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Pictures from Space! Our Image of the Day

Space can be a wondrous place, and we've got the pictures to prove it! Take a look at our favorite pictures from space here, and if you're wondering what happened today in space history don't miss our awesome On This Day in Space video show here!
 

The Nile Delta at Night

(Image credit: NASA)

Thursday, September 19, 2019: City lights around the Nile River and its delta sparkle by night in this stunning view from the International Space Station. When an Expedition 60 astronaut captured this photo, the International Space Station was flying 255 miles (410 kilometers) above the border between Sudan and Egypt around 1 a.m. local time on Sept. 2. — Hanneke Weitering
 

Southern Lights in Antarctica 

(Image credit: A. Mancini/ESA/IPEV/PNRA)

Wednesday, September 18, 2019: A brilliant aurora appears to rise like a glowing, green smoke plume from Concordia research station in Antarctica in this photo by  European Space Agency (ESA) photographer Alessandro Mancini. 

"I turn my gaze away from the horizon and dusk, there is a stripe in the sky that is not the Milky Way, at first just white and cloud-like, but there is no doubt — the green hues are visible and the curtain-like waves in the sky are unmistakable," ESA's on-site doctor Nadja Albertsen wrote in a blog post after witnessing the aurora at the remote research station. — Hanneke Weitering
 

Noctilucent Clouds Seen from Space

(Image credit: Luca Parmitano/ESA/Twitter)

Tuesday, September 17, 2019: A wispy layer of mesospheric clouds illuminates Earth's atmosphere in this photo taken from the International Space Station. European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano tweeted this photo from space, writing, "Mesospheric clouds tinge the sunset, south of the Indian Ocean." Mesospheric clouds, also known as noctilucent clouds, form 47 to 53 miles (76 to 85 kilometers) above Earth's surface, an altitude where water vapor can freeze into clouds of ice crystals. For comparison, the International Space Station orbits at an average altitude of 250 miles (400 km). — Hanneke Weitering
 

Hubble Eyes a Faint Galaxy in Cetus

(Image credit: ESA/Hubble/NASA/D. Calzetti)

Monday, September 16, 2019: The faint galaxy UGC 695 shimmers in deep space in this view from the Hubble Space Telescope. Located 30 million light-years away within the constellation Cetus (The Sea Monster), UGC 695 is considered a low-surface-brightness galaxy, which means that it's even dimmer than the background brightness of Earth’s atmosphere, which makes it difficult to observe. While galaxies like this don't contain as many stars as their brighter counterparts, they are rich with dark matter. — Hanneke Weitering
 

The Large Magellanic Cloud

(Image credit: ESO/VISTA VMC)

Friday, September 13, 2019: The Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), one of the Milky Way's closest galactic neighbors, gets a new close-up in this image from the European Southern Observatory's VISTA telescope, located at the Paranal Observatory in Chile. VISTA, which stands for the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy, has been studying this dwarf galaxy and its smaller galactic sibling, the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC),  for the past decade to image the two galaxies in unprecedented detail. The LMC is located about 163,000 light-years away from Earth, while the SMC is slightly farther away at a distance of 200,000 light-years. Both are satellite galaxies of the Milky Way. — Hanneke Weitering
 

An Eerie 'Eye' on Saturn

Saturn's south pole looks a bit unsettling in this infrared view from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. At the center of a 5,000-mile-wide (8,000 kilometers) storm is an eerie red "eye" that looks similar to the eye of a hurricane on Earth. However, this strange vortex doesn't behave in the same way as our Earthly hurricanes, with its cloudy rings rising 20 to 45 miles (30-75 km) above the storm's center. Cassini captured this view from Saturn's orbit in 2006, and citizen scientist Kevin Gill reprocessed it using near-infrared filtered images.

(Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI/CICLOPS/Kevin M. Gill/Flickr)

Thursday, September 12, 2019: Saturn's south pole looks a bit unsettling in this infrared view from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. At the center of a 5,000-mile-wide (8,000 kilometers) storm is an eerie red "eye" that looks similar to the eye of a hurricane on Earth. However, this strange vortex doesn't behave in the same way as our Earthly hurricanes, with its cloudy rings rising 20 to 45 miles (30-75 km) above the storm's center. Cassini captured this view from Saturn's orbit in 2006, and citizen scientist Kevin Gill reprocessed it using near-infrared filtered images. — Hanneke Weitering
 

9/11 Seen from Space

(Image credit: USGS)

Wednesday, September 11, 2019: After the Sept. 11 terror attack on New York City 18 years ago today, the United States Geological Survey's (USGS) Landsat 7 satellite captured this view of the aftermath from space. In this image, acquired by the satellite's Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) instrument on Sept. 12, 2001, a plume of smoke is seen rising from lower Manhattan, where the World Trade Center was destroyed. You can see more satellite and astronaut photos of the plume from space here. — Hanneke Weitering
 

Hubble Eyes a Small Galactic Neighbor

(Image credit: ESA/NASA/Hubble/LEGUS/B. Tully/D. Calzetti/Judy Schmidt)

Tuesday, September 10, 2019: This shimmering swarm of stars, captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, is an irregular dwarf galaxy named UGC 685. While its shape may be difficult to discern at first glance, UGC 685 is an unbarred spiral galaxy. It is located about 15 million light-years away from Earth in the constellation Pisces. — Hanneke Weitering
 

Dunes in Martian Craters

(Image credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona)

Monday, September 9, 2019: When NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter flew over Schroeter Crater on the Red Planet, it captured views of some interesting smaller craters within the crater's floor. The two impact craters shown here are located inside Schroeter Crater, which is about 190 miles (300 kilometers) wide, and they contain some intricate dune structures on their own crater floors. These Martian dunes were shaped by wind, much in the same way that dunes form on Earth. — Hanneke Weitering  
 

'Quiet' Caribbean After Hurricane Dorian

(Image credit: Luca Parmitano/ESA/Twitter)

Friday, September 6, 2019: In this astronaut's view of Earth from space, bright turquoise features ripple across the seafloor of the Caribbean shortly after Hurricane Dorian passed through the Bahamas. "Just a few miles away from the storm, the Caribbeans are incredibly quiet," European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano tweeted from the International Space Station on Wednesday (Sept. 4). To see photos of Hurricane Dorian from space, check out this Space.com gallery. — Hanneke Weitering
 

Earth Satellite Observes a Chain of Cyclones

(Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory/Joshua Stevens/NOAA/NEDIS)

Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019: Four tropical cyclones simultaneously churn across the Western Hemisphere in this image from the GOES-16 weather satellite. When GOES-16 captured the data for this natural-color composite on Wednesday (Sept. 4), both Hurricane Dorian in the Atlantic and Hurricane Juliette in the Pacific were Category 2 storms. Hurricane Dorian has since strengthened to a Category 3 storm. Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Fernand has made landfall in northeastern Mexico, and Tropical Storm Gabrielle is gaining strength over the eastern Atlantic. You can see a full-disk version of this image in higher resolution here. — Hanneke Weitering
 

Stellar Feedback in a Barred Spiral Galaxy

(Image credit: ESO/R. Leaman/D. Gadotti/K. Sandstrom/D. Calzetti)

Wednesday, September 4, 2019: In this new view of the barred spiral galaxy NGC 3351, massive bubbles of hot gas are erupting from the galaxy's nucleus. Those gas bubbles will affect the formation of new stars in the interstellar medium, or the space between the stars in the galaxy. This process of redistributing mass and energy in star-forming galaxies is known as "stellar feedback," and it is a driving force in galactic evolution. 

Also known as Messier 95, this particular galaxy is location about 33 million light years away from Earth in the constellation of Leo, the Lion. Astronomers captured this image using data from the Hubble Space Telescope and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile. — Hanneke Weitering
 

Hurricane Dorian Seen from Space

Hurricane Dorian swirls off the east coast of Florida in this view from the International Space Station. NASA astronaut Christina Koch shared this photo of the storm during the Labor Day holiday yesterday (Aug. 2), when she and her Expedition 60 crewmembers had the day off from work.

