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Get to the choppa!

(Image credit: NASA/Kenny Allen)

Thursday, February 29, 2024: Just off the coast of San Diego, Artemis 2 astronauts, NASA personnel and the U.S. Navy practiced splashdown operations this month for the eventual end of the agency's forthcoming crewed moon mission, slated to lift off in September 2025.

In a callback to the Apollo moon missions of the 1960s and 1970s, the multi-day Underway Recovery Test 11 saw helicopters, rescue divers, a huge military ship and hundreds of people unite to practice getting the astronauts safely out of the water.

Full story: Get to the choppa! Artemis 2 moon astronauts practice splashdown with U.S. Navy (images, video)

Moon laser pew pew

(Image credit: ESO/A. Ghizzi Panizza (

Wednesday, February 28, 2024: A laser is slicing the moon! Though it appears as bright as the sun in this image, the gleaming orb in the sky is actually the moon. A laser from one of four 8.2-meter telescopes at the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT) shoots into the sky. The laser is used to ignite sodium atoms high in the atmosphere, which creates a focus point for astronomers to use to help calibrate telescopes' ability to see through atmospheric distortion.

Dragon sleeps beneath the moon

(Image credit: SpaceX)

Tuesday, February 27, 2024: Preparations are underway to send the next round of astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). SpaceX's Crew-8 mission for NASA will launch from historic Launch Complex-39A, currently scheduled no earlier than 12:04 a.m. EST on March 1, 2024.

Pictured above is Crew-8's spacecraft and launch vehicle. Crew Dragon Endeavour is seen mated to its Falcon-9 rocket, below a nearly-full moon. NASA astronauts Matthew Dominick, Michael Barratt and Jeanette Epps, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin will ride aboard Endeavour to low-Earth orbit (LEO), and spend a little over 30 hours catching up to the ISS.

A last look at Ingenuity

(Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Monday, February 26, 2024: NASA's Ingenuity has been officially grounded after its last flight on Jan. 18. The little copter that could lasted well beyond its mission parameters and the expectations of its operators. Blowing past the mission's 5 initial flights, Ingenuity completed a total of 72 flights on the red planet before finally calling it quits. 

Ingenuity completed the first flight of a powered aircraft on a planet other than Earth, and has inspired more plans for helicopter drones to be sent to Mars. This image was shot by NASA's Perseverance rover, as the Martian explorer moves out of range of Ingenuity.

Atmospheric slice

(Image credit: NASA/JSC)

Friday, February 23, 2024: The sun peers out from behind the curve of the Earth, as the planet's atmosphere hangs like a blanket above the surface in the this photograph shot from the International Space Station (ISS). The orbital sunset lights the atmosphere as rays illuminate the sky above, while the round below has already fallen into the shadow of night. This picture was taken above the Indian Ocean from the ISS's 267 mile-high orbit.

Meteor streak over Bay of Naples

(Image credit: Wang Letian (Eyes at Night))

Thursday, February 22, 2024: This serendipitous shot was captured by Wang Letian from the Bay of Naples, and was posted as NASA's image of the day Feb. 17. It features the brilliant streak of a meteor falling through the atmosphere above the Bay of Naples, in Italy. Below the meteor is Mount Vesuvius, infamous for the destruction of Pompeii in 79 AD. 

Meteor showers appear when crumbs of dust (meteoroids) from asteroids or comets enter Earth's atmosphere at very high speeds. During their journey through the atmosphere, meteors rub against air particles, creating friction and heat. The heat then vaporizes most meteors, resulting in bright streaks of light across the sky, or shooting stars. 

Ahead to the moon

(Image credit: Intuitive Machines)

Wednesday, February 21, 2024: Intuitive Machines' Odysseus moon lander has its "eyes" on the prize. The private moon lander is poised to be the first commercial mission to touch down on the lunar surface, and snapped this photo of the crescent moon on its way. Odysseus launched on Feb. 15 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The lander includes six NASA science instruments and an additional six private payloads.

This image was shot from just over 62,000 miles (100,000 kilometers) away from the moon, of which Odysseus will soon enter orbit. Landing is scheduled near the moon's south pole on Feb. 22. Intuitive Machines posted this image from Odysseus on X, formerly Twitter.

A gaseous rose

(Image credit: Tommy Lease (Denver Astronomical Society))

Tuesday, February 20, 2024:  Roses are red, violets are blue, and this stunning image of the Rosette Nebula captured by Tommy Lease of the Denver Astronomical Society is seriously breath-taking. This close-up of the nebula was featured on NASA's image of the day series, and was shot using a narrowband, and projected with the elements of sulfur, hydrogen and oxygen. The section of the Rosette Nebula  pictured here spans 50 light-years across, and resides about 3,000 light-years away from Earth.

