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September 25th, 2015

NASA’s Great Observatories Examine the Galactic Center Region

In this spectacular image, observations using infrared light and X-ray light see through the obscuring dust and reveal the intense activity near the galactic core. Note that the center of the galaxy is located within the bright white region to the right of and just below the middle of the image. The entire image width covers about one-half a degree, about the same angular width as the full moon.

Each telescope’s contribution is presented in a different color:

- Yellow represents the near-infrared observations of Hubble. These observations outline the energetic regions where stars are being born as well as reveal hundreds of thousands of stars.

- Red represents the infrared observations of Spitzer. The radiation and winds from stars create glowing dust clouds that exhibit complex structures from compact, spherical globules to long, stringy filaments.

- Blue and violet represent the X-ray observations of Chandra. X-rays are emitted by gas heated to millions of degrees by stellar explosions and by outflows from the supermassive black hole in the galaxy’s center. The bright blue blob on the left side is emission from a double star system containing either a neutron star or a black hole.

When these views are brought together, this composite image provides one of the most detailed views ever of our galaxy’s mysterious core.

Object Name: Galactic Center 

Credit: NASA, ESA, SSC, CXC, and STScI

September 21st, 2015

Pluto’s Majestic Mountains, Frozen Plains and Foggy Hazes

Just 15 minutes after its closest approach to Pluto on July 14, 2015, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft looked back toward the sun and captured this near-sunset view of the rugged, icy mountains and flat ice plains extending to Pluto’s horizon. The smooth expanse of the informally named icy plain Sputnik Planum (right) is flanked to the west (left) by rugged mountains up to 11,000 feet (3,500 meters) high, including the informally named Norgay Montes in the foreground and Hillary Montes on the skyline. To the right, east of Sputnik, rougher terrain is cut by apparent glaciers. The backlighting highlights more than a dozen layers of haze in Pluto‚Äôs tenuous but distended atmosphere. The image was taken from a distance of 11,000 miles (18,000 kilometers) to Pluto; the scene is 780 miles (1,250 kilometers) wide.

September 11th, 2015

The Last Solar Eclipse of 2015 is This Weekend


This Sunday, September 13th, is the day of the last solar eclipse of this year. Just as the previous solar eclipse, it is going to be challenging to view, unless you happen to be on the southern tip of Africa or have made plans to travel to Antarctica for the weekend.

This will be a partial solar eclipse with the Moon covering 79% of the Sun’s diameter. Still certain parts of the world will be able to see up to 30% solar disc coverage, and that is Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Madagascar.

Check out our explanatory videos in Solar Walk to see how the solar eclipse happens and use Star Walk to find your way across the sky.



September 8th, 2015

Jet in Carina

Hubble WFC3 image of a stellar jet in Carina, observed in ultraviolet/visible light

Object Name: Jet in Carina 

Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team

September 4th, 2015

Entranced by a Transit

Saturn’s moon Dione crosses the face of the giant planet in this view, a phenomenon astronomers call a transit. Transits play an important role in astronomy and can be used to study the orbits of planets and their atmospheres, both in our solar system and in others.

By carefully timing and observing transits in the Saturn system, like that of Dione (698 miles or 1123 kilometers across), scientists can more precisely determine the orbital parameters  of Saturn’s moons.

This view looks toward the unilluminated side of the rings from about 0.3 degrees below the ring plane. The image was taken in visible green light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on May 21, 2015.

The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 1.4 million miles (2.3 million kilometers) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 119 degrees. Image scale is 9 miles (14 kilometers) per pixel.

The Cassini mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit or . The Cassini imaging team homepage is at .


Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute