Image of the Day: December 2012

Everything's All Right, Yes

Chris Spiegel

Monday, December 17, 2012: reader Chris Spiegel sent in his photo of a Geminid meteor under the Ocean Grove, NJ, pier, taken Dec. 14, 2012. He wrote: "The pier was heavily damaged during Hurricane Sandy in October. The little gnome guy used to sit on the side of the Ocean Grove Fishing Club building at the end of the pier that has since washed away. Somehow he was recovered and placed back in his spot with a sign reading "Down the Shore Everything's All Right."

— Tom Chao

Soyuz, the Red-Nozzled Rocket

NASA/Carla Cioffi

Tuesday, December 18, 2012: This view of the Soyuz rocket rolling to the launch pad on a train at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan reveals a burst of bright colors in an almost surreal way on Dec. 17, 2012. The aft end of the rocket shows bright red engine nozzles, standing out starkly against the blue sky. The Soyuz rocket will launch on Dec.19, 2012, carrying Expedition 34/35 Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn of NASA, Soyuz Commander Roman Romanenko and Expedition 35 Commander Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to the International Space Station.

— Tom Chao

Marquee Idols

Chris Hadfield (via Twitter @Cmdr_Hadfield)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012: Commander Chris Hadfield tweeted this photo, carrying on the tradition of NASA making parody movie posters for each mission. He wrote: “Russian crew poster. Happy to be cast as Tommy Lee Jones :)” [See our gallery of crew posters.]

— Tom Chao

A Spectral Suspension

Adam Block/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona

Thursday, December 20, 2012: Planetary nebula NGC 1535 lies in the constellation of Eridanus.

— Tom Chao

Don't You Know That You Are a Shooting Star?

John Chumack

Friday, December 21, 2012: John Chumack sent in this photo of Geminid meteors taken on Dec. 12, 2012, at his observatories in John Bryan State Park, Yellow Springs, OH. He wrote: “I was seeing one or two meteors every minute or so … counted over 400 last night during the peak, definitely one of the best Geminid showers I’ve seen in over 20 years of shooting and viewing them! The hourly rates were up around 60–70 per hour!”

Rocketin’ Around the Christmas Tree

Chris Hadfield (via Twitter @Cmdr_Hadfield)

Monday, December 24, 2012: Merry Christmas and happy holidays from! Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield, commander of Expedition 34/35 to the International Space Station, tweeted this photo on Dec. 2, 2012. He wrote: "Cosmonaut Tree Ornament - it's beginning to look a lot like spaceflight :)"

— Tom Chao

Santa’s Got a Brand New Bag-Carrying Spacecraft


Tuesday, December 25, 2012: Merry Christmas from NASA and from! In NASA’s 2012 holiday poster, Santa ditches his reindeer for a spacecraft to deliver presents that have all been International Space Station certified. (Santa needs no pressurized suit, apparently.) In the background, NASA’s future projects, the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft, appear. For a black-and-white version to color, visit

— Tom Chao

We Could Burn Like the Northern Lights


Wednesday, December 26, 2012: The Canadian Space Agency's AuroraMAX automated camera photographed this aurora over Yellowknife on December 2, 2012.

— Tom Chao

Another Galaxy

ESA/Hubble & NASA

Thursday, December 27, 2012: Galaxy ESO 318-13 lies millions of light-years from Earth, but Hubble Space Telescope shows it with remarkable clarity in this image. The bright star that appears to shine from within the galaxy actually belongs to our galaxy, the Milky Way, and sits much closer to us than ESO 318-13. Other galaxies appear as tiny discs throughout the photograph. A distant spiral galaxy clearly shines through ESO 318-13 at the right hand side of the image.

— Tom Chao

As the World Rolls ‘Round

ESO/B. Tafreshi

Friday, December 28, 2012: A long camera exposure of the night sky over the Chajnantor Plateau in the Chilean Andes appears to stretch the stars of the Milky Way into graceful arcs. This photo shows the sky above the Chajnantor Plateau, home of the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) telescope, in the foreground. APEX is a pathfinder for the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), a telescope that ESO will complete building in 2013. Image released Dec. 10, 2012.

— Tom Chao

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