Poll: Astronomy Picture of the Year for 2010

See new, spectacular, or mysterious sky images.

Please vote for the THREE best APODs (image and text)

Poll ended at Tue Jan 25, 2011 6:03 am

Andromeda Island Universe
210
5%
The Known Universe
273
7%
Mars and a Colorful Lunar Fog Bow
151
4%
M78 and Reflecting Dust Clouds in Orion
115
3%
Detailed View of a Solar Eclipse Corona
320
8%
NGC 602 and Beyond
135
3%
Ash and Lightning Above an Icelandic Volcano
431
11%
Spiral Galaxy NGC 3190 Almost Sideways
106
3%
Ghost Panel and Milky Way
222
6%
Hydrogen in M51
182
5%
Shaping NGC 6188
85
2%
A Milky Way Shadow at Loch Ard Gorge
343
9%
Earth and Moon from MESSENGER
272
7%
An Extraordinary Spiral from LL Pegasi
185
5%
Venus Just After Sunset
76
2%
A Supercell Thunderstorm Cloud Over Montana
443
11%
Martian Moon Phobos from Mars Express
250
6%
M81 and Arp's Loop
168
4%
 
Total votes: 3967

User avatar
owlice
Guardian of the Codes
Posts: 8386
Joined: Wed Aug 04, 2004 4:18 pm
Location: Washington, DC

Poll: Astronomy Picture of the Year for 2010

Post by owlice » Thu Jan 20, 2011 6:03 am

________________________________________________________________

This is it! You've looked at APOD all year, voted in 48 polls, cast 24,361 votes, and now, it's time to select the Astronomy Picture of the Year for 2010!

Please vote for the three best APODs (image and text); there are 18 APODs in this poll due to ties in the underlying APOW and APOM polls. All titles are clickable and link to the original APOD page.

