I just saw the moon


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What's happening to this spiral galaxy? Although details remain uncertain, it surely has to do with an ongoing battle with its smaller galactic neighbor. The featured galaxy is labelled UGC 1810 by itself, but together with its collisional partner is known as Arp 273. The overall shape of UGC 1810 -- in particular its blue outer ring -- is likely a result of wild and violent gravitational interactions. This ring's blue color is caused by massive stars that are blue hot and have formed only in the past few million years. The inner galaxy appears older, redder, and threaded with cool filamentary dust. A few bright stars appear well in the foreground, unrelated to UGC 1810, while several galaxies are visible well in the background. Arp 273 lies about 300 million light years away toward the constellation of Andromeda. Quite likely, UGC 1810 will devour its galactic sidekick over the next billion years and settle into a classic spiral form.

These clouds of gas and dust drift through rich star fields along the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy toward the high flying constellation Cygnus. Caught within the telescopic field of view are the Soap Bubble (lower left) and the Crescent Nebula (upper right). Both were formed at a final phase in the life of a star. Also known as NGC 6888, the Crescent was shaped as its bright, central massive Wolf-Rayet star, WR 136, shed its outer envelope in a strong stellar wind. Burning through fuel at a prodigious rate, WR 136 is near the end of a short life that should finish in a spectacular supernova explosion. Discovered in 2013, the Soap Bubble Nebula is likely a planetary nebula, the final shroud of a lower mass, long-lived, sun-like star destined to become a slowly cooling white dwarf. Both stellar shrouds are 5,000 light-years or so distant. The larger Crescent Nebula is around 25 light-years across. Image Credit: Wissam Ayoub

This broad image of the Carina Nebula, a region of massive star formation in the southern skies, was taken in infrared light using the HAWK-I camera on ESO’s Very Large Telescope. Many previously hidden features, scattered across a spectacular celestial landscape of gas, dust and young stars, have emerged.

The VST image shows the spectacular star-forming region Messier 17, also known as the Omega Nebula or the Swan Nebula, as it has never been seen before. This vast region of gas, dust and hot young stars lies in the heart of the Milky Way in the constellation of Sagittarius (The Archer). The VST field of view is so large that the entire nebula, including its fainter outer parts, is captured — and retains its superb sharpness across the entire image. The data were processed using the Astro-WISE software system.


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Touchdown for OSIRIS-REx! Grab a piece of that asteroid!

This magnificent 360-degree panoramic image, covering the entire southern and northern celestial sphere, reveals the cosmic landscape that surrounds our tiny blue planet. This gorgeous starscape serves as the first of three extremely high-resolution images featured in the GigaGalaxy Zoom project, launched by ESO within the framework of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009). The plane of our Milky Way Galaxy, which we see edge-on from our perspective on Earth, cuts a luminous swath across the image. The projection used in GigaGalaxy Zoom place the viewer in front of our Galaxy with the Galactic Plane running horizontally through the image — almost as if we were looking at the Milky Way from the outside. From this vantage point, the general components of our spiral galaxy come clearly into view, including its disc, marbled with both dark and glowing nebulae, which harbors bright, young stars, as well as the Galaxy’s central bulge and its satellite galaxies. As filming extended over several months, objects from the Solar System came and went through the star fields, with bright planets such as Venus and Jupiter. The full 800-million-pixel original image, which can be requested from Serge Brunier(serge.brunier@wanadoo.fr). A 27.7MB tiff image can be downloaded here https://www.eso.org/public/archives/images/original/eso0932a.tif

This view shows part of the very active star-forming region around the Tarantula Nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small neighbor of the Milky Way. At the exact center lies the brilliant but isolated star VFTS 682 and to its lower right the very rich star cluster R 136. The origins of VFTS 682 are unclear — was it ejected from R 136 or did it form on its own? The star appears yellow-red in this view, which includes both visible-light and infrared images from the Wide Field Imager at the 2.2-metre MPG/ESO telescope at La Silla and the 4.1-metre infrared VISTA telescope at Paranal, because of the effects of dust.

Composite image of the Abell 2597 galaxy cluster showing the fountain-like flow of gas powered by the supermassive black hole in the central galaxy. The yellow is ALMA data showing cold gas. The red is data from the MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope showing the hot hydrogen gas in the same region. The blue-purple is the extended hot, ionized gas as imaged by the Chandra X-ray Observatory.
The yellow ALMA data shows in-falling material and the red MUSE data shows material launched in a vast spout by the black hole.

How many famous sky objects can you find in this image? The featured dark sky composite combines over 60 exposures spanning over 220 degrees to create a veritable menagerie of night sky wonders. Visible celestial icons include the Belt of Orion, the Orion Nebula, the Andromeda Galaxy, the California Nebula, and bright stars Sirius and Betelgeuse. You can verify that you found these, if you did, by checking an annotated version https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/image/2010/Quantrids_Slovinsky_2048_annotated.jpg of the image. A bit harder, though, is finding Polaris and the Big Dipper. Also discernible are several meteors from the Quandrantids meteor shower, red and green airglow, and two friends of the astrophotographer. The picture was captured in January from Sardinia, Italy. You can see sky wonders in your own night sky tonight -- including more meteors than usual -- because tonight is near peak of the yearly Orionids meteor shower.


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In this spectacular image captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, the galaxy NGC 2799 (on the left) is seemingly being pulled into the center of the galaxy NGC 2798 (on the right).
Interacting galaxies, such as these, are so named because of the influence they have on each other, which may eventually result in a merger or a unique formation. Already, these two galaxies have seemingly formed a sideways waterspout, with stars from NGC 2799 appearing to fall into NGC 2798 almost like drops of water.
Galactic mergers can take place over several hundred million to over a billion years. While one might think the merger of two galaxies would be catastrophic for the stellar systems within, the sheer amount of space between stars means that stellar collisions are unlikely and stars typically drift past each other.

