Space Image of the Day Gallery (January 2016)

Image of the Day Archives

NASA, ESA and Orsola De Marco (Macquarie University)

For older Image of the Day pictures, please visit the Image of the Day archives. Pictured: NGC 2467.

Plane and Moon

Eric Statham

Friday, Jan. 1, 2016: Eric Statham of Columbia, Missouri, caught a plane transiting the full moon. He writes in an email message to “I was taking photos of the 2015 Christmas moon with my new camera, and an airplane just happened to fly in front of it. It is a pretty cool shot and very unexpected, especially since I am not technically a professional photographer. My mother said I should send it to NORAD and ask if it was Santa going home after finishing up the night since they do the Santa Tracker each year. LOL. I did email them earlier and ask … “

— Tom Chao

Stick the Landing

SpaceX (via Flickr as SpaceX Photos)

Monday, Jan. 4, 2016: On Dec. 21, 2015, SpaceX's ORBCOMM-2 mission carried 11 satellites into space, along with achieving the private company's goal of landing the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket back at Cape Canaveral, Florida. [See our our full story with more photos.]

— Tom Chao

Swallowed Up

SA/Hubble & NASA and S. Smartt (Queen's University Belfast)

Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016: Spiral galaxy NGC 4845 lies over 65 million light-years away in the constellation of Virgo (The Virgin). We can clearly see, from our vantage point, the galaxy’s spiral structure consisting of a flat and dust-mottled disc surrounding a bright galactic bulge. NGC 4845’s contains at its center a gigantic version of a black hole, known as a supermassive black hole, evidenced by the motion of the galaxy’s innermost stars, which orbit the center faster than if there were no black hole present. In 2013, researchers observed a violent flare at the center of NGC 4845, which resulted from the galaxy swallowing up a large planet or brown dwarf. Image released Jan. 4, 2016.

— Tom Chao

Meteors Over Nantucket

Bill Hoenk

Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016: Astrophotographer Bill Hoenk caught the Quadrantid meteor shower at Pocomo Beach over the island of Nantucket, Massachusetts, on Jan. 4, 2015.

— Tom Chao

‘Earth Without Art Is Just Eh’

Scott Kelly (via Twitter as @StationCDRKelly)

Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016: NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, aboard the International Space Station, tweeted his photo of Africa taken on Jan. 4, 2015. He wrote: "#Africa #EarthArt Earth without art is just Eh. #YearInSpace." Kelly is continuing his Year in Space mission.

— Tom Chao

Happy 20th Annversary to SOHO!


Friday, Jan. 8, 2016: ESA/NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) recently marked the 20th anniversary of its launch on Dec. 2, 1995. This image, consisting of two images from 2002, shows an enormous coronal mass ejection, and was selected by visitors to SOHO’s website as the winner of the SOHO birthday image contest. SOHO used its coronagraph to take the background image on Jan. 8, 2002. The instrument blocks the sun’s face to permit viewing of the much fainter solar atmosphere. SOHO's Extreme ultraviolet Imaging Telescope captured the sun at the center of the image on a different day.

— Tom Chao

The Stars Look Very Different Today

Chris Hadfield (via YouTube)

Monday, Jan. 11, 2016: In May 2013, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield released a video of himself performing David Bowie's song "Space Oddity" while aboard the International Space Station, featuring revised lyrics reflecting the reality of life in space. The video quickly grew into a viral sensation, with over 27 million views as of this writing. [See our full story with video.] David Bowie, whose lyrics included mentions of space travel, futuristic dystopias, and extraterrestrial life, died Jan 10, 2016, at the age of 69.

— Tom Chao

I ♥ Auroras

Marion Duignan

Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016: Skywatcher Marion Duignan recently went on vacation in Norway, and obtained this photo of herself beneath an auroral display in Tromsø during a Tromsø Safari/Northern Light Safari tour on Jan 6, 2016. She writes on Facebook: “Standing out in -7 degrees (Fahrenheit) for 5 hours was totally worth it.” Further she mentions in a message to “ … the locals were saying that these last few days were the coldest they've had all winter – and the lights have been especially bright because of the clear skies.”

— Tom Chao


ESA/Hubble & NASA; Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt

Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016: NGC 3597, the product of two merging galaxies, lies roughly 150 million light-years away in the constellation of Crater (The Cup). NGC 3597 will eventually evolve into a giant elliptical galaxy, a type increasing in numbers as galaxies coalesce into larger structures. As in some other elliptical galaxies, new stars form inside NGC 3597, owing to the phenomenon of galaxies smashing together and pooling their available gas and dust which triggers new rounds of star birth. Image released Jan. 11, 2016.

— Tom Chao

New Moon on Monday

Brandon Curtis Giesbrecht Friesen

Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016: Amateur photographer Brandon Curtis Giesbrecht Friesen sent in a photo of the new moon taken in the Menno Colony, Presidente Hayes Department, Paraguay, on Jan. 11, 2016. He notes that the 1-day-old crescent moon was setting on the horizon, and that the trees were illuminated by a streetlight.

— 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+.