Thank you!
________________________________________________________________
The most distant object easily visible to the eye is M31, the great Andromeda Galaxy some two and a half million light-years away. But without a telescope, even this immense spiral galaxy - spanning over 200,000 light years - appears as a faint, nebulous cloud in the constellation Andromeda. In contrast, details of a bright yellow nucleus and dark winding dust lanes, are revealed in this digital telescopic image. Narrow band image data, recording emission from hydrogen atoms, shows off the reddish star-forming regions dotting gorgeous blue spiral arms and young star clusters While even casual skygazers are now inspired by the knowledge that there are many distant galaxies like M31, astronomers seriously debated this fundamental concept in the 20th century. Were these "spiral nebulae" simply outlying components of our own Milky Way Galaxy or were they instead "island universes" -- distant systems of stars comparable to the Milky Way itself? This question was central to the famous Shapley-Curtis debate of 1920, which was later resolved by observations of M31 in favor of Andromeda, island universe.
Click to play embedded YouTube video.
What would it look like to travel across the known universe? To help humanity visualize this, the American Museum of Natural History has produced a modern movie featuring many visual highlights of such a trip. The video starts in Earth's Himalayan Mountains and then dramatically zooms out, showing the orbits of Earth's satellites, the Sun, the Solar System, the extent of humanities first radio signals, the Milky Way Galaxy, galaxies nearby, distant galaxies, and quasars. As the distant surface of the microwave background is finally reached, radiation is depicted that was emitted billions of light years away and less than one million years after the Big Bang. Frequently using the Digital Universe Atlas, every object in the video has been rendered to scale given the best scientific research in 2009, when the video was produced. The film has similarities to the famous Powers of Ten video that has been a favorite of many space enthusiasts for a generation.
Even from the top of a volcanic crater, this vista was unusual. For one reason, Mars was dazzlingly bright two weeks ago, when this picture was taken, as it was nearing its brightest time of the entire year. Mars, on the far upper left, is the brightest object in the above picture. The brightness of the red planet peaked last week near when Mars reached opposition, the time when Earth and Mars are closest together in their orbits. Arching across the lower part of the image is a rare lunar fog bow. Unlike a more commonly seen rainbow, which is created by sunlight reflected prismatically by falling rain, this fog bow was created by moonlight reflected by the small water drops that compose fog. Although most fog bows appear white, all of the colors of the rainbow were somehow visible here. The above image was taken from high atop Haleakala, a huge volcano in Hawaii, USA.
An eerie blue glow and ominous columns of dark dust highlight M78 and other bright reflection nebula in the constellation of Orion. The dark filamentary dust not only absorbs light, but also reflects the light of several bright blue stars that formed recently in the nebula. Of the two reflection nebulas pictured above, the more famous nebula is M78, in the image center, while NGC 2071 can be seen to its lower left. The same type of scattering that colors the daytime sky further enhances the blue color. M78 is about five light-years across and visible through a small telescope. M78 appears above only as it was 1600 years ago, however, because that is how long it takes light to go from there to here. M78 belongs to the larger Orion Molecular Cloud Complex that contains the Great Nebula in Orion and the Horsehead Nebula.
Only in the fleeting darkness of a total solar eclipse is the light of the solar corona easily visible. Normally overwhelmed by the bright solar disk, the expansive corona, the sun's outer atmosphere, is an alluring sight. But the subtle details and extreme ranges in the corona's brightness, although discernible to the eye, are notoriously difficult to photograph. Pictured above, however, using multiple images and digital processing, is a detailed image of the Sun's corona taken during the 2008 August total solar eclipse from Mongolia. Clearly visible are intricate layers and glowing caustics of an ever changing mixture of hot gas and magnetic fields. Bright looping prominences appear pink just above the Sun's limb. The next total solar eclipse will be in July but will only be visible in a thin swath of Earth crossing the southern Pacific Ocean and South America.
Near the outskirts of the Small Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy some 200 thousand light-years distant, lies 5 million year young star cluster NGC 602. Surrounded by natal gas and dust, NGC 602 is featured in this stunning Hubble image of the region. Fantastic ridges and swept back shapes strongly suggest that energetic radiation and shock waves from NGC 602's massive young stars have eroded the dusty material and triggered a progression of star formation moving away from the cluster's center. At the estimated distance of the Small Magellanic Cloud, the picture spans about 200 light-years, but a tantalizing assortment of background galaxies are also visible in the sharp Hubble view. The background galaxies are hundreds of millions of light-years or more beyond NGC 602.
