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The purpose of the Ozarks Amateur Astronomers Club is to create and foster public interest in astronomy through presentations and public observing nights.
April 29th 2011 NASA Open House

NASA observing night will be on Friday, April 29th, 2011, from 8:00 P.M. to 10:30 P.M., weather permitting. This is a wonderful opportunity to do some amazing observing under a dark sky! You will also have an opportunity to look through one of the university’s larger telescopes!

NASA Night is also one of our biggest fundraising nights, so if anyone is interested in briefly helping out, please let Kevin know. See this link for directions: - NASA Observing Night - - kevcollette


April 1st, 2011 - Observing Night and Club Meeting
We will be heading to Baker Observatory Friday night, April 1st, for a club observing night. We will be meeting there at the observatory at 8:00 PM but in anyone needs a ride let me know in advance so I can make sure we have enough cars available. I will be picking up those needing a ride from in front of Kemper Hall at 7:15 and leaving by 7:25. Those needing help finding Baker Observatory can follow me out from there. - Scott


Baker Observatory Clear Sky Chart:
This is an astronomers forecast showing when it will be cloudy or clear for the next two days at Baker Observatory. Clicking the image will take you to the image host along with more detailed information and forecasts.


NASA Watch - Leonard Nimoy
NASA Image of the Day
Image of the Day" image. International Space Station astronaut Terry Virts (@AstroTerry) tweeted this image of a Vulcan hand salute from orbit as a tribute to actor Leonard Nimoy, who died on Friday, Feb. 27, 2015. Nimoy played science officer Mr. Spock in the Star Trek series that served as an inspiration to generations of scientists, engineers and sci-fi fans around the world. Cape Cod and Boston, Massachusetts, Nimoy's home town, are visible through the station window. In 1976, NASA's space shuttle Enterprise rolled out of the Palmdale manufacturing facilities and was greeted by NASA officials and cast members from the 'Star Trek' television series. From left to right they are: NASA Administrator Dr. James D. Fletcher; DeForest Kelley, who portrayed Dr. "Bones" McCoy on the series; George Takei (Mr. Sulu); James Doohan (Chief Engineer Montgomery "Scotty" Scott); Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura); Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock); series creator Gene Roddenberry;  U.S. Rep. Don Fuqua (D.-Fla.); and, Walter Koenig (Ensign Pavel Chekov). NASA is mourning the passing today, Feb. 27, 2015, of actor Leonard Nimoy, most famous for his role as Star Trek's Vulcan science officer Mr. Spock. The sci-fi classic served as an inspiration for many at NASA over the years, and Nimoy joined other cast members at special NASA events and worked to promote NASA missions, as in this 2007 video he narrated before the launch of the Dawn mission to the asteroid belt. Nimoy also was there for the 1976 rollout of the shuttle Enterprise, named for the show's iconic spacecraft. Image Credit: NASA The galaxy pictured here is NGC 4424, located in the constellation of Virgo. It is not visible with the naked eye but has been captured here with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Although it may not be obvious from this image, NGC 4424 is in fact a spiral galaxy. In this image it is seen more or less edge on, but from above, you would be able to see the arms of the galaxy wrapping around its center to give the characteristic spiral form. In 2012, astronomers observed a supernova in NGC 4424 — a violent explosion marking the end of a star’s life. During a supernova explosion, a single star can often outshine an entire galaxy. However, the supernova in NGC 4424, dubbed SN 2012cg, cannot be seen here as the image was taken ten years prior to the explosion. Along the central region of the galaxy, clouds of dust block the light from distant stars and create dark patches. To the left of NGC 4424 there are two bright objects in the frame. The brightest is another, smaller galaxy known as LEDA 213994 and the object closer to NGC 4424 is an anonymous star in our Milky Way. European Space Agency Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Gilles Chapdelaine Apollo-Saturn 201 (AS-201), the first Saturn IB launch vehicle developed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), lifts off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 11:12 a.m. on Feb. 26, 1966. The AS-201 mission was an unmanned suborbital flight to test the Saturn 1B launch vehicle and the Apollo Command and Service Modules. This was the first flight of the S-IB and S-IVB stages, including the first flight test of the liquid-hydrogen/liquid oxygen-propelled J-2 engine in the S-IVB stage. During the thirty-seven minute flight, the vehicle reached an altitude of 303 miles and traveled 5,264 miles downrange. Image Credit: NASA From the International Space Station (ISS), European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti took this photograph of Chicago and posted it to social media on Feb. 19, 2015. She