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December 12, 2016 - A Cosmic Crash Diet

A Cosmic Crash Diet  Located about 8,000 light-years away within the constellation Scorpius is an emission nebula known as NGC 6357. It is a vast stellar nursery where some of the most massive stars ever discovered in our galaxy have recently been born. One of these, a stellar behemoth called Pismis 24-1 (seen here near the center of the image) was once thought to contain over 200 times the mass of our Sun. But more detailed observations with the Hubble Space Telescope cut the star’s supersized mass in half. Using the telescope’s Advanced Camera for Surveys, it was discovered that the brilliant light from Pismis 24-1 is in fact coming from two—if not three or more—separate stars. But although Pismis 24-1 may not be as big as we thought, each of its stars could still be a hefty 100 times as massive as the Sun.

Image credit: NASA / ESA / Jesœs Ma­z Apellÿniz (Instituto de astrof­sica de Andaluc­a, Spain)

Weekly Calendar

December 12-18, 2016

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History


Moon phase Monday 12

Moon at perigee

1961: OSCAR 1 launched, first amateur radio satellite
1970: Italian ground crew becomes first to launch satellite for America, Explorer 42

Moon phase Tuesday 13

Full Moon 7:05 PM ET
Geminid meteor shower
Aldebaran 0.5° south of Moon

2001: Final drop test of the X-38 Crew Return Vehicle prototype

Moon phase Wednesday 14

Geminid meteor shower

1546: Tycho Brahe born
1962: Mariner 2 first planet flyby (Venus)
1972: Apollo 17 astronaut Gene Cernan becomes last human to walk on Moon
2013: Chang'e-3 spacecraft lands on Moondeploys Yutu rover

Moon phase Thursday 15

Ceres appears stationary

1965: Gemini VI launched
1970: Venera 7 makes first landing on Venus
1984: Vega 1 launched to study Venus and Halley’s Comet
2003: National Air & Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center opens
2010: Soyuz TMA-20 launched carrying ISS Expedition 26/27 crew
2015: Soyuz TMA-19M launched carrying ISS Expedition 46/47 crew

Moon phase Friday 16

1857: E. E. Barnard born
1965: Pioneer 6 launched
1976: Last two Saturn V moon rockets donated to museums

Moon phase Saturday 17

1903: First powered flight, by Orville Wright
1979: First successful test of all three Space Shuttle main engines
2012: GRAIL A & B spacecraft impact Moon

Moon phase Sunday 18

Regulus 1° north of Moon

1999: Terra spacecraft launched

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