Small Satellite Deployed From the Space Station

A satellite is ejected from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Small Satellite Orbital Deployer on the International Space Station on Dec. 19, 2016. The satellite is actually two small satellites that, once at a safe distance from the station, separated from each other, but were still connected by a 100-meter-long Kevlar tether. via NASA http://ift.tt/2hU5LNj

Shell Game in the LMC

An alluring sight in southern skies, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) is seen here through narrowband filters. The filters are designed to transmit only light emitted by ionized sulfur, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. Ionized by energetic starlight, the atoms emit their characteristic light as electrons are recaptured and the atom transitions to a lower energy state. As a result, this false color image of the LMC seems covered with shell-shaped clouds of ionized gas surrounding massive, young stars. Sculpted by the strong stellar winds and ultraviolet radiation, the glowing clouds, dominated by emission from hydrogen, are known as H II (ionized hydrogen) regions. Itself composed of many overlapping shells, the Tarantula Nebula is the large star forming region at top center. A satellite of our Milky Way Galaxy, the LMC is about 15,000 light-years across and lies a mere 180,000 light-years away in the constellation Dorado. via NASA http://ift.tt/2iIpJL2


Hubble Gazes at a Cosmic Megamaser

This galaxy acts as an astronomical laser, beaming out microwave emission rather than visible light. via NASA http://ift.tt/2ihOnTW


Basking in Light

Sunlight truly has come to Saturn's north pole. The whole northern region is bathed in sunlight in this view from late 2016, feeble though the light may be at Saturn's distant domain in the solar system. via NASA http://ift.tt/2iqTKzS

M31: The Andromeda Galaxy

What is the nearest major galaxy to our own Milky Way Galaxy? Andromeda. In fact, our Galaxy is thought to look much like Andromeda. Together these two galaxies dominate the Local Group of galaxies. The diffuse light from Andromeda is caused by the hundreds of billions of stars that compose it. The several distinct stars that surround Andromeda's image are actually stars in our Galaxy that are well in front of the background object. Andromeda is frequently referred to as M31 since it is the 31st object on Messier's list of diffuse sky objects. M31 is so distant it takes about two million years for light to reach us from there. Although visible without aid, the featured image of M31 is a digital mosaic of several frames taken with a small telescope. Much about M31 remains unknown, including exactly how many billions of years it will before it collides with our home galaxy. via NASA http://ift.tt/2htoT8X


Lights in the Darkness

Just hours after the winter solstice, a mass of energetic particles from the Sun smashed into the magnetic field around Earth. The strong solar wind stream stirred up a display of northern lights over northern Canada. via NASA http://ift.tt/2hkyREI


Once Upon a Solstice Eve

Once upon a solstice eve a little prince gazed across a frozen little planet at the edge of a large galaxy. The little planet was planet Earth of course, seen in this horizon to horizon, nadir to zenith projection, a digitally stitched mosaic from the shores of the Sec reservoir in the Czech Republic. So the large galaxy must be the Milky Way, and the brightest beacon on the planet's horizon Venus, visible around the globe as this season's brilliant evening star. Celestial treasures in surrounding dark skies include the Pleiades star cluster, and the North America nebula found along a dusty galactic rift. Embracing Venus, Zodiacal light traces a faint band across the night, but the more colorful pillars of light shine above streets a little closer to home. via NASA http://ift.tt/2ik6RWz


Astronaut Peggy Whitson in the Festive Spirit

Aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 50 Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson of NASA sent holiday greetings and festive imagery from the cupola on Dec. 18. via NASA http://ift.tt/2hk5FCF

An Airplane Glory

Looking out the window of an airplane, you might be lucky enough to see "the glory" in the direction directly opposite the Sun. Before airplanes, the phenomenon, known to some as the heiligenschein or the Specter of the Brocken, was sometimes seen from mountaintops. There, when conditions were right, one could look away from the Sun and see what appeared to be the shadow of a giant surrounded by a bright halo. The giant turns out to be the observer, as in the modern version a silhouette of an plane frequently occupies the glory's center. This bright glory was photographed two weeks ago over Michigan from an airplane on approach to O'Hare International Airport. The cause of the glory is still being researched and is relatively complex. Surely, small droplets of water in some way reflect, refract, and diffract sunlight backwards towards the Sun. The phenomenon has similar counterparts in other branches of science including astronomy, where looking out from the Earth in the direction opposite the Sun yields a bright spot called the gegenschein. via NASA http://ift.tt/2hVAYR2


