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Best Space Photos of the Week - Dec. 1, 2013

Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Paths Seen from Space (Photo)

NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon

Amid one of the busiest travel weeks for Americans, NASA released a nighttime image of the nation from space, illuminating the arteries of transportation that will get so much use around Thanksgiving Day. [See More Photos]

Amazing Images Show Northern Lights as Seen by Naked Eye (Photos)

While observing the aurora borealis is a truly awe-inspiring and often breathtaking experience, the images that come out of modern-day cameras do not match what an observer witnesses in real life.

Dragon's Head Nebula Is a Beauty, Not Beast, in Amazing Telescope Views (Video)

ESO

The European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope has imaged the Large Magellanic Cloud, one of the closest galaxies to the Milky Way in incredible detail. See the photo here.

Chang'e 3 Photos: China's 1st Moon Lander & Rover Mission

China National Space Administration

An artist's illustration of China's Yutu (Jade Rabbit) moon rover on the lunar surface. The rover and a lander are part of China's Chang'e 3 mission to the moon's Bay of Rainbows.

Comet ISON Spotted by Mercury Probe, Sun Observatory Ahead of Thursday Solar Encounter

NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington/Southwest Research Institute

A NASA probe around Mercury has returned new photos of Comet ISON, and other spacecraft are lining the icy wanderer up as its much-hyped solar flyby looms on Thursday.

In a State of Flux

Adam Block/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona

Spiral galaxy NGC 7497 lies in the constellation Pegasus, about 60 million light-years away from Earth. The brownish haze that partially obscures the galaxy is the Integrated Flux Nebula.

Fly! Be Free!

Rick Mastracchio ‏(via Twitter as @AstroRM)

Three small CubeSats float above the Earth after deployment from the International Space Station (ISS). The Japanese JEM Small Satellite Orbital Deployer (JSSOD) device attached to the robotic arm of the Kibo module launched the 3 satellites into orbit. Astronauts deployed two NanoSatisfi CubeSats named ArduSat1 and ArduSatX as well as a Vietnamese micro satellite, named Pico Dragon. Astronaut Rick Mastracchio tweeted the photo from the station on Nov. 19, 2013. He wrote: “The small satellites a few moments after deployment. pic.twitter.com/FkyYJ20XnA"

Chase the Stars

ESO/B. Tafreshi (a href="http://www.twanight.org/tafreshi">twanight.org)

The familiar Pleiades Cluster, which was already known to most ancient civilisations and the constellation of Orion (The Hunter) glow above the antennas of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) on the Chajnantor Plateau in the Atacama Deset of Chile. In the upper left corner of the picture, the Pleiades Cluster shines as a tight bunch of young stars. The constellation of Orion (The Hunter) clearly glows over the closest of the antennas. The three blue stars in a line forming the hunter’s belt lies just to the left of the red light. In mythology, Orion, the hunter, chased the Pleiades, the beautiful daughters of Atlas, a story that still plays out nightly in the sky. Image released Nov. 25, 2013.

Sometimes My Arms Bend

Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope/Coelum

Spiral galaxy Messier 90 lies in the constellation of Virgo, about 60 million light years from Earth. Companion galaxy IC 3583 lies nearby. The two galaxies engage in a close encounter, the spiral arms of the larger one showing the strong effect of the tidal interaction, warping above the plane of the galaxy.

Beneath Thy Shining Skies

AuroraMAX

Canada's automated aurora camera tweeted this photo on Nov. 9, 2013. The tweet read: "Latest #photo of #aurora borealis above #Yellowknife, NWT taken at 01:12 MST on November 9, 2013. pic.twitter.com/9VBQVCF29p."

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