Poll: Astronomy Picture of the Week for 2011 December 4-10

See new, spectacular, or mysterious sky images.

Please vote for the TWO best APODs (image and text) of December 4-10

Poll ended at Fri Dec 16, 2011 8:32 am

A Memorable Aurora Over Norway
192
36%
Jupiter Rotation Movie from Pic du Midi
95
18%
Kepler 22b: An Almost Earth Orbiting an Almost Sun
52
10%
Sh2-239: Celestial Impasto
83
15%
Eclipsed Moon in the Morning
76
14%
Vesta Rocks
42
8%
 
Total votes: 540

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owlice
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Poll: Astronomy Picture of the Week for 2011 December 4-10

Post by owlice » Mon Dec 12, 2011 8:32 am

_______________________________________________________________

Please vote for the TWO best Astronomy Pictures of the Day (image and text) of December 4-10, 2011.
(Repeated APODs are not included in the poll.)

All titles are clickable and link to the original APOD page.

We ask for your help in choosing an APOW as this helps Jerry and Robert create "year in APOD images" review lectures, create APOM and APOY polls that can be used to create a free PDF calendar at year's end, and provides feedback on which images and APODs were relatively well received. You can select two top images for the week.

We are very interested in why you selected the APODs you voted for, and enthusiastically welcome your telling us why by responding to this thread.

Thank you!
_______________________________________________________________

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It was one of the most memorable auroras of the season. There was green light, red light, and sometimes a mixture of the two. There were multiple rays, distinct curtains, and even an auroral corona. It took up so much of the sky. In the background were stars too numerous to count, in the foreground a friend trying to image the same sight. The scene was captured with a fisheye lens around and above Tromsø, Norway, last month. With the Sun becoming more active, next year might bring even more spectacular aurora.


Image Credit & Copyright: S2P / IMCCE / OPM / JL Dauvergne et al.
Observe the graceful twirl of the Solar System's largest planet. Many interesting features of Jupiter's enigmatic atmosphere, including dark bands and light zones, can be followed in detail. A careful inspection will reveal that central clouds rotate slightly faster than clouds toward the poles. The famous Great Red Spot is visible at first but soon rotates out of view, only to return near the movie's end. Other smaller storm systems ocassionally appear. As large as Jupiter is, it rotates in only 10 hours. Our small Earth, by comparison, takes 24 hours to complete a spin cycle. The above high-resolution time-lapse movie was captured over the past year by the one-meter Telescope at the Pic du Midi Observatory in the French Pyrenees. Since hydrogen and helium gas are colorless, and those elements compose most of Jupiter's expansive atmosphere, what trace elements create the observed colors of Jupiter's clouds remains unknown.

It's the closest match to Earth that has yet been found. Recently discovered planet Kepler 22b has therefore instantly become the best place to find life outside our Solar System. The planet's host star, Kepler 22, is actually slightly smaller and cooler than the Sun, and lies 600 light-years from Earth toward the constellation of the Swan (Cygnus). The planet, Kepler 22b, is over twice the radius of the Earth and orbits slightly closer in, but lies in the habitable zone where liquid water could exist on the surface. Pictured above is an artist's depiction of how Kepler 22b might appear to an approaching spaceship, in comparison to the inner planets of our Solar System. Whether Kepler 22b actually contains water or life is currently unknown. A SETI project, however, will begin monitoring Kepler 22b for signs of intelligence.

The cosmic brush of star formation composed this alluring mix of dust and dark nebulae. Cataloged as Sh2-239 and LDN 1551, the region lies near the southern end of the Taurus molecular cloud complex some 450 light-years distant. Stretching for nearly 3 light-years, the canvas abounds with signs of embedded young stellar objects driving dynamic outflows into the surrounding medium. Included near the center of the frame, a compact, tell-tale red jet of shocked hydrogen gas is near the position of infrared source IRS5, known to be a system of protostars surrounded by dust disks. Just below it are the broader, brighter wings of HH 102, one of the region's many Herbig-Haro objects, nebulosities associated with newly born stars. Estimates indicate that the star forming LDN 1551 region contains a total amount of material equivalent to about 50 times the mass of the Sun.

Tomorrow, December 10, the Full Moon will slide through planet Earth's shadow in a total lunar eclipse. The entire eclipse sequence, including 51 minutes of totality, will be visible from Asia and Australia, but moonwatchers in Europe and Africa will miss out on the beginning partial phases because for them, the eclipse will start before moonrise. In central and western North America the earlier phases of the eclipse will be in progress as the Moon sets. In fact, while those in the east will miss out, North Americans far enough west could see a scene very much like this one, with a mostly eclipsed Moon low and near the western horizon during morning twilght. This morning twilight view of another lunar eclipse approaching its total phase at moonset was captured in 2008 on February 21, from the Zagros Mountains of Iran.

These colorful images are of thin slices of meteorites viewed through a polarizing microscope. Part of the group classified as HED meteorites for their mineral content (Howardite, Eucrite, Diogenite), they likely fell to Earth from 4 Vesta, the mainbelt asteroid currently being explored by NASA's Dawn spacecraft. Why are they thought to be from Vesta? Because the HED meteorites have visible and infrared spectra that match the spectrum of that small world. The hypothesis of their origin on Vesta is also consistent with data from Dawn's ongoing observations. Excavated by impacts, the diogenites shown here would have originated deep within the crust of Vesta. Similar rocks are also found in the lower crust of planet Earth. A sample scale is indicated by the white bars, each 2 millimeters long.


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Anthony Barreiro
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Re: Poll: Astronomy Picture of the Week for 2011 December 4-

Post by Anthony Barreiro » Tue Dec 13, 2011 6:06 pm

Another difficult poll. The Aurora, Jupiter rotation video, and eclipsed moon setting over the mountain are all lovely. Too bad I can't vote for all three.
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owlice
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Re: Poll: Astronomy Picture of the Week for 2011 December 4-

Post by owlice » Tue Dec 13, 2011 9:08 pm

Vesta totally rocks! It gets one of my votes; that was the easy one! Harder is the second vote. Hmmm....
A closed mouth gathers no foot.

kguillot

Re: Poll: Astronomy Picture of the Week for 2011 December 4-

Post by kguillot » Tue Dec 13, 2011 11:00 pm

My class was in awe of the Aurora picture and the movie that was linked to it(incredible). A true inspiration for rural south Georgia students!