Pandora Up Close

This image from NASA's Cassini spacecraft is one of the highest-resolution views ever taken of Saturn's moon Pandora. Pandora (84 kilometers, or 52 miles across) orbits Saturn just outside the narrow F ring. via NASA http://ift.tt/2hKYWR9


This Week in NASA History: First Crewed Saturn V Mission Launches -- Dec. 21, 1968

This week in 1968, Apollo 8, the first crewed Saturn V launched from NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Dec. 21, 1968. Here, the S-IC stage is being erected for final assembly of the Saturn V launch vehicle in Kennedy's Vehicle Assembly Building. via NASA http://ift.tt/2i1MytA

This Week in NASA History: First Crewed Apollo Mission Launches -- Dec. 21, 1968

This week in 1968, Apollo 8, the first crewed Apollo mission, launched from NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Dec. 21, 1968. Here, the S-IC stage is being erected for final assembly of the Saturn V launch vehicle in Kennedy's Vehicle Assembly Building. via NASA http://ift.tt/2haJE7x

Sharpless 308: Star Bubble

Blown by fast winds from a hot, massive star, this cosmic bubble is huge. Cataloged as Sharpless 2-308 it lies some 5,200 light-years away toward the constellation of the Big Dog (Canis Major) and covers slightly more of the sky than a full moon. That corresponds to a diameter of 60 light-years at its estimated distance. The massive star that created the bubble, a Wolf-Rayet star, is the bright one near the center of the nebula. Wolf-Rayet stars have over 20 times the mass of the Sun and are thought to be in a brief, pre-supernova phase of massive star evolution. Fast winds from this Wolf-Rayet star create the bubble-shaped nebula as they sweep up slower moving material from an earlier phase of evolution. The windblown nebula has an age of about 70,000 years. Relatively faint emission captured in the expansive image is dominated by the glow of ionized oxygen atoms mapped to a blue hue. via NASA http://ift.tt/2gXLXYn


International Space Station Solar Transit

This composite image, made from ten frames, shows the International Space Station, with a crew of six onboard, in silhouette as it transits the sun at roughly five miles per second, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016, from Newbury Park, California. via NASA http://ift.tt/2hn2rKs


Cosmic ‘Winter’ Wonderland

Although there are no seasons in space, this cosmic vista invokes thoughts of a frosty winter landscape. It is, in fact, a region called NGC 6357 where radiation from hot, young stars is energizing the cooler gas in the cloud that surrounds them. via NASA http://ift.tt/2h4q8v8


Southern Jupiter from Perijove 3

Southern Jupiter looms some 37,000 kilometers away in this JunoCam image from December 11. The image data was captured near Juno's third perijove or closest approach to Jupiter, the spacecraft still in its 53 day long looping orbit. With the south polar region on the left, the large whitish oval toward the right is massive, counterclockwise rotating storm system. Smaller than the more famous Great Red Spot, the oval storm is only about half the diameter of planet Earth, one of a string of white ovals currently in the southern hemisphere of the Solar System's, ruling gas giant. via NASA http://ift.tt/2hZSClv


Meteors vs Supermoon

Geminid meteors battled supermoonlight in planet Earth's night skies on December 13/14. Traveling at 35 kilometers (22 miles) per second, the bits of dust from the mysterious asteroid 3200 Phaethon that produce the meteor streaks are faster than a speeding bullet. Still, only the brightest were visible during the long night of 2016's final Perigee Full Moon. Captured in exposures made over several hours, a few meteors from the shower's radiant in Gemini can be traced through this composite nightscape. With stars of Orion near the horizon, the overexposed lunar disk illuminates still waters of the Miyun reservoir northeast of Beijing, China. via NASA http://ift.tt/2gRVx3I


