Space Image of the Day Gallery (June 2014)

Cosmic Egg

ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Whitman College

Monday, June 16, 2014: Herschel Space Observatory spotted a ring of dusty material while observing a huge cloud of gas and dust called NGC 7538 with the sharpest resolution to date. The gigantic ring structure sits at the center-top of this image. The roughly egg-shaped ring contains the mass of 500 suns, with a long axis stretching about 35 light-years and its short axis about 25 light-years. Possibly an O-type star created the expanding puff with strong winds or by dying in a supernova, but no trace of an O-type star exists in the center of the ring. Perhaps a big star blew the bubble and moved away from the scene.

— Tom Chao

Abell 36

Adam Block/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona

Tuesday, June 17, 2014: Planetary nebula Abell 36 lies 780 light years away in the constellation of Virgo. The object is an emission nebula, and while called a “planetary nebula,” that term misleads, as it refers to something that has nothing to do with planets. Early observations by astronomer William Herschel led him to coin the term as this class of objects resembled planets in his early telescope. Image obtained by Adam Block and guests of the April 2014 Astrophotography with Adam Block Experience, at the Mount Lemmon SkyCenter. The facility stands on Steward Observatory's "sky island" observing site just north of Tucson, Arizona.

— Tom Chao

In and Around the Lake

Jon Secord

Wednesday, June 18, 2014: Astrophotographer Jon Secord sent in a photo of the Milky Way glowing in the sky and reflecting in a lake at Lake Francis State Park in Pittsburg, New Hampshire. The lake covers 2000 acres near the Connecticut Lakes of the Great North Woods region. Secord writes in an email message to “At first I found the composition a little boring, but a fellow photographer helped me put it into perspective — I'm photographing the core of our galaxy reflecting off of a lake.”

— Tom Chao

X Marks the Spot

Solar Dynamics Observatory/NASA

Thursday, June 19, 2014: The Solar Dynamics Observatory viewed a powerful active region rotating into view and producing two X-class flares (the strongest) on June 10, 2014. The still image from a video shows the first of the two flares. The same active region produced another X-class flare and a M-class (medium strength) flare on the following day.

— Tom Chao

The Rising of the Moon

Leah Burgess

Friday, June 20, 2014: Astrophotographer Leah Burgess sent in a photo of the Honey Moon of June 2014 taken from in Dunmore East, County Waterford, Ireland, looking out at Hook Lighthouse, County Wexford, Ireland. She mentions in an email message to that she had to wait for the moon to rise above the haze and clouds to get the shot. Image obtained on June 13, 2014.

— Tom Chao

Come from the Shadows

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Monday, June 23, 2014: Saturn’s moon Atlas emerges from the planet’s shadow. The Cassini spacecraft obtained the image in visible light on Jan. 23, 2014. Sunlight at the distance of Saturn glmmers feebly compared to that shining on Earth, yet objects hidden from the sun in shadow of Saturn lose much warmth. Researchers observe the cooling and warming of the moons of Saturn as they enter and leave the ringed planet’s shadow to further understanding of the physical properties of Saturn's moons.

— Tom Chao

Beam Me Up

ESO/G. Lombardi (

Tuesday, June 24, 2014: The Very Large Telescope (VLT), based at ESO's Paranal Observatory in Chile, shines a laser guide — or "artificial" — star into the sky to help overcome the blurring effects of the atmosphere. The laser guide star helps astronomers calibrate the telescope's adaptive optics system, reducing distortion caused by light passing through Earth’s atmosphere. Overhead, the Milky Way shines above the Unit Telescopes of the VLT.

— Tom Chao


ESA/Hubble & NASA; Acknowledgement: Nick Rose;

Wednesday, June 25, 2014: This spiral galaxy NGC 2441 lies in the northern constellation of Camelopardalis (The Giraffe). It contains intriguing supernova SN1995E (white dot roughly at the center of the image). Supernova SN1995E falls into the class of 1a supernova, meaning it formed from a binary system in which a white dwarf star pulled matter from its companion until the white dwarf became unstable and exploded. SN1995E also seems interesting in that recent observations of this supernova suggest that it displays a phenomenon known as a light echo, where dust along our line of sight scatters and deflects light, making it appear to “echo” outwards from the source. Image released June 23, 2014.

— Tom Chao

Evening Dew

Aaron D. Priest

Thursday, June 26, 2014: Astrophotographer Aaron D. Priest sent in a photo of the Milky Way reflecting in a pond at his house in Lee, Maine, on June 19, 2014.. He writes in an email message to “This was taken a little after astronomical twilight (23:02) and before moonrise (47% at 00:07) when the sky was at its darkest. There was a lot of beautiful air glow last night, and a crazy amount of dew. The light on the grass and trees is from my kitchen window.”

— Tom Chao

Purple Rain

Paul Zizka/

Friday, June 27, 2014: Astrophotographer Paul Zizka sent in a photo of an auroral display in the Canadian Rockies. He took his self-portrait under an umbrella aurora over Castle Mountain and the Bow River at Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada, on June 7, 2014. He stands at lower left with headlamp. On Facebook, he mentions that he used a Sigma 15mm fisheye lens to capture the view.

— Tom Chao

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