(Image credit: Christina Koch/NASA/Twitter)

Tuesday, August 3, 2019: Hurricane Dorian swirls off the east coast of Florida in this view from the International Space Station. NASA astronaut Christina Koch shared this photo of the storm during the Labor Day holiday yesterday (Aug. 2), when she and her Expedition 60 crewmembers had the day off from work. — Hanneke Weitering
 

Hubble Captures Planetary Nebula in Centaurus Constellation 

(Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, R. Wade et al)

Friday, August 30, 2019: Located around 10,000 light years away in the constellation Centaurus, a planetary nebula glows in this image by Hubble Space Telescope. A planetary nebula is the final stages in the life of a red giant star, as it ejects layers of ionized gas and the core of the star collapses in on itself. Observing planetary nebulae gives us a glimpse into the future of our own sun. — Passant Rabie
 

Reaching Out to Missions Far From Home

(Image credit: Jim Longbottom/ESA)

Thursday, August 29, 2019: The European Space Agency's Deep Space Antenna looks out into space, waiting for signals from ongoing missions. The antenna is located in Western Australia, and provides routine support to missions orbiting Mars, the Gaia Observatory and Europe's first mission to Mercury, BepiColombo. — Passant Rabie
 

Flying Dragon Sweeps Over Canadian Rocky Mountains

(Image credit: Christina Koch/Twitter)

Wednesday, August 28, 2019: Astronaut Christina Koch captured an image of the SpaceX Dragon capsule flying over the Canadian Rocky Mountains on its way back to Earth. The spacecraft departed from the International Space Station on August 27, carrying over a ton of science experiments and other gear to Earth for analysis by NASA staff. — Passant Rabie
 

Smoke Clouds Over Amazon Rainforest 

(Image credit: Luca Parmitano/ESA/NASA/Twitter)

Tuesday, August 27, 2019: As devastating fires continue to sweep through the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, astronaut Luca Parmitano captured a grim view of the smoke from the International Space Station. Parmitano tweeted out the images on August 26, saying that the smoke was visible for thousands of kilometers from the man-made fires. This year's Amazon fires have reached a record high, increasing by about 80% from previous dry seasons, according to Brazil's space research center (INPE). — Passant Rabie
 

Dying Star Sheds Its Outer Layer

(Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, R. Wade et al.)

Monday, August 26, 2019:  Hubble Space Telescope captured this image of a dying star after it shed its outer layers, blasting them off into space. The stellar object confused astronomers at first, who recorded the star as two objects rather than one due to the symmetrical lobes on either of its sides.  However, the lobes are formed of expanding clouds of material that are spreading outwards in opposite directions with the star at the center. — Passant Rabie
 

Earth's Glowing, Red Skin

(Image credit: Luca Parmitano/NASA/Twitter)

Friday, August 23, 2019: Astronaut Luca Parmitano captured this stunning view of the African continent from the International Space Station, as he marveled at the 'skin of Earth.' The image shows off Africa's red soil, a type of clay enriched with iron and aluminum, which covers large areas of the continent. (However, Parmitano did not specify which part of Africa he was flying over.) — Passant Rabie
 

Fires Rage Through the Amazon Rainforest

(Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory)

Thursday, August 22, 2019: Several fires are raging through the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, striking a devastating blow to the ongoing fight against climate change. Environmentalists are blaming the fires on people wanting to create more space for agricultural land. However, this year's fires have reached a record high, increasing by about 80%, according to Brazil's space research center (INPE). NASA's Aqua satellite captured this image of the fires burning through Brazil, as seen from space on August 11. — Passant Rabie
 

Throwback to the Great American Solar Eclipse

(Image credit: ESO/P. Horálek/Solar Wind Sherpas project)