A yearn for Earth

(Image credit: NASA/Jasmin Moghbeli)

Sometimes I can’t believe this is our planet, OUR home. How lucky we are to live somewhere so spectacular and alive. I will definitely miss these views, but I look forward to exploring more of our planet and the beautiful views from the ground.

Jasmin Moghbeli

Friday, February 16, 2024:  From aboard the International Space Station, circling the planet in low Earth orbit, NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli snapped this view of the newly-arrived Cygnus cargo vehicle and Canadarm2 with a dark Earth behind, swirling with wondrously green aurora borealis. Moghbeli posted the photo on X, formerly Twitter, voicing enthusiasm for the chance to get to live an work in space, while also recognizing the beauty of our planet and her excitement to explore the Earth once she returns firmly back on the ground. In her own words...

Stage separation to the moon!

(Image credit: Trevor Mahlman)

Thursday, February 15, 2024:  The fiery tear in the rich, dark blue of the night sky in this photograph captured by Trevor Mahlman is SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, captured during the moments of stage separation as the vehicle's main booster burns back toward Earth and the second stage streaks onward to space.

The launch occurred early Thursday, lifting off at 1:05 a.m. EST (0605 GMT) from Pad 39A, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, in Florida. The payload is Intuitive Machines' "Odysseus" Nova-C moon lander, which has the potential to make history as the first successful commercial mission to touchdown on the lunar surface.

Mahlman, a rocket photographer based in Florida, shot this 495-second exposure using a 200mm lens from Cape Canaveral.

Clouds from the Space Station

(Image credit: NASA)

Wednesday, February 14, 2024:  These fading wisps of cloud blending in with the black of the sky were captured not from the Earth, but from space. Shot by astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS), this view of noctilucent clouds is illuminated through Earth's upper atmosphere by the setting sun, already tucked behind the dark horizon.

Noctilucent clouds are rarely occurring clouds that form high in the atmosphere. They can only be seen under specific conditions, appearing as thin wispy blue/silver streaks during summer months, after sunset.

Hubble's Scorpius view

(Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, R. Fedriani, J. Tan)

Tuesday, February 13, 2024:  This stunning nebula view was captured by the Hubble Space Telescope during an observation of a star-forming region called IRAS 16562-3959 in the constellation Scorpius in our own Milky Way galaxy. 

The nebula sits about 5,900 light-years from Earth and is revealed in different colors due to the filters used by the Hubble telescope's Wide Field Camera 3 filters, which captured specific wavelengths of light to build the image. At the center of the nebula is a massive star about 30 times the mass of our sun that is still forming. The giant protostar is belching off a powerful jet that has cleared away dust, Hubble officials wrote in an image description.

A cosmic bird soars

(Image credit: ESO/VPHAS+ team)

Monday, February 12, 2024: Tucked away in the Vela constellation is the Vela supernova remnant, the remains from a massive star's explosion 11,000 years ago that is visible as a ghostly bird-shaped cloud of gas and dust to powerful telescopes. This image was captured by the Very Large Telescope's Survey Telescope at the Paranal Observatory of the European Southern Observatory in Chile's Atacama desert.

"Pink and orange filamentary clouds swarm around in this picture, resembling the ghostly shadow of a cosmic bird with wide orange wings, a long pink body, and a bright pinkish star as an eye. A myriad of stars are sprinkled all over the image," ESO officials wrote in an image description.

A Dragon's Perspective

(Image credit: NASA)

Friday, February 9, 2024: Through the window of SpaceX's Crew Dragon Endurance, the Crew Dragon Freedom is seen docked to the International Space Station (ISS). At the time this was published, Freedom is currently on its way back to Earth, carrying the Axiom-3 crew members from a two-week stay aboard the ISS, completing Axiom Space's third privately crewed mission. 

Endurance launched to the ISS in August, last year, with an internationally diverse group of astronauts on the SpaceX Crew-7 mission for NASA. Crew-7 will board Endurance for their own ride back to Earth about a week after Crew-8 arrives at the space station, which is currently slated for later this month.

KSC Sunset

(Image credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky)

Thursday, February 8, 2024: The Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) is reflected in the waters in this photo taken at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC), in Florida. KSC resides on Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, which is home to over 350 types of birds, dozens of other wildlife, and more than a thousand varieties of flora on the grounds.

The space center exists harmoniously on the refuge's 140,000 acres, where tourists can visit the KSC Visitor Complex and Saturn IV Center, while NASA, the U.S. Space Force, SpaceX and other companies conduct regular launches from the cape.

The VAB stands 525 feet (160 meters) in height, and is the tallest single-story building in the world. It has been home to NASA's Saturn V rocket during the Apollo program's missions to the moon, the space shuttles and, most recently, the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket launch NASA's next astronauts to the moon as part of the space agency's Artemis program.

