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distant-traveller:

La Silla Poses for an ultra HD shoot

A curtain of stars surrounds the 3.58-metre New Technology Telescope (NTT) in this new Ultra High Definition photograph from the ESO Ultra HD Expedition. It was captured on the first night of shooting at ESO’s La Silla Observatory, which sits at 2400 metres above sea level on the outskirts of the Chilean Atacama Desert.

The majestic telescope enclosure aligns perfectly with the Milky Way’s central region — the brightest section and the area which obscures the galactic centre. The distinctive octagonal enclosure that houses the NTT stands tall in this image — silhouetted against the glittering cosmos above and almost appearing to consume the Milky Way. This telescope housing was considered a technological breakthrough when completed in 1989.

Visible to the left of the Milky Way is the bright orange star Antares at the heart of Scorpius (The Scorpion). Saturn can be seen as the brightest point to the upper left of Antares and Alpha and Beta Centauri glow in the upper right of the image. The Southern Cross (Crux) and the Coalsack dark nebula are also visible looming above Alpha and Beta Centauri.

La Silla was ESO’s first observatory, inaugurated in 1969. The NTT pictured above was the first telescope in the world to have a computer-controlled main mirror and broke new ground for telescope engineering and design paving the way for ESO’s Very Large Telescope.

Image credit: ESO/B.Tafreshi

astronomicalwonders:

Where Galactic Snakes Live

This infrared image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope shows what astronomers are referring to as a “snake” (upper left) and its surrounding stormy environment. The sinuous object is actually the core of a thick, sooty cloud large enough to swallow dozens of solar systems. In fact, astronomers say the “snake’s belly” may be harboring beastly stars in the process of forming.

The galactic creepy crawler to the right of the snake is another thick cloud core, in which additional burgeoning massive stars might be lurking. The colorful regions below the two cloud cores are less dense cloud material, in which dust has been heated by starlight and glows with infrared light. Yellow and orange dots throughout the image are monstrous developing stars; the red star on the “belly” of the snake is 20 to 50 times as massive as our sun. The blue dots are foreground stars.

The red ball at the bottom left is a “supernova remnant,” the remains of massive star that died in a fiery blast. Astronomers speculate that radiation and winds from the star before it died, in addition to a shock wave created when it exploded, might have played a role in creating the snake.

Spitzer was able to spot the two black cloud cores using its heat-seeking infrared vision. The objects are hiding in the dusty plane of our Milky Way galaxy, invisible to optical telescopes. Because their heat, or infrared light, can sneak through the dust, they first showed up in infrared images from past missions. The cloud cores are so thick with dust that if you were to somehow transport yourself into the middle of them, you would see nothing but black, not even a star in the sky. Now, that’s spooky!

Spitzer’s new view of the region provides the best look yet at the massive embryonic stars hiding inside the snake. Astronomers say these observations will ultimately help them better understand how massive stars form. By studying the clustering and range of masses of the stellar embryos, they hope to determine if the stars were born in the same way that our low-mass sun was formed - out of a collapsing cloud of gas and dust - or by another mechanism in which the environment plays a larger role.

The snake is located about 11,000 light-years away in the constellation Sagittarius. This false-color image is a composite of infrared data taken by Spitzer’s infrared array camera and multiband imaging photometer. Blue represents 3.6-micron light; green shows light of 8 microns; and red is 24-micron light.

Credit: NASA/JPL

astronomicalwonders:

A Cluster of New Stars - NGC 7129

A cluster of newborn stars herald their birth in this picture obtained with NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. These bright young stars are found in a rosebud-shaped nebulosity known as NGC 7129. The star cluster and its associated nebula are located at a distance of 3300 light-years away in the constellation Cepheus.

A recent census of the cluster reveals the presence of 130 young stars. The stars formed from a massive cloud of gas and dust that contains enough raw materials to create a thousand Sun-like stars. In a process that astronomers still poorly understand, fragments of this molecular cloud became so cold and dense that they collapsed into stars. Most stars in our Milky Way galaxy are thought to form in such clusters.

Credit: NASA/JPL

for-all-mankind:

huffingtonpost:

Everything you need to know about checking the four upcoming lunar eclipses here. 

Just in case some of you guys were curious what the different types of Lunar eclipses were, here’s a neat little gif-tastic diagram of the three types. Also handy is a calendar for the next ones, although the majority of America won’t be able to see a full total eclipse again until 2017.

The first of four eclipses in a series, the Lunar Saros 122. A saros is a fancy way of determining patters in relation to time relating to Earth-Moon solar geometry, so I present to you a Wikipedia article on the topic. For this eclipse cycle, though, their are no intervening partial eclipses of the Moon.

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