Seven Sisters: Pleiades
The Seven Sisters, also called the Pleiades or M45, is an open star cluster located about 400 light years away towards the constellation Taurus. It is about 13 light years across and is one of the brightest and closest star clusters to us.
The cluster contains over 3000 stars, most of which are considered middle aged. Surrounding the brighter stars are reflection nebulae, gas and dust reflecting the light from the stars. Also buried in the cluster are faint, low mass brown dwarf stars.
A NASA probe recently spotted the dazzling Pan-STARRS comet as it hurtled through space against the backdrop of a distant galaxy. Learn more!
Leaping “Aurora” Dog over Alaska
Our photographer, John Chumak, had his image featured as the NASA (APOD) Astronomy Picture of the Day!
Sometimes it is hard to believe what you see in the sky. While leading his annual aurora tour last month near Fairbanks in central Alaska, astrophotographer, John Chumack and his company saw a most unusual aurora. This bright aurora appeared to change into the shape of a jumping dog, complete with a curly tail. He was able to capture the fleeting natural apparition in the above image with a 15-second exposure through a wide-angle lens. By coincidence, he also captured a background sky filled with familiar highlights. Planets visible include bright Jupiter through the dog’s front legs and reddish Mars below the dog’s hind legs. Stars visible include the Big Dipper stars above the dog’s midsection and reddish Betelgeuse shining on the far right. This dog would not be following him home, however, and within a few minutes morphed into other shapes before the geomagnetic storm particles that created it shifted to strike the Earth elsewhere.
©John Chumak / Science Source
Nine Planets, Nine Panels - this beautiful oil painting depicts the nine planets of the solar system in nine panels arranged to form the shape of a single celestial body. It was created by Steve Gildea an artist and professor at the Merrimack School of Arts. You can see more of his art on his website at http://suite3d.com/.