Science and nature

A butterfly nebula with a 3 light-year wingspan

I made the mistake of scrolling through my Twitter feed earlier. I saw the usual drama about a certain crazy person. I was about to go find a strong drink when I saw this amazing image of this butterfly nebula that I had to share.

The bright clusters and nebulae of planet Earth’s night sky are often named for flowers or insects. Though its wingspan covers over 3 light-years, NGC 6302 is no exception. With an estimated surface temperature of about 250,000 degrees C, the dying central star of this particular planetary nebula has become exceptionally hot, shining brightly in ultraviolet light but hidden from direct view by a dense torus of dust. This sharp close-up of the dying star’s nebula was recorded by the Hubble Space Telescope an

Who says science isn’t cool? Well, that crazy guy and his friends do but they don’t seem to have a handle on things anyway.

You can view the full resolution image of the Butterfly Nebula by clicking on this link. It is even more impressive up close.

Source: APOD: 2017 February 8 – The Butterfly Nebula from Hubble

Applications Science and nature

Astronomy for the Common Folk

Stargazing by xkcd

Love this comic by xkcd. They titled it “Stargazing“. I think I prefer “Astronomy for the Common Folk”.

On a related note, I was recently up at 2am with our son taking a walk in a nearby park to help him ease a persistent cough in the cool air and we were talking about the stars, Saturn’s rings and other bodies in our cosmic neighbourhood.

I bought the Star Walk 2 app (and, before that, Star Walk) and it is a great augmented reality app that gives you a sort of overlay over the stars you point your phone or tablet at. Great app to identify the things we see in the night sky. Another option is the Star Walk for Kids app which has more cartoonish imagery for kids.

Image credit: A Long Night Falls Over Saturn’s Rings from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, licensed CC BY 2.0