Image of the Day: September 2012

Big Light in Sky

Dale Cupp/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter

Monday, September 17, 2012: Zodiacal light was visible at the Mt. Lemmon Skycenter in Arizona on September 15, 2012. This sky phenomenon is caused by sunlight reflecting off the dust cloud surrounding the sun, concentrated in the plane of the solar system.

— Tom Chao

ALMA by Starlight

ESO/B. Tafreshi

Tuesday, September 18, 2012: This panoramic photography of Chajnantor Plateau in Chile depicts the antennas of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) against a dramatic night sky. The plateau stands at 5,000 meters altitude in the Chilean Andes. Photo released September 17, 2012.

— Tom Chao

The Edge

ESA/Hubble & NASA

Wednesday, September 19, 2012: NGC 4634, a spiral galaxy, appears side-on to Earth observers. The disc of the galaxy shows slight warping caused by ongoing interactions with a nearby galaxy. Clearly defined dust lanes and bright nebulae lie scattered across the galaxy.

— Tom Chao

Deep in the Heart of Texas

Katherine Skipper

Thursday, September 20, 2012: reader Katherine Skipper sent in this photo of the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft carrying shuttle Endeavour over Austin, TX, on September 20, 2012. The shuttle is bound for Los Angeles, where it will reside in the California Science Center.

— Tom Chao

In the Tiki, Tiki, Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Bar

NASA/Paul E. Alers

Friday, September 21, 2012: This tool shed, nicknamed the Tiki Bar, stands in the area where space shuttle Endeavour will be demated from the NASA 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA). It is scheduled to arrive at Los Angeles International Airport, Friday, Sept. 21, 2012. The shuttle will go on display in the California Science Center's Samuel Oschin Space Shuttle Endeavour Display Pavilion later in fall 2012.

— Tom Chao

Shoot to Kill

Air Force Space Command Public Affairs

Monday, September 24, 2012: Air Force Space Command celebrated its 30th anniversary on September 1, 2012. This photo illustration depicts a milestone in the history of the command. On September 13, 1985, the first Air-Launched Anti-Satellite Missile (ASAT) successfully destroyed its target. Maj. Wilbert "Doug" Pearson flew a highly modified F-15A over Edwards Air Force Base, CA, and scored a direct hit on a satellite in orbit 340 miles above the Earth.

— Tom Chao

Forest Fire


Tuesday, September 25, 2012: The Mustang Complex wildland fires in Idaho burned 300,000 acres and forced hundreds of people to flee the area. An Expedition 33 crew member aboard the International Space Station took this photo while orbiting at the Earth at an altitude of approximately 260 statute miles. Photo released Sept. 19, 2012.

— Tom Chao

Floating on a Bubble

Adam Block/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona

Wednesday, September 26, 2012: Abell 39, a planetary nebula, lies about 7,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Hercules. The planetary nebula stage occurs late in a star's life cycle, as the outer part of the star is blown outward by strong stellar winds. (Planetary nebulas have nothing to do with planets. The term was coined by William Herschel, when he mistook the celestial objects for giant planets.) Image obtained in June 2012.

— Tom Chao

Red Red Sun


Thursday, September 27, 2012: The orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) caught these magnetic loops rising above the sun September 17-19, 2012. The spiraling loops appear when particles spinning along magnetic field lines emerge from beneath the Sun's surface. This image taken in the 171 Angstrom wavelength was tinted red for effect.

— Tom Chao


Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope/Coelum

Friday, September 28, 2012: An unusual space object appears as if about to devour a spiral galaxy. Cometary globule CG4 consists of a gas cloud with a dusty trail, reminiscent of a comet, though otherwise completely unlike a ice-and-rock clump. The apparent imminent devouring of the spiral galaxy at left results from a trick of perspective, as the galaxy actually lies a hundred million light-years distant from CG4.

— Tom Chao

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