APOLLO LANDING SITES PHOTOGRAPHED: NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has returned its first imagery of Apollo landing sites. The pictures show lunar module descent stages, scientific instruments and even 40-year-old foot trails made by astronauts walking across the dusty lunar surface: full story.
IMPACT ON JUPITER? "Jupiter has been hit by something similar to the Shoemaker-Levy 9 impacts in 1994," reports astrophotographer Anthony Wesley. "There is a jet black circular impact mark near its south pole that I imaged tonight from my observatory in Murrumbateman, Australia." South is up in this snapshot of the feature:
"I have imagery of that same location from 2 nights earlier without the impact mark so this is a very recent event," he adds. "This image shows that the material has already begun to spread out in a fan shape on one side, and should be rapidly pulled apart by the fast jetstream winds. I'm sure this will generate some interest around the astronomy community, as impacts like this are rare. I recorded a lot of footage, and will be generating more images and a rotation animation."
Amateur astronomers around the world should train their telescopes on Jupiter tonight to monitor the progress of this possible impact event. Stay tuned for more images and updates.
WAITING FOR THE ECLIPSE: On July 22nd, the longest solar eclipse of the 21st century will take place in Asia. Traveling phtographer Olivier Staiger took this picture from Shanghai, where he is waiting for the lights to go out:
"The high skyscraper with the hole is the Shanghai World Financial Center, the other one is the Jin Mao building," says Staiger. "The sun halo was caused by a hazy layer of icy clouds hanging over the city."
Shanghai is the largest city in China with a population greater than 20 million. On Wednesday, the Moon's shadow will linger over the great metropolis for nearly six full minutes, giving residents a stunning and lengthy view of the Sun's ghostly corona. In addition to Shanghai, the path of totality crosses a number of other large cities in India and China--e.g., Surat, Vadodara, Bhopal, Varanasi, Chengdu, Chongqing, Wuhan, Hefei, Hangzhou--each with populations numbering in the millions. This could be the best-observed solar eclipse in human history.
Stay tuned for pictures, and meanwhile enjoy these animated eclipse maps created by graphic artist Larry Koehn.
2009 Noctilucent Photo Gallery
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