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January 18, 2010 - Fox Fur for a Winter's Night

Fox Fur for a Winter’s Night Seeming to crawl across the sky on a cold winter’s night, the Fox Fur Nebula in the constellation Monoceros bears an uncanny resemblance to a fox leaping through a starry field as seen from above. With its pointed snout, ruffled fur, and windswept ears, the Fox Fur Nebula is an example of pareidolia: perceiving something significant in a random pattern. Pareidolia abounds in outer space, from constellations that resemble hunters and ships, to the “man” in the Moon or the “face” on a Martian mesa, but we experience it every day on Earth when puffy clouds resemble ducks, or religious icons appear on a piece of toast. As is often the case, reality is more impressive than fantasy: the Fox Fur is a giant star-forming region of energized dust and gas some 2,500 light years away.

Image credit: R. Jay GaBany / www.cosmotography.com

Weekly Calendar

January 18-24, 2010

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Moon phase Monday 18

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Jupiter 5° south of Moon

2002: Gemini South Observatory dedicated

Moon phase Tuesday 19

1747: Johann Bode born
1851: Jacobus Kapteyn born
1965: Gemini II launched
2006: New Horizons launched

Moon phase Wednesday 20

Uranus 6° south of Moon

1573: Simon Marius born
1930: Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin born
1966: Apollo A-004 launched, first flight test of CSM hardware
1978: Progress 1 launched

Moon phase Thursday 21

Moon phase Friday 22

1968: Apollo 5 launched
1978: First automatic resupply ship docking (Progress 1)
1992: STS-42 Discovery launched
1998: STS-89 Endeavour launched
2003: Pioneer 10’s last signal to Earth

Moon phase Saturday 23

First Quarter Moon 5:53 AM ET

Moon phase Sunday 24

1978: Cosmos 954 satellite reenters atmosphere over Canada
1985: STS-51C Discovery launched
1986: Voyager 2 flies past Uranus
1992: Magellan begins third mapping cycle of Venus

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.