This image, taken with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, depicts a special class of star-forming nursery known as Free-floating Evaporating Gaseous Globules, or frEGGs for short. This object is formally known as J025157.5+600606.
When a massive new star starts to shine while still within the cool molecular gas cloud from which it formed, its energetic radiation can ionize the cloud’s hydrogen and create a large, hot bubble of ionized gas. Amazingly, located within this bubble of hot gas around a nearby massive star are the frEGGs: dark compact globules of dust and gas, some of which are giving birth to low-mass stars. The boundary between the cool, dusty frEGG and the hot gas bubble is seen as the glowing purple/blue edges in this fascinating image.

Captured by the spacecraft’s SamCam camera on Oct. 22, 2020, this series of three images shows that the sampler head on NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is full of rocks and dust collected from the surface of the asteroid Bennu. They show also that some of these particles are slowly escaping the sampler head. Analysis by the OSIRIS-REx team suggests that bits of material are passing through small gaps where the head’s mylar flap is slightly wedged open. The mylar flap (the black bulge on the left inside the ring) is designed to keep the collected material locked inside, and these unsealed areas appear to be caused by larger rocks that didn’t fully pass through the flap. Based on available imagery, the team suspects there is plentiful sample inside the head, and is on a path to stow the sample as quickly as possible.

French photographer Nicolas Lefaudeux took this image in Forges-les-Bains, Île-de-France, the photograph depicts a version of the Andromeda Galaxy seemingly at arm’s length. Competition judge Ed Robinson said: “To most of us, our closest neighboring galaxy Andromeda can also feel so distanced and out of reach, yet to create a photograph that gives us the impression that it is just within our physical reach is truly magical, and somewhat appropriate as we adjust after such socially distanced times“.
Lefaudeux created a part using 3D-printing to hold the camera at an angle at the focus of the telescope. The blur created by the defocus at the edges of the sensor gives this illusion of closeness to Andromeda. He used a Sky-Watcher Black Diamond 100 mm apochromatic refractor telescope at f/9, iOptron iEQ30 mount, Sony ILCE-7S camera (modified), ISO 2000 and 2 hours 30 minutes total exposure.


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NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) has confirmed, for the first time, water on the sunlit surface of the Moon. That means even more is there than we thought...more capabilities to make oxygen to breath, oxygen also as an oxidizer for fuel combined with the hydrogen from the water, and of course the water itself.

BOO! The Ghost Nebula's jeweled expanse, filled with faint, starlight-reflecting clouds, drifts through the night in the royal constellation of Cepheus. Far from your own neighborhood on planet Earth, these ghostly apparitions lurk along the plane of the Milky Way at the edge of the Cepheus Flare molecular cloud complex some 1,200 light-years away. Over two light-years across and brighter than the other spooky chimeras, VdB 141 or Sh2-136 is also known as the Ghost Nebula, seen at toward the bottom of the featured image. Within the reflection nebula are the telltale signs of dense cores collapsing in the early stages of star formation.

This color image of the region known as NGC 2264 — an area of sky that includes the sparkling blue baubles of the Christmas Tree star cluster and the Cone Nebula — was created from data taken through four different filters (B, V, R and H-alpha) with the Wide Field Imager at ESO's La Silla Observatory, 2400 m high in the Atacama Desert of Chile in the foothills of the Andes. The image shows a region of space about 30 light-years across.

This wide-field view of the Orion Nebula (Messier 42), lying about 1350 light-years from Earth, was taken with the VISTA infrared survey telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile.The new telescope’s huge field of view allows the whole nebula and its surroundings to be imaged in a single picture and its infrared vision also means that it can peer deep into the normally hidden dusty regions and reveal the curious antics of the very active young stars buried there. This image was created from images taken through Z, J and Ks filters in the near-infrared part of the spectrum. The exposure times were ten minutes per filter. The image covers a region of sky about one degree by 1.5 degrees.

This image from ESO’s VISTA telescope captures a celestial landscape of vast, glowing clouds of gas and tendrils of dust surrounding hot young stars. This infrared view reveals the stellar nursery known as the Lobster Nebula (NGC 6357) in a new light.


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@cybrguy you know I've come across a few similar to this that I'll post later. The common thing between all of them is that they have come from the ESO observatory in Chile (which encompasses several sites) which has many different types of telescopes. I know the two directly above are from several frequencies of the infrared spectrum. I suspect the Lobster Nebula above is one of the very deep field images they are doing as part of the VISTA survey...short descriptions of each part of the VISTA survey is here. The entire ESO Chile instruments are extremely impressive.

VISTA Telescope
VISTA (Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy) is a 4-m class specialized wide field survey telescope for the southern hemisphere, equipped with a near infrared camera VIRCAM (VISTA InfraRed CAMera) with 1.65 degree diameter field of view at VISTA's nominal pixel size, containing 67 million pixels of mean size 0.339 arcsec and available broad band filters at Z,Y,J,H,Ks and narrow band filters at 0.98, 0.99, and 1.18 micron. VISTA is located at ESO's Cerro Paranal Observatory in Chile (latitude 24° 40' S) on its own peak about 1500m from the four VLTs and the VST.

VLT in the background on it's own summit right under the arc of the Milky Way
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Crosseyed & Painless Please wear a mask
So @cybrguy (and myself) likes the images with huge densities of stars, and who wouldn't lol. It shows how small the Earth, and humans for that matter, are in the grand scale of the Universe. Carl Sagan was right, we are just a pale blue dot, and all the posturing and sabre rattling our leaders do is so trivial in the grand scheme of the Universe. We all need to come together as one race, the human race, and really see where our minds can go and do...off my soap box and on to the images!

Infrared view of the Cat’s Paw Nebula (NGC 6334) taken by VISTA. NGC 6334 is a vast region of star formation about 5500 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Scorpius. The whole gas cloud is about 50 light-years across. NGC 6334 is one of the most active nurseries of young massive stars in our galaxy, some nearly ten times the mass of our Sun and most born in the last few million years. The images were taken through Y, J and Ks filters (shown as blue, green and red respectively) and the exposure time was five minutes per filter. The field of view is about one degree across.

