This is Our Future, Earth.

APOD: 2011 August 7 – MyCn18: An Hourglass Planetary Nebula.

See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
the highest resolution version available.

Let’s get an exit strategy, OK?


The sands of time are running out for the central star of this hourglass-shaped planetary nebula. With its nuclear fuel exhausted, this brief, spectacular, closing phase of a Sun-like star’s life occurs as its outer layers are ejected – its core becoming a cooling, fading white dwarf.

Delicate rings of glowing gas (nitrogen-red, hydrogen-green, and oxygen-blue) outline the tenuous walls of the hourglass.

The unprecedented sharpness of the HST images has revealed surprising details of the nebula ejection process, helping resolve the outstanding mysteries of the complex shapes and symmetries of planetary nebulas.

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Astronomy Picture of the Day

See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.

Today the solstice occurs at 23:38 Universal Time, the Sun reaching its southernmost declination in planet Earth’s sky. Of course, the December solstice marks the beginning of winter in the northern hemisphere and summer in the south. When viewed from northern latitudes, and as shown in the above horizontally compressed image, the Sun will make its lowest arc through the sky along the southern horizon. So in the north, the solstice day has the shortest length of time between sunrise and sunset and fewest hours of daylight. This striking composite image follows the Sun’s path through the December solstice day of 2005 in a beautiful blue sky, looking down the Tyrrhenian Sea coast from Santa Severa toward Fiumicino, Italy.

The view covers about 115 degrees in 43 separate, well-planned exposures from sunrise to sunset.

What a striking shot!

I can only applaud the planning and dedication that went into making this shot knowing that I would never have the patience required – I might be able to the planning bit, but I would never want to sit / stand / whatever in that spot from sunrise to sunset to get the photo.


Earthshine « Lights in the Dark

Earthshine « Lights in the Dark.


“I’ll never forget this place…seeing this makes the heart soar and the soul sing.”
– Douglas H. Wheelock, STS-120 Mission Astronaut

A view from the window of the International Space Station, taken on by astronaut Doug Wheelock, shows external structures lit by a cool blue light reflected off our planet – “Earthshine” – while the bright crescent of dawn blooms within the thin line of our atmosphere. Stars – the light from other suns billions and trillions of miles away – shine in the distance. It’s another stunning view of our world from 220 miles up, and through the “miracle of modern technology” we are able to share this view and many others like it as quickly as the images can be uploaded to the internet.

Go look up Lights in the Dark’s page, he has some truly wondrous images to share and fine commentary to go with them. If you’re a space freak like me, you WILL enjoy it.


Look Ma. Top of the World!

Astronomy Picture of the Day

See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.

Want. Want. Want. To be there.


There’s no place like home.

Peering out of the windows of the International Space Station astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson takes in the planet on which we were all born, and to which she would soon return. About 350 kilometers up, the ISS is high enough so that the Earth’s horizon appears clearly curved. The space station orbits the Earth about once every 90 minutes.  The ISS can frequently be seen as a bright point of light drifting overhead just after sunset. The above image was taken in late September from the ISS’s Cupola window bay.

Dr. Dyson is a lead vocalist in the band Max Q.

We humans can achieve so much, it is hard to look at this picture and remember the inhumanity towards each other that we also do.

With My Heart Full of Longing…

See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.

Constellations of lights sprawl across this night scene, but they don’t belong in the skies of planet Earth. Instead, the view looks down from the International Space Station as it passed over the United States along the northern Gulf Coast on October 29. A Russian Soyuz spacecraft is docked in the foreground.

November 2 marked the first decade of continuous human presence in space. With all my heart, I long for this to continue.

Astronomy Picture of the Day


So There!

Me Too!


I'd rather spend billions on this...  ...than on nukes.

Netvibes appears to have died during my Week-of-no-Internets. So I am catching up on my feeds and moving as many as I can to googlereader. However, Netvibes was sooo much prettier! Anyone know what happened to it?