Moons, Rings, Shadows, Clouds: Saturn (Cassini) : While cruising around Saturn, be on the lookout for picturesque juxtapositions of moons, rings, and shadows. One quite picturesque arrangement occurred in 2005 and was captured by the then Saturn-orbiting Cassini spacecraft. In the featured image, moons Tethys and Mimas are visible on either side of Saturn’s thin rings, which are seen nearly edge-on. Across the top of Saturn are dark shadows of the wide rings, exhibiting their impressive complexity. The violet-light image brings up the texture of the backdrop: Saturn’s clouds. Cassini orbited Saturn from 2004 until September of last year, when the robotic spacecraft was directed to dive into Saturn to keep it from contaminating any moons. via NASA
I Brought You the Moon : I love you so much that I brought you the Moon.
Please take it before this tree becomes more interested.
Also the Moon is heavier than I thought.
And I foolishly picked it up by the hot side by mistake.
But it is for you and, well, the others reading this APOD.
Promise to keep this image – our image – in a safe place, and know that it was taken in a single, well-planned exposure in Valladolid, Spain.
Please take it and keep it always as a token of our love and, well, April Fool’s Day. via NASA
Twilight in a Western Sky : A slender crescent Moon and inner planets Venus and Mercury never wander far from the Sun in planet Earth’s skies. In the fading evening twilight of March 18, they line up near the western horizon in this atmospheric skyscape. While the celestial scene was enjoyed around the world, this photo captures the trio, with fainter Mercury at the far right, above the crags of Big Bend National Park in southwest Texas. Tonight the Moon will be full though, and rise opposite the Sun. Look for it high in the sky at midnight, near bright star Spica. via NASA
Technology Then and Now : Before there were computers and software that could stitch together digital images, they were printed on photo paper, trimmed by hand, and taped in place on a large black board. (via NASA)
NGC 247 and Friends : About 70,000 light-years across, NGC 247 is a spiral galaxy smaller than our Milky Way. Measured to be only 11 million light-years distant it is nearby though. Tilted nearly edge-on as seen from our perspective, it dominates this telescopic field of view toward the southern constellation Cetus. The pronounced void on one side of the galaxy’s disk recalls for some its popular name, the Needle’s Eye galaxy. Many background galaxies are visible in this sharp galaxy portrait, including the remarkable string of four galaxies just below and left of NGC 247 known as Burbidge’s Chain. Burbidge’s Chain galaxies are about 300 million light-years distant. The deep image even reveals that the two leftmost galaxies in the chain are apparently interacting, joined by a faint bridge of material. NGC 247 itself is part of the Sculptor Group of galaxies along with the shiny spiral NGC 253. via NASA
Getting InSight on the Interior of Mars : Inside the Astrotech processing facility at Vandenberg Air Force Base, NASA’s Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, or InSight, Mars lander is tested ahead of its scheduled launch on May 5, 2018. (via NASA)
NGC 2023 in the Horsehead s Shadow : Carved by a bright young star in Orion’s dusty molecular clouds, NGC 2023 is often overlooked in favor of the nearby dramatic silhouette of the Horsehead Nebula. In its own right it is seen as a beautiful star forming emission and reflection nebula though, a mere 1500 light-years distant. Surprisingly colorful and complex filaments are detailed in this rare NGC 2023 portrait. Scattered points of emission are also from the region’s Herbig-Haro objects, associated with the energetic jets from newborn stars. The sharp telescopic view spans about 10 light-years at the estimated distance of NGC 2023. Off the right edge of the frame lies the more familiar cosmic Horsehead. via NASA
This is TESS, Our Newest Planet-Hunter : TESS, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, is the next step in the search for planets outside of our solar system, including those that could support life. (via NASA)
Curiosity Rover Gets Ready for Its Next Adventure : This mosaic, taken by the Mars Curiosity rover, looks uphill at Mount Sharp. (via NASA)
Mars Between Nebulas : What that bright red spot between the Lagoon and Trifid Nebulas? Mars. This gorgeous color deep-sky photograph captured the red planet passing between the two notable nebulas – cataloged by the 18th century cosmic registrar Charles Messier as M8 and M20. M20 (upper right of center), the Trifid Nebula, presents a striking contrast in red/blue colors and dark dust lanes. Across the bottom right is the expansive, alluring red glow of M8, the Lagoon Nebula. Both nebulae are a few thousand light-years distant. By comparison, temporarily situated between them both, is the dominant “local” celestial beacon Mars. Taken last week, the red planet was only about 10 light-minutes away. via NASA