Wednesday, August 21, 2019: Two years ago today, a rare coast-to-coast total solar eclipse swept across the continental United States, briefly turning day into night for millions of spectators from Oregon to South Carolina. ESO photographer Petr Horálek created this stunning composite of the moon and the sun's corona during totality by combining many exposures of varying duration. The moon is illuminated by light reflecting off the Earth, and some pink solar prominences are visible around its edge. — Hanneke Weitering
 

Hubble Gives Jupiter a Close-Up

(Image credit: NASA, ESA, A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center), and M.H. Wong (University of California, Berkeley)

Tuesday, August 20, 2019: Jupiter's Great Red Spot and several smaller storms are revealed in intricate detail in this new close-up image from the Hubble Space Telescope. Astronomers used imagery from the telescope's Wide Field Camera 3 to stitch together this flat, stretched-out map of the entire planet. — Hanneke Weitering
 

A Tiny Meteor in the Milky Way

(Image credit: Tony Corso)

Monday, August 19, 2019: Can you spot the meteor in the Milky Way? After taking this photo of the night sky over Mount Rainier in Washington state on July 30, astrophotographer Tony Corso was surprised to find a tiny trail of a meteor near the center of this image. Look for the short streaker on the right edge of the Milky Way's dusty band. 

The meteor was likely a member of either the Southern Delta Aquarid meteor shower or the Alpha Capricornids, both of which peaked at the end of July. It could have also been a Perseid meteor, although that shower didn't peak until about two weeks later. — Hanneke Weitering
 

An 'Inky Abyss'

In this new image from the Hubble Space Telescope, what looks like a top-down view of a jellyfish glowing in deep space is actually the planetary nebula NGC 2022. The cosmic orb of ionized gas was expelled from a dying red giant star located at its center. As the star sheds material into space, its core shrinks and grows hotter while emitting ultraviolet radiation that illuminates its gassy shell.

(Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, R. Wade)

Friday, August 16, 2019: In this new image from the Hubble Space Telescope, what looks like a top-down view of a jellyfish glowing in deep space is actually the planetary nebula NGC 2022. The cosmic orb of ionized gas was expelled from a dying red giant star located at its center. As the star sheds material into space, its core shrinks and grows hotter while emitting ultraviolet radiation that illuminates its gassy shell. — Hanneke 

'Diamond Ring' Over Argentina

(Image credit: Chirag Upreti)

Thursday, August 15, 2019: In this timelapse image of the Great South American Eclipse on July 2, the sun sets behind the Andes mountains as the moon crosses directly in front of it, creating a stunning "diamond ring" effect in the evening sky. Astrophotographer Chirag Upreti created this composite using images he captured from Bella Vista, Argentina.

"Totality occurred about 11 degrees above the horizon, and it was emotionally exhilarating to the naked eye, especially because it formed a beautiful connection with the Earth being so close to the horizon," Upreti told Space.com. — Hanneke Weitering
 

Andromeda and the Perseids

(Image credit: Omid Qadrdan)

Wednesday, August 14, 2019: Two meteors dart across the night sky near the Andromeda galaxy, the Milky Way's closest galactic neighbor, in this starry image captured by astrophotographer Omid Qadrdan during the peak of the Perseid meteor shower. Andromeda's tiny satellite galaxy Messier 110 is also visible in this photo, appearing as a fuzzy "star" above and to the left of the galaxy's bright core. — Hanneke Weitering
 

Fire and Fireballs Over Macedonia

(Image credit: Stojan Stojanovski)

Tuesday, August 13, 2019: Several bright Perseid meteor dash across the sky near a wildfire in Macedonia in this fisheye view by Stojan Stojanovski. He captured this photo during the peak of the Perseid meteor shower last night. In the center of what appears to be a ring of smoke, the Milky Way galaxy is faintly visible behind four bright meteors, and one smaller meteor can be seen in the distance. — Hanneke Weitering
 

Milky Way Shines Over VISTA

(Image credit: Petr Horálek/ESO)

Monday, August 12, 2019: The arc of the Milky Way galaxy sparkles above the European Southern Observatory's Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA) at the Paranal Observatory in Chile in this colorful night-sky photo by astrophotographer Petr Horálek. Barely visible on top of a mountain peak in the background is ESO's Very Large Telescope array. — Hanneke Weitering
 