Messier 16 (M16), also known as the Eagle Nebula, is located in the southern constellation of Serpens (the Snake).
Using the infrared multi-mode ISAAC instrument on the 8.2-m VLT ANTU telescope, European astronomers were able to image the Eagle Nebula at near-infrared wavelength. The ISAAC near-infrared images cover a 9 x 9 arcminutes region, in three broad-band colors and with sufficient sensitivity to detect young stars of all masses and — most importantly — with an image sharpness as good as 0.35 arcseconds.
The wide-field view of M16 shows that there is much happening in the region. The first impression one gets is of an enormous number of stars. Those which are blue in the infrared image are either members of the young NGC 6611 cluster — whose massive stars are concentrated in the upper right (north west) part of the field — or foreground stars which happen to lie along the line of sight towards M16.
Most of the stars are fainter and more yellow. They are ordinary stars behind M16, along the line of sight through the galactic bulge, and are seen through the molecular clouds out of which NGC 6611 formed. Some very red stars are also seen: these are either very young and embedded in gas and dust clouds, or just brighter stars in the background shining through them.
This photo is the result of a three-color composite mosaic image of the Eagle Nebula (Messier 16), based on 144 individual images obtained with the infrared multi-mode instrument ISAAC on the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal Observatory. At the center, the so-called "Pillars of Creation" can be seen. This wide-field infrared image shows not only the central three pillars but also several others in the same star-forming region, as well as a huge number of stars in front of, in, or behind the Eagle Nebula. The cluster of bright blue stars to the upper right is NGC 6611, home to the massive and hot stars that illuminate the pillars.

This image, taken by OmegaCAM on the VLT Survey Telescope at Paranal Observatory, shows a section of the Ara OB1 stellar association. In the center of the image is the young open cluster NGC 6193, and to the right is the emission nebula NGC 6188, illuminated by the ionizing radiation emitted by the brightest nearby stars.

This new infrared view of the star formation region Messier 8, often called the Lagoon Nebula, was captured by the VISTA telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile. This color picture was created from images taken through J, H and Ks near-infrared filters, and which were acquired as part of a huge survey of the central parts of the Milky Way. The field of view is about 34 by 15 arcminutes. I had to shrink this way down to get the forum to take it. Check out here for a much bigger image https://cdn.eso.org/images/publicationjpg/eso1101a.jpg


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This will be more of an informational post (hope you all like it) about the European Southern Observatory.

ESO at a glance
The European Southern Observatory (ESO) is the pre-eminent intergovernmental science and technology organization in astronomy. It carries out an ambitious program focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities for astronomy, in order to enable important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organizing cooperation in astronomical research.

ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in the Atacama Desert region of Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. ESO's first site is at La Silla, a 2400 m high mountain 600 km north of Santiago de Chile. It is equipped with several optical telescopes with mirror diameters of up to 3.6 meters. The 3.5-metre New Technology Telescope broke new ground for telescope engineering and design and was the first in the world to have a computer-controlled main mirror, a technology developed at ESO and now applied to most of the world's current large telescopes. The ESO 3.6-metre telescope is now home to the world's foremost extrasolar planet hunter: HARPS (High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher), a spectrograph with unrivalled precision.

While La Silla remains at the forefront of astronomy, and is still the second most scientifically productive ground-based astronomical observatory, the 2600 m high Paranal site — home to the Very Large Telescope array (VLT) — is the flagship facility of European astronomy. Paranal is situated about 130 km south of Antofagasta in Chile, 12 km inland from the Pacific coast, in one of the driest areas of the world. Scientific operations began at Paranal in 1999 and have resulted in many extremely successful research programs.

The VLT is a most unusual telescope which is based on the latest technology. It is not just one, but an array of four Unit Telescopes, each with a main mirror measuring 8.2 meters in diameter. With one Unit Telescope, images of celestial objects as faint as magnitude 30 have been obtained in a one-hour exposure. This corresponds to observing objects that are four billion times fainter than those seen with the naked eye.

The VLT also has four additional 1.8-metre moveable Auxiliary Telescopes. One of the most exciting features of the VLT is the option to use it as a giant optical interferometer (VLT Interferometer or VLTI). This is done by combining the light from several of either the Unit Telescopes or the Auxiliary Telescopes. In this interferometric mode, the telescope has a vision equivalent to that of a single telescope the size of the separation between the most distant mirrors. For the VLTI using the Auxiliary Telescopes, this distance can be up to 200 meters.

Each year, about 2000 research proposals are made for the use of ESO telescopes, requesting between four and six times more nights than are available. ESO is the most productive astronomical observatory in the world, and annually results in many peer-reviewed publications: in 2013 alone, over 840 refereed papers based on ESO data were published. Moreover, research articles based on VLT data are in the mean quoted twice as often as the average. The very high efficiency of ESO's "science machines" now generates huge amounts of data at a very high rate. Data are stored in a permanent Science Archive Facility at ESO Headquarters. The archive now contains more than 1.5 million images or spectra with a total volume of about 65 terabytes (65 000 000 000 000 bytes) of data. This corresponds to the content of about 30 million books of 1000 pages each; they would occupy more than 1000 kilometers of bookshelves!

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the largest ground-based astronomy project in existence, is a revolutionary facility for world astronomy. ALMA is comprised of an array of 66 giant 12-metre and 7-metre diameter antennas observing at millimeter and submillimeter wavelengths. ALMA started scientific observations in 2011 and was inaugurated in 2013. ALMA is located on the high altitude Llano de Chajnantor, at 5000 m elevation, making it one of the highest astronomical observatory sites in the world. ALMA is a partnership between ESO (representing its Member States), NSF (USA) and NINS (Japan), together with NRC (Canada), NSC and ASIAA (Taiwan), and KASI (South Korea), in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. The Joint ALMA Observatory is operated by ESO, AUI/NRAO and NAOJ.

The Chajnantor site is also home to the 12-metre APEX millimeter and submillimeter telescope, operated by ESO on behalf of the Onsala Space Observatory, the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy and ESO itself.