Hubble "Crane-s" in for a Closer Look at a Galaxy

Spiral galaxy IC 5201 sits 40 million light-years from us in the Crane constellation. As with most spirals we see, it has a bar of stars slicing through its center. via NASA http://ift.tt/2gSlccM


View of NASA's CYGNSS Hurricane Mission Launch From Chase Plane

Hurricane forecasters will soon have a new tool to better understand and forecast storm intensity. A constellation of eight microsatellites, called NASA’s Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System mission, or CYGNSS, got a boost into Earth orbit aboard an Orbital ATK Pegasus XL rocket, deployed from an L-1011 aircraft. via NASA http://ift.tt/2gNzyLp

The Lagoon Nebula in High Definition

Stars are battling gas and dust in the Lagoon Nebula but the photographers are winning. Also known as M8, this photogenic nebula is visible even without binoculars towards the constellation of Sagittarius. The energetic processes of star formation create not only the colors but the chaos. The red-glowing gas results from high-energy starlight striking interstellar hydrogen gas. The dark dust filaments that lace M8 were created in the atmospheres of cool giant stars and in the debris from supernovae explosions. The light from M8 we see today left about 5,000 years ago. Light takes about 50 years to cross this section of M8. Data used to compose this image was taken with the wide-field camera OmegaCam of the ESO's VLT Survey Telescope (VST). via NASA http://ift.tt/2hEMAur


Color Variations on Mount Sharp, Mars

The foreground of this scene from the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows purple-hued rocks near the rover's late-2016 location on lower Mount Sharp. The scene's middle distance includes higher layers that are future destinations for the mission. via NASA http://ift.tt/2hwMORD

Meteors over Four Girl Mountains

On some nights it rains meteors. Peaking over the next two nights, asteroid dust is expected to rain down on Earth during the annual Geminids meteor shower. This year, unfortunately, fainter Geminids will be harder to see because of the brightness of the Long Nights Full Moon, which occurs Wednesday. Pictured, an image from this year's Perseids meteor shower in August captured multiple streaks over Four Girls Mountain in central China. The bright Pleaides open star cluster appears toward the upper right, while numerous emission nebulas are visible in red, many superposed on the diagonal band of the Milky Way. via NASA http://ift.tt/2gHbmsn


HTV-6 Cargo Craft Approaches Space Station

Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough of NASA shared this photograph of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Kounotori H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-6) as it approached the International Space Station. Kimbrough and Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet successfully captured the spacecraft using the station's Canadarm2 robotic arm. via NASA http://ift.tt/2gWGfGZ

Over Saturns Turbulent North Pole

The Cassini spacecraft's Grand Finale at Saturn has begun. The Grand Finale will allow Cassini to explore Saturn and some of Saturn's moons and rings in unprecedented detail. The first phase started two weeks ago when a close flyby of Titan changed Cassini's orbit into one that passes near Saturn's poles and just outside of Saturn's outermost F-ring. Featured here is an image taken during the first of Cassini's 20 week-long F-ring orbits around Saturn. Visible are the central polar vortex on the upper left, a hexagonal cloud boundary through the image center, and numerous light-colored turbulent storm systems. In 2017 April, Cassini will again use the gravity of Titan to begin a new series of 22 Proximal orbits -- trajectories that will take Cassini inside of Saturn's rings for the first time. Cassini's new science adventure is scheduled to end on 2017 September 17, though, when the robotic spacecraft will be directed into a dramatic mission-ending dive into Saturn's atmosphere. via NASA http://ift.tt/2hlvVLX


The Coolest Landscape on Mars (or Earth)

Many Martian landscapes contain features that are familiar to ones we find on Earth, like river valleys, cliffs, glaciers and volcanos. via NASA http://ift.tt/2gsJXXz


The Lunar X

The striking X appearing in this lunarscape is easily visible in binoculars or a small telescope. Yet, not too many have seen it. The catch is this lunar X is fleeting, only apparent in the hours before the Moon's first quarter phase. At the terminator, or shadow line between lunar day and night, the X illusion is produced by a configuration of the craters Blanchinus, La Caille and Purbach. Near the Moon's first quarter phase, an astronaut standing close to the craters' position would see the slowly rising Sun very near the horizon. Temporarily, the crater walls would be in sunlight while the crater floors were still in darkness. Seen from planet Earth, contrasting sections of bright walls against the dark floors by chance look remarkably like an X. This sharp image of the Lunar X was captured at approximately 16:45 UT on December 6, 2016. For extra credit, sweep your gaze along the lunar terminator and you can also spot the Lunar V. via NASA http://ift.tt/2hg43Ja