Why did the recent volcanic eruption in Iceland create so much ash? Although the large ash plume was not unparalleled in its abundance, its location was particularly noticeable because it drifted across such well populated areas. The Eyjafjallajökull volcano in southern Iceland began erupting on March 20, with a second eruption starting under the center of a small glacier on April 14. Neither eruption was unusually powerful. The second eruption, however, melted a large amount of glacial ice which then cooled and fragmented lava into gritty glass particles that were carried up with the rising volcanic plume. Pictured above two days ago, lightning bolts illuminate ash pouring out of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano.
Some spiral galaxies are seen almost sideways. NGC 3190, one such galaxy, is the largest member of the Hickson 44 Group, one of the nearer groups of galaxies to our own Local Group of galaxies. Pictured above, finely textured dust lanes surround the brightly glowing center of this picturesque spiral. Gravitational tidal interactions with other members of its group have likely caused the spiral arms of NGC 3190 to appear asymmetric around the center, while the galactic disk also appears warped. NGC 3190 spans about 75,000 light years across and is visible with a small telescope toward the constellation of the Lion (Leo).
Long before Stonehenge was built, well before the Dead Sea Scrolls were written, ancient artists painted life-sized figures on canyon walls in Utah, USA -- but why? Nobody is sure. The entire panel of figures, which dates back about 7,000 years, is called the Great Gallery and was found on the walls of Horseshoe Canyon in Canyonlands National Park. The humans who painted them likely hunted Mammoths. The unusual fuzziness of largest figure led to this mural section's informal designation as the Holy Ghost Panel, although the intended attribution and societal importance of the figure are really unknown. The above image was taken during a clear night in March. The oldest objects in the above image are not the pictographs, however, but the stars of our Milky Way Galaxy far in the background, some of which are billions of years old.
Perhaps the original spiral nebula, M51 is a large galaxy, over 60,000 light-years across, with a readily apparent spiral structure. Also cataloged as NGC 5194, M51 is a part of a well-known interacting galaxy pair, its spiral arms and dust lanes clearly sweeping in front of companion galaxy NGC 5195 (top). This dramatically processed color composite combines M51 image data from the Calar Alto Observatory's 1.2 meter telescope. The data include long exposures through a narrow hydrogen alpha filter that trace emission from atomic hydrogen. Reddish hydrogen emission regions, called HII regions, are the regions of intense star formation seen to lie mainly along M51's bright spiral arms. Intriguingly, this composite also shows red hydrogen emission structures in the faint features extending even beyond NGC 5195, toward the top of the frame.
Dark shapes with bright edges winging their way through dusty NGC 6188 are tens of light-years long. The emission nebula is found near the edge of an otherwise dark large molecular cloud in the southern constellation Ara, about 4,000 light-years away. Formed in that region only a few million years ago, the massive young stars of the embedded Ara OB1 association sculpt the fantastic shapes and power the nebular glow with stellar winds and intense ultraviolet radiation. The recent star formation itself was likely triggered by winds and supernova explosions, from previous generations of massive stars, that swept up and compressed the molecular gas. A false-color Hubble palette was used to create the this sharp close-up image and shows emission from sulfur, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms in red, green, and blue hues. At the estimated distance of NGC 6188, the picture spans about 200 light-years.
Have you ever seen the Milky Way's glow create shadows? To do so, conditions need to be just right. First and foremost, the sky must be relatively clear of clouds so that the long band of the Milky Way's central disk can be seen. The surroundings must be very near to completely dark, with no bright artificial lights visible anywhere. Next, the Moon cannot be anywhere above the horizon, or its glow will dominate the landscape. Last, the shadows can best be caught on long camera exposures. In the above image taken in Port Campbell National Park, Victoria, Australia, seven 15-second images of the ground and de-rotated sky were digitally added to bring up the needed light and detail. In the foreground lies Loch Ard Gorge, named after a ship that tragically ran aground in 1878. The two rocks pictured are the remnants of a collapsed arch and are named Tom and Eva after the only two people who survived that Loch Ard ship wreck. A close inspection of the water just before the rocks will show shadows in light thrown by our Milky Way galaxy. Low clouds are visible moving through the serene scene in this movie.
