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Astronomy Picture of the Day
  • NGC 3717: A Nearly Sideways Spiral Galaxy 
Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Processing: D. Rosario
Explanation: Some spiral galaxies are seen nearly sideways. Most bright stars in spiral galaxies swirl around the center in a disk, and seen from the side, this disk can be appear quite thin. Some spiral galaxies appear even thinner than NGC 3717, which is actually seen tilted just a bit. Spiral galaxies form disks because the original gas collided with itself and cooled as it fell inward. Planets may orbit in disks for similar reasons. The featured image by the Hubble Space Telescope shows a light-colored central bulge composed of older stars beyond filaments of orbiting dark brown dust. NGC 3717 spans about 100,000 light years and lies about 60 million light years away toward the constellation of the Water Snake (Hydra).
This Day in History
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    Andrew Ellicott, an early American astronomer, witnesses the Leonids meteor shower from a ship off the Florida Keys. Ellicott wrote in his journal that the “whole heaven appeared as if illuminated with sky rockets, flying in an infinity of directions, and I was in constant expectation of some of ...Continue reading
  • Akihito enthroned as emperor of Japan
    Crown Prince Akihito, the 125th Japanese monarch along an imperial line dating back to 660 B.C., is enthroned as emperor of Japan two years after the death of his father. Akihito, the only son of the late Emperor Hirohito, was the first Japanese monarch to reign solely as an official figurehead. ...Continue reading
  • Ellis Island closes
    On November 12, 1954, Ellis Island, the gateway to America, shuts it doors after processing more than 12 million immigrants since opening in 1892. Today, an estimated 40 percent of all Americans can trace their roots through Ellis Island, located in New York Harbor off the New Jersey coast and ...Continue reading