The next step beyond the VLT is to build the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) with a 39-metre primary mirror. The ELT will be "the world's biggest eye on the sky" — the largest optical/near-infrared telescope in the world. The ELT will address many of the most pressing unsolved questions in astronomy. It may, eventually, revolutionize our perception of the Universe, much as Galileo's telescope did 400 years ago. The green light for ELT construction was given in late 2014, with first light planned for 2024.

Image composition showing all the ESO observatories and the Headquarters.

Paranal Observatory
At 2635 meters above sea level in the Atacama Desert of Chile, ESO’s Paranal Observatory is one of the very best astronomical observing sites in the world and is the flagship facility for European ground-based astronomy. It hosts several world-class telescopes; among them are the Very Large Telescope, the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy, and the VLT Survey Telescope. Other scientific and support facilities are also located at Paranal, including several smaller telescopes and an innovative accommodation facility known as the Residencia.

La Silla Observatory-ESO's first observatory
he La Silla Observatory is located on the outskirts of the Chilean Atacama Desert, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile and at an altitude of 2400 meters. Like other observatories in this geographical area, La Silla is located far from sources of light pollution and, like the Paranal Observatory, home to the Very Large Telescope, it has one of the darkest night skies on the Earth. La Silla has been an ESO stronghold since the 1960s. Here, ESO operates two of the most productive 4-metre class telescopes in the world.

The 3.58-metre New Technology Telescope (NTT) broke new ground for telescope engineering and design and was the first in the world to have a computer-controlled main mirror (active optics), technology developed at ESO and now applied to most of the world's current large telescopes.

The ESO 3.6-metre telescope is now home to the world's foremost extrasolar planet hunter: High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS), a spectrograph with unrivalled precision.

The La Silla Observatory is the first world-class observatory to have been granted certification for the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 9001 Quality Management System.

The infrastructure of La Silla is also used by many of the ESO Member States for targeted projects such as the Swiss 1.2-metre Leonhard Euler Telescope, the Rapid Eye Mount telescope (REM) and the TAROT Telescope gamma-ray burst chaser, as well as more common user facilities such as the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre and the Danish 1.54-metre Telescopes. The 67-million pixel Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre Telescope has taken many amazing images of celestial objects, some of which have now become icons in their own right.
Image composition of all of La Silla.


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Post continued due to 10,000 character limit...
ESO operates the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment, APEX, at one of the highest observatory sites on Earth, at an elevation of 5100 meters, high on the Chajnantor plateau in Chile’s Atacama region.

APEX is a 12-metre diameter telescope, operating at millimeter and submillimeter wavelengths — between infrared light and radio waves. Submillimeter astronomy opens a window into the cold, dusty and distant Universe, but the faint signals from space are heavily absorbed by water vapor in the Earth's atmosphere. Chajnantor is an ideal location for such a telescope, as the region is one of the driest on the planet and is more than 750 m higher than the observatories on Mauna Kea, and 2400 m higher than the Very Large Telescope (VLT) on Cerro Paranal.

Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array
High on the Chajnantor plateau in the Chilean Andes, the European Southern Observatory (ESO), together with its international partners, is operating the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) — a state-of-the-art telescope to study light from some of the coldest objects in the Universe. This light has wavelengths of around a millimeter, between infrared light and radio waves, and is therefore known as millimeter and submillimeter radiation. ALMA comprises 66 high-precision antennas, spread over distances of up to 16 kilometers. This global collaboration is the largest ground-based astronomical project in existence.

Upcoming, the ELT-Extremely Large Telescope
The European Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) is a revolutionary scientific project for a 40m-class telescope that will allow us to address many of the most pressing unsolved questions about our Universe.

The ELT will be the largest optical/near-infrared telescope in the world and will gather 13 times more light than the largest optical telescopes existing today. The ELT will be able to correct for the atmospheric distortions (i.e., fully adaptive and diffraction-limited) from the start, providing images 16 times sharper than those from the Hubble Space Telescope. The ELT will vastly advance astrophysical knowledge by enabling detailed studies of planets around other stars, the first galaxies in the Universe, super-massive black holes, and the nature of the Universe's dark sector.
Artist's impression of ELT


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Have you ever wondered why you see telescopes shooting lasers at the sky? So, how do the lasers help to correct the images? The biggest barrier between ground-based telescopes and the stars is the Earth’s atmosphere. Atmospheric turbulence causes a romantic but undesired effect in astronomy: twinkling stars, which result in blurred images. Adaptive optics (AO) solves this problem by combining the latest technologies to correct for distortions introduced by the atmosphere. To do this, the AO system needs the light from a sufficiently bright star that is close to the target in the sky as a reference, and for many targets there are no suitable stars close by. And this is where the lasers come in. Lasers can excite sodium atoms in the mesosphere, which is located 90–110 kilometers above the Earth’s surface. The fluorescent light that is emitted by the sodium atoms and collected by the telescope is affected by the atmosphere in the same way as the light emitted by real stars is. So, the fluorescent light from the sodium atoms can be used by the adaptive optics system to measure and compensate for the distortions introduced by the atmosphere. The system being used for the VLT is called 4 Laser Guide Star Facility or 4LGSF. Instead of one laser, the 4LGSF sends four laser beams into the skies to produce four artificial stars by exciting sodium atoms. Each laser delivers 22 watts of power — about 4000 times the maximum allowed for a laser pointer — in a beam with a diameter of 30 centimeters.

Amazing image of Jupiter taken in infrared light with the Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics Demonstrator (MAD) prototype instrument mounted on ESO's Very Large Telescope. This false color photo is the combination of a series of images taken over a time span of about 20 minutes, through three different filters (2, 2.14, and 2.16 microns). The image sharpening obtained is about 90 milli-arcseconds across the whole planetary disc, a real record on similar images taken from the ground. This corresponds to seeing details about 300 km wide on the surface of the giant planet. The great red spot is not visible in this image as it was on the other side of the planet during the observations.

he Rosy Glow of a Cosmic Seagull...Colorful and wispy Sharpless 2-296 forms the “wings” of an area of sky known as the Seagull Nebula — named for its resemblance to a gull in flight. This celestial bird contains a fascinating mix of intriguing astronomical objects. Glowing clouds weave amid dark dust lanes and bright stars. The Seagull Nebula — made up of dust, hydrogen, helium and traces of heavier elements — is the hot and energetic birthplace of new stars.

