June 20, 2011 - Distant Cousin

Distant Cousin Observations of NGC 4945 suggest that this hive of stars seen edge-on is a spiral galaxy much like our own Milky Way, with swirling, luminous arms and a bar-shaped center. Sites of active star formation, known as HII regions, are seen prominently in the image, appearing bright pink. These resemblances aside, NGC 4945 has a brighter center that likely harbors a supermassive black hole, which is devouring reams of matter and blasting energy out into space. NGC 4945 is about 13 million light-years away in the constellation of Centaurus (the Centaur) and is beautifully revealed in this image taken with data in five different wavelength ranges with the 2.2-meter Max Planck Gesellschaft / European Southern Observatory Telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile.

Image credit: European Southern Observatory

Weekly Calendar

June 20-26, 2011

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Moon phase Monday 20

Neptune 6° south of Moon

1985: NASA announces cola wars will take place on shuttle mission STS-51F
1996: STS-78 Columbia launched

Moon phase Tuesday 21

Summer Solstice 1:16 PM ET

1993: STS-57 Endeavour launched
2004: SpaceShipOne launched, first privately-funded human space flight

Moon phase Wednesday 22

1675: Royal Greenwich Observatory founded
1973: 28-day Skylab 2 mission ends
2000: NASA announces evidence of present-day liquid water on Mars

Moon phase Thursday 23

Last Quarter Moon 7:48 AM ET
Uranus 6° south of Moon

Moon phase Friday 24

St. Jean Baptiste Day (Québec)

Moon at apogee
Vesta appears stationary

1999: FUSE spacecraft launched

Moon phase Saturday 25

1894: Hermann Oberth born
1992: STS-50 Columbia launched
1997: Progress spacecraft collides with Mir Spektr module
1999: Gemini North telescope dedicated

Moon phase Sunday 26

Jupiter 5° south of Moon

1730: Charles Messier born
1963: Syncom 2 satellite launched
1984: First space shuttle launch pad abort (STS-41D)

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