Best Space Photos of the Week - April 26, 2014

Sun Unleashes Major Solar Flare (Video)

NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory

The sun erupted with a massive X1.3 solar flare late Thursday (April 24), triggering a temporary communications blackout on some parts of Earth. See video of the solar flare here. [Read the full story]

Photos: SpaceX's Amazing Falcon 9 Reusable Rocket Prototype in Pictures

SpaceX

SpaceX's Falcon 9 Reusable rocket prototype consists of the first stage of the firm's two-stage Falcon 9 rocket that is equipped with landing legs. See photos from the rocket's test flights in this Space.com gallery of SpaceX images and video stills. Here: The rocket stands atop a launch pad at the firm's McGregor, Texas test site after a successful debut flight to an altitude of 820 feet (250 meters). SpaceX's smaller Grasshopper reusable rocket prototype is visible at upper left. This image is a still from a SpaceX video released on April 18, 2014. [See more photos here.]

Mars Rover Curiosity Snaps First Asteroid Photo from Red Planet (Images)

NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/Texas A&M

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has captured the first image of asteroids as seen from the Red Planet surface. Curiosity's historic picture of the Martian sky shows Ceres and Vesta, two of the biggest bodies in the solar system's asteroid belt. [See more photos here.]

Flying Robots Play Theme of '2001: A Space Odyssey' (Video)

KMEL Robotics

In a futuristic symphony that not even Stanley Kubrick may have envisioned, a phalanx of flying robots plays the theme song from the late director's classic film "2001: A Space Odyssey."

'Ring of Fire' Annular Solar Eclipse of April 29, 2014 (Visibility Maps)

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Fred Espenak

This NASA chart shows the shadow path of the "ring of fire" annular solar eclipse of April 28-29, 2014. The region of maximum eclipse will be over an uninhabited region of Antarctica, but a partial solar eclipse will be visible from Australia.

'Losing the Dark': Video Illuminates Threat of Light Pollution

International Dark-Sky Assocation/Loch Ness Productions

Light pollution doesn't just make it more difficult for professional and backyard astronomers to observe the heavens, according to a film called "Losing the Dark." It also disrupts wildlife, wastes resources and adversely impacts human health.

MarsFest 2014 Photos: Exploring the Marslike Death Valley National Park

Douglas Messier

Ubehebe Crater in Death Valley is used as an anolog site to understand conditions in Gale Crater on Mars, which is now being explored by NASA's Curiosity rover.

Spacewalk Photos: NASA Astronauts Replace Dead Space Station Computer (April 23, 2014)

Koichi Wakata ‏(via Twitter as ‏@Astro_Wakata)

Astronaut Koichi Wakata tweeted this photo of one of two NASA astronauts spacewalking on April 23, 2014. He wrote: "Rick [Mastracchio] and Steve [Swanson] did a fantastic job on the spacewalk today." [See more photos here.]

Earth Day from Space: Satellite Snaps Far-Out Photo (Image)

NASA/NOAA

A U.S. satellite has captured the ultimate Earth Day view from space, showing the entire planet in a stunning group shot of humanity. See the amazing satellite photo. [See more photos here.]

Déjà Vu: Bright Fireball Explodes Over Russia (Video)

@RussiaToday (via youtube.com)

A super-bright meteor exploded over the northern Russian city of Murmansk early Saturday morning (April 19), a little more than a year after another airburst lit up the skies above Chelyabinsk, about 1,300 miles to the southeast. [See the video here.]

Stunning Hubble Telescope View Reveals Deep View of Universe (Video, Image)

NASA/ESA

A new photo from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captures a variety of celestial objects both near and far, providing a glimpse of many different stages of cosmic history all at once. [Read the full story here.]

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