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Apollo 17 was launched on December 7, 1972. It was the final Apollo mission and the last time humans have flown beyond low Earth orbit.

Geologist Harrison Schmitt is at the Taurus-Littrow landing site. The Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) is in the background. Gene Cernan – the last man on the Moon – took the two photos used to make this mosaic image.

[Image Credit: NASA/Eugene Cernan]


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In Greenwich, England, the Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year for 2018 was announced. Brad Goldpaint of the USA was the winner for his exquisite photo "Transport the Soul".

It was the unanimous choice of the judges, one of whom said "Our planet is of extraordinary beauty and so is the entire Universe. Here we are, standing small, at the edge of a cliff, observing it all."

Last edited by Mona - Astronomy; 12/24/18 08:15 AM. Reason: Duplication

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The Cat's Eye Nebula (NGC 6543) is a planetary nebula made from material sloughed off by a dying sunlike star.

It also has an enormous halo of very faint gaseous material more than three light-years across. This probably formed tens of thousands of years ago in an earlier stage of the star's evolution.

[Image credit: Data: Michael Joner,  Romano Corradi, Hubble Legacy Archive Processing – Robert Gendler]


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Once again the Juno spacecraft provides an image of Jupiter's cloudtops with all the beauty and drama of a brilliant abstract painting.

Juno explores a slightly different part of Jupiter each time it comes close to the planet in its looping elliptical orbit.

[Image credit & copyright: NASA, Juno, SwRI, MSSS; Processing & License: Matt Brealey, Seán Doran]


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11

American astronomer Annie Jump Cannon was born on December 11, 1863.

She devised the Harvard Classification System for stars, and classified around a quarter of a million stars for the Henry Draper Catalog. It was said that she recognized stars the way other people remember faces.


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The Winter Hexagon is an impressive asterism of the northern winter sky.

An asterism is a reognizable group of stars that are part of one or more constellations. The Winter Hexagon is made up of six of the brightest stars in the sky: Sirius in Canis Major, Procyon in Canis Minor, Pollux in Gemini, Capella in Auriga, Aldebaran in Taurus and Rigel in Orion. Inside the hexagon is Orion's red giant Betelgeuse

[Credit & Copyright: Jerry Lodriguss]


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Beautiful dramatic scene in Kvaløya, near Tromsø, Norway when a Geminid fireball streaks through an auroral sky.

The photo was taken during the Geminid peak on December 13, 2009. The Northern Lights aren't likely to show up except for people in the far north. But in 2018 observers with a clear sky should see meteors - maybe even a bright fireball.

[Credit & Copyright: Bjørnar G. Hansen]


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China's Change'e-3 mission landed on the Moon on December 14, 2013.

It landed in the Sinus Iridum region and was the first unmanned soft landing on the Moon since the Soviet Union's Luna 24 sample return vehicle in 1976. The Chinese mission consisted of a lander and the rover Yutu (Jade Rabbit). Chang'e is a Chinese Moon goddess and Yutu was her pet.


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Shipwreck at Moonset , skyscape taken off the Skeleton Coast of Namibia.

Just look at that skyful of stars! And the Moon, low in the sky as it's setting, is reddened while brilliant Venus looks like it's a full Moon. It's so bright that it's light is even reflected in the water. And there's one more treat. Look above and to the right of Venus and you can see Jupiter.

[Credit & copyright: Vikas Chander]


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Comet 46P/Wirtanan - nicknamed the "Green Christmas Comet" - makes its closest approach to Earth on December 16.

The comet is a small short-period comet that visits every 5.4 years, but this is its closest visit for decades. It was the original target for Rosetta's comet mission. It may be bright enough to see with the naked eye, but that depends on local sky conditions.

[Photo credit: taken by Gerald Rhemann through a telescope in the dark skies Namibia on November 26, 2018]



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