wrote, "How do you like #Chicago dressed for winter?" Crewmembers on the space station photograph the Earth from their unique point of view located 200 miles above the surface as part of the Crew Earth Observations program. Photographs record how the planet is changing over time, from human-caused changes like urban growth and reservoir construction, to natural dynamic events such as hurricanes, floods and volcanic eruptions. Astronauts have used hand-held cameras to photograph the Earth for more than 40 years, beginning with the Mercury missions in the early 1960s. The ISS maintains an altitude between 220 - 286 miles (354 - 460 km) above the Earth, and an orbital inclination of 51.6˚, providing an excellent stage for observing most populated areas of the world. Image Credit: NASA/ESA/Samantha Cristoforetti This self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle at the "Mojave" site, where its drill collected the mission's second taste of Mount Sharp. The scene combines dozens of images taken during January 2015 by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera at the end of the rover's robotic arm.  The pale "Pahrump Hills" outcrop surrounds the rover, and the upper portion of Mount Sharp is visible on the horizon.  Darker ground at upper right and lower left holds ripples of wind-blown sand and dust. An annotated version, Fig. A, labels several of the sites Curiosity has investigated during three passes up the Pahrump Hills outcrop examining the outcrop at increasing levels of detail. The rover used its sample-collecting drill at "Confidence Hills" as well as at Mojave, and in late February was assessing "Telegraph Peak" as a third drilling site. The view does not include the rover's robotic arm.  Wrist motions and turret rotations on the arm allowed MAHLI to acquire the mosaic's component images. The arm was positioned out of the shot in the images, or portions of images, that were used in this mosaic. This process was used previously in acquiring and assembling Curiosity self-portraits taken at sample-collection sites "Rocknest" (http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA16468), "John Klein" (http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA16937) and "Windjana" (http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA18390). Curiosity used its drill to collect a sample of rock powder from target "Mojave 2" at this site on Jan. 31, 2015.  The full-depth, sample-collection hole and the shallower preparation test hole beside it are visible in front of the rover in this self-portrait, and in more detail at http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA19115 .  The Mojave site is in the "Pink Cliffs" portion of the Pahrump Hills outcrop. The outcrop is an exposure of the Murray formation, which forms the basal geological layer of Mount Sharp.  Views of Pahrump Hills from other angles are at http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA19039 and the inset at http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/images/?ImageID=6968 . The frames showing the rover in this mosaic were taken during the 868th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity's work on Mars (Jan. 14, 2015).  Additional frames around the edges to extend the amount of terrain included in the scene were taken on Sol 882 (Jan. 29, 2015).  The frames showing the drill holes were taken on Sol 884 (Jan. 31, 2015).  For scale, the rover's wheels are 20 inches (50 centimeters) in diameter and about 16 inches (40 centimeters) wide.  The drilled holes in the rock are 0.63 inch (1.6 centimeters) in diameter. MAHLI was built by Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington. JPL designed and built the project's Curiosity rover. More information about Curiosity is online at http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS NASA astronaut Barry Wilmore works outside the International Space Station on the first of three spacewalks preparing the station for future arrivals by U.S. commercial crew spacecraft, Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015. Fellow spacewalker Terry Virts, seen reflected in the visor, shared this photograph on social media. The spacewalks are designed to lay cables along the forward end of the U.S. segment to bring power and communication to two International Docking Adapters slated to arrive later this year. The new docking ports will welcome U.S. commercial spacecraft launching from Florida beginning in 2017, permitting the standard station crew size to grow from six to seven and potentially double the amount of crew time devoted to research. The second and third spacewalks are planned for Wednesday, Feb. 25 and Sunday, March 1, with Wilmore and Virts participating in all three. Image Credit: NASA On Feb. 20, 1962, astronaut John H. Glenn, Jr., became the first American to orbit Earth. Launched from Cape Canaveral Launch Complex 14, Glenn's Mercury-Atlas 6 "Friendship 7" spacecraft completed a successful three-orbit mission, reaching a maximum altitude (apogee) of approximately 162 statute miles and an orbital velocity of approximately 17,500 miles per hour. The flight lasted a total of 4 hours, 55 