What does Earth look like from the planet Mercury? The robotic spacecraft MESSENGER found out as it looked toward the Earth during its closest approach to the Sun about three months ago. The Earth and Moon are visible as the double spot on the lower left of the above image. Now MESSENGER was not at Mercury when it took the above image, but at a location from which the view would be similar. From Mercury, both the Earth and its comparatively large moon will always appear as small circles of reflected sunlight and will never show a crescent phase. MESSENGER has zipped right by Mercury three times since being launched in 2004, and is scheduled to enter orbit around the innermost planet in March of 2011.
What created the strange spiral structure on the left? No one is sure, although it is likely related to a star in a binary star system entering the planetary nebula phase, when its outer atmosphere is ejected. The huge spiral spans about a third of a light year across and, winding four or five complete turns, has a regularity that is without precedent. Given the expansion rate of the spiral gas, a new layer must appear about every 800 years, a close match to the time it takes for the two stars to orbit each other. The star system that created it is most commonly known as LL Pegasi, but also AFGL 3068. The unusual structure itself has been cataloged as IRAS 23166+1655. The above image was taken in near- infrared light by the Hubble Space Telescope. Why the spiral glows is itself a mystery, with a leading hypothesis being illumination by light reflected from nearby stars.
Is that Venus or an airplane? A common ponderable for sky enthusiasts is deciding if that bright spot near the horizon is the planet Venus. Usually, an airplane will show itself by moving significantly in a few moments. Venus will set only slowly as the Earth turns. Still, the identification would be easier if Venus did not keep shifting its position each night. Pictured above, Venus was captured on 44 different nights during 2006 and 2007 over the Bolu mountains in Turkey, when Earth's sister planet appeared exclusively in the evening sky. The average spacing of the images was about five days, while the images were always taken with the Sun about seven degrees below the horizon. That bright spot toward the west in your evening sky this month might be neither Venus nor an airplane, but Mars.
Is that a spaceship or a cloud? Although it may seem like an alien mothership, it's actually a impressive thunderstorm cloud called a supercell. Such colossal storm systems center on mesocyclones -- rotating updrafts that can span several kilometers and deliver torrential rain and high winds including tornadoes. Jagged sculptured clouds adorn the supercell's edge, while wind swept dust and rain dominate the center. A tree waits patiently in the foreground. The above supercell cloud was photographed in July west of Glasgow, Montana, USA, caused minor damage, and lasted several hours before moving on.
Why is Phobos so dark? Phobos, the largest and innermost of two Martian moons, is the darkest moon in the entire Solar System. Its unusual orbit and color indicate that it may be a captured asteroid composed of a mixture of ice and dark rock. The above picture of Phobos near the limb of Mars was captured last month by the robot spacecraft Mars Express currently orbiting Mars. Phobos is a heavily cratered and barren moon, with its largest crater located on the far side. From images like this, Phobos has been determined to be covered by perhaps a meter of loose dust. Phobos orbits so close to Mars that from some places it would appear to rise and set twice a day, but from other places it would not be visible at all. Phobos' orbit around Mars is continually decaying -- it will likely break up with pieces crashing to the Martian surface in about 50 million years.
One of the brightest galaxies in planet Earth's sky and similar in size to the Milky Way, big, beautiful spiral M81 lies 11.8 million light-years away in the northern constellation Ursa Major. This deep image of the region reveals details in the bright yellow core, but at the same time follows fainter features along the galaxy's gorgeous blue spiral arms and sweeping dust lanes. It also follows the expansive, arcing feature, known as Arp's loop, that seems to rise from the galaxy's disk at the right. Studied in the 1960s, Arp's loop has been thought to be a tidal tail, material pulled out of M81 by gravitational interaction with its large neighboring galaxy M82. But a recent investigation demonstrates that much of Arp's loop likely lies within our own galaxy. The loop's colors in visible and infrared light match the colors of pervasive clouds of dust, relatively unexplored galactic cirrus only a few hundred light-years above the plane of the Milky Way. Along with the Milky Way's stars, the dust clouds lie in the foreground of this remarkable view. M81's dwarf companion galaxy, Holmberg IX, can be seen just above and left of the large spiral. On the sky, this image spans about 0.5 degrees, about the size of the Full Moon.
A closed mouth gathers no foot.

