Friday, March 1, 2013: ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) tested a new laser on February 14, 2013. The laser will make up a vital part of the Laser Guide…Read More »
Star Facility (LGSF), which allows astronomers to correct for most of the disturbances caused by the constant movement of the atmosphere. A special celestial visitor also appears in this photo. Right of center, just below the Small Magellanic Cloud in this photo, a green dot glows with a faint tail stretching to its left. This is recently discovered Comet Lemmon, currently moving slowly through the southern skies.
Monday, March 4, 2013: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Dragon capsule appears distantly in the clouds at the top center of this photograph. The rocket…Read More »
leaves behind a plume of smoke on the ground at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The rocket launched at 10:10 a.m. EST on March 1, 2013, delivering cargo to the International Space Station. After entering orbit, the spacecraft developed problems with its thruster pods. Eventually SpaceX was able to overcome the difficulty, and the Dragon docked at the space station, albeit later than planned.
Tuesday, March 5, 2013: The Hubble Space Telescope shows planetary nebula ESO 456-67 glowing like a giant eye in space. A planetary nebula arises when…Read More »
a dying Sun-like star flings its shells of dust and gas into space. (A planetary nebula has nothing to do with planets, but the misleading nomenclature resulted from the confusion of early astronomers using weak telescopes.) ESO 456-67 lies in the southern sky. in the constellation of Sagittarius (The Archer).
Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, acknowledgement: S. Meunier
Wednesday, March 6, 2013: Part of spiral galaxy IC 5052 seen in this image shows speckles of blue, white, and yellow light. This barred spiral galaxy lies…Read More »
side-on to us in the constellation of Pavo (The Peacock), in the southern sky. Bursts of pale blue light gleam across the galaxy's length, partially blocked by lanes of darker gas and dust. The blue light marks pockets of extremely hot newborn stars.
Friday, March 8, 2013: Five coronal mass ejections (CMEs) blasted from the sun, Feb. 26-28, 2013. Caught by the SOHO spacecraft’s LASCO C2 coronagraph,…Read More »
the CMEs show considerable variation in shape and structure. In particular, the one at the right of the image shows a bright, elongated center, likely part of a solar filament, with an interesting shepherd’s crook (or bishop’s crosier) shape. In the image, the white circle represents the sun, and the red disk blocks out the sun and part of the corona.
Monday, March 11, 2013: This year, 2013, marks the peak of the 11-year sunspot cycle. Yet solar activity remains relatively low. This image shows the Earth-facing…Read More »
surface of the sun on February 28, 2013, as observed by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. Only a few small sunspots appear, although many spots usually riddle the sun’s face during peak solar activity. Researchers recognize that the cycle does not repeat at precise 11-year intervals, taking from 10 to 13 years to complete, and varying in amplitude. Solar physicist Dean Pesnell of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center points out that we may be experiencing a double-peaked maximum, with the sunspot count jumping in 2011 and dipping in 2012. Says Pesnell: “I am comfortable in saying that another peak will happen in 2013 and possibly last into 2014.”
Credit: Adam Block/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona
Tuesday, March 12, 2013: Astronomer Adam Block, of the Mount Lemmon SkyCenter located north of Tucson, AZ, sent in a photo of spiral galaxies NGC 3169…Read More »
and NGC 3166. He writes: “This 27-hour cumulative exposure photograph shows just how strongly these two galaxies are interacting. Shells, plumes, arcs of stars and even shared dust lanes are some of the features that highlight this very deep image. NGC 3169 on the left appears to be literally unraveling before our eyes. Perhaps the arc of star clumps below the pair are the remnants of a smaller galaxy that orbited both of them. I am happy to have completed this image just before the flood of comet Pan-STARRS images begin to show up … “ Image submitted March 9, 2013.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013: Astrophotographer Randy Paylor sent in a photo of Comet Pan-STARRS. He writes: "Taken on the campus of Louisiana State University,…Read More »
Baton Rouge, March 11th , with the school's Memorial Tower clock in the foreground. [The photo] was shot across a big open quad to get the tower in the distance and near the horizon." [See full gallery.]
Thursday, March 14, 2013: A full-scale model of the James Webb Space Telescope model went on display March 8-10, 2013, at the South by Southwest Interactive…Read More »
Festival in Austin, Texas. The telescope stretches a tennis court in length, and stands as tall as a four-story building, NASA's James Webb Space Telescope will succeed Hubble, and JWST represents the largest space telescope ever built.
Friday, March 15, 2013: Chajnantor Plateau stands at an altitude of 16,000 feet (5000 meters) in the Chilean Andes, home of the array of ALMA telescope…Read More »
antennas. The large antennas span a diameter of 40 feet (12 meters), while 12 smaller antennas with a diameter of 23 feet (7 meters) make up the ALMA Compact Array (ACA). On the horizon, stand the peaks of (right to left) Cerro Chajnantor, Cerro Toco and Juriques. This photo was taken in December 2012, four months prior to the ALMA inauguration on March 13, 2013.
Monday, March 18, 2013: Galaxy Zw II 28 possesses a mysterious ring shape. Researchers believe ring galaxies form when one galaxy slices through the disc…Read More »
of another, larger, one, though without much destruction as might be expected, as galaxies mostly contain empty space. This disruption should redistribute the material in both galaxies to form a dense central core, encircled by bright stars, iintensely forming new stars in the outer ring. The pink and purple loop of Zw II 28 does not represent a typical ring galaxy due to its lack of a visible central companion. However, a companion may lurk just inside the ring. Image released March 11, 2013.
Monday, March 25, 2013: The Soyuz TMA-08M spacecraft lowers into place March 22, 2013, during encapsulation into the third stage of a Soyuz booster rocket,…Read More »
at the Integration Facility of the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Soyuz will launch March 29 (Kazakh time), carrying Expedition 35/36 Flight Engineer Chris Cassidy of NASA, Soyuz Commander Pavel Vinogradov and Flight Engineer Alexander Misurkin to the International Space Station for a 5-½ month mission.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013: Jonckheere 900 or J 900, a planetary nebula, consists of glowing shells of ionized gas pushed out by a dying star. Astronomer…Read More »
Robert Jonckheere discovered the dusty nebula in the early 1900s. J 900 is small but fairly bright. J 900’s nearby companion star, in the constellation of Gemini, often causes problems for observers because under poor viewing conditions it appears to merge into J 900, giving it an elongated appearance. Astronomers have also mistaken these two objects for a double star.
Thursday, March 28, 2013: Galaxy NGC 4535 lies in the constellation of Virgo (The Maiden), backdropped by many distant faint galaxies. We observe the galaxy…Read More »
nearly face-on, clearly seeing the well-defined bar structure, with dust lanes that curve drastically before the spiral arms break from the ends of the bar. Hot young stars glow blue in the spiral arms, contrasting with the older. cooler, yellow stars in the central bulge. William Herschel first observed the galaxy in 1785. NGC 4535 has a hazy, ghostly appearance in smaller amateur telescopes, inspiring the prominent amateur astronomer Leland S. Copeland to name it “The Lost Galaxy” in the 1950s.
Tom Chao has contributed to SPACE.com as a producer and writer since 2000. As a writer and editor, he has worked for the Voyager Company, Time Inc. New Media, HarperCollins and Worth Publishers. He has a bachelor’s degree in Cinema Production from the University of Southern California, and a master’s degree from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Tom on Google+.