minutes, and 23 seconds before the spacecraft splashed down in the ocean. This photograph of John Glenn during the Mercury-Atlas 6 spaceflight was taken by a camera onboard the spacecraft. Image Credit: NASA NASA's Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) observatories are processed for launch in a clean room at the Astrotech Space Operations facility in Titusville, Florida. MMS is an unprecedented NASA mission to study the mystery of how magnetic fields around Earth connect and disconnect, explosively releasing energy via a process known as magnetic reconnection. MMS consists of four identical spacecraft that work together to provide the first three-dimensional view of this fundamental process, which occurs throughout the universe. The mission observes reconnection directly in Earth's protective magnetic space environment, the magnetosphere. By studying reconnection in this local, natural laboratory, MMS helps us understand reconnection elsewhere as well, such as in the atmosphere of the sun and other stars, in the vicinity of black holes and neutron stars, and at the boundary between our solar system's heliosphere and interstellar space. MMS is a NASA mission led by the Goddard Space Flight Center. The instrument payload science team consists of researchers from a number of institutions and is led by the Southwest Research Institute. Launch of the four identical observatories aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is managed by Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Services Program. Liftoff is currently targeted for 10:44 p.m. EDT on March 12. Image Credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky Yet another potent winter storm battered the northeastern United States on Feb. 14-15, 2015. The nor'easter brought 12 to 20 inches (30 to 50 centimeters) of snow across much of eastern New England, along with tropical storm force winds over 60 miles (100 kilometers) per hour. The latest snowfall pushed Boston to its highest monthly total on record—58 inches and counting—and its third highest yearly snow total. This image shows the snow-covered northeastern states as observed on Feb. 16, 2015, by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite. Cloud streets over the Atlantic Ocean in both images hint at the potent winds blowing across the East Coast from the Canadian interior. Following the blizzard, temperatures dropped as low as -30 degrees Fahrenheit (-34° Celsius) in parts of New England. What the images do not show is snow depth. With the latest storm, nearly 8 feet (2.4 meters) of snow has fallen on the city of Boston in just three weeks. With temperatures persistently below freezing, very little snow has melted. According to National Climatic Data Center statistics the snow depth just south of Boston was roughly 42 inches (107 centimeters). Totals were above 30 inches (76 centimeters) in many locations in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. As of Feb. 17, the snow depth near Boston was greater than in all but two reported locations in Alaska. It was significantly higher than the notoriously snowy states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Only Buffalo, New York, had a higher snow pack. On Feb. 16-17, more snow and ice fell across the eastern United States from northern Mississippi all the way to Maine. Image Credit: NASA/Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Caption: Mike Carlowicz These two views of Ceres were acquired by NASA's Dawn spacecraft on Feb. 12, 2015, from a distance of about 52,000 miles (83,000 kilometers) as the dwarf planet rotated. The images have been magnified from their original size. The Dawn spacecraft is due to arrive at Ceres on March 6, 2015. Dawn's mission to Vesta and Ceres is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Dawn is a project of the directorate's Discovery Program, managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. UCLA is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Orbital ATK, Inc., of Dulles, Virginia, designed and built the spacecraft. JPL is managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. The framing cameras were provided by the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Göttingen, Germany, with significant contributions by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) Institute of Planetary Research, Berlin, and in coordination with the Institute of Computer and Communication Network Engineering, Braunschweig. The visible and infrared mapping spectrometer was provided by the Italian Space Agency and the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics, built by Selex ES, and is managed and operated by the Italian Institute for Space Astrophysics and Planetology, Rome. The gamma ray and neutron detector was built by Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico, and is operated by the Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Arizona. