Space Image of the Day Gallery (September 2014)

Mistaken Identity

Adam Block/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona

Monday, Sept. 15, 2014: Planetary nebula IC 1295 lies 3300 light-years away in the constellation Scutum (The Shield). The term “planetary nebula” derives from the mistaken observations of astronomer William Herschel in the 1780s. He thought the rounded shapes of these objects resembled planets. Image captured June-July 2014.

— Tom Chao

Open Your Eyes, Look Up to the Skies and See

ESO/J. Pérez

Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014: European Southern Observatory's La Silla Observatory stands against the Milky Way. La Silla represents the first observatory built in Chile by ESO, in the 1960s. On the hill in the center stands the rectangular New Technology Telescope (NTT) on the left, and the ESO 3.6-meter telescope, with dome, to the right. The 3.58-meter NTT began operations in 1989, noted as the first in the world to possess a computer-controlled main mirror to optimize image quality.

— Tom Chao

You Pull Me Apart

ESA/Hubble & NASA; Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt (

Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014: This Hubble Space Telescope photo shows galaxy NGC 6872 lying in the constellation of Pavo (The Peacock). The galaxy’s odd shape stems from interactions with galaxy IC 4970, above. Both galaxies lie about 300 million light-years from Earth. NGC 6872 stretches over 500,000 light-years across, making it the second largest known spiral galaxy. Image released Sept. 15, 2014.

— Tom Chao

The Legendary Pink Dots


Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014: A pulsar glows at the center of this image. This pulsar, called PSR J1640-4631, lies in in the inner portion of the Milky Way galaxy, roughly 42,000 light-years away. Pulsars are the cores of stars that ended their lives in supernova explosions, the cores being highly magnetic and rotating extremely rapidly. NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) discovered the pulsar by identifying its pulse -- a rotating beam of X-rays that passes over Earth every 0.2 seconds. The High Energy Stereoscopic System (H.E.S.S.) in Namibia originally identified the object as an intense source of gamma rays. NuSTAR assisted in tracing the source of the gamma rays to a pulsar. The other pink dots in this picture arise from low-energy X-rays detected by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory.

— Tom Chao

Big Light in Sky


Friday, Sept. 19, 2014: Canada's automated aurora camera tweeted this photo, writing: "AURORAMAX GALLERY • Latest photo of #aurora borealis above #Yellowknife NWT taken at 02:40 MDT on Sept 13, 2014."

— Tom Chao

Comet Jacques Has Lost Its Tail

Chris Schur/

Monday, Sept. 22, 2014: Astrophotographer Chris Schur sent in a photo of Comet Jacques taken on September 14, 2014, from Payson, Arizona. He writes in an email to “The comet changed to a beautiful "teal" coloration from the previous emerald green. This change was accompained by the loss of the comet’s thin, tenuous gas tail. … [As] you will see from the attached image, the comet is crossing the ultra-dense Cygnus star clouds near Alberio. Quite a mixture of stellar spectral types we can see in this image [in the form of] multi-hued star trails, [while] the comet appears frozen against the rapidly moving star background in this hour-long exposure.”

— Tom Chao

A Dragon Soars Over Earth


Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014: A Dragon space capsule packed with 2.5 tons of experiments, food and other gear is seen docked at the International Space Station in this photo by NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman aboard the orbiting lab. SpaceX launched the Dragon capsule on Sept. 21, delivering the 20 live mice and the world's first 3D printer in space with the mission.

-- Tariq Malik

The Light Show Below

NASA/Reid Wiseman via Twitter (@Astro_Reid)

Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014: NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman captured this spectacular view of auroras over Earth as he gazed out a window on the International Space Station on Sept. 24, 2014. In a Twitter post, he wrote: "Some incredible northern #aurora this morning. @Astro_Alex and I couldn't stop looking." @Astro_Alex is European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst.

-- Tariq Malik

A Distant Galaxy, a Violent Jet

ESA/Hubble & NASA

Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014: The distant galaxy NGC 7793 dazzles in this new view captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. While it may look like a quiet galaxy, NGC 7793 is a violent place about 13 million light-years from Earth. NGC 7793 harbors a microquasar — a system with a black hole feeding off a companion star — hiding in its disk. The microquasar is unleashing powerful jets that are at work creating a bubble of hot gas 1,000 light-years across, according to a photo description. The pink regions in the image are areas of active star formation. This image was released on Sept. 22, 2014.

-- Tariq Malik

Bon Voyage

NASA/Joel Kowsky

Friday, Sept. 26, 2014: NASA astronaut Barry "Butch" Wilmore waves farewell to family and friends as he leaves the Cosmonaut Hotel at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for a Sept. 26 launch to the International Space Station on the six-month Expedition 41/42 mission. The launch was a success, with Wilmore and crewmates Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova reaching the space station six hours later. Read the Full Story.

-- Tariq Malik

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