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#938769 12/02/23 11:15 AM
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Astro Advent has a new picture every day until Christmas.

PS This is assuming no technical problems or other December disasters.
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A rock formation off the southern tip of Sicily was the dramatic center of three celestial objects. [Image credit & copyright: Giovanni Passalacqua][Text: Liz Coelho][APOD]

In a few days, Jupiter and Venus would be in a close conjunction. And although the Moon is crescent, its whole face is visible due to earthshine. The darker part is light reflected from Earth onto the Moon, so Earth also contributes a bit to this tableau.

Three Planets Rock

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Spiral galaxy NGC 2936 no longer looks like a spiral galaxy, having got too close to a massive elliptical galaxy and pulled out of shape. It's known as the Humming Bird galaxy, and is also listed as Arp 142 in the catalog of peculiar galaxies. [Image credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble, HLA][Processing & copyright: Basudeb Chakrabarti][APOD]

Click on the photo to see the Humming Bird, and below it, its nemesis NGC 2937.

The Hummingbird Galaxy

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The Perseids are an August meteor shower, peaking around the 13th of the month. Debris from comet Swift-Tuttle is the source of the shower. The meteors look as though they're coming from the constellation Perseus, which is why they're called the Perseids. [Image credit: David Kingham][Brian Ventrudo, Cosmic Pursuits]

Records of heightened August meteor activity go back over two thousand years, with the earliest accounts by Chinese astronomers.

2012 Perseids Meteor Shower over the Snowy Range in Wyoming

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Fantastic fireworks on Independence Day in Cocoa Beach, Florida. And it included a glorious Moon. [Image credit & copyright: Michael Seeley][APOD]

The Moon, also known as a Buck Moon, was near to the full lunar phase. It was just past perigee, the closest point to Earth in the Moon's orbit.

Fireworks vs Supermoon

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Sprites are a rarely seen phenomenon of the upper atmosphere. Triggered by lightning, the electrical discharges look like fireworks. Although they're sometimes called red lightning, it's not lightning, but a plasma.

The Chinese photographer Angel won the first prize in the Skyscapes category of the Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2023. She photographed the sprite at 5,000 meters of elevation in Tibet. Only the lower tendrils of the sprite are seen - overall it extends a long way up.

Grand Cosmic Fireworks

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In July 2023, the Central West Astronomical Society held its annual astrophotography competition. Amateur astronomers and photographers from around Australia were invited to take part in the competition, possibly achieving a prestigious "David Malin Award".

The overall winner was Jong Lee's "Rising Together". The citation read: “A single exposure reveals a breathtakingly beautiful composition: a twisted coastal tree framing the vast expanse of the Southern Ocean, bathed in the ethereal light of a rising moon, while the radiant core of the Milky Way completes this exquisite nightscape.”

Rising Together

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Historic Lick Observatory in California was the first permanent observatory built on a mountain top. It's located at the summit of Mount Hamilton near San Jose. Funded by millionaire James Lick, he is interred beneath the floor of the Great Refactor. [Image credit & copyright: Laurie Hatch][APOD]

When the rain clouds passed, the refractor was pointed toward a partially eclipsed Moon. The dim red lighting was to maintain an astronomers dark vision. The eclipse was 99.1% full - effectively at full. Near the end, the lunar disk created a colorful corona through lingering clouds. The clearing sky includes the Pleiades star cluster.

Great Refractor and Lunar Eclipse

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(1) Charged particles from the Sun may collide with atoms in Earth's atmosphere, creating auroras like those visible in green on the left of the image. (2) Earth is geologically active and covered with volcanoes. Near the image center is Fagradalsfjall volcano emitting hot gas in orange. (3) Human activity can also contribute. On the far right is the Svartsengi geothermal power plant emitting white gas plumes. [Image credit & copyright: Wioleta Gorecka][Text: Natalia Lewandowska][APOD]

The featured composition therefore highlights three different sky phenomena, including both natural and human-made phenomena.

A Triply Glowing Night Sky over Iceland

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The Cartwheel Galaxy is a ring galaxy about 500 million light-years away. (NOTE: not to be confused with the Pinwheel Galaxy in Ursa Major.) It's the dominant member of the Cartwheel Galaxy group of four. (Photo: James Webb Space Telescope) [Wikipedia]

The three companions are the smaller irregular blue Magellanic spiral; the yellow compact spiral with a tidal tail; and a more distant spiral which isn't in this photo.


Cartwheel Galaxy

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