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March 21, 2016 - Gazing at Medusa

Gazing at Medusa  Unlike its mythological namesake, this Medusa is safe to look at—no danger of instant fossilization! The Medusa Nebula, seen in an image from the Very Large Telescope, is several light-years across and 1,500 light-years away in the constellation Gemini. Its wispy tendrils are glowing clouds of hydrogen and oxygen, cast off by the aging star at the “eye” of the nebula and ionized by the powerful ultraviolet radiation it continues to emit. Eventually this star will end its hydrogen-fusing life and become a white dwarf, shrinking to about the size of the Earth and slowly radiating its remaining heat out into space. A similar fate awaits our Sun, so gazing at the Medusa Nebula is like looking five billion years into the future at how our solar system might appear from elsewhere in the galaxy.

Image credit: ESO

Weekly Calendar

March 21-27, 2016

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

 

Moon phase Monday 21

1965: Ranger 9 launched

Moon phase Tuesday 22

Jupiter 2° north of Moon

1982: STS-3 Columbia launched
1996: STS-76 Atlantis launched
1997: Comet Hale-Bopp closest approach to Earth

Moon phase Wednesday 23

Full Moon 8:01 AM ET
Mercury in superior conjunction

1749: Pierre Laplace born
1840
: John William Draper takes first photograph of Moon
1912: Wernher von Braun born
1965: Gemini III launched
2001: Mir space station reenters atmosphere

Moon phase Thursday 24

1893: Walter Baade born
1992: STS-45 Atlantis launched

Moon phase Friday 25

Good Friday

Saturn appears stationary
Moon at apogee

1655: Christiaan Huygens discovers Titan, moon of Saturn
1996: Comet Hyakutake closest approach to Earth
2000: IMAGE spacecraft launched

Moon phase Saturday 26

2009: Soyuz TMA-14 launched carrying ISS Expedition 19/20 crew

Moon phase Sunday 27

Easter Sunday

1969: Mariner 7 launched
1972: Venera 8 launched
1989: Contact lost with Phobos 2
1999: First Sea Launch mission
2015: Soyuz TMA-16M launched carrying ISS Expedition 43/44 crew

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