Sunrise With Solar Array

Astronaut Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency captured this photograph from the International Space Station on Nov. 25, 2016, and shared it on social media, writing, "Sunrises. We experience 16 sunrises every 24 hours on the International Space Station as it takes us 90 minutes to do a complete orbit of our planet flying at 28,800 km/h." via NASA http://ift.tt/2htfFoS


Linear Dunes, Namib Sand Sea

An astronaut aboard the International Space Station (ISS) used a long lens to document what crews have termed one of the most spectacular features of the planet: the dunes of the Namib Sand Sea. via NASA http://ift.tt/2godViQ


Oceanic Nonlinear Internal Solitary Waves From the Lombok Strait

On November 1, 2016, NASA’s Aqua satellite passed over Indonesia, allowing the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on board to capture a stunning true-color image of oceanic nonlinear internal solitary waves from the Lombok Strait. via NASA http://ift.tt/2gTsLOY

Aurora over Jupiters South Pole from Juno

Why is there a glowing oval over Jupiter's South Pole? Aurora. Near the closest part of its first pass near Jupiter in August, NASA's robotic spacecraft Juno captured this dramatic infrared image of a bright auroral ring. Auroras are caused by high energy particles from the Sun interacting with a planet's magnetic field, and ovals around magnetic poles are common. Data from Juno are giving preliminary indications that Jupiter's magnetic field and aurorae are unexpectedly powerful and complex. Unfortunately, a computer glitch caused Juno to go into safe mode during its last pass near the Jovian giant in September. That glitch has now been resolved, making Juno ready for its next pass over Jupiter's cloud tops this coming Sunday. via NASA http://ift.tt/2h2oM3h


Sahara Desert From the Space Station's EarthKAM

Middle school students programmed a camera aboard the International Space Station -- the Sally Ride EarthKAM -- to photograph this portion of the Sahara desert in western Libya on October 3, 2016. The Expedition 50 crew set up the EarthKAM gear in the Harmony module’s Earth-facing hatch window, to allow students to photograph targets on Earth. via NASA http://ift.tt/2gz3WVF

Lightning over Colorado

Have you ever watched a lightning storm in awe? Join the crowd. Oddly, nobody knows exactly how lightning is produced. What is known is that charges slowly separate in some clouds causing rapid electrical discharges (lightning), but how electrical charges get separated in clouds remains a topic of much research. Lightning usually takes a jagged course, rapidly heating a thin column of air to about three times the surface temperature of the Sun. The resulting shock wave starts supersonically and decays into the loud sound known as thunder. Lightning bolts are common in clouds during rainstorms, and on average 44 lightning bolts occur on the Earth every second. Pictured, over 60 images were stacked to capture the flow of lightning-producing storm clouds in July over Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA. via NASA http://ift.tt/2ha4WUe


Chaos at Hyperion

The moon Hyperion tumbles as it orbits Saturn. via NASA http://ift.tt/2gbL5C4

Official Star Names for Orion

Familiar stars in Orion and constellations across the sky now have official names. Over the past year, the International Astronomical Union, the only body officially tasked with naming stars, approved names already in common use for 227 of the brightest stars, including the most famous stars on the sky Sirius, Polaris, and Betelgeuse. Pictured, the constellation of Orion is shown with several of these now-official star names superposed. Spanning about 30 degrees, this breath-taking vista stretches across the well-known constellation from head to toe (left to right) and beyond. The common names for all three stars in Orion's belt are also now official. At 1,500 light years away, the Great Orion Nebula is the closest large star forming region, here visible just right and below center. Also visible are famous nebulae including the Horsehead Nebula and the Witch Head Nebula. Of course, the Orion Nebula and bright stars are easy to see with the unaided eye, but dust clouds and emission from the extensive interstellar gas in this nebula-rich complex, are too faint and much harder to record. In the featured mosaic of broadband telescopic images, additional image data acquired with a narrow hydrogen alpha filter was used to bring out the pervasive tendrils of energized atomic hydrogen gas like in the arc of the giant Barnard's Loop. via NASA http://ift.tt/2g7BSuF


