Apollo in 1969.
Shuttle in 1981.
Nothing in 2011.

Our space program would look awesome to anyone living backwards through time.

Neil deGrasse Tyson (via whats-out-there)

Messier 53 - Globular Cluster in Coma Berenices

Discovered by Johann Elert Bode in 1775 and catalogued by Charles Messier, M53 is one of the furthest globular clusters from the galactic plane. As such, it is an excellent object to study seeing that globular clusters are ancient  remnants of a bygone era in the evolution of our galaxy.

Top: Wide-View - Siggi Kohlert

Bottom: Close-Up - NASA


This is the most detailed map yet of our place in the universe

"In a fascinating new study for Nature, a team of scientists mapped thousands of galaxies in our immediate vicinity, and discovered that the Milky Way is part of a jaw-droppingly massive “supercluster” of galaxies that they named Laniakea.

This structure is much, much, much bigger than astronomers had previously realized. Laniakea contains more than 100,000 galaxies, stretches 500 million light years across, and looks something like this (the Milky Way is just a speck located on one of its fringes on the right):

It’s hard to wrap one’s head around how enormous this is. Each of those points of light is an individual galaxy. Each galaxy contains millions, billlions, or even trillions of stars. Oh, and this all is just our little local corner of an even broader universe. There are many other galaxy superclusters out there.

So how did the researchers figure out this structure existed — and how did they distinguish it from other superclusters?


Keep reading at Vox

Messier 52 - Open Cluster in Cassiopeia

Discovered and catalogued in 1774 by the French comet-hunter Charles Messier, M52 is a relatively bright object easily visible with binoculars. Being an open cluster, the stars of M52 formed from the same primordial gas, and thus have the same chemical composition and age. Due to interstellar effects, it is extremely difficult to determine the distance to M52, leaving an estimate of about 3,000 to 7,000 light-years.

Top: Wide-Field - Siggi Kohlert

Bottom: Close-Up - 2MASS/NASA


Fig. 111. Astronomy for the Use of Schools and Academies. 1882.


Fig. 111. Astronomy for the Use of Schools and Academies. 1882.

Messier 51 - The Whirlpool Galaxy

With it’s fantastically vivid dust lanes and HII regions (reddish-pink), M51 is one of the jewels of the Messier Catalogue, compiled by Charles Messier. It is located within the constellation of Canes Venatici, near Bootes. M51 was the first ever observed nebula (before we knew they were island galaxies) to feature spiral arms. It’s nearby companion is being influenced by M51 via a gravitational pull. M51 is undergoing significant star formation, as well as stellar-death, as evidenced by the two supernovae observed over the past decade. It also has an active super-massive black hole in its centre. Both amateurs and professionals alike can harvest the raw beauty of this most spectacular galaxy.

Top: Wide-Field - Chase Preuninger

Middle: Close-Up - NASA/ESA

Bottom: Visible/IR - NASA/ESA


Thanks everyone who has followed my blog! Awwww science!

Sadly, I am without internet for a few days. But not to worry! I’ve got some more Messier goodies queued up!

When I get internet (I’m on my mobile), I’ll make a proper celebratory post - so keep vigilant for some awesome science in the near future!*

If you have any questions about science or life or whatever - please leave me a note!

You’re all awesome! Keep on sharing the science!

*may change depending on your relative velocity!

Messier 50 - Open Cluster in Monoceros

M50 was discovered by G. D. Cassini before 1711 and catalogued by Charles Messier in 1772. It is commonly noted for it’s supposed “heart-shaped” figure. An open cluster is a loose collection of new stars which have formed from the same primordial gas. It is quite bright, so take a look with some binoculars!

Top: Wide-Field - D.P. Waid

Bottom: Close-Up - F. Espenak

Messier 49 - Elliptical Galaxy in Virgo

M49, discovered and catalogued by Charles Messier in 1771, is an elliptical galaxy. Such a galaxy is composed of dead and dying stars, with no ongoing star-formation. With a characteristic emission of x-rays from the core of the galaxy, the existence of a super-massive black hole has been suggested. There are also two candidates for smaller black holes as well, called stellar-mass black holes. M49 is the first member of the Virgo cluster of galaxies to be discovered.

Top: Wide-Field - Siggi Kohlert

Bottom: Close-Up - Siggi Kohlert

Messier 48 - Open Cluster in Hydra

M48 was discovered and catalogued by the French comet-hunter Charles Messier in 1771. Such an open cluster is relatively young, estimated to about 300 million years. These clusters are the aftermath of star-formation, a violent event that occurs after massive gas clouds contract to create stars. Young stars are akin to a 5 year old - a lot of emotional explosions and violent outbursts (but without the emotion part!). As these clusters age, the biggest and bluest stars die first, leaving a more loosely collected region of redder stars, which appear much more like the background of the night sky. M48 is visible under the darkest skies, so give it a look!

Top: Wide-Field - Palomar Observatory

Bottom: Close-Up - NOAO

On this quiz, I asked you to find the determinant of a 2x3 matrix. Some of you, to my great amusement, actually tried to do this.
Linear Algebra professor  (via mathprofessorquotes)


Best View Yet of Merging Galaxies in Distant Universe
Check out this awesome article from Astronomy.com:
An international team of astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA), among other telescopes, has obtained the best view yet of a collision between two galaxies when the universe was only half its current age.
Check out the article to learn more about how what one scientist called “natural lenses created by the universe” helped to see this.
Unfortunately, a galactic collision is projected to happen between the Milky Way and Andromeda - but don’t worry, not for another 4 billion years. Check out a simulation video here

Jockey: Supporting Greatness Commercial feat. Buzz Aldrin doing what he does best - plantin’ flags for ‘merica.

Warning: This video contains absolutely no scientific value. In fact, it may just make you stupider.

Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious. If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.
Carl Sagan, Cosmos


NGC 4414 

Sombrero Galaxy

Whirlpool Galaxy

Credit: NASA/Hubble