NEEMO Undersea Crew Tests Tools and Techniques For Future Spacewalks

This photograph of NASA astronaut Serena Aunon (@AstroSerena) moving tools and equipment underwater was taken during the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) 20 mission. NEEMO 20 is focusing on evaluating tools and techniques being tested for future spacewalks on a variety of surfaces and gravity levels. via NASA http://ift.tt/1I7kFb3

Milky Way over Uluru

The central regions of our Milky Way Galaxy rise above Uluru/Ayers Rock in this striking night skyscape. Recorded on July 13, a faint airglow along the horizon shows off central Australia's most recognizable landform in silhouette. Of course the Milky Way's own cosmic dust clouds appear in silhouette too, dark rifts along the galaxy's faint congeries of stars. Above the central bulge, rivers of cosmic dust converge on a bright yellowish supergiant star Antares. Left of Antares, wandering Saturn shines in the night. via NASA http://ift.tt/1H4Flwz


Frosty Gullies on the Northern Plains of Mars

Seasonal frost commonly forms at middle and high latitudes on Mars, much like winter snow on Earth. However, on Mars most frost is carbon dioxide (dry ice) rather than water ice. This frost appears to cause surface activity, including flows in gullies. via NASA http://ift.tt/1LZCz3H

The Deep Lagoon

Ridges of glowing interstellar gas and dark dust clouds inhabit the turbulent, cosmic depths of the Lagoon Nebula. Also known as M8, The bright star forming region is about 5,000 light-years distant. But it still makes for a popular stop on telescopic tours of the constellation Sagittarius, toward the center of our Milky Way Galaxy. Dominated by the telltale red emission of ionized hydrogen atoms recombining with stripped electrons, this stunning, deep view of the Lagoon's central reaches is about 40 light-years across. Near the center of the frame, the bright hourglass shape is gas ionized and sculpted by energetic radiation and extreme stellar winds from a massive young star. via NASA http://ift.tt/1IpRahC


Africa and Europe from a Million Miles Away

Africa is front and center in this image of Earth taken by a NASA camera on the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite. via NASA http://ift.tt/1Ky6MX2

Rainbows and Rays over Bryce Canyon

What's happening over Bryce Canyon? Two different optical effects that were captured in one image taken earlier this month. Both effects needed to have the Sun situated directly behind the photographer. The nearest apparition was the common rainbow, created by sunlight streaming from the setting sun over the head of the photographer, and scattering from raindrops in front of the canyon. If you look closely, even a second rainbow appears above the first. More rare, and perhaps more striking, are the rays of light that emanate out from the horizon above the canyon. These are known as anticrepuscular rays and result from sunlight streaming though breaks in the clouds, around the sky, and converging at the point 180 degrees around from the Sun. Geometrically, this antisolar point must coincide with the exact center of the rainbows. Located in Utah, USA, Bryce Canyon itself contains a picturesque array of ancient sedimentary rock spires known as hoodoos. via NASA http://ift.tt/1evEkqq


Round of Testing Completed on Webb Telescope Flight Mirrors

This July 11, 2015 photograph captures one of the final, if not the final, James Webb Space Telescope flight primary mirror segments to be processed through NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's Calibration, Integration and Alignment Facility (CIAF). via NASA http://ift.tt/1JODnSV

Milky Way and Aurora over Antarctica

It has been one of the better skies of this long night. In parts of Antarctica, not only is it winter, but the Sun can spend weeks below the horizon. At China's Zhongshan Station, people sometimes venture out into the cold to photograph a spectacular night sky. The featured image from one such outing was taken in mid-July, just before the end of this polar night. Pointing up, the wide angle lens captured not only the ground at the bottom, but at the top as well. In the foreground is a colleague also taking pictures. In the distance, a spherical satellite receiver and several windmills are visible. Numerous stars dot the night sky, including Sirius and Canopus. Far in the background, stretching overhead from horizon to horizon, is the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy. Even further in the distance, visible as extended smudges near the top, are the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, satellite galaxies near our huge Milky Way Galaxy. via NASA http://ift.tt/1OJw2s8


Activity at Klyuchevskoy Volcano

This photograph, taken on May 4, 2015 by an astronaut onboard the International Space Station, highlights one of the most active volcanic regions on Earth: the Kamchatka Peninsula in far eastern Russia. The three largest volcanoes visible at image center include Kliuchevskoy, Bezymianny, and Ushkovsky. via NASA http://ift.tt/1VJ4BUb

The Sombrero Galaxy from Hubble

Why does the Sombrero Galaxy look like a hat? Reasons include the Sombrero's unusually large and extended central bulge of stars, and dark prominent dust lanes that appear in a disk that we see nearly edge-on. Billions of old stars cause the diffuse glow of the extended central bulge. Close inspection of the bulge in the above photograph shows many points of light that are actually globular clusters. M104's spectacular dust rings harbor many younger and brighter stars, and show intricate details astronomers don't yet fully understand. The very center of the Sombrero glows across the electromagnetic spectrum, and is thought to house a large black hole. Fifty million-year-old light from the Sombrero Galaxy can be seen with a small telescope towards the constellation of Virgo. via NASA http://ift.tt/1GPP4Xq


Infrared Trifid

The Trifid Nebula, also known as Messier 20, is easy to find with a small telescope, a well known stop in the nebula rich constellation Sagittarius. But where visible light pictures show the nebula divided into three parts by dark, obscuring dust lanes, this penetrating infrared image reveals filaments of glowing dust clouds and newborn stars. The spectacular false-color view is courtesy of the Spitzer Space Telescope. Astronomers have used the Spitzer infrared image data to count newborn and embryonic stars which otherwise can lie hidden in the natal dust and gas clouds of this intriguing stellar nursery. As seen here, the Trifid is about 30 light-years across and lies only 5,500 light-years away. via NASA http://ift.tt/1D0ldk5


Ultraviolet Rings of M31

A mere 2.5 million light-years away the Andromeda Galaxy, also known as M31, really is just next door as large galaxies go. So close and spanning some 260,000 light-years, it took 11 different image fields from the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) satellite's telescope to produce this gorgeous portrait of the spiral galaxy in ultraviolet light. While its spiral arms stand out in visible light images of Andromeda, the arms look more like rings in the GALEX ultraviolet view, a view dominated by the energetic light from hot, young, massive stars. As sites of intense star formation, the rings have been interpreted as evidence Andromeda collided with its smaller neighboring elliptical galaxy M32 more than 200 million years ago. The large Andromeda galaxy and our own Milky Way are the most massive members of the local galaxy group. via NASA http://ift.tt/1MLHC4N


Pluto Dazzles in False Color

Four images from New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) were combined with color data from the Ralph instrument to create this enhanced color global view of Pluto. via NASA http://ift.tt/1VF7vsW

Comet PanSTARRS, Moon, and Venus

It is the object to the left of the big tree that's generating much recent excitement. If you look closely, there you can see Comet PanSTARRS, complete with two tails. During July, this comet has increased markedly in brightness and has just passed its closest approach to Earth. The statuesque tree in the center is a Norfolk Island Pine, and to either side of this tree are New Zealand Pohutukaw trees. Over the trees, far in the distance, are bright Venus and an even brighter crescent Moon. If you look even more closely, you can find Jupiter hidden in the branches of the pine. The featured image was taken a few days ago in Fergusson Park, New Zealand, looking over Tauranga Harbour Inlet. In the coming days and weeks, Comet C/2014 Q1 (PANSTARRS) will slowly move away from the Sun and the Earth, drift deep into southern skies, and fade. via NASA http://ift.tt/1DwLGRg


July 23, 1999, Chandra X-ray Observatory Awaits Deployment

This 70mm frame shows the 50,162-pound Chandra X-ray Observatory before it was tilted upward for its release from the Space Shuttle Columbia's payload bay on July 23, 1999, just a few hours following the shuttle's arrival in Earth orbit. Chandra was spring-ejected from a cradle in the payload bay at 6:47 a.m. Central time. via NASA http://ift.tt/1IgnfbE


Soyuz Rocket Boosts Expedition 44 Crew to the International Space Station

The Soyuz TMA-17M launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station at 5:02 p.m. EDT (3:02 a.m. on July 23 Baikonur time). via NASA http://ift.tt/1CVFJ5f

Expedition 44 Launches to the International Space Station

The Soyuz TMA-17M launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station at 5:02 p.m. EDT (3:02 a.m. on July 23 Baikonur time). via NASA http://ift.tt/1RRKjZ8

Smoke Over the Greenland Sea

The 2015 wildfire season in the Arctic has been very intense – and very smoky. As of July 15, over 3,190,000 acres had burned across Canada, according to Natural Resources Canada. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), more than 600 fires had burned millions of acres in Alaska as of July 7. via NASA http://ift.tt/1Oxot7X

