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Rings and Bar of Spiral Galaxy NGC 1398

Copyright: Why do some spiral galaxies have a ring around the center? Spiral galaxy NGC 1398 not only has a ring of pearly stars, gas and dust around its center, but a bar of stars and gas across its center, and spiral arms that appear like ribbons farther out. The featured deep image from Observatorio […]

Messier 24: Sagittarius Star Cloud

Copyright: Emmanuel Astronomono Unlike most entries in Charles Messier’s famous catalog of deep sky objects, M24 is not a bright galaxy, star cluster, or nebula. It’s a gap in nearby, obscuring interstellar dust clouds that allows a view of the distant stars in the Sagittarius spiral arm of our Milky Way galaxy. Direct your gaze […]

MAVEN’s Ultraviolet Mars

Copyright: These two global views of Mars were captured at ultraviolet wavelengths, beyond the spectrum visible to human eyes. Recorded by the MAVEN spacecraft’s Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph instrument in July 2022 (left) and January 2023, three otherwise invisible ultraviolet bands are mapped into red, green, and blue colors. That color scheme presents the Red Planet’s […]

The Belt of Venus over Mount Everest

Copyright: Soumyadeep Mukherjee You’ve surely seen it, but you might not have noticed it. During a cloudless twilight, just before sunrise or after sunset, part of the atmosphere above the horizon appears slightly dark and off-color. Called the Belt of Venus, this transitional band between the dark eclipsed sky and the bright day sky can […]

Lightning on Jupiter

Copyright: Does lightning occur only on Earth? No. Spacecraft in our Solar System have detected lightning on other planets, including Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, and lightning is likely on Venus, Uranus, and Neptune. Lightning is a sudden rush of electrically charged particles from one location to another. On Earth, drafts of colliding ice and water […]

3D Ingenuity

Copyright: The multicolor, stereo imaging Mastcam-Z on the Perseverance rover zoomed in to capture this 3D close-up (get out your red/blue glasses) of the Mars Ingenuity helicopter on mission sol 45. That’s Earth-date 2021 April 5. Casting a shadow on the Martian surface, Ingenuity is standing alone on its four landing legs next to the […]

Stars and Dust across Corona Australis

Copyright: Alessandro Cipolat Bares Cosmic dust clouds cross a rich field of stars in this telescopic vista near the northern boundary of Corona Australis, the Southern Crown. Part of a sprawling molecular cloud complex this star forming region is a mere 500 light-years away. That’s about one third the distance of the more famous stellar […]

Three Sun Paths

Copyright: Marcella Giulia Pace & Giuseppe De Donà Does the Sun follow the same path every day? No. The Sun’s path changes during the year, tracing a longer route during the summer than the winter. Pictured here, the Sun’s arc was captured from noon to sunset on three days, from highest in the sky to […]

The Ñandú in the Milky Way

Copyright: Fefo Bouvier; Line Drawing: Alfonso Rosso Have you seen the bird in the Milky Way? Beyond the man in the Moon, the night sky is filled with stories, and cultures throughout history have projected some of their most enduring legends onto the stars and dust above. Generations of people see these celestial icons, hear […]

The Busy Center of the Lagoon Nebula

Copyright: The center of the Lagoon Nebula is a whirlwind of spectacular star formation. Visible near the image center, at least two long funnel-shaped clouds, each roughly half a light-year long, have been formed by extreme stellar winds and intense energetic starlight. A tremendously bright nearby star, Herschel 36, lights the area. Vast walls of […]

Saturn’s Northern Hexagon

Copyright: NASA, ESA, JPL, SSI, Cassini Imaging Team Why would clouds form a hexagon on Saturn? Nobody is sure. Originally discovered during the Voyager flybys of Saturn in the 1980s, nobody has ever seen anything like it anywhere else in the Solar System. Acquiring its first sunlit views of far northern Saturn in late 2012, […]

Planet Earth at Night II

Copyright: Recorded during 2017, timelapse sequences from the International Space Station are compiled in this serene video of planet Earth at Night. Fans of low Earth orbit can start by enjoying the view as green and red aurora borealis slather up the sky. The night scene tracks from northwest to southeast across North America, toward […]

Sunset to Sunrise over the Baltic Sea

Copyright: Bernd Pröschold This serene view from the coast of Sweden looks across the Baltic sea and compresses time, presenting the passage of one night in a single photograph. From sunset to sunrise, moonlight illuminates the creative sea and skyscape. Fleeting clouds, fixed stars, and flowing northern lights leave their traces in planet Earth’s sky. […]

M15: Dense Globular Star Cluster

Copyright: Messier 15 is an immense swarm of over 100,000 stars. A 13 billion year old relic of the early formative years of our galaxy it’s one of about 170 globular star clusters that still roam the halo of the Milky Way. Centered in this sharp reprocessed Hubble image, M15 lies some 35,000 light-years away […]

The Shark Nebula

Copyright: Stephen Kennedy There is no sea on Earth large enough to contain the Shark nebula. This predator apparition poses us no danger as it is composed only of interstellar gas and dust. Dark dust like that featured here is somewhat like cigarette smoke and created in the cool atmospheres of giant stars. After being […]