Thursday, February 14, 2008

An Astronomer's Valentine's Day

I've had people tell me that the science of astronomy takes all the romance out of the night sky. Ignoring the likelihood that, without astronomy, most modern people would completely ignore the night sky, there seems to be plenty of evidence that the Universe is really a very loving place:

Mars sends its greetings via the Mars Global Surveyor.
Image credit: Malin Space Science Systems/NASA

The Rosette Nebula: A rose from a a bunch of hot young stars
Image Credit: Adam Block, Tim Puckett, and Astronomy Picture of the Day

And, last, let's look at the heavenly bodies that humans named after our gods of love. I get a feeling that we aren't very good at this naming thing:

The asteroid Eros as imaged by the Nar-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous spacecraft
Image Credit: NEAR Project, JHUAPL, NASA, Goddard, NLR

The surface of Venus, taken by the Soviet Venera probe, which had to endure a descent through sulfuric acid clouds and temperatures hot enough to melt lead.
Image Credit: USSR

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