Behold: NGC 7293, aka, the Helix Nebula – the brightest and closest example of a planetary nebula – the expanding, glowing shell of ionised gas created in the last days of a Sun-like star. One day, our own dear Sol might look like this. To wit:
Last Sunday, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched from from Kennedy Space Centre’s Launch Complex 39A. It would be back. To wit:
This 3 minute 20 second exposure traces the launch streak as seen over watery reflections from Port Canaveral, about 15 miles south of the launch. The rocket carried four astronauts en route to the International Space Station on the first flight of a NASA-certified commercial human spacecraft system. Dubbed Resilience, the astronauts’ Crew Dragon spacecraft successfully docked with the orbital outpost one day later, on Monday, November 16. At the conclusion of their six-month stay on the ISS, the Crew-1 astronauts will use their spacecraft to return to Earth. Of course about 9 minutes after launch the Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage returned to Earth, landing in the Atlantic Ocean on autonomous spaceport drone ship Just Read The Instructions.
Behold: NGC 2070, aka 30 Doradus, aka, the Tarantula nebula – a giant star forming region within the Large Megellanic Cloud near 1000 light years from side to side. You don’t want to accidentally stray in there. To wit:
About 180 thousand light-years away, it’s the largest, most violent star forming region known in the whole Local Group of galaxies. The cosmic arachnid sprawls across the top of this spectacular view, composed with narrowband filter 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 young cluster of massive stars, cataloged as R136, energize the nebular glow and shape the spidery filaments. Around the Tarantula are other star forming regions with young 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 centre. The rich field of view spans about 2 degrees or 4 full moons, in the southern constellation Dorado. But were the Tarantula Nebula closer, say 1,500 light-years distant like the local star forming Orion Nebula, it would take up half the sky.
Behold: NGC 5866, aka, M102, aka, ‘the Spindle’ – not the thinnestgalactic disk in the Universe but, seen edge-on from the perspective of our own Milky Way, pretty damn svelte all the same. to wit:
Classified as a lenticular galaxy, NGC 5866 has numerous and complex dust lanes appearing dark and red, while many of the bright stars in the disk give it a more blue underlying hue. The blue disk of young stars can be seen extending past the dust in the extremely thin galactic plane, while the bulge in the disk center appears tinged more orange from the older and redder stars that likely exist there. Although similar in mass to our Milky Way Galaxy, light takes about 60,000 years to cross NGC 5866, about 30 percent less than light takes to cross our own Galaxy. In general, many disk galaxies are very thin because the gas that formed them collided with itself as it rotated about the gravitational center. Galaxy NGC 5866 lies about 44 million light years distant toward the constellation of the Dragon (Draco).