Thursday, August 1, 2013: During early July 2013, Astrophotographer Kevin Palmer visited Weinberg King State Park in western Illinois to escape light pollution.…Read More »
He was hoping to make a time-lapse video of the Milky Way rising, but as he tells it: “After setting up my camera to shoot a sequence of images, the high humidity caused the lens to fog over after only 15 minutes. The video was ruined. But I had noticed the fireflies were very active on this night. When I was sitting down trying to look at a star chart, I had fireflies landing and crawling on me. (But I didn't mind that much, I'll take fireflies over mosquitoes and ticks any day.) When I got home and looked at the shots before the lens fogged up, I noticed lots of green streaks from fireflies at the bottom of the pictures. A popular astrophotography technique is to combine a series of pictures to make a star trail image that shows the stars’ apparent motion through the night sky. I decided to try something different--I took one image of the night sky and combined it with 10 images of the fireflies.” [See Photos: Stunning Night Sky Stargazing Images of July 2013]
Friday, August 2, 2013: Grand design spiral galaxy Messier 100, located in the southern part of the constellation of Coma Berenices, lies about 55 million…Read More »
light-years from Earth. It faces Earth, presenting a spectacular appearance showing well defined spiral arms. The galaxy also possess the faintest of bar-like structures in the center. The photo shows the main features of a galaxy of this type: clouds of hydrogen gas, glowing redly when re-emitting the energy absorbed from newly born, massive stars; uniform brightness of older, yellowish stars near the center; and black dust trails weaving through the galaxy arms. Messier 100 represents one of the brightest members of the Virgo Cluster, the closest cluster of galaxies to our galaxy, the Milky Way.
Monday, August 5, 2013: Is this Earth’s moon? No, it is a crescent Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons. Lit terrain seen here lies on the Saturn-facing hemisphere…Read More »
of Enceladus. Cassini spacecraft took the image in visible light with the narrow-angle camera on May 1, 2013. The spacecraft acquired the view at a distance of approximately 329,000 miles (530,000 kilometers) from Enceladus.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems
Tuesday, August 6, 2013: August 5, 2013, marked the one-year anniversary of Mars rover Curiosity's arrival on Mars. An image acquired by the rover shows…Read More »
a rise topped by two gray rocks, informally named "Twin Cairns Island." The two gray rocks, combined, stretch about 10 feet (3 meters) wide, as seen from this angle. The rover used its Mast Camera to take the component images of this scene on the 343rd Martian day, or sol, of the rover's work on Mars, July 24, 2013. This photo has been white-balanced to show what the scene would look like under Earth lighting conditions, to aid in distinguishing and recognizing materials in the rocks and soil. [See
Amazing Mars Rover Curiosity's Martian Views (Latest Photos) and Mars Rover Curiosity: Mars Science Lab Coverage.]
Wednesday, August 7, 2013: An almost full moon hangs above Paranal Observatory in Chile, seconds after the sun has disappeared behind the horizon. The…Read More »
orange glow of the sunset shines on the 1.8-metre VLT Auxiliary Telescopes. The intriguing part of the image hangs in the sky beyond, the atmospheric phenomenon known as the Belt of Venus. The shadow of the Earth creates the grey-bluish shadow above the horizon, and right above glows a pinkish band. The reddened light of the setting sun being backscattered by the Earth's atmosphere produces the phenomenon. This effect can also appear right after sunset, or a similar effect can appear during a total solar eclipse.
Thursday, August 8, 2013: The region of Mars to the north of Hesperia Planum, including part of the Tagus Valles, appears in a color-coded overhead digital…Read More »
terrain model acquired by ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft. (Blue indicates lower elevation.) Evidence of a watery past for the larger crater at top left can be seen in the top right of the crater in the shape of a small, winding river channel. The view was taken on 15 January 2013, during orbit 11504.
Friday, August 9, 2013: Galaxy Messier 94 (also known as NGC 4736) appeared historically to possess two quite different rings: a brilliant, compact band…Read More »
around the galaxy's core, and a faint, broad swath of stars outside its main disk. Astronomers recently discovered that the outer ring, seen here in a deep blue glow of starlight, might actually be an optical illusion. A new, more complete picture of Messier 94 indicates that two separate spiral arms, from our perspective, take on the appearance of a single, unbroken ring.
Monday, August 12, 2013: The SWAP instrument on board ESA's Proba-2 spacecraft saw the sun on July 30, 2013. SWAP stands for “Sun Watcher using Active…Read More »
Pixel System detector and Image Processing.” The instrument is a small telescope capturing the solar corona at wavelengths corresponding to temperatures of about a million degrees (around 17.1 nanometers). [Get our wallpaper of this image.]
Tuesday, August 13, 2013: Galaxies NGC 799 (below) and NGC 800 (above) lie about 300 million light-years from Earth, in the constellation of Cetus (The…Read More »
Whale). These objects are spiral galaxies, with long arms winding towards bright bulges at their centers. NGC 799 possesses a bar structure, extending from its central bulge, and the spiral arms wind out from the ends of the bar. The small NGC 800 claims three bright spiral arms, whilst NGC 799 only owns two relatively dim, but broad spiral arms. As with all situations when two galaxies sit close enough together, possibly these two galaxies will interact over hundreds of millions of years through gravitational disturbances. Image released August 12, 2013.
Wednesday, August 14, 2013: In this image, two spiral galaxies collide, however they lie millions of light-years away, far beyond the cloud of blue and…Read More »
red stars near the merging spiral. This sprinkling of stars is actually an isolated, irregular dwarf galaxy named ESO 489-056. This galaxy floats 16 million light-years from Earth in the constellation of Canis Major (The Greater Dog). It contains a few billion red and blue stars — a very small number when compared to galaxies like the Milky Way, estimated to contain around 200 to 400 billion stars, or the Andromeda Galaxy, which contains one trillion. Image released August 12, 2013.