@cybrguy How's this for star density?!?! This image from the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile, shows the bright star cluster NGC 6520 and its neighbor, the strangely shaped dark cloud Barnard 86. This cosmic pair is set against millions of glowing stars from the brightest part of the Milky Way — a region so dense with stars that barely any dark sky is seen across the picture.


Well-Known Member
My head is spinning. Difficult to wrap my head around light years. If I understand this correctly 1 light year is equivalent to 6 trillion miles. So, when you mention looking at an object that is, let's say, 5 million light years away - the image you are seeing is one that not real time, but generated how long ago? Mind boggling.

Love the images !!


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You are correct, you are not seeing the image real time. In fact, when you look at the moon in the sky it isn't real time either; you are actually seeing the moon approximately 1.26 seconds in he past since it takes the light 1.26 seconds to reach Earth. Likewise, you are seeing the Sun 499 seconds in the past. You will often hear astronomers refer to telescopes as time machines because the light they see took time to reach it so in essence, you are seeing the past.
A light year is a unit of distance. It is the distance that light can travel in one year. Light moves at a velocity of 300,000 kilometers (186,000 miles) each second. So in one year, light can travel about 9.5 trillion kilometers or 6 trillion miles.
For example, if you see an image and in the description it says that it is at say 5 million light years away. That means the light took 5 million years to get here so you are actually seeing that object as it was 5 million years ago. Doing the math, 300,000 km x 5 million= 1,500,000,000,000 kilometers in distance.
I hope that helped.

Just realized SpaceX hit 100 successful flights and they show snippets of each in this 1 minute video. I watched and found as I was watching, an immense amount of happiness and satisfaction came over me; keep on keeping on Elon, you are doing great things for humanity.
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This picture of the spectacular southern spiral galaxy NGC 300 was taken using the Wide Field Imager (WFI) at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. It was assembled from many individual images through a large set of different filters over many observing nights, spanning several years. The main purpose of this extensive observational campaign was to get an unusually thorough census of the stars in the galaxy, counting both the number and varieties of stars and marking regions, or even individual stars, that warrant deeper and more focused investigation. But such a rich data collection will also have many other uses for years to come.
The images were mostly taken through filters that transmit red, green or blue light. These were supplemented by images through special filters that allow through only the light from ionized hydrogen or oxygen gas and highlight the glowing clouds in the galaxy’s spiral arms. The total exposure time amounted to around 50 hours.

Astronomers using data from ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT), at the Paranal Observatory in Chile, have made an impressive composite of the nebula Messier 17, also known as the Omega Nebula or the Swan Nebula. The painting-like image shows vast clouds of gas and dust illuminated by the intense radiation from young stars.
The image shows a central region about 15 light-years across, although the entire nebula is even larger, about 40 light-years in total. Messier 17 is in the constellation of Sagittarius (the Archer), about 6000 light-years from Earth. It is a popular target for amateur astronomers, who can obtain good quality images using small telescopes.

This image of the Trifid Nebula highlights how three prominent dust lanes that give the Trifid its name all come together. Mountains of opaque dust appear near the bottom, while other dark filaments of dust are visible threaded throughout the nebula. A single massive star visible near the center causes much of the Trifid's glow. The Trifid, cataloged as M20, is only about 300,000 years old, making it among the youngest emission nebulas known. The star forming nebula lies about 9,000 light years away toward the constellation of the Archer (Sagittarius). The region pictured here spans about 10 light years. The featured image is a composite with luminance taken from an image by the 8.2-m ground-based Subaru Telescope, detail provided by the 2.4-m orbiting Hubble Space Telescope, color data provided by Martin Pugh and image assembly and processing provided by Robert Gendler.

This is an image of NGC 2467, located in the southern constellation of Puppis ("The Stern"). With an age of a few million years at most, it is a very active stellar nursery, where new stars are born continuously from large clouds of dust and gas. The image, looking like a colorful cosmic ghost or a gigantic celestial Mandrill, contains the open clusters Haffner 18 (centre) and Haffner 19 (middle right: it is located inside the smaller pink region — the lower eye of the Mandrill), as well as vast areas of ionized gas. The bright star at the center of the largest pink region on the bottom of the image is HD 64315, a massive young star that is helping shaping the structure of the whole nebular region.


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A quick one to keep it on the first page lol.

I saw the moon! Yes that's the moon below.

The otherworldliness of this image, obtained at ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in northern Chile, is due to a combination of natural and artificial light phenomena. This ethereal image captures a lunar halo on rare cloudy skies over ESO’s Paranal Observatory. This optical phenomenon is created when moonlight is refracted by millions of small ice crystals and water droplets in the surrounding atmosphere.
These halos are reasonably common; however, they require quite a bit of light to appear, so the Moon must be in a specific position relative to the Earth and the Sun to reflect enough light to produce a fine ring like this one. This particular halo comprises multiple colored bands that are formed in the same way as in a rainbow — light of different wavelengths is refracted by varying amounts. White light is thus broken into its constituent parts, dispersing to create a spectrum of visually distinct colors.......

and they blew up Alderaan! lol



Crosseyed & Painless Please wear a mask
Hi all, sorry not posting sooner...
Completing one orbit of our fair planet in 90 minutes the International Space Station can easily be spotted by eye as a very bright star moving through the night sky. Have you seen it? The next time you do, you will have recognized the location of over 20 years of continuous human presence in space. In fact, the Expedition 1 crew to the ISS docked with the orbital outpost some 400 kilometers above the Earth on November 2, 2000. No telescope is required to spot the ISS flashing through the night. But this telescopic field of view does reveal remarkable details of the space station captured as it transited the waning gibbous moon on November 3, just one day after the space age milestone. The well-timed telescopic snapshot also contains the location of another inspirational human achievement. About 400,000 kilometers away, the Apollo 11 landing site on the dark, smooth lunar Sea of Tranquility is to the right of the ISS silhouette.

