Image of the Day: May 2012

Will It Go Round in Circles

Don Pettit (via Twitter as @astro_Pettit)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012: Astronaut Don Pettit, on board the International Space Station as a member of Expedition 30/31 tweeted this photo from space. He described it as: “Pac-man in Brazil as seen from ISS” Looks more like pie charts to us.

— Tom Chao

Mash It Up

Adam Block/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona

Thursday, May 17, 2012: Spiral galaxies NGC 5426 and NGC 5427 interact with each other in this dramatic photograph. Whether the two galaxies will collide and merge is not yet known, but the mutual gravitation attraction has already created a bridge of stars. This pas de deux of the two galaxies, known jointly as Arp 271, will continue for tens of millions of years, creating new stars. Located 90 million light-years away towards the constellation of Virgo (the Virgin), Arp 271 stretches about 130,000 light-years across.

— Tom Chao

Rocket from Russia

S.P. Korolev RSC "Energia"

Friday, May 18, 2012: A Soyuz TMA-04M spacecraft lifted off from Baikonur launch site at 07:01:23 AM Moscow Time on May 15, 2012. The spacecraft brings three spaceflyers to complete the six-person crew of Expedition 31. The crew of Soyuz TMA-04M consists of Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka (commander) and Sergei Revin (flight engineer) and US astronaut Joseph Acaba (flight engineer).

— Tom Chao


Thomas Warloe

Monday, May 21, 2012: Skywatcher Thomas Warloe took this photo of the annular solar eclipse from Fountain Valley, CA, on May 20, 2012.

— Tom Chao

I Fell into a Burning Ring of Fire

Amy Van Artsdalen

Monday, May 21, 2012: Bonus Extra Image of the Day! Skywatcher Amy Van Artsdalen sent this image taken from Susanville, CA, showing the "ring of fire" during the annular solar eclipse on May 20, 2012.

— Tom Chao

Dragon Fire

NASA/Rick Wetherington, Tim Powers and Tim Terry

Tuesday, May 22, 2012: SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket lifts off at 3:44 a.m. EDT on May 20, 2012, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The rocket is carrying the Dragon unmanned cargo capsule to the International Space Station.

— Tom Chao

The Edge

ESA/Hubble & NASA

Wedneday, May 23, 2012: Galaxy NGC 891 lies approximately 30 million light-years away from Earth in the constellation of Andromeda. This Hubble Space Telescope photo shows the galaxy's northern half, with the central bulge outside the image on the bottom left. Filaments of dust and gas clearly extend outwards from the plane of the galaxy into the galaxy halo over hundreds of light-years, unlike our own Milky Way.

— Tom Chao

Down the Spiral, Spinning Madly

ESA/Hubble & NASA

Thursday, May 24, 2012: Spiral galaxy ESO 498-G5 features spiral arms that wind all the way into the center, so ESO 498-G5's core looks like somewhat like a miniature spiral galaxy. Many other spiral galaxies possess elliptical star-filled centers, also called bulges. Astronomers refer to the spiral-like bulge of galaxies like ESO 498-G5 as disc-type bulges, or pseudobulges, while bright elliptical centres are known as classical bulges. ESO 498-G5 is located around 100 million light-years away in the constellation of Pyxis (The Compass).

— Tom Chao

Making Waves

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Friday, May 25, 2012: Two of Saturn's moons affect the planet's rings visibly. Daphnis, at lower left, orbits in the Keeler Gap of the A right, creating waves in the edge of the gap. Pan, in the top right, orbits in the Encke Gap of the A ring, creating wakes that are seen in the ring below Pan in the image.The image was taken in visible light by Cassini spacecraft on June 3, 2010.

— Tom Chao

A New American Spaceship


Monday, May 28, 2012: SpaceX of Hawthorne, California, made history on May 25, 2012, as its Dragon capsule became the first private spacecraft to be grappled by the International Space Station, seen here in a still image from NASA TV.

— Tom Chao

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