Credit: Koichi Wakata (via Twitter as @Astro_Wakata)
Monday, March 3, 2014: On Feb. 23, 2014, Dr. Koichi Wakata tweeted this image of the aurora australis taken aboard the International Space Station (ISS).…Read More »
In another tweet about watching the phenomenon, he wrote: “It looked like a storm of light.” Portions of the space station’s equipment appear at left, while a few stars peek out of the inky blackness of space at bottom. Wakata represents the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) as a Flight Engineer on International Space Station (ISS) Expedition 38 and the Commander of Expedition 39. [See our gallery of Expedition 37/38 images.]
Tuesday, March 4, 2014: Astrophotographer Garry Owens sent in a photo of the recent brilliant auroral display seen in the United Kingdom. The auroral activity…Read More »
stemmed from sunspot AR1967 erupting, producing the strongest solar flare of 2014 whic produced auroras at lower latitudes than usual in the northern hemisphere. Owens took the shot on Feb. 27, 2014, in Prestatyn, Wales, UK. [See our video about the recent violent solar flare>.]
Wednesday, March 5, 2014: Saturn’s moon, Mimas, appearing as a tiny speck at lower right, orbits the planet, while a set of spokes appear in the B ring…Read More »
(just right of center). Scientists do not fully understand the mysterious spokes, but researchers believe the spokes will no longer appear when the sun moves higher in Saturn’s sky, as it approaches northern equinox. This occurrence may relate to the ability of micron-sized ring grains to maintain an electrical charge and levitate above the rings, forming the spokes. Therefore Cassini spacecraft may not see any more spokes in the future. The spacecraft took this image in visible light on Oct. 22, 2013, at a distance of approximately 1.6 million miles (2.6 million kilometers) from Saturn.
Thursday, March 6, 2014: A NASA-funded sounding rocket flew into an aurora over Venetie, Alaska, on March 3, 2014, as seen in this dramatic image. The…Read More »
sounding rocket mission, known as Ground-to-Rocket Electrodynamics – Electron Correlative Experiment (GREECE), launched from Poker Flat Research Range in Poker Flat, Alaska. The mission intends to study classic “curls” in the nighttime aurora. GREECE mission seeks to understand what combination of events sets up these auroral curls in the plasma (charged heated gas) where auroras form. This information can help explain details of the sun-Earth connection and how energy and particles from the sun interact with Earth's magnetic system, the magnetosphere.
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington
Monday, March 10, 2014: Mercury’s uneven surface comes into sharp relief when the sun sits low on the planet’s eastern horizon. The relatively smooth floor…Read More »
of the Caloris basin lies on the right, with the rim and exterior of the basin to the left. The knobby texture outside of the basin may have arisen due to blocks of material ejected by the basin-forming impact. MESSENGER spacecraft acquired this image as part of the Mercury Dual Imaging System's high-incidence-angle base map. High incidence angles, obtained when the sun sits near the horizon, create long shadows that accentuate the small-scale topography of geologic features, as seen here.
Credit: NASA, ESA, and R. Sahai (Jet Propulsion Laboratory)
Tuesday, March 11, 2014: A nebula known as AFGL 4104, or Roberts 22, appears like a cosmic butterfly. A star nearing the end of its life has flung off…Read More »
its outer layers, causing the nebula to emerge in this striking form. The lobes of Roberts 22 show a complex structure, with countless intersecting loops and filaments. The object currently exists as a preplanetary nebula, a short-lived phase that begins when a dying star has expelled much of the material in its outer layers into space, ending as the stellar remnant heats up enough to ionize surrounding gas clouds, causing them to glow. About 400 years ago, the star at the center of Roberts 22 lost its outer shells, which blasted outwards to form this butterfly. Soon, the central star will be hot enough to ionize the surrounding gas, thus evolving into a full planetary nebula.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014: A large group of active regions on the sun produced many different magnetic loops floating over them in a period of a little…Read More »
more than two days, March 4-6, 2014. The orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the loops in extreme ultraviolet light, as they consist of charged particles spiraling along magnetic field lines. This image comes from a video.
Thursday, March 13, 2014: Astrophotographer Miguel Claro captured the first quarter moon on March 7, 2014, one day before first quarter phase. The sun…Read More »
illuminated 44% of the moon’s disk at that point, and the moon floated at a distance of about 246,000 miles (396,000 km) from Earth. Craters stand out dramatically on the moon’s surface owing to the angle of the sun’s rays. At center lies the vast lunar mare, Mare Serenitatis, with the well-known Mare Tranquillitatis to the lower-right. Claro is based in Lisbon, Portugal. [See more reader skywatching photos.]
Friday, March 14, 2014: Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft shows a sand dune field in a Southern highlands crater on the red planet. The sun lay only…Read More »
5 degrees above the horizon when the spacecraft captured this image, producing deep shadows, with dune crests sticking up sharply into the sunlight. The bright patches which appear bluish in enhanced color arise from seasonal frost accumulating as this hemisphere approaches winter. Image released March 12, 2014.
Monday, March 17, 2014: The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter used its camera to obtain this view of the eastern wall of Dionysius crater on the moon. The lighter-colored…Read More »
areas in the photo represent debris, or talus, flowing down the slopes of the crater wall. The dark areas consist of the lunar mare, dark basaltic material created in volcanic eruptions. The mare shows a banded or striated appearance, which may have resulted from a series of lava flows in the area. Dionysius crater lies on the western edge of Mare Tranquillitatis (the Sea of Tranquility) on the moon. Image released March 13, 2014.