Splash down, thumbs up

(Image credit: NASA)

Wednesday, February 7, 2024: NASA astronaut Victor Glover gives a thumbs up from the pool in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Glover will serve as pilot on NASA's Artemis 2 mission, which will launch four astronauts around the moon in September 2025.

Launching on a Space Launch System (SLS) rocket from NASA's historic Launch Complex 39-B, at the Kennedy Space Center, in Florida, the Orion capsule carrying the Artemis 2 crew will fly a loop around the moon before returning to Earth for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean. Glover is pictured here practicing some of the recovery procedures involved with Orion's return, wearing the same IVA (intravehicular activity) suit that Artemis 2 crew will wear during their mission. 

Humans for scale

(Image credit: SpaceX)

Tuesday, February 6, 2024: The four tiny humans in this photo are the members of SpaceX's Crew-8 mission to the International Space Station, standing before the booster that will launch them there. The Falcon 9 rocket will carry Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin, and NASA astronauts Michael Barratt, Matthew Dominick and Jeanette Epps aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon later this month.

Galactic tug of war

The galaxy NGC 5427 as seen by Hubble with evidence of a distortion caused by gravitational interactions with a partnet galaxy. (Image credit: NASA, ESA, and R. Foley (University of California – Santa Cruz); Processing: Gladys Kober (NASA/Catholic University of America))

Monday, February 5, 2024: NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has zoomed in on one side of a cosmic tug-of-war that will rage between two galaxies for tens of millions of years. Frustratingly, this is one competition in which a clear winner may never emerge, as the two galaxies could well be drawn together to merge into one at the end of this gravitational contest.

The galaxy imaged by Hubble is the spiral galaxy NGC 5427. Along with its opponent, the similarly sized spiral galaxy NGC 5426, the galaxy makes up the pairing Arp 271, located around 130 million light-years from Earth in the constellation of Virgo

Read the full story, by Robert Lea.

A centuries-old solar eclipse painting

Ippolito Caffi, Eclisse di sole alle Fondamenta Nove (1842) (Image credit: Ippolito Caffi/Wikimedia Commons)

Friday, February 2, 2024: Though this painting may not be a classic Hubble Space Telescope image or International Space Station view that we typically attach to the term "space photo," it is a cosmic portrait nonetheless. 

It feels striking that artist Ippolito Caffi depicted a solar eclipse through his artwork in the 1800's, attempting to capture the eeriness of our moon crossing between us and the sun. But, moreover, it's touching to see that a major aspect of this image involves onlookers at the bottom, most of whom are admiring the scene. It's a beautiful painting and a beautiful sentiment. We've always loved to watch solar eclipses. 

Earth's golden glow

(Image credit: NASA)

Thursday, February 1, 2024: A golden glow illuminates Earth's horizon in a stunning new image from the International Space Station. 

The atmospheric glow, or airglow, captured in the new photo occurs when sunlight interacts with atoms and molecules within Earth's atmosphere. The new photo, which NASA shared on Jan. 21, shows a bright golden glow arching above Earth, along with an auburn-colored band against the dark contrast of a starry sky backdrop. 

The photo was taken at an altitude of 258 miles (415 kilometers) as the orbiting lab flew over the Pacific Ocean northeast of Papua New Guinea, according to a NASA image description. — Samantha Mathewson

Oh no! A black hole spaghettified some of's Images of the Day, and there aren't any pictures from January!

(Image credit: Getty Images/Mark Garlick/Science Photo Library)

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  • The Exoplanets Channel
    The images are truly breath-taking.
  • rod
    The Exoplanets Channel said:
    The images are truly breath-taking.

    The Exoplanets Channel, what star and reddish exoplanet is shown in your picture, looks like about 8" angular separation? I use this site as my canonical reference to exoplanets, The Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia Currently 4150 exoplanets are listed.
  • spaceguy
    yes they are
  • swiggly
    The Exoplanets Channel said:
    The images are truly breath-taking.

    My Comet Image:

  • rod
    swiggly said:
    My Comet Image:

    This is a very good image here. In enjoyed some recent views of NEOWISE using my 90-mm telescope at 40x early, shortly after 0415 EDT. Bifurcated tail obvious too.
  • Helio
    The IOD image for yesterday of the Veil nebula is stunning! The graphics are such that it's almost as if it has an oil film on top. It has both 3D and texture feel to it.
  • Jack Colter
    The was no Artemis 13 mission. It was Apollo.
  • Astro.Letizia
    I hope they start posting these daily again! I always start my day off with the newest image but it's been a couple of months now :(
  • Helio
    APOD is a another great source for astro eye candy.
  • Astro.Letizia
    Helio said:
    APOD is a another great source for astro eye candy.
    Thanking you!