A Triple Star is Born

A triple star system is forming, enshrouded within this dusty natal disk some 750 light-years away in the Perseus molecular cloud. Imaged at millimeter wavelengths by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, the extreme close-up shows two protostars separated by a mere 61 AU (1 AU is the Earth-Sun distance) with a third 183 AU from the central protostar. The ALMA image also reveals a clear spiral structure indicating instability and fragmentation led to the multiple protostellar objects within the disk. Astronomers estimate that the system, cataloged as L1448 IRS3B, is less than 150,000 years old. Captured at an early phase, the starforming scenario is likely not at all uncommon, since almost half of all sun-like stars have at least one companion. via NASA http://ift.tt/2fOoNI1


Hidden Figures Premiere and Award Ceremony

Actress Octavia Spencer, left, who plays Dorothy Vaughan in the film "Hidden Figures" and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, right, greets NASA "human computer" Katherine Johnson, at a reception to honor NASA's "human computers" on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016, at the Virginia Air and Space Center in Hampton, VA. via NASA http://ift.tt/2fP1tKo

Flaming Star Nebula

A runaway star lights the Flaming Star Nebula in this cosmic scene. Otherwise known as IC 405, the Flaming Star Nebula's billowing interstellar clouds of gas and dust lie about 1,500 light-years away toward the constellation of Auriga. AE Aurigae, the bright star at upper left in the frame, is a massive and intensely hot O-type star moving rapidly through space, likely ejected from a collision of multiple star-systems in the vicinity of the Orion Nebula millions of years ago. Now close to IC 405, the high-speed star's ionizing ultraviolet radiation powers the visible reddish glow as the nebula's hydrogen atoms are stripped of their electrons and recombine. Its intense blue starlight is reflected by the nebula's dusty filaments. Like all massive stars AE Aurigae will be short-lived though, furiously burning through its supply of fuel for nuclear fusion and exploding as a supernova. The colorful telescopic snapshot spans about 5 light-years at the estimated distance of the Flaming Star Nebula. via NASA http://ift.tt/2gP8k2y


Rift in Antarctica's Larsen C Ice Shelf

On Nov. 10, 2016, scientists on NASA's IceBridge mission photographed an oblique view of a massive rift in the Antarctic Peninsula's Larsen C ice shelf. Icebridge, an airborne survey of polar ice, completed an eighth consecutive Antarctic deployment on Nov. 18. via NASA http://ift.tt/2gQdJ9s

Milky Way over Shipwreck

What happened to this ship? It was carried aground by a giant storm that struck the coast of Argentina in 2002. The pictured abandoned boat, dubbed Naufragio del Chubasco, wrecked near the nearly abandoned town of Cabo Raso (population: 1). The rusting ship provides a picturesque but perhaps creepy foreground for the beautiful sky above. This sky is crowned by the grand arch of our Milky Way and features galaxies including the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, stars including Canopus and Altair, planets including Mars and Neptune, and nebulas including the Lagoon, Carina, and the Coal Sack. The mosaic was composed from over 80 images taken in early September. A 360-degree interactive panoramic version of this image is also available. The adventurous astrophotographer reports that the creepiest part of taking this picture was not the abandoned ship, but the unusual prevalence of black and hairy caterpillars. via NASA http://ift.tt/2gJKk0t


NASA's Webb Telescope Clean Room 'Transporter'

What looks like a teleporter from science fiction being draped over NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, is actually a "clean tent." The clean tent protects Webb from dust and dirt when engineers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center transport the telescope out of the relatively dust-free cleanroom and into the vibration and acoustics testing areas. via NASA http://ift.tt/2gxOxoO