This image from the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile, shows the bright star cluster Messier 7, also known as NGC 6475. Easily spotted by the naked eye in the direction of the tail of the constellation of Scorpius (The Scorpion), this cluster is one of the most prominent open clusters of stars in the sky and an important research target.

The MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile captured this richly colorful view of the bright star cluster NGC 3532. Some of the stars still shine with a hot bluish color, but many of the more massive ones have become red giants and glow with a rich orange hue.

The rich patchwork of gas clouds in this new image make up part of a huge stellar nursery nicknamed the Prawn Nebula (also known as Gum 56 and IC 4628). Taken using the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile, this may well be one of the best pictures ever taken of this object. It shows clumps of hot new-born stars nestled in among the clouds that make up the nebula.

A dark cloud of cosmic dust snakes across this spectacular wide field image, illuminated by the brilliant light of new stars. This dense cloud is a star-forming region called Lupus 3, where dazzlingly hot stars are born from collapsing masses of gas and dust. This image was created from images taken using the VLT Survey Telescope and the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope and is the most detailed image taken so far of this region.


Wear a Mask, Damnit
There is something about star nurseries that yanks on my wonder strings. It is impossible for me to get a feel for the vast amounts of space or time, but the fact that rather than a static spacescape it is constantly growing and changing across those unimaginable distances makes it all the more astounding to me.


Crosseyed & Painless Please wear a mask
I couldn't agree more. About the only way is to trip on something, lol. I will admit though, over the last 10-20 years I have been off and on again interested in this stuff; having the imagery and the science that we can read about that accompany these and also watching anything on youtube, tv, and the internet about this stuff, has helped me somewhat wrap my brain around some of this stuff. I know that I have given the most thought to trying to comprehend the distance and vastness of space/universe as well as how things form from stars to black holes. These new telescopes that are coming have me very excited about what were going to see, especially James Webb and ESO ELT. The more I read about ELT, I am blown away by the thing...I mean 130 foot mirror to start...holy crap! What I have in post #209 in this thread doesn't really tell you much about it. I know they have cast some mirrors for it and the foundation is coming along nicely on top of the mountain...3 years away.


Crosseyed & Painless Please wear a mask
The globular cluster NGC 6397, located at a distance of approx. 7,200 light-years in the southern constellation Ara. It has undergone a "core collapse" and the central area is very dense. It contains about 400,000 stars and its age (based on evolutionary models) is 13,400 ± 800 million years. The photo is a composite of exposures in the B-, V- and I-bands obtained in the frame of the Pilot Stellar Survey with the Wide-Field-Imager (WFI) camera at the 2.2-m ESO/MPI telescope at the ESO La Silla Observatory. It was prepared and provided by the ESO Imaging Survey team. The spikes seen at some of the brighter stars are caused by the effect of overexposure (CCD "bleeding").

The VISIR instrument on ESO’s VLT captured this stunning image of a newly-discovered massive binary star system. Nicknamed Apep after an ancient Egyptian deity, it could be the first gamma-ray burst progenitor to be found in our galaxy.
Apep’s stellar winds have created the dust cloud surrounding the system, which consists of a binary star with a fainter companion. With 2 Wolf-Rayet stars orbiting each other in the binary, the serpentine swirls surrounding Apep are formed by the collision of two sets of powerful stellar winds, which create the spectacular dust plumes seen in the image.
The reddish pinwheel in this image is data from the VISIR instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), and shows the spectacular plumes of dust surrounding Apep. The blue sources at the center of the image are a triple star system — which consists of a binary star system and a companion single star bound together by gravity. Though only two star-like objects are visible in the image, the lower source is in fact an unresolved binary Wolf-Rayet star. The triple star system was captured by the NACOadaptive optics instrument on the VLT.

A newly formed star lights up the surrounding cosmic clouds in this image from ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. Dust particles in the vast clouds that surround the star HD 97300 diffuse its light, like a car headlight in enveloping fog, and create the reflection nebula IC 2631. Although HD 97300 is in the spotlight for now, the very dust that makes it so hard to miss heralds the birth of additional, potentially scene-stealing, future stars.

NGC 346, the brightest star-forming region in the neighboring Small Magellanic Cloud galaxy, some 210,000 light-years away from Earth. The light, wind and heat given off by massive stars have dispersed the glowing gas within and around this star cluster, forming a surrounding wispy nebular structure that looks like a cobweb. NGC 346 is located in the constellation Tucana (the Toucan) and spans approximately 200 light-years. This particular image was obtained using the Wide Field Imager instrument at the 2.2-metre MPG/ESO telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile. Images like this help astronomers chronicle star birth and evolution, while offering glimpses of how stellar development influences the appearance of the cosmic environment over time. This is an enhanced color image based on three different broadband filters (B, V, R), as well as a narrowband filter (H-alpha, shown in blue). The field of view is about 30 arcminutes wide.

Turbulent region around the ring-shaped nebula DEM L 299 in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way system. It was produced by combining three monochromatic images obtained in December 2001 with the Wide-Field-Imager (WFI) at the ESO/MPG 2.2-m telescope at the La Silla Observatory. The sky field measures 33.3 x 33.0 arcmin ; the original pixel size (in the FullRes version) is 0.238 arcsec. North is up and East is left. The colored rings seen near some of the brighter stars in the field result from light reflections in the telescope optics.


Crosseyed & Painless Please wear a mask
On November 14th, early morning risers around planet Earth were treated to a waning Moon low in the east as the sky grew bright before dawn. From the Island of Ortigia, Syracuse, Sicily, Italy this simple snapshot found the slender sunlit crescent just before sunrise. Never wandering far from the Sun in Earth's sky, inner planets Venus and Mercury shared the calm seaside view. Also in the frame, right of the line-up of Luna and planets, is bright star Spica, alpha star of the constellation Virgo and one of the 20 brightest stars in Earth's night. Tomorrow the Moon will be New. Image by Kevin Saragozza.

