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March 31, 2014 - This Nebula Needs a Time Out

This Nebula Needs a Time Out A dying star is throwing a cosmic tantrum in this combined image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, Galaxy Evolution Explorer, and Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer. This object, called the Helix nebula, lies 650 light-years away in the constellation of Aquarius. The Helix is a planetary nebula, a class of objects erroneously named in the 18th century because of their resemblance to giant gas planets. After exhausting its hydrogen and helium fuel, the original star puffed off its outer gaseous layers and left behind the tiny, hot, dense core, called a white dwarf (the point-like object just visible at center). The intense ultraviolet radiation from the white dwarf is heating up the expelled layers of gas, which shine brightly in the infrared region of the spectrum.

Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Weekly Calendar

March 31 - April 6, 2014

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History


Moon phase Monday 31

Mars 5° north of Spica

1962: NASA approves final design of Gemini spacecraft
1982: Kvant module launched to Mir space station
1997: Pioneer 10 mission officially ends

Moon phase Tuesday 1

1960: TIROS 1 launched
1997: Comet Hale-Bopp’s closest approach to Sun
1998: TRACE launched

Moon phase Wednesday 2

Uranus in conjunction with Sun

1845: First photograph of Sun taken
2010: Soyuz TMA-18 launched carrying ISS Expedition 23/24 crew

Moon phase Thursday 3

1966: Luna 10 becomes first spacecraft to orbit the Moon
1973: Salyut 2 space station launched

Moon phase Friday 4

1930: American Rocket Society founded
1968: Apollo 6 launched
1983: STS-6 Challenger launched
1997: STS-83 Columbia launched
2000: First commercial mission to Mir
2011: Soyuz TMA-21 launched carrying ISS Expedition 27/28 crew

Moon phase Saturday 5

1973: Pioneer 11 launched
1975: Soyuz 18-1, first in-flight abort
1990: Pegsat launched
1991: STS-37 Atlantis launched
2010: STS-131 Discovery launched

Sunday 6

Jupiter 5° north of Moon

1965: Early Bird (Intelsat 1) launched
1984: STS-41C Challenger launched

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