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December 21, 2020 - All Eyes on M51

All Eyes on M51  The Whirlpool Galaxy, also known as M51, is a classic example of a spiral galaxy. Thirty million light-years away, it is also one of the brightest spirals in the night sky. This composite image shows the majesty of its structure in a dramatic new way through several of NASA’s orbiting observatories. X-ray data from the Chandra Observatory reveals point-like sources (purple) that are black holes and neutron stars in binary star systems, and the glow of hot gas that permeates the space between the stars. Optical data from the Hubble (green) and infrared emission from the Spitzer (red) Space Telescopes both highlight long lanes in the spiral arms consisting of stars and gas laced with dust. The GALEX telescope shows hot young stars that produce great amounts of ultraviolet energy (blue).

Image credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Wesleyan Univ./R.Kilgard et al; UV: NASA/JPL-Caltech; Optical: NASA/ESA/S. Beckwith & Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA); IR: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ Univ. of AZ/R. Kennicutt

Weekly Calendar

December 21 - 27, 2020

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History


Moon phase Monday 21

Solstice 5:02 AM ET
Jupiter 0.1° south of Saturn
First Qtr Moon 6:41 PM ET

1968: Apollo 8 launched
: Vega 2 launched
: Cosmonauts Titov and Manarov return after spending one year aboard Mir space station
2011Soyuz TMA-03M launched carrying ISS Expedition 30/31 crew
2015: SpaceX Falcon 9 makes first powered vertical landing of orbital booster

Moon phase Tuesday 22

Venus 6° north of Antares
Ursid meteor shower

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

Moon phase Wednesday 23

Mars 6° north of Moon
Ursid meteor shower

1672: Giovanni Cassini discovers Saturn’s moon Rhea

Moon phase Thursday 24

Moon at apogee
Uranus 3° north of Moon

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

Moon phase Friday 25

Christmas Day

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

Moon phase Saturday 26

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

1780: Mary Somerville born

Moon phase Sunday 27

1571: Johannes Kepler born
1984: Meteorite ALH 84001 discovered

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