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA The delta plain of the Mississippi River is disappearing. The lobe-shaped arc of coastal land from the Chandeleur Islands in eastern Louisiana to the Sabine River loses a football field’s worth of land every hour. Put another way, the delta has shrunk by nearly 5,000 square kilometers (2,000 square miles) over the past 80 years. That’s as if most of Delaware had sunk into the sea. Though land losses are widely distributed across the 300 kilometer (200 mile) wide coastal plain of Louisiana, Atchafalaya Bay stands as a notable exception. In a swampy area south of Morgan City, new land is forming at the mouths of the Wax Lake Outlet and the Atchafalaya River. Wax Lake Outlet is an artificial channel that diverts some of the river’s flow into the bay about 16 kilometers (10 miles) west of where the main river empties. Both deltas are being built by sediment carried by the Atchafalaya River. The Atchafalaya is a distributary of the Mississippi River, connecting to the “Big Muddy” in south central Louisiana near Simmesport. Studies of the geologic history of the meandering Mississippi have shown that—if left to nature—most of the river’s water would eventually flow down the Atchafalaya. But the Old River Control Structure, built in the 1960s by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, ensures that only 30 percent of the Mississippi flows into the Atchafalaya River, while the rest of the keeps moving toward Baton Rouge and New Orleans. More information. Image Credit: NASA/Earth Observatory NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) enters the Lufthansa Technik hangar in Hamburg, Germany for its decadal inspection. Flight, aircraft maintenance, and science personnel from the Armstrong Flight Research Center worked alongside Lufthansa's 747 specialists to perform a wide range of inspections and maintenance. Water vapor in the Earth's atmosphere absorbs infrared radiation, preventing a large section of the infrared spectrum from reaching ground-based observatories. SOFIA is a heavily modified Boeing 747 Special Performance jetliner that flies at altitudes between 39,000 to 45,000 feet (12 to 14 km), above more than 99 percent of Earth's atmospheric water vapor giving astronomers the ability to study celestial objects at wavelengths that cannot be seen from ground-based observatories. More information on SOFIA. Image Credit: NASA/ Jeff Doughty A dark, snaking line across the lower half of the sun in this Feb. 10, 2015 image from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) shows a filament of solar material hovering above the sun's surface. SDO shows colder material as dark and hotter material as light, so the line is, in fact, an enormous swatch of colder material hovering in the sun's atmosphere, the corona. Stretched out, that line – or solar filament as scientists call it – would be more than 533,000 miles long. That is longer than 67 Earths lined up in a row. Filaments can float sedately for days before disappearing. Sometimes they also erupt out into space, releasing solar material in a shower that either rains back down or escapes out into space, becoming a moving cloud known as a coronal mass ejection, or CME. SDO captured images of the filament in numerous wavelengths, each of which helps highlight material of different temperatures on the sun. By looking at such features in different wavelengths and temperatures, scientists learn more about what causes these structures, as well as what catalyzes their occasional eruptions. Launched on Feb. 11, 2010 aboard a ULA Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory is designed to study the causes of solar variability and its impacts on Earth. The spacecraft's long-term measurements give solar scientists in-depth information to help characterize the interior of the sun, the sun's magnetic field, the hot plasma of the solar corona, and the density of radiation that creates the ionosphere of the planets. The information is used to create better forecasts of space weather needed to protect aircraft, satellites and astronauts living and working in space. Image Credit: NASA/SDO In the center of this image, taken with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, is the galaxy cluster SDSS J1038+4849 — and it seems to be smiling. You can make out its two orange eyes and white button nose. In the case of this “happy face”, the two eyes are very bright galaxies and the misleading smile lines are actually arcs caused by an effect known as strong gravitational lensing. Galaxy clusters are the most massive structures in the Universe and exert such a powerful gravitational pull that they warp the spacetime around them and act as cosmic lenses which can magnify, distort and bend the light behind them. This phenomenon, crucial to many of Hubble’s discoveries, can be explained by Einstein’s theory of general relativity. In this special case of gravitational lensing, a ring — known as an Einstein Ring — is produced from this bending of light, a consequence of the exact and symmetrical alignment of the source, lens and observer and resulting in the ring-like structure we see here. Hubble has provided astronomers with the tools to probe these massive galaxies and model their lensing effects, allowing us to peer further into the early Universe than ever before. This object was studied by