Space Image of the Day Gallery (December 2014)

Eridania Basin on Mars

NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

Monday, Dec. 15, 2014: NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter obtaned this image of Eridania Basin region on Mars. The larger version of this photo shows inverted ridges (not visible here), which may have been connected to the channel that runs from roughly lower left to top center, showing a division in the center. Image released Dec. 10, 2014.

— Tom Chao

With the Moonlight Shining So Bright

Manish Mamtani

Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014: Astrophotographer Manish Mamtani sent in a photo of the Geminid meteor shower taking place Dec. 13-14, 2014, over the Frosty Drew Observatory in Charlestown, Rhode Island. Mamtani notes in an email message to “Even though there was [a] bright moon, still a lot of bright meteors could be seen.”

— Tom Chao

Nobody Tosses a Dwarf

ESA/Hubble & NASA; Acknowledgement: Nick Rose

Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014: Markarian 209 is classed as a blue compact dwarf galaxy. Galaxies of this type have a blue hue, compact size, rich amounts of gas, and low quantities of heavy elements. Markarian 209 contains diffuse gas, and star-forming regions pepper its core. This image captures it as it undergoes a burst of star formation, visible as the lighter blue cloudy region at the top right of the galaxy. Image released Dec. 15, 2014.

— Tom Chao

Goin’ Down to Mexico

Terry W. Virts (via Twitter as @Astro_Terry)

Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014: On Dec. 16, 2014, NASA Astronaut Terry W. Virts tweeted this photo of the west coast of Mexico with sunglint on the Pacific Ocean, taken aboard the International Space Station.

— Tom Chao

Snoop Droopy Droop

Solar Dynamics Observatory, NASA.

Friday, Dec. 19, 2014: An active region on the sun rotating into view on Dec. 7-9, 2014, seemed to emanate a series of elliptical, drooping loops, as seen by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. The loops consist of particles spiraling along magnetic field lines, apparent when viewed in a wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light. Above this group, other loops over another active region show tighter and less elongated shapes, ever changing.

— Tom Chao

Give Me the Green Light


Monday, Dec. 22, 2014: Canada's automated aurora camera tweeted this photo, writing: "AURORAMAX GALLERY • Latest photo of #aurora borealis above #Yellowknife NWT taken at 01:07 MST on December 6, 2014."

— Tom Chao

I ❤ Astronomy!

Jaspal Chadha/JK Observatory

Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2014: Astrophotographer Jaspal Chadha imaged the Heart Nebula over two night from his London, UK, location, on Dec. 6 & 7, 2014. The nebula (IC 1805) lies about 7,500 light years away in the constellation Cassiopeia. The entire nebula, with the distinctive shape that gives it its name, is not visible here. See more of Chadha’s work at

— Tom Chao

Catch a Falling Star

Monika Georgieva

Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2014: Astrophotographer Monika Georgieva sent in a photo of a Geminid meteor she captured on Dec. 14, 2014, near Varna, Bulgaria.

— Tom Chao

Italy from Space

e NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth

Thursday, Dec. 25, 2014: The Italian Peninsula glows with night lighting as seen from the International Space Station. The island of Sicily lies at lower right, at the “toe” of Italy. The brightest concentration of light just below the center of the image represents Naples, with Rome a bit to the left. A bright green line of airglow hangs above the limb of the Earth. The space station’s solar panels blot out the area at upper right. Image obtained Oct. 21, 2014.

— Tom Chao

Meteor Over Melbourne

Dean Weybury

Friday, Dec. 26, 2014: Astrophotographer Dean Weybury caught a Geminid meteor in Melbourne, Australia, on Dec. 14, 2014.

— Tom Chao

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Tom Chao
Tom Chao has contributed to as a producer and writer since 2000. As a writer and editor, he has worked for the Voyager Company, Time Inc. New Media, HarperCollins and Worth Publishers. He has a bachelor’s degree in Cinema Production from the University of Southern California, and a master’s degree from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Tom on Google+.