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Major Fireball Meteor
The sky glows with soft pinkish colors of fading twilight in this serendipitous mountaintop vista. Taken in subfreezing temperatures, the thoughtfully composed photo shows snowy, rugged peaks seen from a mountain pass on November 14. Below lies the village of La Villa, Alta Badia in Italy's Dolomite Alps. Above the nestled village lights, the constellation Ursa Major hangs over the northern horizon. But most stunning is the intense fireball meteor. It was captured during the camera's exposure by chance as it flashed east to west across the northern horizon, under Ursa Major's familiar Big Dipper asterism. In fact, sightings of this major fireball meteor were widely reported in European skies, the most reported fireball event ever for planet Earth's American Meteor Society and the International Meteor Organization. The meteor's measured track over Germany is consistent with its origin near the active radiant of November's Taurid Meteor Shower. Taurid meteors are associated with dust from Encke's comet.
Image Credit: Ollie Taylor
The Tarantula Nebula
The Tarantula Nebula is more than a thousand light-years in diameter, a giant region within nearby satellite galaxy the Large Magellanic Cloud, about 180 thousand light-years away. The cosmic arachnid sprawls across this spectacular view composed with narrowband data centered on emission from ionized hydrogen and oxygen atoms. Within the Tarantula (NGC 2070), intense radiation, stellar winds and supernova shocks from the central cluster of massive stars, cataloged as R136, energize the nebular glow and shape the spidery filaments. Around the Tarantula are regions with star clusters, filaments, and blown-out bubble-shaped clouds. In fact, the frame includes the site of the closest supernova in modern times, SN 1987A, right of center. The rich field of view spans about 1 degree or 2 full moons, in the southern constellation Dorado. But were the Tarantula Nebula closer, say 1,500 light-years distant like the local Orion Nebula, it would take up half the sky.
Image Credit: Ignacio Diaz Bobillo
NGC 7789: Caroline's Rose
Found among the rich starfields of the Milky Way, star cluster NGC 7789 lies about 8,000 light-years away toward the constellation Cassiopeia. A late 18th century deep sky discovery of astronomer Caroline Lucretia Herschel, the cluster is also known as Caroline's Rose. Its flowery visual appearance in small telescopes is created by the cluster's nestled complex of stars and voids. Over 50 light-years across, Caroline's Rose spans about half a degree (the angular size of the Moon) near the center of the wide-field telescopic image.
Image Credit: Guillaume Seigneuret
The Pleiades Deep and Dusty
The well-known Pleiades star cluster is slowly destroying part of a passing cloud of gas and dust. The Pleiades is the brightest open cluster of stars on Earth's sky and can be seen from almost any northerly location with the unaided eye. Pressure from the stars' light significantly repels the dust in the surrounding blue reflection nebula, with smaller dust particles being repelled more strongly. A short-term result is that parts of the dust cloud have become filamentary and stratified. The featured deep image also captured Comet C/2015 ER61 (PanSTARRS) on the lower left.
Image Credit: Juan Carlos CasadoTWANEarth & StarsFECYT
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Titan - Saturn's Moon
We have good imagery of this moon, because Cassini spacecraft was flying around it from 2004 to 2013.
The moon has valleys, lakes, and mountains. But the lakes are from hydrocarbon, not water.
Most of the liquid is concentrated in one region of the moon, covering an area of 600 X 1100 miles. There are smaller lakes outside of this area, but they comprise only 3% of the moon's liquid.
Two major seas of Titan are called Kraken Mare and Ligeia Mare.
Recent attempts of Cassinni to probe the depth of a sea on Titan were successful. It was able to determine that the depth of the Ligia Mare is about 560 ft. Supposedly, the surface of the sea may be as smooth as the paint on a car, which made it possible for radars to peer through it.
Total volume of liquid hydrocarbon is now estimated to be around 2000 cubic miles, which is 40 times more than all of known oil reservoirs on Earth.
It's fascinating that we are able to actually see these other worlds up close, to see that they have remarkable surface features, that look similar to our Earth. It's just a moon, yet it has lakes, mountains, and valleys.
That doesn't mean that it is ready for colonization though. From the video animations made by NASA, you almost could feel ready to go for a swim in those blue-colored lakes. But don't jump in just yet, hydrocarbon is not good swimming material.
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