Comet Tails and Star Trails

After grazing the western horizon on northern summer evenings Comet PanSTARRS (also known as C/2014 Q1) climbed higher in southern winter skies. A visitor to the inner Solar System discovered in August 2014 by the prolific panSTARRS survey, the comet was captured here on July 17. Comet and colorful tails were imaged from Home Observatory in Mackay, Queensland, Australia. The field of view spans just over 1 degree. Sweeping quickly across a the sky this comet PanSTARRS was closest to planet Earth about 2 days later. Still, the faint stars of the constellation Cancer left short trails in the telescopic image aligned to track the comet's rapid motion. PanSTARRS' bluish ion tails stream away from the Sun, buffetted by the solar wind. Driven by the pressure of sunlight, its more diffuse yellowish dust tail is pushed outward and lags behind the comet's orbit. A good target for binoculars from southern latitudes, in the next few days the comet will sweep through skies near Venus, Jupiter, and bright star Regulus. via NASA http://ift.tt/1CMulZO


NASA’s New Horizons Finds Second Mountain Range in Pluto’s ‘Heart’

Pluto’s icy mountains have company. NASA’s New Horizons mission has discovered a new, apparently less lofty mountain range on the lower-left edge of Pluto’s best known feature. via NASA http://ift.tt/1gMQrRI

Comet PanSTARRS and a Crescent Moon

A comet has brightened quickly and unexpectedly. Discovered last year, Comet C/2014 Q1 (PanSTARRS) is expected to be visible now for a few days to the unaided eye, just after sunset, from some locations. The comet rounded the Sun on July 6 and apparently has shed quite a bit of gas and dust. Today it is now as close as it will ever get to the Earth, which is another factor in its recent great apparent brightness and the large angular extent of its tails. In the featured image taken two days ago, Comet PanSTARRS is seen sporting a short white dust tail fading to the right, and a long blue ion tail pointing away from the recently set Sun. A crescent moon dominates the image center. Tomorrow, Comet PannSTARRS will pass only 7 degrees away from a bright Jupiter, with even brighter Venus nearby. Due to its proximity to the Sun, the comet and its tails may best be seen in the sunset din with binoculars or cameras using long-duration exposures. via NASA http://ift.tt/1GuFMQv


NASA Captures "EPIC" Earth Image

A NASA camera on the Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite has returned its first view of the entire sunlit side of Earth from one million miles away. via NASA http://ift.tt/1KgqOm1

The First Rocket Launch from Cape Canaveral

A new chapter in space flight began this week in 1950 July with the launch of the first rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida: the Bumper V-2. Shown above, the Bumper V-2 was an ambitious two-stage rocket program that topped a V-2 missile base with a WAC Corporal rocket. The upper stage was able to reach then-record altitudes of almost 400 kilometers, higher than even Space Shuttles once flew. Launched under the direction of the General Electric Company, the Bumper V-2 was used primarily for testing rocket systems and for research on the upper atmosphere. Bumper V-2 rockets carried small payloads that allowed them to measure attributes including air temperature and cosmic ray impacts. Seven years later, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik I and Sputnik II, the first satellites into Earth orbit. In response in 1958, the US created NASA. via NASA http://ift.tt/1MBa8WB



Icy world Charon is 1,200 kilometers across. That makes Pluto's largest moon only about 1/10th the size of planet Earth but a whopping 1/2 the diameter of Pluto itself. Charon is seen in unprecedented detail in this image from New Horizons. The image was captured late July 13 during the spacecraft's flight through the Plutonian system from a range of less than 500,000 kilometers. For reference, the distance separating Earth and Moon is less than 400,000 kilometers. Charonian terrain, described as surprising, youthful, and varied, includes a 1,000 kilometer swath of cliffs and troughs stretching below center, a 7 to 9 kilometer deep canyon cutting the curve of the upper right edge, and an enigmatic dark north polar region unofficially dubbed Mordor. via NASA http://ift.tt/1Gps8Op


Frozen Carbon Monoxide in Pluto’s 'Heart'

Peering closely at the “heart of Pluto,” in the western half of what mission scientists have informally named Tombaugh Regio (Tombaugh Region), New Horizons’ Ralph instrument revealed evidence of carbon monoxide ice. The contours indicate that the concentration of frozen carbon monoxide increases towards the center of the “bull’s eye.” via NASA http://ift.tt/1fb6Vlr