A 'Seagull' in Space

(Image credit: ESO/VPHAS+ team/N.J. Wright (Keele University))

Friday, August 9, 2019: Flying through the cosmos some 3,400 light-years away from Earth is a bird-shaped cloud of dust and gas known as the Seagull Nebula, or Sharpless 2-296. The European Southern Observatory's VLT Survey Telescope at the Paranal Observatory in Chile captured this new view of the cosmic seagull, which is rich with new star formation. — Hanneke Weitering
 

The Cat's Paw Nebula

(Image credit: ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2)

Thursday, August 8, 2019: In honor of International Cat Day, today we share an iconic image of the Cat's Paw Nebula, or NGC 6334, a cosmic cloud of dust and gas with three distinct features shaped like "toe beans." Astronomers with the European Southern Observatory created this image of the nebula using data from the second Digitized Sky Survey back in 2010. You can see more photos of the Cat's Paw Nebula here. — Hanneke Weitering
 

Reflections in NASA's Webb Telescope

(Image credit: Chris Gunn/NASA)

Wednesday, August 7, 2019: During a recent test of NASA's new James Webb Space Telescope, an engineer snapped this photo of the telescope's enormous primary mirror reflector off its smaller secondary mirror. If you look closely, you can see part of the secondary mirror reflecting off the gold panels that make up the telescope's primary mirror. This photo was taken while NASA engineers were performing a test run of the mechanism that deploys the secondary mirror's support structure. After the telescope launches into space, it will have to perform a series of maneuvers to "unfold" all of its parts. — Hanneke Weitering
 

Happy Birthday, Curiosity!

(Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

Tuesday, August 6, 2019: NASA's Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars seven years ago today, took this selfie while making its way up Mount Sharp, a 3-mile (5-kilometer) peak located in the middle of Gale Crater. When Curiosity arrived at the Red Planet in 2012, it touched down inside that same crater. It has since traveled more than 13 miles (21 km), stopping to drill the Martian surface here and there along the way. In this photo, you can see two drill holes near the rover's base. — Hanneke Weitering
 

Storms Churn on Jupiter's Horizon

Jupiter's Great Red Spot and a stream of smaller Jovian storms swirl across the planet's south equatorial belt in this new view from NASA's Juno spacecraft. Citizen scientist Kevin Gill created this view using data collected by the spacecraft's JunoCam imager during a close flyby on July 21, 2019. At the time, Juno was about 26,697 miles (42,965 kilometers) above Jupiter's cloud tops.

(Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin M. GIll)

Monday, August 5, 2019: Jupiter's Great Red Spot and a stream of smaller Jovian storms swirl across the planet's south equatorial belt in this new view from NASA's Juno spacecraft. Citizen scientist Kevin Gill created this view using data collected by the spacecraft's JunoCam imager during a close flyby on July 21. At the time, Juno was about 26,697 miles (42,965 kilometers) above Jupiter's cloud tops. — Hanneke Weitering
 

A Spiral Galaxy's Edge

(Image credit: ESA/NASA/Hubble/A. Filippenko/R. Jansen; CC BY 4.0)

Friday, August 2, 2019: What looks like a long, narrow stretch of stars in this Hubble Space Telescope image is actually a spiral galaxy just like the Milky Way. From our position in the cosmos, we view this galaxy edge-on. Named NGC 3432, this galaxy is located about 45 million light-years from Earth in the constellation of Leo Minor. — Hanneke Weitering
 

A Commemorative Coin Returns to Space

(Image credit: Luca Parmitano/ESA/Twitter)

Thursday, August 1, 2019: A medallion from the European Astronaut Centre floats in microgravity in front of an Earth-facing window of the International Space Station. ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano tweeted the photo from space this morning. The medallion launches with all European astronauts, Parmitano said, adding that this tradition started after his first mission in 2013. He returned to the orbiting laboratory on July 20. "I took it with me – proudly – for the first time," he said. — Hanneke Weitering
 

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