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The Phases of Venus

Copyright: Venus goes through phases. Just like our Moon, Venus can appear as a full circular disk, a thin crescent, or anything in between. Venus, frequently the brightest object in the post-sunset or pre-sunrise sky, appears so small, however, that it usually requires binoculars or a small telescope to clearly see its current phase. The […]

The Cat’s Eye Nebula in Optical and X-ray

Copyright: To some it looks like a cat’s eye. To others, perhaps like a giant cosmic conch shell. It is actually one of the brightest and most highly detailed planetary nebula known, composed of gas expelled in the brief yet glorious phase near the end of life of a Sun-like star. This nebula’s dying central […]

The Snows of Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Copyright: You couldn’t really be caught in this blizzard while standing by a cliff on periodic comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Orbiting the comet in June of 2016, the Rosetta spacecraft’s narrow angle camera did record streaks of dust and ice particles similar to snow as they drifted across the field of view close to the camera and […]

Trapezium: At the Heart of Orion

Copyright: Fred Zimmer Near the center of this sharp cosmic portrait, at the heart of the Orion Nebula, are four hot, massive stars known as the Trapezium. Gathered within a region about 1.5 light-years in radius, they dominate the core of the dense Orion Nebula Star Cluster. Ultraviolet ionizing radiation from the Trapezium stars, mostly […]

Zeta Oph: Runaway Star

Copyright: Like a ship plowing through cosmic seas, runaway star Zeta Ophiuchi produces the arcing interstellar bow wave or bow shock seen in this stunning infrared portrait. In the false-color view, bluish Zeta Oph, a star about 20 times more massive than the Sun, lies near the center of the frame, moving toward the left […]

A SAR Arc from New Zealand

Copyright: Tristian McDonald; Text: Tiffany Lewis (Michigan Tech U.) What is that unusual red halo surrounding this aurora? It is a Stable Auroral Red (SAR) arc. SAR arcs are rare and have only been acknowledged and studied since 1954. The featured wide-angle photograph, capturing nearly an entire SAR arc surrounding more common green and red […]

Rocket Transits Rippling Moon

Copyright: Steven Madow Can a rocket make the Moon ripple? No, but it can make a background moon appear wavy. The rocket, in this case, was a SpaceX Falcon Heavy that blasted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center last week. In the featured launch picture, the rocket’s exhaust plume glows beyond its projection onto the […]

NGC 1232: A Grand Design Spiral Galaxy

Copyright: Galaxies are fascinating not only for what is visible, but for what is invisible. Grand spiral galaxy NGC 1232, captured in detail by one of the Very Large Telescopes, is a good example. The visible is dominated by millions of bright stars and dark dust, caught up in a gravitational swirl of spiral arms […]

Illustris: A Simulation of the Universe

Copyright: How did we get here? Click play, sit back, and watch. A computer simulation of the evolution of the universe provides insight into how galaxies formed and perspectives into humanity’s place in the universe. The Illustris project exhausted 20 million CPU hours in 2014 following 12 billion resolution elements spanning a cube 35 million […]

The Last Full Moon

Copyright: Giacomo Venturin Known to some in the northern hemisphere as December’s Cold Moon or the Long Night Moon, the last full moon of 2023 is rising in this surreal mountain and skyscape. The Daliesque scene was captured in a single exposure with a camera and long telephoto lens near Monte Grappa, Italy. The full […]

Shakespeare in Space

Copyright: In 1986, Voyager 2 became the only spacecraft to explore ice giant planet Uranus close up. Still, this newly released image from the NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera) on the James Webb Space Telescope offers a detailed look at the distant world. The tilted outer planet rotates on its axis once in about 17 hours. Its […]

Jupiter and the Geminid

Copyright: Gaurav Singh For a brief moment, this brilliant fireball meteor outshone Jupiter in planet Earth’s night. The serendipitous image was captured while hunting meteors under cold Canadian skies with a camera in timelapse mode on December 14, near the peak of the Geminid meteor shower. The Geminid meteor shower, asteroid 3200 Phaethon’s annual gift, […]

Rainbow Aurora over Icelandic Waterfall

Copyright: Stefano Pellegrini Yes, but can your aurora do this? First, yes, auroras can look like rainbows even though they are completely different phenomena. Auroras are caused by Sun-created particles being channeled into Earth’s atmosphere by Earth’s magnetic field, and create colors by exciting atoms at different heights. Conversely, rainbows are created by sunlight backscattering […]

IC 443: The Jellyfish Nebula

Copyright: David Payne Why is this jellyfish swimming in a sea of stars? Drifting near bright star Eta Geminorum, seen at the right, the Jellyfish Nebula extends its tentacles from the bright arcing ridge of emission left of center. In fact, the cosmic jellyfish is part of bubble-shaped supernova remnant IC 443, the expanding debris […]

Cathedral, Mountain, Moon

Copyright: Valerio Minato Single shots like this require planning. The first step is to realize that such an amazing triple-alignment actually takes place. The second step is to find the best location to photograph it. But it was the third step: being there at exactly the right time — and when the sky was clear […]