Hubble’s Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) and Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) as part of a survey of strong lenses. A version of this image was entered into the Hubble’s Hidden Treasures image processing competition by contestant Judy Schmidt. Image Credit: NASA/ESA Caption: ESA > More information and image products European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti took this photograph from the International Space Station and posted it to social media on Jan. 30, 2015. Cristoforetti wrote, "A spectacular flyover of the Gulf of Aden and the Horn of Africa. #HelloEarth" Image Credit: NASA/ESA/Samantha Cristoforetti Galaxies can take many shapes and be oriented any way relative to us in the sky. This can make it hard to figure out their actual morphology, as a galaxy can look very different from different viewpoints. A special case is when we are lucky enough to observe a spiral galaxy directly from its edge, providing us with a spectacular view like the one seen in this picture of the week. This is NGC 7814, also known as the “Little Sombrero.” Its larger namesake, the Sombrero Galaxy, is another stunning example of an edge-on galaxy — in fact, the “Little Sombrero” is about the same size as its bright namesake at about 60,000 light-years across, but as it lies farther away, and so appears smaller in the sky. NGC 7814 has a bright central bulge and a bright halo of glowing gas extending outwards into space. The dusty spiral arms appear as dark streaks. They consist of dusty material that absorbs and blocks light from the galactic center behind it. The field of view of this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image would be very impressive even without NGC 7814 in front; nearly all the objects seen in this image are galaxies as well. European Space Agency Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA Acknowledgement: Josh Barrington On Feb. 5. 1971, the Apollo 14 crew module landed on the moon. The crew members were Captain Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr. (USN), commander; Major Stuart Allen Roosa (USAF), command module pilot; and Commander Edgar Dean Mitchell (USN), lunar module pilot. In this photo, Shepard stands by the Modular Equipment Transporter (MET). The MET was a cart for carrying around tools, cameras and sample cases on the lunar surface. Shepard can be identified by the vertical stripe on his helmet. After Apollo 13, the commander's spacesuit had red stripes on the helmet, arms, and one leg, to help identify them in photographs. Image Credit: NASA NASA's Curiosity Mars rover can be seen at the "Pahrump Hills" area of Gale Crater in this view from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.  Pahrump Hills is an outcrop at the base of Mount Sharp. The region contains sedimentary rocks that scientists believe formed in the presence of water. The location of the rover, with its shadow extending toward the upper right, is indicated with an inscribed rectangle. Figure A is an unannotated version of the image.  North is toward the top. The view covers an area about 360 yards (330 meters) across.  HiRISE made the observation on Dec. 13, 2014. At that time, Curiosity was near a feature called "Whale Rock."  A map showing the rover's path for the weeks leading up to that date is at http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/images/?ImageID=6884 .  The inset map at http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/images/?ImageID=6913 labels the location of Whale Rock and other features in the Pahrump Hills area. The bright features in the landscape are sedimentary rock and the dark areas are sand.  The HiRISE team plans to periodically image Curiosity, as well as NASA's other active Mars rover, Opportunity, as the vehicles continue to explore Mars. This image is an excerpt from HiRISE observation ESP_039280_1755. Other image products from this observation are available at http://hirise.lpl.arizona.edu/ESP_039280_1755 . The University of Arizona, Tucson, operates HiRISE, which was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colorado. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project and Mars Science Laboratory Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington.  Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona In the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building high bay at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden delivers a “state of the agency” address on Feb. 2, 2015 at NASA's televised fiscal year 2016 budget rollout event with Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana looking on, at right. Representatives from the Kennedy workforce, news media and social media were in attendance. NASA's Orion, SpaceX Dragon and Boeing CST-100 spacecraft, all destined to play a role in NASA’s overall exploration objectives, were on display. Photo credit: NASA/Amber Watson Ice, wind, cold temperatures and ocean waters combined to created dramatic cloud formations over the Bering Sea in late January, 2015. