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Old Moon and Sister Stars June 29, 2006

Posted by jtintle in APoD, Earth, Moon.
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See Explanation. Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.

Credit & Copyright:

 Vincent Jacques

Explanation:

An old crescent Moon shares the eastern sky over Menton, France with the sister stars of the Pleiades cluster in this early morning skyscape recorded just last Friday, June 23rd. (Bright Venus was also near the eastern horizon, but is not pictured here.) Astronomical images of the well-known Pleiades often show the cluster’s alluring blue reflection nebulae, but they are washed out here by the bright moonlight. Still, while the crescent Moon is overexposed, surface features can be seen on the dim lunar night side illuminated by earthshine – light from sunlit planet Earth. Of course, you can spot a young crescent Moon in the early evening sky tonight. Having left the Pleiades behind, a lovely lunar crescent now appears in the west, lining up with planets Mars, Saturn, and Mercury along the solar system’s ecliptic plane.

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The Cat’s Paw Nebula June 28, 2006

Posted by jtintle in APoD, Australia, Deep Space, Earth, Nebula, People, Space Fotos, Website.
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See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.
Credit & Copyright:

Robert Gendler &
Martin Pugh

Explanation:

Nebulae are perhaps as famous for being identified with familiar shapes as perhaps

cats are for getting into trouble. Still, no known cat could have created the vast Cat’s Paw Nebula visible in Scorpius. At 5,500 light years distant, Cat’s Paw is an emission nebula with a red color that originates from an abundance of ionized hydrogen atoms. Alternatively known as the Bear Claw Nebula or NGC 6334, stars nearly ten times the mass of our Sun have been born there in only the past few million years. Pictured above, a deep wide-field image of the Cat’s Paw nebula was photographed from New South Wales, Australia.

Full Moon Against Earth’s Limb June 28, 2006

Posted by jtintle in Earth, International Space Station, Moon, NASA, Planets, Space Agencies, Space Fotos, Spacecraft.
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Full Moon
ISS012-E-19253 (12 Feb. 2006) — A full moon is visible in this view above Earth’s horizon and airglow, photographed by an Expedition 12 crewmember on the International Space Station.

Image Credit: NASA

+ View High-Resolution Image (0.3 Mb)

Site of Carthage, Tunisia June 28, 2006

Posted by jtintle in Astronaut, Earth, EPoD, International Space Station, NASA, People, Planets, Space Agencies, Space Fotos, Spacecraft, Website.
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Site of Carthage, Tunisia

 

Click here to view full image (470 kb)Credit:

NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth, NASA, ISS

Description:

The city-state of Carthage in North Africa was founded by Phoenician settlers in 814 BC, and it subsequently became the seat of a trade empire that controlled much of the western Mediterranean region (including most of the former Phoenician lands). Carthage was completely destroyed by the Roman Republic during the Third (and final) Punic War (149-146 BC). The end of Carthage has been made notorious by the story that the Romans allegedly sowed the city with salt to ensure that no further rivals to their power would arise there. However, given the great value of salt at the time and the strategic importance of the city’s location, scholars dispute whether the event actually occurred. Following the destruction of Carthage, Roman dominance of the Mediterranean continued until the fall of the Western Empire in AD 476.

The favorable location of the ancient city of Carthage is clear in this astronaut photograph. Bays along the coastline provide ready access to the Gulf of Tunis, which leads to the Mediterranean Sea. Docks along the coastline (lower right) support the shipping industry. Modern Carthage is a wealthy suburb of the Tunis metropolitan area (the center of which is located to the southwest of the image). Dense concentrations of white rooftops are obvious in the residential subdivisions to the north and south of the ancient city location. Large tracts of new developments appear to be in progress along the curving, light-colored roadways to the west of the historical city (lower image center). The green, shallow waters of an evaporating salty lake are visible at image left. Several such lakes are present in Tunisia and are centers for bird-watching tourism.

Astronaut photograph

ISS013-E-34753 was acquired June 8, 2006, with a Kodak 760C digital camera using an 800 mm lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations experiment and the Image Science & Analysis Group, Johnson Space Center. The image in this article has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast. Lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet.