raimon99
Asternaut
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Oct 01, 2010 3:33 pm

Re: Poll: Astronomy Picture of the Year for 2010

Post by raimon99 » Sat Jan 22, 2011 10:32 pm

Hum..."Astronomy Picture of the Year 2010"
In the tree choices with a high score, 2 are terristrial image (Volcan and storm) and the 3rd is a video, not a "ASTRONOMY" picture....but is true that the 3 highest score are superb photo and video....It's a personnal opinion.
A other point, if I clean my cookies, I could vote as many times as I want, then the vote could be biased ...not very secure.

User avatar
owlice
Guardian of the Codes
Posts: 8386
Joined: Wed Aug 04, 2004 4:18 pm
Location: Washington, DC

Re: Poll: Astronomy Picture of the Year for 2010

Post by owlice » Sat Jan 22, 2011 11:37 pm

Understanding storm systems and volcanoes on Earth helps us to understand storm systems and volcanoes on other planets; APOD has always included such images in its definition of "astronomy picture." And yes, the images that are in the lead are indeed superb! But then, so are all the others!

And you are right: the voting is not very secure. We're not picking a president, just an APOY. I hope and expect that people vote and use their three votes, but only once. In the past, I've pulled polls on which repeated voting campaigns have been waged. I would hate to have to pull this poll because of repeated voting, as a lot of time and effort by many, especially those who cast the 25,000 votes that led to this poll, has been expended for this.
A closed mouth gathers no foot.

Fermion
Asternaut
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Jan 25, 2011 6:10 pm

Re: Poll: Astronomy Picture of the Year for 2010

Post by Fermion » Tue Jan 25, 2011 6:16 pm

Not sure if this is the way it's supposed to be done, but my votes are for these photos:

Detailed View of a Solar Eclipse Corona

Ash and Lightning Above an Icelandic Volcano

Earth and Moon from MESSENGER

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 20705
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

Re: Poll: Astronomy Picture of the Year for 2010

Post by bystander » Tue Jan 25, 2011 7:29 pm

Fermion wrote:Not sure if this is the way it's supposed to be done
Sorry, but you were a little late, the polls are closed.
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

User avatar
owlice
Guardian of the Codes
Posts: 8386
Joined: Wed Aug 04, 2004 4:18 pm
Location: Washington, DC

Astronomy Picture of the Year 2010: The Results Show

Post by owlice » Thu Jan 27, 2011 10:48 pm

______________________________________________________________________

3,967 votes were cast and the results are in: you people are crazy! How could you NOT have picked Earth and Moon from MESSENGER?!?!?! Sure, sure, go for the drama and excitement of a huge storm cloud (the winning image), or the power of a volcano (the close runner-up), and leave the picture *I* wanted to win, the one that shows us how tiny and lonely our almost-double-planet system is in our vast but cosmically tiny solar system, tied for fifth!!!!

Now I'm grumpy.

Just kidding. Earthbound picture typically do well in polls of APOD viewers, and I'm not at all surprised that A Supercell Thunderstorm Cloud Over Montana has come first in this first-ever Asterisk APOY poll. We all turn our eyes to the heavens... and if we see something like that headed for us, we take cover! (Or take pictures. Or both!). And Ash and Lightning Above an Icelandic Volcano, the very close second to that wicked massive monster cloud, is another demonstration of Earth awesomeness.

Some complain that these pictures are not astronomy pictures. As I said in another post, understanding the storm systems and volcanoes here on Earth helps us to understand storm systems and volcanoes on other planets. And clearly, the people -- you -- have spoken, and even though you're crazy (Earth and Moon from MESSENGER, tied for fifth!.... ~~ sigh~~), you like Earthbound pics. Earth's a very cool planet. So here, I present to you, in order, and without any grumpiness, the Astronomy Picture of the Year and the runners-up. Thank you for your participation!

