot of the Universe whenever we look at a single galaxy, we tend to see collisions happening at all stages of the...

Peeking at Galaxies in the Early Universe

The only way we can understand the cosmos is to find new and innovative ways to interpret the light we capture from it.  Using the largest and most technologically advanced telescopes in the world, we peer deeper into space, further back in time, and see photons that have spent eons travelling to Earth.  If we can get rid of all of the other light from closer objects, and zero in on this distant light, we can begin to understand what was present at the beginning. Using data from deep sky surveys conducted by the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), astronomers from...

Why does this Nebula Have Two Lobes?

I am always fascinated by the diversity of colours, shapes, and scenarios that pop up throughout our universe.  Even though we can classify things into categories like ‘planetary nebula,’ ‘galaxy,’ ‘dwarf star,’ and such, there is still a huge amount of variability among these categories.  The most diverse group may be nebulae, since their shape relies on what elements are present, the environment in which they formed, and how far along they are in their evolution.  A great example of a strange and interesting nebula is the PN M2-9, the Twin Jet Nebula. Lying 5,560 light years away, in the...

Astrophotography Reflections

I was doing my daily check of some astronomy and space news sites to see what was happening today, as I do every morning before I decide what to write about in my daily blog post.  I looked at today’s astronomy picture of the day, a gorgeous work of astrophtographic art showing Mt.Rainier and dozens of meteors, all in front of the sharp filaments of gas of the Milky Way. As a newbie in the world of astrophotography, I look at this picture and try to think about how it was done.  Did he take a foreground shot to get...

Ceres Full Maps

Since the Dawn spacecraft arrived at Ceres in March of this year, it has slowly been taking high resolution maps of the surface from several different altitudes. After each successive mapping run it moves into a closer orbit of the icy world for a higher resolution glimpse. After two successful mapping runs, we finally have a full high resolution topographic map of Ceres, revealing its cratered surface in unprecedented detail. With a quick look at the map, a couple of things become apparent immediately.  For one, the surface craters are quite deep, and consistent with an icy crust.  The size...

A picture is worth 1000 words or a Billion Stars

Some pictures speak volumes, and some have interesting hidden details that we don’t always see from the outset.  A stunning photo of the Milky Way from Taiwan shows more than meets the eye. At first glance, you might notice the fascinating shot of the Milky Way, and you may even pick up on the fact that the pollution from the distant cities blocks out all stars past a certain point.  The prominence of pollution and light pollution are very present in the image.  The real gem, however, is to notice the blue clusters of light around the rocks.  They are...