Nasa Image of the Day
Grand Canyon Geology Lessons on View

Grand Canyon Geology Lessons on View

The Grand Canyon in northern Arizona is a favorite for astronauts shooting photos from the International Space Station, as well as one of the best-known tourist attractions in the world. The steep walls of the Colorado River canyon and its many side canyons make an intricate landscape that contrasts with the dark green, forested plateau to the north and south. The Colorado River has done all the erosional work of carving away cubic kilometers of rock in a geologically short period of time. Visible as a darker line snaking along the bottom of the canyon, the river lies at an altitude of 715 meters (2,345 feet), thousands of meters below the North and South Rims. Temperatures are furnace-like on the river banks in the summer. But Grand Canyon Village, the classic outlook point for visitors, enjoys a milder climate at an altitude of 2,100 meters (6,890 feet). The Grand Canyon has become a geologic icon—a place where you can almost sense the invisible tectonic forces within the Earth. The North and South Rims are part of the Kaibab Plateau, a gentle tectonic swell in the landscape. The uplift of the plateau had two pronounced effects on the landscape that show up in this image. First, in drier parts of the world, forests usually indicate higher places; higher altitudes are cooler and wetter, conditions that allow trees to grow. The other geologic lesson on view is the canyon itself. Geologists now know that a river can cut a canyon only if the Earth surface rises vertically. If such uplift is not rapid, a river can maintain its course by eroding huge quantities of rock and forming a canyon. This astronaut photograph (ISS039-E-5258) was taken on March 25, 2014 by the Expedition 39 crew, with a Nikon D3S digital camera using a 180 millimeter lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. It has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed. > View annotated image Image Credit: NASA Caption: M. Justin Wilkinson, Jacobs at NASA-JSC

Book Store
Wonders of the Solar System Wonders of the Solar System has teamed up with to bring you the finest selection of astronomy related books at the best prices.

Browse through our bookstore and check out our fine selection of books from star charts and astrophotography to mathematical astronomy. We are sure you will find the book that best suits your needs.

Sky View Cafe
Sky View Cafe

Sky View Café is a Java applet that lets you use your web browser to see many types of astronomical information, in both graphical and numerical form. You can see which stars and planets will be out tonight in the sky above your home town, see how the next solar or lunar eclipse will look from London, or find out when the Moon rose over Sydney on your birthday ten years ago. Sky View Café includes star charts, a 3-D orrery, displays of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, an astronomical event calendar, an ephemeris generator, and many other features. Enter Sky View Café now!

This Month's Sky Map
This Month's Sky Map

Take a look at this month's Sky Map to help you explore the wonders of the night sky!

Ideal for all sky watchers including beginners to astronomy.

The Sky Map will help you identify planets, bright stars, constellations and nebulae!
Printable version available too!

Astronomy News
Hubble Stretches Stellar Tape Measure 10 Times Farther into Space
Thu, 10 Apr 2014 10:00:00 -0400Hubble Image

Astronomers continue refining the precision of distance measurement techniques to better understand the dimensions of the universe. Calculating the age of the universe, its expansion rate, and the nature of dark energy all depend on the precise distance measurements to stars and galaxies. If the astronomical yardsticks are off, the astronomical interpretation may be flawed. The most reliable method for making astronomical distance measurements is to use straightforward geometry where the 186-million-mile diameter of Earth's orbit is used to construct a baseline of a triangle, much as a land surveyor would use. If a target star is close enough, it will appear to zigzag on the sky during the year as a reflection of Earth's orbit about the Sun. This technique is called parallax. The stars are so far away that the angle of this parallax shift is incredibly tiny. An innovative new observing technique has extended Hubble's yardstick 10 times farther into our galaxy, out to a distance of 7,500 light-years from Earth.

Beauty from chaos - Read more >
Thu, 10 Apr 2014 11:00:00 +0200

Beautiful streamlined islands and narrow gorges were carved by fast-flowing water pounding through a small, plateau region near the southeastern margin of the vast Vallis Marineris canyon system.

Icy moon Enceladus has underground sea - Read more >
Thu, 03 Apr 2014 20:00:00 +0200

Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus has an underground sea of liquid water, according to the international Cassini spacecraft.

Hubble Finds That Monster 'El Gordo' Galaxy Cluster Is Bigger Than Thought
Thu, 03 Apr 2014 14:00:00 -0400Hubble Image

If someone told you there was an object in space called "El Gordo" (Spanish for "the fat one") you might imagine some kind of planet-eating monster straight out of a science fiction movie. The nickname refers to a monstrous cluster of galaxies that is being viewed at a time when the universe was just half of its current age of 13.8 billion years. This is an object of superlatives. It contains several hundred galaxies swarming around under a collective gravitational pull. The total mass of the cluster, and refined in new Hubble measurements, is estimated to be as much as 3 million billion stars like our Sun (about 3,000 times more massive than our own Milky Way galaxy) though most of the mass is hidden away as dark matter. The cluster may be so huge because it is the result of a titanic collision and merger between two separate galaxy clusters. Thankfully, our Milky Way galaxy grew up in an uncluttered backwater region of the universe.

