Venus as We Have Never Seen Her Before

Image credit: JAXA/ISAS/DARTS/Damia Bouic.

Here are some fantastic new images of Venus as imaged in infrared by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Akatsuki Venus Climate Orbiter (also known as PLANET-C).

Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty and Earth’s sister planet. At 7,521 mi. (12,104 km) in diameter, it’s just under 400 mi. (644 km) smaller than Earth but the similarities end there. At first glance, it appears that Venus’s axial tilt is only about 2 degrees which is much less than Earth’s 23.4 degrees but when you look more closely we discover that Venus; for reasons that are still unknown, rotates retrograde or backwards from the other planets of the solar system.  Because of this backward rotation, its axial tilt is actually a whopping 177.4 degrees.

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The Beautiful King of the Gods

Image credit: NASA Juno/SWRI/Kevin M. Gill/Jason Major.

Like creamer in your morning coffee, Jupiter’s multicolored gas bands swirl just 3,500 km (2,175 mi.) underneath NASA’s Juno spacecraft and JunoCam during close approach, known as perijove 6, on May 19, 2017. Like Cassini at Saturn before it, Juno is in the process of revolutionizing what we know about the gas giant all the while delivering some astonishing images along the way.

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Ariane 5 Dual Payload Launch

Image credit & copyright: ESA/CNES/Arianespace.

LAUNCH ALERT: Thursday, January 25, 2018 at 22:20 UTC (17:20 EST) Arianespace will launch their massive heavy lift, Ariane 5 ECA rocket, designated VA241 carrying a dual payload of SES 14 and Al Yah 3 satellites from Launch Site, Ensemble de Lancement Ariane-3 (ELA-3) at the Arianespace Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

This will be Arianespace’s 1st launch of 2018, the 97th launch of the Ariane 5 and its 1st launch in 2018.

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Atlas V SBIRS GEO Flight 4

Images credit & copyright: United Launch Alliance (ULA).

LAUNCH ALERT: Friday, January 19, 2018 at 19:48 EST (00:48 UTC on the 19th) a United Launch Alliance (ULA), Atlas V-411 rocket designated (AV-076) will lift off from Space Launch Complex-41 (SLC-41) at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS), Florida carrying the Space Based Infrared System Geosynchronous (SBIRS GEO 4) early warning missile detection satellite for the U.S. military.

This will be the ULA’s 2nd launch of 2018, 125 launch since its founding in 2006 and the 75th launch of the Atlas V since its inaugural flight in 2002. Launch window for this attempt will be open for 40 minutes.

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Eternal Reflections

Image credit & copyright: David Kingham.

There are certain images that, upon first seeing them make you stop for a moment in admiration. This image captured by David Kingham at Oxbow Bend on the Snake River in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park is without question, one of those images.

Here we can see the thick band of gas and dust that lace the Milky Way as they shroud the light of billions and billions of suns. To the right we can see the Tetons standing by seemingly in awe of the view as well.  And the whole scene beautifully reflected of the calm waters of the snake.

I hope you all have a great weekend and be sure to check out more of David’s work!

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NGC 3370 and Friends

Image credit: NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

Located roughly 98 million light years away in the constellation Leo is this beautiful grand design spiral galaxy cataloged as NGC 3370 shown here in amazing HD thanks to the orbiting legend in the sky; the Hubble Space Telescope. This nearly face-on view of the galaxy shows beautiful vast, areas of star formation as well as the classical dust lanes that mirror the spiral arms. At its heart is the telltale yellow glow of older, ancient stars pooled to the center.

In late 1994 this galaxy was popular for being one of the closest supernovae (SN 1994ae) in modern history. Type 1a supernovae are one of the most accurate ways astronomers measure distance in the universe and coupled with the fact that this image is detailed enough to actually spot and measure Cepheid Variable stars (another way distance in the universe is measured) leads to a very accurate measure of distance to this object. An interesting thought here; although we see supernovae all the time, they only appear in a galaxy once every hundred years or so.

Of the possibly hundreds of background galaxies seen in this image, two really stand out. 48kb in the upper right corner is a galaxy much more distant than 3370 and it appears to be tidally interacting with its companion. Lower down on the right is a Sombrero Galaxy doppelganger cataloged as 45kb and it too is much more distant than 3370 but close enough to it to stand out in the photo. Don’t let that stop you though, if you’re on the blog, click and expand this photo and explore some details in the more distant galaxies.

Name: NGC 3370.

What is it?: Spiral Galaxy.

How big is it?: Roughly 100,000 light years in diameter.

How far away is it?: Approximately 98 million light years (30 megaparsecs).

Apparent magnitude: A pretty dim 12 or +12.

Where is it? (General): Constellation Leo.

Where is it? (Exact RA/Dec J2000): R.A. 10h 47m 04s.18 / Dec. +17° 16′ 22″.8.

NASA APOD page for this photo:

ESA Space Telescope page for this image:

NASA Hubblesite page for this image:

NASA Hubblesite News Center page for this image:

Hubble Heritage Site page for background galaxies in this image:

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India’s PSLV-C40 Flight Next Week

Image credit & copyright: India Space Research Organization (ISRO). Live streaming links and information at the bottom of the post.

LAUNCH ALERT! Thursday, January 11, 2018 at 22:58 EST (03:58 UTC on the 12th), the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) will be launching a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) in its “XL” configuration, designated “PSLV-C40” carrying the IRNSS 1H carrying the Cartosat 2F and NovaSAR-S communication satellites from the First Launch Pad (FLP), at the Satish Dhawan Space Center, Sriharikota, India.

PSLV-C40 will be the 42nd flight of the PSLV rocket and its 19th flight in the “XL” configuration.

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