The Heart and Soul nebulae are seen in this infrared mosaic from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE. The image covers an area of the sky over ten times as wide as the full moon and eight times as high (5.5 x 3.9 degrees) in the constellation Cassiopeia.
Located about 6,000 light-years from Earth, the Heart and Soul nebulae form a vast star-forming complex that makes up part of the Perseus spiral arm of our Milky Way galaxy. The nebula to the right is the Heart, designated IC 1805 and named after its resemblance to a human heart. To the left is the Soul nebula, also known as the Embryo nebula, IC 1848 or W5. The Perseus arm lies further from the center of the Milky Way than the arm that contains our sun. The Heart and Soul nebulae stretch out nearly 580 light-years across, covering a small portion of the diameter of the Milky Way, which is roughly 100,000 light-years across.
The two nebulae are both massive star-making factories, marked by giant bubbles that were blown into surrounding dust by radiation and winds from the stars. WISE's infrared vision allows it to see into the cooler and dustier crevices of clouds like these, where gas and dust are just beginning to collect into new stars. These stars are less than a few million of years old -- youngsters in comparison to stars like the sun, which is nearly 5 billion years old.
Also visible near the bottom of this image are two galaxies, Maffei 1 and Maffei 2. Both galaxies contain billions of stars and, at about 10 million light-years away, are well outside our Milky Way yet relatively close compared to most galaxies. Maffei 1 is the bluish elliptical object and Maffei 2 is the spiral galaxy.

This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image of the cluster Westerlund 2 and its surroundings has been released to celebrate Hubble’s 25th year in orbit and a quarter of a century of new discoveries, stunning images and outstanding science.
The image’s central region, containing the star cluster, blends visible-light data taken by the Advanced Camera for Surveys and near-infrared exposures taken by the Wide Field Camera 3. The surrounding region is composed of visible-light observations taken by the Advanced Camera for Surveys.

Glowing brightly about 160 000 light-years away, the Tarantula Nebula is the most spectacular feature of the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy to our Milky Way. This image from VLT Survey Telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile shows the region and its rich surroundings in great detail. It reveals a cosmic landscape of star clusters, glowing gas clouds and the scattered remains of supernova explosions.

This colorful new image from the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile shows the star cluster NGC 3590. These stars shine brightly in front of a dramatic landscape of dark patches of dust and richly hued clouds of glowing gas. This small stellar gathering gives astronomers clues about how these stars form and evolve — as well as giving hints about the structure of our galaxy's pinwheeling arms.


"A man with no vices is a man with no virtues"
On November 14th, early morning risers around planet Earth were treated to a waning Moon low in the east as the sky grew bright before dawn. From the Island of Ortigia, Syracuse, Sicily, Italy this simple snapshot found the slender sunlit crescent just before sunrise. ......
Thanks @CrazyDiamond ... that Image by Kevin Saragozza sure is a beauty ... just makes me want to be there with my vape collection and a little wine and music ... 🇮🇹


Crosseyed & Painless Please wear a mask
Here's something I've only come across now...STEVEs. What's creating these long glowing streaks in the sky? No one is sure. Known as Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancements (STEVEs), these luminous light-purple sky ribbons may resemble regular auroras, but recent research reveals significant differences. A STEVE's great length and unusual colors, when measured precisely, indicate that it may be related to a subauroral ion drift (SAID), a supersonic river of hot atmospheric ions thought previously to be invisible. Some STEVEs are now also thought to be accompanied by green picket fence structures, a series of sky slats that can appear outside of the main auroral oval that does not involve much glowing nitrogen. Image by Krista Trinder.

Most star clusters are singularly impressive. Open clusters NGC 869 and NGC 884, however, could be considered doubly impressive. Also known as "h and chi Persei", this unusual double cluster, shown above, is bright enough to be seen from a dark location without even binoculars. Although their discovery surely predates recorded history, the Greek astronomer Hipparchus notably cataloged the double cluster. The clusters are over 7,000 light years distant toward the constellation of Perseus, but are separated by only hundreds of light years. In addition to being physically close together, the clusters' ages based on their individual stars are similar - evidence that both clusters were likely a product of the same star-forming region. Image by Greg Polanski.

This isn't one of the "pretty" images that we all like, however, it's science and thought I'd pass it along. I've known about gravitational lensing for a while now and understand it; this is more form those who have heard of it but don't know what it is...of course this is just a brief description, but the image helps one to understand about what gravitational lensing does.
This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image features the galaxy LRG-3-817, also known as SDSS J090122.37+181432.3. The galaxy, its image distorted by the effects of gravitational lensing, appears as a long arc to the left of the central galaxy cluster.
Gravitational lensing occurs when a large distribution of matter, such as a galaxy cluster, sits between Earth and a distant light source. As space is warped by massive objects, the light from the distant object bends as it travels to us and we see a distorted image of it. This effect was first predicted by Einstein’s general theory of relativity.
Strong gravitational lenses provide an opportunity for studying properties of distant galaxies, since Hubble can resolve details within the multiple arcs that are one of the main results of gravitational lensing. An important consequence of lensing distortion is magnification, allowing us to observe objects that would otherwise be too far away and too faint to be seen. Hubble makes use of this magnification effect to study objects beyond those normally detectable with the sensitivity of its 2.4-meter-diameter primary mirror, showing us the most distant galaxies humanity has ever encountered.

Back to the "pretty" lol. This image covers a field of 0.5° x 0.5° in the Southern constellation of Norma (The Level) and in the direction of the "Great Attractor". This region is at an angular distance of about 7° from the main plane of the Milky Way, i.e. less than 15 times the width of the image shown. In this color composite, the foreground stars in the Milky Way mostly appear as whitish spots (the "crosses" around some of the brighter stars are caused by reflections in the telescope optics). Many background galaxies are also seen. They form a huge cluster (ACO 3627) with a number of bright galaxies near the center — they stand out by their larger size and yellowish color. In order to facilitate transport over the Web, this image has been compressed by a factor of four from its original size (8500 x 8250 pixels). North is up and East is left.