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA's Aqua satellite passed over the region and captured this true-color image on Jan. 23. The frozen tundra of Russia lies in the northwest of the image, and snow-covered Alaska lies in the northeast. Sea ice extends from the land well into the Bering Sea. Over the dark water bright white clouds line in up close, parallel rows. These formations are known as “cloud streets”. Air blowing over the cold, snowy land and then over ice becomes both cold and dry. When the air then moves over relatively warmer and much moister water and lead to the development of parallel cylinders of spinning air. On the upper edge of these cylinders of air, where the air is rising, small clouds form. Where air is descending, the skies are clear. This clear/cloudy pattern, formed in parallel rows, gives the impression of streets. The clouds begin over the sea ice, but they primarily hang over open ocean. The streets are neat and in tight rows closest to land, while further over the Bering Sea the pattern widens and begins to become more random. The rows of clouds are also not perfectly straight, but tend to curve. The strength and direction of the wind helps create these features: where the wind is strongest, nearest to shore, the clouds line up most neatly. The clouds align with the wind direction, so the direction of the streets gives strong clues to prevailing wind direction. Image Credit: NASA/Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC One of the Expedition 35 crew members on the International Space Station used a still camera with a 400 millimeter lens to record this nocturnal image of the Phoenix, Arizona area on March 16, 2013. Like many large urban areas of the central and western United States, the Phoenix metropolitan area is laid out along a regular grid of city blocks and streets. While visible during the day, this grid is most evident at night, when the pattern of street lighting is clearly visible from above -- in the case of this photograph, from the low Earth orbit vantage point of the International Space Station. The urban grid form encourages growth of a city outwards along its borders, by providing optimal access to new real estate. Fueled by the adoption of widespread personal automobile use during the 20th century, the Phoenix metropolitan area today includes 25 other municipalities (many of them largely suburban and residential in character) linked by a network of surface streets and freeways. The image area includes parts of several cities in the metropolitan area including Phoenix proper (right), Glendale (center), and Peoria (left). While the major street grid is oriented north-south, the northwest-southeast oriented Grand Avenue cuts across it at image center. Grand Avenue is a major transportation corridor through the western metropolitan area; the lighting patterns of large industrial and commercial properties are visible along its length. Other brightly lit properties include large shopping centers, strip centers, and gas stations which tend to be located at the intersections of north-south and east-west trending streets. While much of the land area highlighted in this image is urbanized, there are several noticeably dark areas. The Phoenix Mountains at upper right are largely public park and recreational land. To the west (image lower left), agricultural fields provide a sharp contrast to the lit streets of neighboring residential developments. The Salt River channel appears as a dark ribbon within the urban grid at lower right. Image Credit: NASA A United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket with the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory onboard is seen in this long exposure photograph as it launches from Space Launch Complex 2, Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. SMAP is NASA’s first Earth-observing satellite designed to collect global observations of surface soil moisture and its freeze/thaw state. SMAP will provide high resolution global measurements of soil moisture from space. The data will be used to enhance scientists' understanding of the processes that link Earth's water, energy, and carbon cycles. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls) This image shows Arp 230, also known as IC 51, observed by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Arp 230 is a galaxy of an uncommon or peculiar shape, and is therefore part of the Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies produced by Halton Arp. Its irregular shape is thought to be the result of a violent collision with another galaxy sometime in the past. The collision could also be held responsible for the formation of the galaxy’s polar ring. The outer ring surrounding the galaxy consists of gas and stars and rotates over the poles of the galaxy. It is thought that the orbit of the smaller of the two galaxies that created Arp 230 was perpendicular to the disk of the second, larger galaxy when they collided. In the process of merging the smaller galaxy would have been ripped apart and may have formed the polar ring structure astronomers can observe today. Arp 230 is quite small for a lenticular galaxy, so the two original galaxies forming it must both have been smaller than the Milky Way.  