NGC 6744 Big Brother to the Milky Way

Desert Gypsy's picture, 6/29/13, Marc Boucher

This image from NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer shows NGC 6744, one of the galaxies most similar to our Milky Way in the local universe. This ultraviolet view highlights the vast extent of the fluffy spiral arms, and demonstrates that star formation can occur in the outer regions of galaxies. The galaxy is situated in the constellation of Pavo at a distance of about 30 million light-years.

NGC 6744 is bigger than the Milky Way, with a disk stretching 175,000 light-years across. A small, distorted companion galaxy is located nearby, which is similar to our galaxy's Large Magellanic Cloud. This companion, called NGC 6744A, can be seen as a blob in the main galaxy's outer arm, at upper right.

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July 2013 guide to the five visible planets

Desert Gypsy's picture, 7/1/13, and

Saturn and rings

Two planets appear in the July evening sky all month long: Venus and Saturn. Venus beams in the west at dusk, and sets roughly one and one-half hours after sunset all month long at mid-northern latitudes. Saturn shines moderately high in the south to southwest at nightfall and stays out all evening long. While these two worlds should be pretty easy to spot in the evening sky all throughout July 2013, the morning planets won’t really become very noticeable until the second half of the month.

The waxing crescent moon the the dazzling planet Venus adorn the evening twilight on July 10.

Meteor Activity Outlook for June 29-July 5, 2013

Desert Gypsy's picture, 7/1/13,

Meteor season finally gets going in July for the northern hemisphere. The first half of the month will be much like June. After the 15th though, both sporadic and shower rates increase significantly. For observers in the southern hemisphere, sporadic rates will be falling but the overall activity will increase with the arrival of the Delta Aquariids during the last third of the month.

Cave Art Reveals Ancient View of Cosmos

Desert Gypsy's picture - 6/27/13, Miriam Kramer

The image drawn in this black charcoal pictograph found in a Tennessee cave is also found on prehistoric, religious artifacts.
CREDIT: Jan Simek, Alan Cressler, Nicholas Herrmann and Sarah Sherwood / Antiquity Publications LTD.


Some of the oldest art in the United States maps humanity's place in the cosmos, as aligned with an ancient religion.

A team of scientists has uncovered a series of engravings and drawings strategically placed in open air and within caves by prehistoric groups of Native American settlers that depict their cosmological understanding of the world around them.


Solar watch: Earth hit by back to back geomagnetic storms

Desert Gypsy's picture 6/28/13

STRONG GEOMAGNETIC STORM IN PROGRESS: A geomagnetic storm is in progress on June 28-29 as Earth passes through a region of south-pointing magnetism in the solar wind. The storm has sparked Northern Lights photographed in the USA as far south as Kansas and many many other US states. Christian Begeman sends this picture from a farm outside Hartford, South Dakota:

"A clear sky allowed me to the Northern Lights dancing in southeast South Dakota around the midnight hour tonight," says Begeman. "It was quite the show."



Weekend Stargazing: Celestial Scorpion Reigns in Night Sky

Desert Gypsy's picture 6/28/13, Joe Rao

There's a giant scorpion hovering overhead, but have no fear. This creepy crawler is actually the constellation Scorpius. It's all sparkle and no sting.

In his book "The Stars in Our Heaven – Myths and Fables," (Pantheon Books, 1948) author Peter Lum writes: "The scorpion is essentially a creature of darkness, a furtive little animal that lurks in the shadows, hides under stones or in any dark crevice and cannot bear to face the light … only at night does it come out in search of its prey. Although seldom fatal (its sting) is extremely painful; hence the scorpion is usually disliked, feared and avoided by anyone who has ever come in contact with him."


Eyes on the Sky: June 24 thru June 30

Desert Gypsy's picture 6/23/13


Published on Jun 23, 2013

 Lyra the Harp is a small constellation that can be found easily in the summer sky due to it being anchored by one of the brightest stars in the sky. It is also filled with fascinating double stars, which are easy to find and observe. Look for Sheliak, Epsilon Lyrae and Delta Lyrae during summer months with binoculars or a telescope. Also, learn where Venus and Saturn are in the evenings. See what's up in the night sky every week with "Eyes on the Sky" videos, astronomy made easy.

Interstellar Gas Clouds Seed New Planets With Building Blocks of DNA”

Desert Gypsy's picture 6/24/13


During the past decade, astrochemists have found that DNA molecules, the fundamental building blocks of life, find their origins not on Earth, but in the Cosmos. They are the languange of the Universe –the information they inherited comes from the stars and the cosmic ecology that formed them.

In February, 2013, scientists using the National Science Foundation’s Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in West Virginia to study a giant cloud of gas some 25,000 light-years from Earth, near the center of our Milky Way Galaxy, announced that they had discovered a molecule thought to be a precursor to a key component of DNA and another that may have a role in the formation of the amino acid alanine.

When is the next Blue Moon?

Desert Gypsy's picture, 6/25/13, Deborah Byrd

There are different definitions for Blue Moon. By popular acclaim, the Blue Moon refers to the second of two full moons to occur in the same calendar month. A Blue Moon is also regarded as the third of four full moons in a single season – a season being defined as the time period between a solstice and an equinox, or vice versa. Or, someday, you might see an actual blue-colored moon. The next Blue Moon will fall on August 20-21, 2013. It’ll be a Blue Moon by the seasonal definition, that is, the third of four full moons to take place in a season, in this case between the June 2013 solstice and September equinox. The last Blue Moon by this definition happened on November 21, 2010.

The next Blue Moon by the second-full-moon-in-a-calendar-month definition will be on July 31, 2015. The first full moon of July 2015 will be on July 1, 2015. Previously, the last monthly Blue Moon happened on August 31, 2012.

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The summer solstice, stars & constellations

Desert Gypsy's picture - 6/17/13



The last few days of spring are this week, and that means summer constellation observing!  The night sky has shifted from the area of sky we saw in spring, thanks to Earth's revolution carrying it another 90 degrees around the Sun.  The places many constellations in a better place to view both them and the objects they contain, such as Ursa Minor, Draco, Cepheus, Cygnus, Aquila, Lyra, Hercules, Scutum, Sagittarius and Scorpius.  Though some of these shapes have only 3rd magnitude or fainter stars, the brighter stars of summer can guide the way - such as the Summer Triangle asterism.  Learn all about the summer sky in this week's video.



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