Image of the Day: October 2012

I Wish to Melt Into You, Aurora

NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon, using VIIRS Day-Night Band data from the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP) and the University of Wisconsin's Community Satellite Processing Package

Monday, October 15, 2012: A large coronal mass ejection erupted from the sun Oct. 4-5, 2012, hurling energetic particles into the Earth’s magnetosphere, producing many beautiful auroral displays on Earth. [Amazing Auroras: Northern Lights of October 2012 (Photos)

Jump They Say

Red Bull Stratos/Red Bull Content Pool

Tuesday, October 16, 2012: After flying to an altitude of 128,100 feet (39,045 meters) in a helium-filled balloon over Roswell, New Mexico, Felix Baumgartner begins his record-breaking jump from the edge of space, Oct. 14, 2012.

— Tom Chao

Living Out in L.A., Such a Beautiful Day

California Science Center (via Twitter as @casciencecenter)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012: The California Science Center tweeted this picture of retired shuttle Endeavour rolling east through the streets of Los Angeles early on the morning of October 14, 2012. They wrote: “Thru Arlington, into the sunrise“

— Tom Chao

Brother, Can You Spare a Planetary Nebula?


Thursday, October 18, 2012: Planetary nebula IC 5148 lies about 3000 light-years away in the constellation of Grus (The Crane). The nebula, with a diameter of a couple of light-years, expands at over TK miles (50 kilometers) per second, making it one of the fastest expanding planetary nebulas. (The term “planetary nebula” is a misnomer created by early astronomers’ mistaking the objects for giant planets.) The ring-like appearance of IC 5148 led astronomers to nickname it the Spare Tyre Nebula.

— Tom Chao

I Want to Break Free


Friday, October 19, 2012: A large prominence sprouted from the sun and leapt off into space Oct. 6-7, 2012. This image combines the sun observed in extreme UV light by STEREO Ahead spacecraft with STEREO’s view of the corona in white light. Prominences consist of clouds of cooler plasma hovering above the sun before breaking away or fading.

— Tom Chao

Galileo, Galileo

ESA–S. Corvaja

Monday, October 22, 2012: Soyuz lifted off on Oct. 12, 2012, from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. It placed the second pair of Galileo In-Orbit Validation satellites into orbit. The satellites are part of Europe’s global satellite navigation system.

— Tom Chao

Give It a Whirl

Jason Hullinger

Tuesday, October 23, 2012: Astrophotographer Jason Hullinger took some shots of the Orionid meteor shower in Red Canyon State Park, CA near Mojave/California City, Oct. 21, 2012. This image of star trails includes about 40 minutes of exposures. Two meteors appear at the right side.

— Tom Chao

Corona Light

NASA GSFC/Michael Benson/Kinetikon Pictures. © All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012: The just-released book "Planetfall: New Solar System Visions" by Michael Benson (Abrams) showcases spectacular space vistas. This photo by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) displays the solar corona and magnetic loops during an eclipse of the sun by the Earth. The edge of the Earth does not appear perfectly sharp because some light filters through the Earth’s atmosphere, which varies in density. Image obtained April 2, 2011.

— Tom Chao

Gimme Fuel, Gimme Fire

NASA/Bill Ingalls

Thursday, October 25, 2012: A Soyuz rocket with three Expedition 33/34 crew members, Soyuz Commander Oleg Novitskiy, Flight Engineer Kevin Ford of NASA and Flight Engineer Evgeny Tarelkin of ROSCOSMOS, launched to the International Space Station on October 23, 2012, from Baikonur, Kazakhstan. [See full gallery.]

— Tom Chao

From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea

Michael Humpherson/

Friday, October 26, 2012: Astrophotographer Michael Humpherson caught an Orionid meteor on Panther Beach, just north of Santa Cruz, CA, on Oct. 24, 2012. He writes: "I was setting [up] for a few shots of the Milky Way on the beach — the moon was still too high — [and] was seeing how they came out when the asteroid came blasting in above me ... I caught the start of it, and the sea turning almost green with the light as it exploded."

— Tom Chao

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