December 20, 2010 - A Peek at the Pelican

A Peek at the Pelican The Pelican Nebula, or IC 5070, is a large emission nebula located in the constellation Cygnus, the Swan. In wide-field long-exposure images, this glowing region of ionized gas and dark dust clouds takes on an uncanny resemblance to the bird for which it was named. Like many emission nebulae, IC 5070 is the site of star birth, and radiation from nearby newborn stars is indeed buffeting the Pelican like a strong shore breeze. In this close-up image by amateur astronomer Antonio Fernandez of Spain, the head and neck of the Pelican are revealed as the boundary between hot hydrogen gas and cooler sulfur, riddled with wispy tendrils that contain individual protostars at their tips. Dark, obscuring molecular clouds add dramatic contrast to this star-forming region 2,000 light-years away.

Image credit: Antonio Fernandez / www.afernandez.net

Weekly Calendar

December 20-26, 2010

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Moon phase Monday 20

1904: Mount Wilson Solar Observatory founded
1972: Final M2-F3 lifting body flight
1978: Venera 12 lander lands on Venus
2009Soyuz TMA-17 launched carrying ISS Expedition 22/23 crew

Moon phase Tuesday 21

Full Moon 3:13 AM ET (eclipse)
Winter Solstice 6:38 PM

1968: Apollo 8 launched
1984: Vega 2 launched
1988: Cosmonauts Titov and Manarov return after spending one year aboard Mir space station

Moon phase Wednesday 22

Pallas in conjunction with Sun
Ursid meteor shower

1966: Luna 13 launched
1966: First glide test of the HL-10 lifting body

Moon phase Thursday 23

Ursid meteor shower

1672: Giovanni Cassini discovers Saturn’s moon Rhea

Moon phase Friday 24

1968: Apollo 8 enters lunar orbit
1978: Venera 11 lands on Venus
1979: European Space Agency launches first Ariane rocket

Moon phase Saturday 25

Christmas Day

Moon at perigee

1642: Isaac Newton born
2003: Mars Express and Beagle 2 arrive at Mars
2004: Huygens probe separates from Cassini spacecraft

Moon phase Sunday 26

Boxing Day (Canada, U.K., Australia)
First Day of Kwanzaa

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