~ Owlice
______________________________________________________________________
---- Astronomy Picture of the Year, 2010 ----
Is that a spaceship or a cloud? Although it may seem like an alien mothership, it's actually a impressive thunderstorm cloud called a supercell. Such colossal storm systems center on mesocyclones -- rotating updrafts that can span several kilometers and deliver torrential rain and high winds including tornadoes. Jagged sculptured clouds adorn the supercell's edge, while wind swept dust and rain dominate the center. A tree waits patiently in the foreground. The above supercell cloud was photographed in July west of Glasgow, Montana, USA, caused minor damage, and lasted several hours before moving on.
--- Astronomy Picture of the Year Runners-up, 2010 ---
Why did the recent volcanic eruption in Iceland create so much ash? Although the large ash plume was not unparalleled in its abundance, its location was particularly noticeable because it drifted across such well populated areas. The Eyjafjallajökull volcano in southern Iceland began erupting on March 20, with a second eruption starting under the center of a small glacier on April 14. Neither eruption was unusually powerful. The second eruption, however, melted a large amount of glacial ice which then cooled and fragmented lava into gritty glass particles that were carried up with the rising volcanic plume. Pictured above two days ago, lightning bolts illuminate ash pouring out of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano.
Have you ever seen the Milky Way's glow create shadows? To do so, conditions need to be just right. First and foremost, the sky must be relatively clear of clouds so that the long band of the Milky Way's central disk can be seen. The surroundings must be very near to completely dark, with no bright artificial lights visible anywhere. Next, the Moon cannot be anywhere above the horizon, or its glow will dominate the landscape. Last, the shadows can best be caught on long camera exposures. In the above image taken in Port Campbell National Park, Victoria, Australia, seven 15-second images of the ground and de-rotated sky were digitally added to bring up the needed light and detail. In the foreground lies Loch Ard Gorge, named after a ship that tragically ran aground in 1878. The two rocks pictured are the remnants of a collapsed arch and are named Tom and Eva after the only two people who survived that Loch Ard ship wreck. A close inspection of the water just before the rocks will show shadows in light thrown by our Milky Way galaxy. Low clouds are visible moving through the serene scene in this movie.
Only in the fleeting darkness of a total solar eclipse is the light of the solar corona easily visible. Normally overwhelmed by the bright solar disk, the expansive corona, the sun's outer atmosphere, is an alluring sight. But the subtle details and extreme ranges in the corona's brightness, although discernible to the eye, are notoriously difficult to photograph. Pictured above, however, using multiple images and digital processing, is a detailed image of the Sun's corona taken during the 2008 August total solar eclipse from Mongolia. Clearly visible are intricate layers and glowing caustics of an ever changing mixture of hot gas and magnetic fields. Bright looping prominences appear pink just above the Sun's limb. The next total solar eclipse will be in July but will only be visible in a thin swath of Earth crossing the southern Pacific Ocean and South America.
Click to play embedded YouTube video.
What would it look like to travel across the known universe? To help humanity visualize this, the American Museum of Natural History has produced a modern movie featuring many visual highlights of such a trip. The video starts in Earth's Himalayan Mountains and then dramatically zooms out, showing the orbits of Earth's satellites, the Sun, the Solar System, the extent of humanities first radio signals, the Milky Way Galaxy, galaxies nearby, distant galaxies, and quasars. As the distant surface of the microwave background is finally reached, radiation is depicted that was emitted billions of light years away and less than one million years after the Big Bang. Frequently using the Digital Universe Atlas, every object in the video has been rendered to scale given the best scientific research in 2009, when the video was produced. The film has similarities to the famous Powers of Ten video that has been a favorite of many space enthusiasts for a generation.
What does Earth look like from the planet Mercury? The robotic spacecraft MESSENGER found out as it looked toward the Earth during its closest approach to the Sun about three months ago. The Earth and Moon are visible as the double spot on the lower left of the above image. Now MESSENGER was not at Mercury when it took the above image, but at a location from which the view would be similar. From Mercury, both the Earth and its comparatively large moon will always appear as small circles of reflected sunlight and will never show a crescent phase. MESSENGER has zipped right by Mercury three times since being launched in 2004, and is scheduled to enter orbit around the innermost planet in March of 2011.
A closed mouth gathers no foot.

User avatar
rstevenson
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Posts: 2645
Joined: Fri Mar 28, 2008 1:24 pm
Location: Dartmouth, NS, Canada

Re: Poll: Astronomy Picture of the Year for 2010

Post by rstevenson » Fri Jan 28, 2011 3:10 am

Now I'm grumpy.
You think you've got it bad -- the three I voted for didn't even make the runners-up list. :shock:

In keeping with my rank here at the Asterisk*, here -- for those of you who strongly dislike terrestrial images -- is the winner rendered almost entirely in unEarthly images.
APOY1.jpg
Rob
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

User avatar
Ann
4725 Å
Posts: 11425
Joined: Sat May 29, 2010 5:33 am

Re: Poll: Astronomy Picture of the Year for 2010

Post by Ann » Fri Jan 28, 2011 3:30 am

Thanks for the image, Rob! good to see images of the heavens in a scene from the Earth! I'm sure I saw galaxies in there. I particularly liked the galaxy "signature" in the lower right corner! :D

Ann
Color Commentator