50 Miles on Pluto

A 50 mile (80 kilometer) trip across Pluto would cover the distance indicated by the scale bar in this startling image. The close-up of the icy world's rugged equatorial terrain was captured when the New Horizons spacecraft was about 47,800 miles (77,000 kilometers) from the surface, 1.5 hours before its closest approach. Rising to an estimated 11,000 feet (3,500 meters) the mountains are likely composed of water ice. Suggesting surprising geological activity, they are also likely young with an estimated age of 100 million years or so based on the apparent absence of craters. The region pictured is near the base of Pluto's broad, bright, heart-shaped feature. via NASA http://ift.tt/1M74PAm


STEREO-A Spacecraft Returns Data From the Far Side of the Sun

This image of the sun was taken on July 15, 2015, with the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager onboard NASA's Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory Ahead (STEREO-A) spacecraft, which collects images in several wavelengths of light that are invisible to the human eye. This image shows the sun in wavelengths of 171 angstroms, typically colorized in blue. via NASA http://ift.tt/1I5RgRI

Pluto Resolved

New Horizons has survived its close encounter with Pluto and has resumed sending back images and data. The robotic spacecraft reported back on time, with all systems working, and with the expected volume of data stored. Featured here is the highest resolution image of Pluto taken before closest approach, an image that really brings Pluto into a satisfying focus. At first glance, Pluto is reddish and has several craters. Toward the image bottom is a surprisingly featureless light-covered region that resembles an iconic heart, and mountainous terrain appears on the lower right. This image, however, is only the beginning. As more images and data pour in today, during the coming week, and over the next year, humanity's understanding of Pluto and its moons will likely become revolutionized. via NASA http://ift.tt/1MtRDn8


The Icy Mountains of Pluto

New close-up images of a region near Pluto’s equator reveal a giant surprise: a range of youthful mountains. via NASA http://ift.tt/1MaSdcb

New Horizons Passes Pluto and Charon

Will the New Horizons spacecraft survive its closest approach to Pluto and return useful images and data? Humanity will know in a few hours. Regardless of how well it functions, New Horizon's rapid speed will take it whizzing past Pluto and its moons today, with the time of closest approach being at 11:50 UT (7:50 am EDT). To better take images and data, though, the robotic spacecraft was preprogrammed and taken intentionally out of contact with the Earth until about 1:00 am UT July 15, which corresponds to about 9:00 pm EDT on July 14. Therefore, much of mankind will be holding its breath through this day, hoping that the piano-sized spacecraft communicates again with ground stations on Earth. Hopefully, at that time, New Horizons will begin beaming back new and enlightening data about a world that has remained remote and mysterious since its discovery 85 years ago. Featured above is a New Horizons composite image of the moon Charon (left) and Pluto (right) taken 3 days ago, already showing both worlds in unprecedented detail. via NASA http://ift.tt/1HsjikF


NASA Celebrates New Horizons' Closest Approach to Pluto

Guests and New Horizons team members countdown to the spacecraft's closest approach to Pluto, Tuesday, July 14, 2015. via NASA http://ift.tt/1HtHJOE

Last Look at Plutos Charon Side

Pluto surface is strange. As the robotic New Horizons barrels toward its closest approach to Pluto and its moons tomorrow, images already coming back show Pluto's surface to be curiouser and curiouser. The featured image, taken two days ago, shows the side of Pluto that always faces Pluto's largest moon Charon. Particularly noteworthy is the dark belt near the bottom that circles Pluto's equator. It is currently unclear whether regions in this dark belt are mountainous or flat, why boundaries are so sharply defined, and why the light regions seem to be nearly evenly spaced. As New Horizons will be flying past the other side of Pluto, this should be the best image of this distant landscape that humanity sees for a long time. Assuming the robotic spacecraft operates as hoped, images taken of the other side of Pluto, taken near closest approach, will be about 300 times more detailed. via NASA http://ift.tt/1M0TYb0


Pluto as seen from New Horizons on July 11, 2015

One million miles to go; Pluto is more intriguing than ever! via NASA http://ift.tt/1HXsdQU

Destination: Pluto. The New Horizons spacecraft roared off its launch pad at Cape Canaveral in Florida, USA in 2006 toward adventures in the distant Solar System. The craft is the fastest spaceships ever launched by humans, having passed the Moon only nine hours after launch, and Jupiter only a year later. After spending almost a decade crossing the Solar System, New Horizons will fly past Pluto on Tuesday. Pluto, officially a planet when New Horizons launched, has never been visited by a spacecraft or photographed up close. After Pluto, the robot spaceship will visit one or more Kuiper Belt Objects orbiting the Sun even further out than Pluto. Pictured, the New Horizons craft launches into space atop a powerful Atlas V rocket. via NASA http://ift.tt/1HWe4RZ