NASA and STScI Select 17 Hubble Fellows for 2014
Wed, 02 Apr 2014 14:00:00 -0400Hubble Image

NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) have announced the selection of 17 new Hubble Fellows. STScI in Baltimore, Md., administers the Hubble Fellowship Program for NASA. The Hubble Fellowship Program includes all research relevant to present and future missions in NASA's Cosmic Origins theme. These missions currently include the Herschel Space Observatory, the Hubble Space Telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, and the Spitzer Space Telescope. The new Hubble Fellows will begin their programs in the fall of 2014.

ESA and CERN sign cooperation agreement - Read more >
Fri, 28 Mar 2014 14:30:00 +0100

ESA, the European Space Agency, and CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, signed a cooperation agreement on 28 March to foster future collaborations on research themes of common interest.

Hubble Sees Mars-Bound Comet Sprout Multiple Jets
Thu, 27 Mar 2014 10:00:00 -0400Hubble Image

Comet Siding Spring is plunging toward the Sun along a roughly 1-million-year orbit. The comet, discovered in 2013, was within the radius of Jupiter's orbit when the Hubble Space Telescope photographed it on March 11, 2014. Hubble resolves two jets of dust coming from the solid icy nucleus. These persistent jets were first seen in Hubble pictures taken on Oct. 29, 2013. The feature should allow astronomers to measure the direction of the nucleus's pole, and hence, rotation axis. The comet will make its closest approach to our Sun on Oct. 25, 2014, at a distance of 130 million miles, well outside Earth's orbit. On its inbound leg, Comet Siding Spring will pass within 84,000 miles of Mars on Oct. 19, 2014, which is less than half the Moon's distance from Earth. The comet is not expected to become bright enough to be seen by the naked eye.

Mars yard ready for Red Planet rover - Read more >
Thu, 27 Mar 2014 14:30:00 +0100

A state-of-the-art ‘Mars yard’ is now ready to put the ExoMars rover through its paces before the vehicle is launched to the Red Planet in 2018.

Rosetta sets sights on destination comet - Read more >
Thu, 27 Mar 2014 14:00:00 +0100

ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft has caught a first glimpse of its destination comet since waking up from deep-space hibernation on 20 January.

Herschel completes largest survey of cosmic dust in local Universe - Read more >
Tue, 18 Mar 2014 10:00:00 +0100

The largest census of dust in local galaxies has been completed using data from ESA’s Herschel space observatory, providing a huge legacy to the scientific community.

Hubble Celebrates Its 24th Anniversary with an Infrared Look at a Nearby Star Factory
Mon, 17 Mar 2014 05:00:00 -0400Hubble Image

This colorful Hubble Space Telescope mosaic of a small portion of the Monkey Head Nebula unveils a collection of carved knots of gas and dust silhouetted against glowing gas. The cloud is sculpted by ultraviolet light eating into the cool hydrogen gas. As the interstellar dust particles are warmed from the radiation from the stars in the center of the nebula, they heat up and begin to glow at infrared wavelengths, as captured by Hubble. The space photo superficially resembles the "The Great Wave" print by 19th century Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai.

Venus glory - Read more >
Tue, 11 Mar 2014 10:00:00 +0100

A rainbow-like feature known as a ‘glory’ has been seen by ESA’s Venus Express orbiter in the atmosphere of our nearest neighbour – the first time one has been fully imaged on another planet.

Hubble Witnesses an Asteroid Mysteriously Disintegrating
Thu, 06 Mar 2014 10:00:00 -0500Hubble Image

Though fragile comet nuclei have been seen falling apart as they near the Sun, nothing like the slow breakup of an asteroid has ever before been observed in the asteroid belt. A series of Hubble Space Telescope images shows that the fragments are drifting away from each other at a leisurely one mile per hour. This makes it unlikely that the asteroid is disintegrating because of a collision with another asteroid. A plausible explanation is that the asteroid is crumbling due to a subtle effect of sunlight. This causes the rotation rate to slowly increase until centrifugal force pulls the asteroid apart. The asteroid's remnant debris, weighing in at 200,000 tons, will in the future provide a rich source of meteoroids.

Lava floods the ancient plains of Mars - Read more >
Thu, 06 Mar 2014 11:00:00 +0100

Two distinct volcanic eruptions have flooded this area of Daedalia Planum with lava, flowing around an elevated fragment of ancient terrain.

Life Is Too Fast, Too Furious for This Runaway Galaxy
Tue, 04 Mar 2014 10:00:00 -0500Hubble Image

Our spiral-shaped Milky Way galaxy lives in a comparatively quiet backwater region of the universe. This is not the case for galaxies crammed together inside huge clusters. As they zip around within a cluster, gas can be pulled from their disks due to a process called ram pressure stripping. Galaxy ESO 137-001 is one example. The star-city looks like it is "leaking" as it plunges through the Norma galaxy cluster.