A lenticular galaxy is a galaxy with a prominent central bulge and a disk, but no clear spiral arms.  They are classified as intermediate between an elliptical galaxy and a spiral galaxy. European Space Agency Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Flickr user Det58 A worker is seen preparing the launch gantry to be rolled back from the United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket with the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory onboard, at the Space Launch Complex 2, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Now scheduled to launch early Friday morning, SMAP is NASA’s first Earth-observing satellite designed to collect global observations of surface soil moisture and its freeze/thaw state. SMAP will provide high resolution global measurements of soil moisture from space. The data will be used to enhance scientists' understanding of the processes that link Earth's water, energy, and carbon cycles. Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and his wife, Alexis, lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns as part of NASA's Day of Remembrance, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, at Arlington National Cemetery.  The wreaths were laid in memory of those men and women who lost their lives in the quest for space exploration.  Photo Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky The sun sets behind Space Launch Complex 2 (SLC-2) with the Delta II rocket and the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory protected by the service structure on Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. SMAP is NASA’s first Earth-observing satellite designed to collect global observations of surface soil moisture and its freeze/thaw state. SMAP will provide high resolution global measurements of soil moisture from space. The data will be used to enhance scientists' understanding of the processes that link Earth's water, energy, and carbon cycles. Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls The interaction of solar winds and Earth’s atmosphere produces northern lights, or auroras, that dance across the night sky and mesmerize the casual observer. However, to scientists this interaction is more than a light display. It produces many questions about the role it plays in Earth’s meteorological processes and the impact on the planet’s atmosphere. To help answer some of these questions, NASA suborbital sounding rockets carrying university-developed experiments -- the Mesosphere-Lower Thermosphere Turbulence Experiment (M-TeX) and Mesospheric Inversion-layer Stratified Turbulence (MIST) -- were launched into auroras from the Poker Flat Research Range in Alaska. The experiments explore the Earth’s atmosphere’s response to auroral, radiation belt and solar energetic particles and associated effects on nitric oxide and ozone. This composite shot of all four sounding rockets for the M-TeX and MIST experiments is made up of 30 second exposures. The rocket salvo began at 4:13 a.m. EST, Jan. 26, 2015. A fifth rocket carrying the Auroral Spatial Structures Probe remains ready on the launch pad. The launch window for this experiment runs through Jan. 27. Image Credit: NASA/Jamie Adkins > More: M-TeX and MIST Experiments Launched from Alaska Marking the 100th anniversary of the Rocky Mountain National Park on Jan. 26, 2015, Expedition 42 Flight Engineer Terry Virts posted this photograph, taken from the International Space Station, to Twitter. Virts wrote, "Majestic peaks and trails! Happy 100th anniversary @RockyNPS So much beauty to behold in our @NatlParkService." Image Credit: NASA/Terry Virts The year of 2015 has been declared the International Year of Light (IYL) by the United Nations. Organizations, institutions, and individuals involved in the science and applications of light will be joining together for this yearlong celebration to help spread the word about the wonders of light. NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory explores the universe in X-rays, a high-energy form of light.  By studying X-ray data and comparing them with observations in other types of light, scientists can develop a better understanding of objects likes stars and galaxies that generate temperatures of millions of degrees and produce X-rays. To recognize the start of IYL, the Chandra X-ray Center is releasing a set of images that combine data from telescopes tuned to different wavelengths of light. From a distant galaxy to the relatively nearby debris field of an exploded star, these images demonstrate the myriad ways that information about the universe is communicated to us through light. In this image, an expanding shell of debris called SNR 0519-69.0 is left behind after a massive star exploded in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy to the Milky Way. Multimillion degree gas is seen in X-rays from Chandra, in blue. The outer edge of the explosion (red) and stars in the field of view are seen in visible light from the Hubble Space Telescope. > More: Chandra Celebrates the International Year of Light Image Credit: NASA/CXC/SAO

Last Updated March 15th, 2008 by Scott Maasen CETsr. 2008 Ozarks Amateur Astronomers Club. All Rights Reserved.