Gordel van Venus June 15, 2006

Posted by jtintle in APoD, Earth, Planets, Space Fotos, Website.
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See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.
Credit & Copyright:

W. P. Koorts (SAAO)

Explanation:

Scroll right and enjoy this 180 degree panorama across the South African Astronomical Observatory's hilltop Sutherland observing station. Featured are SAAO telescope domes and buildings, along with the dark, wedge-shaped shadow of planet Earth stretching into the distance, bounded above by the delicately colored antitwilight arch. Visible along the antisunward horizon at sunrise (or sunset), the pinkish antitwilight arch is also known as the Belt of Venus. In order, the significant structures from left to right house; the giant SALT 11-meter instrument, the internet telescope MONET, the 1.9 meter Radcliffe, the 1.0 meter Elizabeth, a 0.75 meter reflector, a 0.5 meter reflector, a garage, YSTAR, BiSON, ACT, IRSF (open), and a storage building. (Note to SAAO fans: in this view the planet-hunter SuperWASP south is hidden behind the IRSF.)

A Magnitude 4.7 Earthquake June 15, 2006

Posted by jtintle in Earth, Planets, Space Agencies, Space Fotos, USGS.
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Well a 4.7 magnitude earthquake struck California at 5:24:51 AM this morning. The epicenter was about 6 miles East from San Martin, CA. Want to see where it is? Click Here

Credit:

The Garabogazkol June 14, 2006

Posted by jtintle in Earth, Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, Planets, Satellite, Space Fotos, Terra satellite.
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The Garabogazkol

Credit:

Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team,
NASA GSFC

Description:

This MODIS Terra image, acquired June 12, 2006, shows the Garabogazkol (also known asthe Kara-Bogaz-Gol) – a shallow depression in the northwestern corner of Turkmenistan. Separated from the Caspian Sea by a thin sandbar, its water volume fluctuates seasonally. At times it becomes a large bay of the Caspian Sea, while at other times its water level drops drastically.

The water is very salty, much more so than the Caspian Sea, and has almost no marine life vegetation! The salt has been both good and bad – the valuable salts have been harvested from the 1950s on. But the salt has also caused health problems and poisoned soil for hundreds of kilometers downwind to the east.

Tropical Storm Alberto June 13, 2006

Posted by jtintle in Earth, JAXA, NASA, People, Planets, Satellite, Space Agencies, Space Fotos, Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM).
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Tropical Storm Alberto

Click here to view full image (829 kb)

Credit:

Steve Lang (SSAI/NASA GSFC), Hal Pierce (SSAI/NASA GSFC), NASA, JAXA

Description:

Alberto began as a tropical depression on the morning of June 10, 2006, having formed from an area of low air pressure over the northwestern Caribbean Sea. This depression moved generally northwestward through the Yucatan Channel between western Cuba and the Yucatan Peninsula and into the south-central Gulf of Mexico. The system was rather poorly organized as a result of southwesterly wind shear. This shear pulled the weather system from the rounded shape of a typical tropical storm and gave Alberto an elongated center of circulation. Nonetheless, hurricane hunter aircraft and ships reported strong winds, and on that basis, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) classified the system as a tropical storm and gave it the name Alberto at 11:00 a.m. EDT on June 11.

This visualization shows data collected by the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite (TRMM) at 19:42 UTC (3:42 p.m. EDT) on June 11, 2006, soon after Alberto had become a tropical storm. It maps rain intensity as viewed by the TRMM satellite. Rain rates in the center swath are from the TRMM Precipitation Radar, and rain rates in the outer swath are from the TRMM Microwave Imager. The rain rates are overlaid on infrared data from the TRMM Visible Infrared Scanner. TRMM confirms that Alberto was poorly organized. The center of circulation is well to the southwest of the heavier rain areas (darker red and green areas). In fact, there is essentially no rain in the immediate vicinity of the center. This highly asymmetric structure results from wind shear. At the time of this image, Alberto was a weak tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 70 kilometers per hour (45 miles per hour).