Two galaxies, about 50 million light-years away, are locked in a galactic embrace — literally. The Seyfert galaxy NGC 1097, in the constellation of Fornax (The Furnace), is seen in this image taken with the VIMOS instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT). A comparatively tiny elliptical companion galaxy, NGC 1097A, is also visible in the top left. There is evidence that NGC 1097 and NGC 1097A have been interacting in the recent past.
Although NGC 1097 seems to be wrapping its companion in its spiral arms, this is no gentle motherly giant. The larger galaxy also has four faint jets — too extended and faint to be seen in this image — that emerge from its center, forming an X-shaped pattern, and which are the longest visible-wavelength jets of any known galaxy. The jets are thought to be the remnants of a dwarf galaxy that was disrupted and cannibalized by the much larger NGC 1097 up to a few billion years ago.
These unusual jets are not the galaxy’s only intriguing feature. As previously mentioned, NGC 1097 is a Seyfert galaxy, meaning that it contains a supermassive black hole in its center. However, the core of NGC 1097 is relatively faint, suggesting that the central black hole is not currently swallowing large quantities of gas and stars. Instead, the most striking feature of the galaxy’s center is the ring of bright knots surrounding the nucleus. These knots are thought to be large bubbles of glowing hydrogen gas about 750–2500 light-years across, ionized by the intense ultraviolet light of young stars, and they indicate that the ring is a site of vigorous star formation
With this distinctive central star-forming ring, and the addition of numerous bluish clusters of hot, young stars dotted through its spiral arms, NGC 1097 makes a stunning visual object.


Crosseyed & Painless Please wear a mask
We haven't visited the Big Guy in a while so why not some Jovian images from the Juno probe...
Jupiter Blues
The Juno spacecraft captured this image when the spacecraft was only 11,747 miles (18,906 kilometers) from the tops of Jupiter’s clouds — that’s roughly as far as the distance between New York City and Perth, Australia. The color-enhanced image, which captures a cloud system in Jupiter’s northern hemisphere, was taken on Oct. 24, 2017 at 10:24 a.m. PDT (1:24 p.m. EDT) when Juno was at a latitude of 57.57 degrees (nearly three-fifths of the way from Jupiter’s equator to its north pole) and performing its ninth close flyby of the gas giant planet. Because of the Juno-Jupiter-Sun angle when the spacecraft captured this image, the higher-altitude clouds can be seen casting shadows on their surroundings. The behavior is most easily observable in the whitest regions in the image, but also in a few isolated spots in both the bottom and right areas of the image. The spatial scale in this image is 7.75 miles/pixel (12.5 kilometers/pixel).

Jovian Tempest
The image was taken on Oct. 24, 2017 at 10:32 a.m. PDT (1:32 p.m. EDT). At the time the image was taken, the spacecraft was about 6,281 miles (10,108 kilometers) from the tops of the clouds of Jupiter at a latitude of 41.84 degrees. The storm is rotating counter-clockwise with a wide range of cloud altitudes. The darker clouds are expected to be deeper in the atmosphere than the brightest clouds. Within some of the bright “arms” of this storm, smaller clouds and banks of clouds can be seen, some of which are casting shadows to the right side of this picture (sunlight is coming from the left). The bright clouds and their shadows range from approximately 4 to 8 miles (7 to 12 kilometers) in both widths and lengths. These appear similar to the small clouds in other bright regions Juno has detected and are expected to be updrafts of ammonia ice crystals possibly mixed with water ice. The spatial scale in this image is 4.2 miles/pixel (6.7 kilometers/pixel).

Intricate Clouds of Jupiter
The color-enhanced image was taken as Juno performed its twelfth close flyby of Jupiter. At the time the image was taken, the spacecraft was about 7,659 miles (12,326 kilometers) from the tops of the clouds of the planet at a northern latitude of 50.2 degrees.

Jupiter's North Equatorial Belt
Colorful swirling clouds in Jupiter's North Equatorial Belt practically fill this image from NASA's Juno spacecraft. This is the closest image captured of the Jovian clouds during this recent flyby of the gas giant planet. The color-enhanced image was taken as the spacecraft performed its 16th close flyby of Jupiter. At the time, Juno was about 2,100 miles (3,400 kilometers) from the planet's cloud tops, at approximately 14 degrees north latitude. In other words, the spacecraft was about as close to Jupiter as San Francisco is to Chicago, which is quite close when racing over a planet that's 11 times wider than Earth.


Crosseyed & Painless Please wear a mask
This wide-field image shows the Milky Way stretching across the southern sky. The beautiful Carina Nebula (NGC 3372) is seen at the right of the image glowing in red. It is within this spiral arm of our Milky Way that the bright star cluster NGC 3603 resides. At the center of the image is the constellation of Crux (The Southern Cross). The bright yellow/white star at the left of the image is Alpha Centauri, in fact a system of three stars, at a distance of about 4.4 light-years from Earth. The star Alpha Centauri C, Proxima Centauri, is the closest star to the Solar System.

This image combines NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope observations with data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory. As well as the electric blue ram pressure stripping streaks seen emanating from ESO 137-001, a giant gas stream can be seen extending towards the bottom of the frame, only visible in the X-ray part of the spectrum.

This close-up Hubble view of the Meathook Galaxy (NGC 2442) focuses on the more compact of its two asymmetric spiral arms as well as the central regions. The spiral arm was the location of a supernova that exploded in 1999. These observations were made in 2006 in order to study the aftermath of this supernova. Ground-based data from MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope were used to fill out parts of the edges of this image.

NGC 2477 (also known as Caldwell 71) is an open cluster in the constellation Puppis. It contains about 300 stars, and was discovered by Abbe Lacaille in 1751.The cluster's age has been estimated at about 700 million years.
NGC 2477 is a stunning cluster, almost as extensive in the sky as the full moon. It has been called "one of the top open clusters in the sky", like a highly-resolved globular cluster without the dense center characteristic of globular clusters.

This picture was created from images forming part of the Digitized Sky Survey 2. It shows the rich region of sky around the young open star cluster NGC 2547 in the southern constellation of Vela (The Sail).
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