Friday, August 16, 2013: Aurora-spotter Tommy Eliassen took his first aurora photo of the autumn season in Hemnesberget, Nordland, Norway, on August 14, 2013.
— Tom Chao
14 of 23
Across the Sun
Monday, August 19, 2013: On August 6, 2013, the moon made an appearance in NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory's view for almost 90 minutes. This occurrence…Read More »
has happened before, and it provides scientists with useful information. The lunar limb's sharp edge assists researchers in measuring how light diffracts around the telescope's optics and filter support grids. This data allows the scientists to fine-tune their instruments more precisely. The sun was imaged here in extreme ultraviolet light, and at the time, a large, bright active region sat right in the central area of the solar disk. SDO orbits about 22,400 miles (36,000 km) above the Earth.
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington
Tuesday, August 20, 2013: On Mercury lies Eminescu crater, illuminated by a bright halo of material around its edge. A ray system emanating from nearby…Read More »
crater Xiao Zhao appears on the right side of the image. The shape and coloration of Eminescu crater suggest the familiar sight of the Cat’s Eye Nebula. MESSENGER spacecraft acquired this image on January 3, 2012. Image released August 15, 2013. [See our MESSENGER gallery.]
Wednesday, August 21, 2013: The Southern Hemisphere’s night sky shines in this photo taken by astronomer Håkon Dahle at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in the…Read More »
Atacama Desert of Chile. Dahle appears silhouetted in the foreground while telescope domes loom in the distance. Håkon took this photo during a week-long observing run at the MPG/ESO 2.2 telescope. Although the Milky Way is usually outshined by light pollution or even the moon, the skies at La Silla are so dark that it is possible to see a shadow cast by the light of the Milky Way alone.
Thursday, August 22, 2013: Astrophotographer Miguel Claro captured the Milky Way in Monte Faperras, Mourão, above Lake Alqueva, in the Alqueva Dark Sky…Read More »
Reserve, Portugal, on July 15, 2013. The photo includes Cygnus (The Swan), with the North America nebula (NGC 7000). Down to the right lies the constellation of Sagittarius and many nebulas: M16, M17, M24, M20, and M8, plus the supergiant star Antares. At the top, the bright star is Vega, in the constellation of Lyra, which forms the well-known Summer Triangle with Deneb and Altair. At the left edge of the image, between the arc of the Milky Way and the horizon, Andromeda Galaxy M31 shines. Above the horizon line, the green/yellow band represents the airglow phenomenon.
Friday, August 23, 2013: Cassini scientists observed newly discovered features in Saturn's A ring, known as "propellers." In this image, the propeller…Read More »
(lower left) which scientists have dubbed "Earhart" has been re-acquired. The bodies which generate the features remain too small to be seen, yet significantly larger than a typical ring particle. Scientists hope to understand how these features move around the ring over time. The image was taken in visible light by Cassini spacecraft on May 11, 2013, at a distance of approximately 250,000 miles (400,000 kilometers) from Saturn.
Monday, August 26, 2013: Potentially hazardous near-Earth object 1998 KN3 zips past a cloud of dense gas and dust near the Orion nebula. NEOWISE, the asteroid-hunting…Read More »
portion of the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, mission, captured infrared pictures of the asteroid, the yellow-green dot at upper left. The sun warms asteroids to roughly room temperature, so they glow brightly at the infrared wavelengths used by WISE. WISE infrared data reveals that this asteroid is about 0.7 mile (1.1 kilometers) in diameter and reflects about 7 percent of the visible light falling on its surface, making it relatively dark. In this image, blue denotes shorter infrared wavelengths, and red, longer ones. Hotter objects emit shorter-wavelength light, so they appear blue. The coolest gas and dust appears red.
Tuesday, August 27, 2013: This new view shows the Carina nebula as seen in a new image made by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. At the center of the nebula…Read More »
lies Eta Carinae, one of the most massive stars in the galaxy. Its blinding glare sculpts and destroys the surrounding nebula. Eta Carinae represents a true giant of a star. It contains 100 times the mass of our sun, and burns its nuclear fuel so quickly that it blazes at least one million times brighter than the sun. It has brightened and faded over the years, and some astronomers think it could explode as a supernova in the not-too-distant future.
Wednesday, August 28, 2013: A small part of emission nebula NGC 6357 glows in this image. The nebula lies some 8000 light-years away in the tail of the…Read More »
southern constellation of Scorpius (The Scorpion). The image contains a large amount of ionized and excited hydrogen gas. The cloud bathes in intense ultraviolet radiation (mainly from the open star cluster Pismis 24 which contains some massive, young, blue stars) which it re-emits as visible light, in this distinctive red hue. The star cluster sits outside the frame, but diffuse light from the cluster illuminates the cloud at right center. This close-up of the surrounding nebula displays a mesh of gas, dark dust, and newly born and still forming stars.
Thursday, August 29, 2013: Cassini spacecraft has now seen Titan's polar collar in ultraviolet light; previously it was observed by Voyager 2 and the Hubble…Read More »
Space Telescope. Researchers studying the collar’s cause and evolution believe it to be seasonal in nature. This view looks toward the Saturn-facing hemisphere of Titan. Cassini spacecraft took the image on April 13, 2013 at a distance of approximately 1.1 million miles (1.8 million kilometers) from Titan.
Tom Chao has contributed to SPACE.com as a producer and writer since 2000. As a writer and editor, he has worked for the Voyager Company, Time Inc. New Media, HarperCollins and Worth Publishers. He has a bachelor’s degree in Cinema Production from the University of Southern California, and a master’s degree from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Tom on Google+.