After these images were taken, however, the wind shear pushing the storm off center decreased, allowing Alberto to become better organized. On June 12, Alberto had become a strong tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 110 km/hr (70 mph) according to the NHC, just below hurricane strength. The system was continuing to track to the northeast towards the coast of Florida, where a hurricane watch was in effect.

TRMM was launched in November 1997. From its low-earth orbit, TRMM has been providing valuable images and information on tropical weather systems using a combination of passive microwave and active radar sensors, including the first precipitation radar in space. TRMM is a joint mission between NASA and the Japanese space agency, JAXA.

Driving Toward a Sun Halo June 13, 2006

Posted by jtintle in APoD, Earth, Finland, NASA, People, Planets, Space Agencies, Space Fotos, Website.
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See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.
Credit & Copyright:

Lauri Turtiainen

Explanation:

What's happened to the Sun? Sometimes it looks like the Sun is being viewed through a large lens. In the above case, however, there are actually millions of lenses: ice crystals. As water freezes in the upper atmosphere, small, flat, six-sided, ice crystals might be formed. As these crystals flutter to the ground, much time is spent with their faces flat, parallel to the ground. An observer may pass through the same plane as many of the falling ice crystals near sunrise or sunset. During this alignment, each crystal can act like a miniature lens, refracting sunlight into our view and creating phenomena like parhelia, the technical term for sundogs. The above image was taken during early 2006 February near Helsinki, Finland with a quickly deployed cellular camera phone. Visible in the image center is the Sun, while two bright sundogs glow prominently from both the left and the right. Also visible is the 22 degree halo also created by sunlight reflecting off of atmospheric ice crystals.

Ocean Vortex off Western Australia June 11, 2006

Posted by jtintle in Aqua, Australia, Earth, Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, NASA, Planets, Satellite, Space Agencies, Space Fotos.
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Ocean Vortex off Western Australia

Credit:

Norman Kuring, Ocean Color Group, NASA

Descrition:

Scientists recently discovered a huge spinning vortex in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Western Australia near Perth. The circling current is sweeping fish larvae and coastal plants out to sea, says Anya Waite, the biological oceanographer from the University of Western Australia who led the team. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite detected the vortex on June 5, 2006, by the high concentrations of chlorophyll from coastal plankton (tiny plants) in the water. In the top image, the high chlorophyll concentrations are yellow against an aquamarine background of lower concentrations. The vortex creates a yellow loop around a blue and yellow oval center where chlorophyll concentrations are lower. The vortex measured about 200 kilometers across and 1,000 meters deep, reported the team that discovered it. The circular current was spinning at 5 kilometers per hour (3 miles per hour).

The vortex is an offshoot of the Leeuwin Current, a river of warm water that sweeps south along the coast of Western Australia. The warm current is visible in the lower sea surface temperature image, also taken by MODIS on June 5, as a warm pink streak against the cooler purple of the surrounding ocean. The vortex forms a pink oval. Below the vortex, where water temperatures drop with the change in latitude, the warm current is especially clear.

In general, loops and eddies in the Leeuwin Current, such as the one that formed the vortex, are common. Like other eddies, the vortex could have a mixed impact on the ecosystem. “Essentially, the eddy could either be a death trap for larval fish, or a nursery for them,” says Waite. “For most finfish larvae, offshore transport away from their adult habitat is probably detrimental. But it’s possible that long-lived rock lobster larvae can benefit from the enhanced offshore productivity in eddies, increasing their survival rate in the open ocean.”

The Leeuwin Current is unlike the currents that run along the west coasts of Southern Africa and South America, the other large land masses at this latitude. In the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, strong currents from the Southern Ocean carry cold water along the west coasts of Africa and South America. The cold current allows water from the ocean floor to rush to the surface, carrying iron and other nutrients. These nutrients nourish the phytoplankton (ocean plants) that form the base of the marine food chain. As a result, the coastal waters of Chile and southern Africa are productive fisheries, teaming with life. The Leeuwin Current, on the other hand, is warm and keeps denser cool water from welling up. As a result, the waters off Western Australia are relatively poor in nutrients and can’t support the same type of ecosystems as South America and Africa. The warm waters do allow tropical plants and animals to survive much farther south than they might otherwise.

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