Pluto is coming into focus. As the robotic New Horizons spacecraft bears down on this unexplored world of the distant Solar System, new features on its surface are becoming evident. In the displayed image taken last Thursday and released yesterday, an unusual polygonal structure roughly 200 kilometers wide is visible on the left, while just below it relatively complex terrain runs diagonally across the dwarf planet. New Horizon's images and data on these structures will likely be studied for years to come in an effort to better understand the geologic history of Pluto and our Solar System. After suffering a troublesome glitch last week, New Horizons will make its historic flyby of Pluto and its moons on Tuesday. via NASA http://ift.tt/1IQA4i6


Messier 43

Often imaged but rarely mentioned, Messier 43 is a large star forming region in its own right. It's just part of the star forming complex of gas and dust that includes the larger, more famous neighboring Messier 42, the Great Orion Nebula. In fact, the Great Orion Nebula itself lies off the lower edge of this scene. The close-up of Messier 43 was made while testing the capabilities of a near-infrared instrument with one of the twin 6.5 meter Magellan telescopes at Las Campanas Observatory in the Chilean Andes. The composite image shifts the otherwise invisible infrared wavelengths to blue, green, and red colors. Peering into caverns of interstellar dust hidden from visible light, the near-infrared view can also be used to study cool, brown dwarf stars in the complex region. Along with its celebrity neighbor, Messier 43 lies about 1,500 light-years away, at the edge of Orion's giant molecular cloud. At that distance, this field of view spans about 5 light-years. via NASA http://ift.tt/1J7ut2C


Hubble Looks at LEDA 89996

This little-known galaxy, officially named J04542829-6625280, but most often referred to as LEDA 89996, is a classic example of a spiral galaxy. via NASA http://ift.tt/1D5D2Je

5 Million Miles from Pluto

An image snapped on July 7 by the New Horizons spacecraft while just under 5 million miles (8 million kilometers) from Pluto is combined with color data in this most detailed view yet of the Solar System's most famous world about to be explored. The region imaged includes the tip of an elongated dark area along Pluto's equator already dubbed "the whale". A bright heart-shaped region on the right is about 1,200 miles (2,000) kilometers across, possibly covered with a frost of frozen methane, nitrogen, and/or carbon monoxide. The view is centered near the area that will be seen during New Horizons much anticipated July 14 closest approach to a distance of about 7,750 miles (12,500 kilometers). via NASA http://ift.tt/1J5DsBq


January 19, 2006: New Horizons Launches for Pluto

Clouds part as NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft roars into the blue sky after an on-time liftoff at 2 p.m. EST aboard an Atlas V rocket from Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. via NASA http://ift.tt/1IM97Mt

That is not our Moon. It's Dione, and it’s a moon of Saturn. The robotic Cassini spacecraft took the featured image during a flyby of Saturn's cratered Moon last month. Perhaps what makes this image so interesting, though, is the background. First, the large orb looming behind Dione is Saturn itself, faintly lit by sunlight first reflected from the rings. Next, the thin lines running diagonally across the image are the rings of Saturn themselves. The millions of icy rocks that compose Saturn's spectacular rings all orbit Saturn in the same plane, and so appear surprisingly thin when seen nearly edge-on. Front and center, Dione appears in crescent phase, partially lit by the Sun that is off to the lower left. A careful inspection of the ring plane should also locate the moon Enceladus on the upper right. via NASA http://ift.tt/1RjAHGg


NuSTAR Stares at the Sun

Flaring, active regions of our sun are highlighted in this new image combining observations from several telescopes. via NASA http://ift.tt/1RkNVCG


July 7, 2003, NASA's Opportunity Rover Launches to Mars

On July 7, 2003, NASA launched its second Mars Exploration Rover, Opportunity, aboard a Delta II launch vehicle. Opportunity and its twin rover Spirit landed on Mars in 2004 to begin missions planned to last three months. Both rovers far exceeded those plans. Spirit worked for six years, and Opportunity is still active. via NASA http://ift.tt/1KPBQA4


The North Sea Abloom

Despite its cold waters and harsh winds, the North Sea is a fertile basin for phytoplankton blooms. The drifting, plantlike organisms tend to be most abundant in late spring and early summer due to high levels of nutrients in the water and increasing sunlight. via NASA http://ift.tt/1NLHJhx