Tuesday, March 18, 2014: The Milky Way galaxy appears to arc through the clear night sky in this panoramic image taken at the European Southern Observatory’s…Read More »
Paranal Observatory in Chile. Those living in crowded, light-polluted cities rarely get the chance to enjoy such a sight. The Ancient Greeks thought that our home galaxy, as it appeared in the sky, resulted from the work of the gods. Their legends told that this cloudy streak represented the breast milk of Hera, wife of Zeus. The Ancient Greeks also created the name “Milky Way.” The Hellenistic phrase Γαλαξίας κύκλος, pronounced galaxias kyklos, means “milky circle”, providing the root for the modern name. ESO Photo Ambassador Gabriel Brammer took this image. At the right side, an unidentified astronomer visiting Paranal stands and admires the view with a bit of a blurry head.
Wednesday, March 19, 2014: Astrophotographer Tim Crippin sent in an image of star trails over Medford, Oregon. He writes in an e-mail message to Space.com…Read More »
that he "took about 200 shots to create this image using a Canon T3i and a 18mm lens at f/4.5 … camera settings were ISO 400, 30 second exposures." Image submitted March 12, 2014. [See more reader photos.]
Credit: Koichi Wakata (via Twitter as @Astro_Wakata)
Thursday, March 20, 2014: Astronaut Koichi Wakata tweeted this photo of New York City from aboard the International Space Station on March 18, 2014. He…Read More »
wrote: “Flew over New York City earlier today. Nice view! pic.twitter.com/RMvAjWSABI” North lies roughly to the top right of the photo. The Hudson River flows down from upper right, passing by the borough of the Bronx, then the west side of Manhattan Island at center, where the river empties into New York Harbor, and further into the Atlantic Ocean, bottom left. Long Island, including the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, stretches from lower right to the center. Water outlines the borough of Staten Island at center left. New Jersey sits above and to the left. If you look at the photo closely enough, you may see the headquarters of Space.com.
Friday, March 21, 2014: This still from a video taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory on March 12-13, 2014 shows the sun unleashing a M-9.3 flare from…Read More »
an active region right at the Sun's edge. The flare fell just short of gaining X class status (the largest). The bright flash provides the tell-tale sign of a flare. The flare’s brightness causes intense saturation and blooming above and below the flare region on the CCD detector. The brightness also caused extended diffraction patterns to spread out across the SDO imager. The still shows the peak of the flare at 22:38 UT on March 12, 2014. SDO took the video images in extreme ultraviolet light, showing ionized iron at 10 million degrees.
Monday, March 24, 2014: Astrophotographer David Finlay sent in an image of the Aurora Australis. He obtained the image on Feb. 20, 2014, at Saddleback…Read More »
Mountain, Kiama, NSW, Australia, which is a 1-1/2 hour drive south of Sydney. He writes in a press release for his proposed TV series, “Clear Skies”: “Nobody associates observing aurora from a location near Sydney, Australia. People think I'm lying when I tell them I've seen aurora from 34 degrees south nine times over the last 12 years, and last month was my 9th time. If you're vigilant, and know when and where to observe, it's not just possible to observe aurora from extreme latitudes, it's easy and exciting! … photographer Rudi Vavra [and I] have decided to create a series of independently-produced documentaries of our astro-adventures. We capture eclipses, comets, transits, meteor showers, and aurora on video (including time lapse) … “
Tuesday, March 25, 2014: The night sky over Cerro Paranal in the Atacama Desert of Chile has an unusual distorted appearance in this image. European Southern…Read More »
Observatory (ESO) photo ambassador Gabriel Brammer used a fish-eye lens to create this spectacular circular effect. The 360-degree view shows the Very Large Telescope (VLT) platform, with the four VLT Unit Telescopes (bottom left), each about 25 meters tall, observing the night sky, one of them pointing a laser up into the night. The laser provides an artificial guide star for calibration purposes. The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, two of the closest galaxies to our own, appear as blurry smudges just above the laser beam. The photographer created the image from a number of different wide-angle pictures, stitched together.
Wednesday, March 26, 2014: Sunrise glimmered behind the Soyuz launch pad shortly before the Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft rolled out on a train to the launch…Read More »
pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, on March, 23, 2014. Launch of the Soyuz rocket took place on March 26. The spacecraft carried Expedition 39 Soyuz Commander Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos, Flight Engineer Steven Swanson of NASA, and Flight Engineer Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos to International Space Station, beginning their six-month mission.
Friday, March 28, 2014: NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope captured galaxy NGC 4395 in infrared light, as shown here. This dwarf galaxy pales in comparison…Read More »
to our Milky Way galaxy, nearly 1,000 times more massive than NGC 4395. The galaxy has the appellation "bulgeless" because it lacks a large collection of stars at its center. Astronomers using NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), have found more evidence that bulgeless galaxies harbor supermassive black holes at their center, contrary to what previous theories have suggested. This image shows an actively feeding supermassive black hole residing in the galaxy's nucleus, as seen by the bright red source. The feeding supermassive black hole provides most of the infrared light coming from the galaxy's center.