Hubble Monitors Supernova in Nearby Galaxy M82
Wed, 26 Feb 2014 11:00:00 -0500Hubble Image

This is a Hubble Space Telescope composite image of a supernova explosion designated SN 2014J in the galaxy M82, at a distance of approximately 11.5 million light-years from Earth. Astronomers using a ground-based telescope discovered the explosion on January 21, 2014. This Hubble photograph was taken on January 31, as the supernova approached its peak brightness.

ESA selects planet-hunting PLATO mission - Read more >
Wed, 19 Feb 2014 08:17:00 +0100

A space-based observatory to search for planets orbiting alien stars has been selected today as ESA’s third medium-class science mission. It is planned for launch by 2024.

Hubble Watches Stars' Clockwork Motion in Nearby Galaxy
Tue, 18 Feb 2014 13:00:00 -0500Hubble Image

Using the sharp-eyed NASA Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have for the first time precisely measured the rotation rate of a galaxy based on the clock-like movement of its stars.

Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes Find One of the Youngest Galaxies in the Universe
Fri, 07 Feb 2014 10:00:00 -0500Hubble Image

An international team led by astronomers from the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC) and La Laguna University (ULL) has just released the first analysis of the observations of the Abell 2744 cluster of galaxies, a coordinated program of the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes. They have discovered one of the most distant galaxies known to date, which clearly shows the potential of the multi-year Frontier Fields project. The project uses a phenomenon called "gravitational lensing" where select foreground galaxy clusters amplify the faint light from far-more-distant background objects. By combining Hubble and Spitzer data, these astrophysicists have determined the properties of this young galaxy with a better precision than previous studies of other samples at similar cosmic epochs. This galaxy, named Abell2744_Y1, is about 30 times smaller than our galaxy, the Milky Way, but is producing at least 10 times more stars. From Earth, this galaxy is seen as it was 650 million years after the big bang. It is one of the brightest galaxies discovered at such a lookback time, say researchers. This study provides new constraints on the density and properties of the galaxies in the early universe. These results are accepted for publication in the scientific journal Astronomy and Astrophysics Letters.

Gaia comes into focus - Read more >
Thu, 06 Feb 2014 14:00:00 +0100

ESA’s billion-star surveyor Gaia is slowly being brought into focus. This test image shows a dense cluster of stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of our Milky Way.

ExoMars orbiter core module completed - Read more >
Mon, 03 Feb 2014 17:00:00 +0100

The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter module consisting of the spacecraft structure, thermal control and propulsion systems was handed over by OHB System to Thales Alenia Space France at a ceremony held in Bremen, Germany, today.

The competition winners who helped us wake up Rosetta - Read more >
Wed, 29 Jan 2014 11:34:00 +0100

We asked you to help us wake up Rosetta from 31 months of deep-space hibernation in a fun video shout-out contest. With over 200 entries and 75 000 votes, you certainly succeeded!

Rosetta wide awake as check-up continues - Read more >
Wed, 29 Jan 2014 09:00:00 +0100

Following last week’s wake-up of the Rosetta comet-chaser, ESA’s flight controllers have conducted the first in a series of health checks aimed at assessing how well it came through 31 months of hibernation.

Herschel discovers water vapour around dwarf planet Ceres - Read more >
Wed, 22 Jan 2014 16:36:00 +0100

ESA’s Herschel space observatory has discovered water vapour around Ceres, the first unambiguous detection of water vapour around an object in the asteroid belt.

ESA’s ‘sleeping beauty’ wakes up from deep space hibernation - Read more >
Mon, 20 Jan 2014 18:30:00 +0100

It was a fairy-tale ending to a tense chapter in the story of the Rosetta space mission this evening as ESA heard from its distant spacecraft for the first time in 31 months.

The most important alarm clock in the Solar System - Read more >
Thu, 16 Jan 2014 10:00:00 +0100

At 10:00 GMT on Monday, the most important alarm clock in the Solar System will wake up ESA’s sleeping Rosetta spacecraft.

Call for Media: Rosetta wake up event - Read more >
Mon, 13 Jan 2014 09:52:00 +0100

On 20 January 2014, ESA’s comet-chasing Rosetta spacecraft is set to wake up from 957 days in deep-space hibernation. Members of the media are invited to join ESA at its European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, to mark this momentous occasion.

Journey to a billion suns – world premiere of planetarium show - Read more >
Wed, 08 Jan 2014 14:00:00 +0100

A new planetarium show, Journey to a billion Suns, premieres today in Hamburg, Germany, to tell the fascinating story of mapping the Milky Way, from ancient times to ESA’s recently launched Gaia mission.

Buy A Star Gift - Name a star for any occasion, view it live on Google Sky
Universal Star Registry Certificate Star Naming Service
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Our Monthly Book Competition Free to Enter
Our Monthly Book Competition Free to Enter

We have teamed up with HarperCollins Publishers to offer you the chance to win a copy of the fantastic
Astronomy Photographer of the Year, Collection 2, Foreword by Dr Brian May
Free to enter - For details and your chance to win a copy click here Next Draw - May 1st 2013

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