Space Image of the Day Gallery (December 2016)

Supermoon in Space


Thursday, December 15, 2016: French astronaut Thomas Pesquet captured this shot of the supermoon from the International Space Station yesterday. When Pesquet tweeted the photo, he wrote, "The last one I saw was in Baikonur… I like this one better!" The last supermoon rose three days before Pesquet and his crewmates launched to the space station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Russia. — Hanneke Weitering

Barred Spiral Galaxy NGC 1365

Star Shadows Remote Observatory: Warren Keller and Steve Mazlin

Friday, December 16, 2016: Astrophotographer Warren Keller took this photo of galaxy NGC 1365, part of the Fornax galaxy cluster, which lies about 60 million light-years from Earth. At 200,000 light-years across, this barred spiral galaxy is one of the largest ever seen. — Hanneke Weitering

'Aliens' at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Adam Gordon

Monday, December 19, 2016: Amateur astrophotographer Adam Gordon, 14, photographed these star trails over Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in southern California on Sept. 30. First he snapped a photo of the scorpion and grasshopper sculptures, then he and his dad slept in the car while his camera took 30-second exposures for the rest of the night. The resulting image looks like a scene from science fiction, with a colorful stellar vortex swirling behind two alien-like creatures. — Hanneke Weitering

Shimmering Stars of IC 5201

ESA/Hubble & NASA

Tuesday, December 20, 2016: This glittering galaxy, a barred spiral named IC 5201, was first discovered in 1900 by astronomer Joseph Lunt as he peered through a telescope in Cape Town, South Africa. Now more than a century later, the Hubble Space Telescope has taken this remarkably detailed photo of the galaxy using its Advanced Camera for Surveys. The camera is able to resolve individual stars in faraway galaxies like IC 5201, which sits more than 40 million light-years from Earth. — Hanneke Weitering

Cosmic 'Winter Wonderland'

X-ray: NASA/CXC/PSU/L.Townsley et al; Optical: UKIRT; Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Wednesday, December 21, 2016: Snow in space? Not quite, but this star-speckled nebula sure looks like a "winter wonderland" with its icy blue clouds and other festive colors. This composite image of the nebula NGC 6357 contains X-ray data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the ROSAT telescope (purple), infrared data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope (orange), and optical data from the SuperCOSMOS Sky Survey (blue) made by the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope. — Hanneke Weitering

ISS Transits the Sun

NASA/Joel Kowsky

Thursday, December 22, 2016: NASA photographer Joel Kowsky captured this image of the International Space Station (ISS) transiting the sun. The photo combines 10 frames of the ISS as it whizzed before Kowsky's view of the sun at a speed of 5 miles per second (8 km/s). Kowsky took the photo on Dec. 17 from Newbury Park in California. — Hanneke Weitering

Happy Holidays from a 'Spacecraft Dressmaker'


Friday, December 23, 2016: NASA's "spacecraft dressmaker" Lien Pham creates thermal insulating blankets for spacecraft at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. To spread some holiday spirit, Pham stitched together a shiny gold stocking out of Kapton, one of the materials used in the insulation that conducts electricity. This photo shows some of the different materials used in the thermal blankets. — Hanneke Weitering

Sunset Seen from the Space Station


Monday, December 26, 2016: Astronauts aboard the International Space Station took this photo of the sunset over the southern Atlantic Ocean on Oct. 27, 2016. The ocean water glistens in sunlight under visible layers of Earth's atmosphere. — Hanneke Weitering

A Barely-Spiral Galaxy

ESA/Hubble & NASA

Tuesday, December 27, 2016: The Hubble Space Telescope captured this photo of the bright spiral galaxy NGC 4707, which lies 22 million light-years from Earth. Though it is classified as a spiral, the galaxy's shape is so undefined that its discoverer, astronomer William Herschel, didn't recognize it as such when he first observed the galaxy in 1789. — Hanneke Weitering

Astronauts Prepare EVA Suits


Wednesday, December 28, 2016: NASA astronaut and current commander of the International Space Station Shane Kimbrough floats weightlessly next to two spacesuits. Kimbrough and the Expedition 50 crew performed routine maintenance on the spacesuits this month to prepare for the first spacewalks of 2017. In January, the crew will perform EVAs (extravehicular activities) to install six new lithium-ion batteries on the station. — Hanneke Weitering

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