Zeta Oph: Runaway Star

Like a ship plowing through cosmic seas, runaway star Zeta Ophiuchi produces the arcing interstellar bow wave or bow shock seen in this stunning infrared portrait. In the false-color view, bluish Zeta Oph, a star about 20 times more massive than the Sun, lies near the center of the frame, moving toward the left at 24 kilometers per second. Its strong stellar wind precedes it, compressing and heating the dusty interstellar material and shaping the curved shock front. Around it are clouds of relatively undisturbed material. What set this star in motion? Zeta Oph was likely once a member of a binary star system, its companion star was more massive and hence shorter lived. When the companion exploded as a supernova catastrophically losing mass, Zeta Oph was flung out of the system. About 460 light-years away, Zeta Oph is 65,000 times more luminous than the Sun and would be one of the brighter stars in the sky if it weren't surrounded by obscuring dust. The image spans about 1.5 degrees or 12 light-years at the estimated distance of Zeta Ophiuchi. via NASA http://ift.tt/1fcAp39


Aurora Australis

Not fireworks, these intense shimmering lights still danced across Earth's night skies late last month, seen here above the planet's geographic south pole. The stunning auroral displays were triggered as a coronal mass ejection blasted from the Sun days earlier impacted the magnetosphere, beginning a widespread geomagnetic storm. The six fisheye panels were recorded with digital camera and battery in a heated box to guard against -90 degree F ambient temperatures of the long winter night. Around the horizon are south pole astronomical observatories, while beyond the Aurora Australis stretch the stars of the southern Milky Way. via NASA http://ift.tt/1gfGpIx


Stellar Sparklers That Last

While fireworks only last a short time here on Earth, a bundle of cosmic sparklers in a nearby cluster of stars will be going off for a very long time. via NASA http://ift.tt/1CNyZ3T

Venus and Jupiter are Far

On June 30 Venus and Jupiter were actually far apart, but both appeared close in western skies at dusk. Near the culmination of this year's gorgeous conjunction, the two bright evening planets are captured in the same telescopic field of view in this sharp digital stack of images taken after sunset from Poznań in west-central Poland. In fact, banded gas giant Jupiter was about 910 million kilometers from Poland. That's over 11 times farther than crescent Venus, only 78 million kilometers distant at the time. But since the diameter of giant planet Jupiter is over 11 times larger than Venus both planets show about the same angular size. Of course, 16th century Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus would also have enjoyed the simultaneous telescopic view including Jupiter's four Galilean moons and a crescent Venus. Observations of Jupiter's moons and Venus' crescent phase were evidence for the Copernican or heliocentric model of the solar system. via NASA http://ift.tt/1f7lqY8


Venus and Jupiter are Close

On June 30, Venus and Jupiter were close in western skies at dusk. Near the culmination of this year's gorgeous conjunction, the two bright evening planets are captured in the same telescopic field of view in this image taken after sunset from Bejing, China. As the two bright planets set together in the west, a nearly Full Moon rose above the horizon to the south and east. Imaged that night with the same telescope and camera, the rising Moon from the opposite part of the sky is compared with the planetary conjunction for scale in the digitally composited image. The full lunar disk covers an angle of about 1/2 degree on the sky. Visible as well in binoculars and small telescopes are Venus' crescent and Jupiter's four Galilean moons. Of course, Venus and Jupiter are still close. via NASA http://ift.tt/1Ub1e7E


Curiosity's Stars and Stripes

This view of the American flag medallion on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity was taken by the rover's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) during the 44th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity's work on Mars (Sept. 19, 2012). The flag is one of four "mobility logos" placed on the rover's mobility rocker arms. via NASA http://ift.tt/1CNgkoZ

Venus, Jupiter, and Noctilucent Clouds

Have you seen the passing planets yet? Today the planets Jupiter and Venus pass within half a degree of each other as seen from Earth. This conjunction, visible all over the world, is quite easy to see -- just look to the west shortly after sunset. The brightest objects visible above the horizon will be Venus and Jupiter, with Venus being the brighter of the two. Featured above, the closing planets were captured two nights ago in a sunset sky graced also by high-level noctilucent clouds. In the foreground, the astrophotographer's sister takes in the vista from a bank of the Sec Reservoir in the Czech Republic. She reported this as the first time she has seen noctilucent clouds. Jupiter and Venus will appear even closer together tonight and will continue to be visible in the same part of the sky until mid-August. via NASA http://ift.tt/1IrMOeT