Fiery South Atlantic Sunset

An astronaut aboard the International Space Station photographed a sunset that looks like a vast sheet of flame. With Earth’s surface already in darkness, the setting sun, the cloud masses, and the sideways viewing angle make a powerful image of the kind that astronauts use to commemorate their flights. via NASA http://ift.tt/2fMNDXg

Tiny Mimas, Huge Rings

Saturn's icy moon Mimas is dwarfed by the planet's enormous rings. via NASA http://ift.tt/2fxDMpN


Verona Rupes: Tallest Known Cliff in the Solar System

Could you survive a jump off the tallest cliff in the Solar System? Quite possibly. Verona Rupes on Uranus' moon Miranda is estimated to be 20 kilometers deep -- ten times the depth of the Earth's Grand Canyon. Given Miranda's low gravity, it would take about 12 minutes for a thrill-seeking adventurer to fall from the top, reaching the bottom at the speed of a racecar -- about 200 kilometers per hour. Even so, the fall might be survivable given proper airbag protection. The featured image of Verona Rupes was captured by the passing Voyager 2 robotic spacecraft in 1986. How the giant cliff was created remains unknown, but is possibly related to a large impact or tectonic surface motion. via NASA http://ift.tt/2fnUdoD


Ring Scan

Scroll right and you can cruise along the icy rings of Saturn. This high resolution scan is a mosaic of images presented in natural color. The images were recorded in May 2007 over about 2.5 hours as the Cassini spacecraft passed above the unlit side of the rings. To help track your progress, major rings and gaps are labeled along with the distance from the center of the gas giant in kilometers. The alphabetical designation of Saturn's rings is historically based on their order of discovery; rings A and B are the bright rings separated by the Cassini division. In order of increasing distance from Saturn, the seven main rings run D,C,B,A,F,G,E. (Faint, outer rings G and E are not imaged here.) Four days from now, on November 29, Cassini will make a close flyby of Saturn's moon Titan and use the large moon's gravity to nudge the spacecraft into a series of 20 daring, elliptical, ring-grazing orbits. Diving through the ring plane just 11,000 kilometers outside the F ring (far right) Cassini's first ring-graze will be on December 4. via NASA http://ift.tt/2fbgea1


Celebrating Thanksgiving Aboard the International Space Station

The six Expedition 50 crew members celebrate Thanksgiving in space, Nov. 24, 2016, with rehydrated turkey, stuffing, potatoes and vegetables. via NASA http://ift.tt/2gmgIdl


Prototype of Space Station's Advanced Plant Habitat

A high fidelity test version of NASA’s Advanced Plant Habitat (APH), the largest plant chamber built for the agency, arrived at Kennedy Space Center the third week of November, 2016. The APH unit, containing small flowering plant seeds, will be delivered to the International Space Station in 2017. via NASA http://ift.tt/2fremIw


Hubble Spies Spiral Galaxy

Spiral galaxy NGC 3274 is a relatively faint galaxy located over 20 million light-years away in the constellation of Leo (The Lion). via NASA http://ift.tt/2f2EN91


Faint F Ring and Prometheus

Surface features are visible on Saturn's moon Prometheus in this view from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. via NASA http://ift.tt/2geAJji

NGC 4414: A Flocculent Spiral Galaxy

How much mass do flocculent spirals hide? The featured true color image of flocculent spiral galaxy NGC 4414 was taken with the Hubble Space Telescope to help answer this question. The featured image was augmented with data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). Flocculent spirals -- galaxies without well-defined spiral arms -- are a quite common form of galaxy, and NGC 4414 is one of the closest. Stars and gas near the visible edge of spiral galaxies orbit the center so fast that the gravity from a large amount of unseen dark matter must be present to hold them together. Understanding the matter and dark matter distribution of NGC 4414 helps humanity calibrate the rest of the galaxy and, by deduction, flocculent spirals in general. Further, calibrating the distance to NGC 4414 helps humanity calibrate the cosmological distance scale of the entire visible universe. via NASA http://ift.tt/2gsbMns


IC 5070: A Dusty Pelican in the Swan

The recognizable profile of the Pelican Nebula soars nearly 2,000 light-years away in the high flying constellation Cygnus, the Swan. Also known as IC 5070, this interstellar cloud of gas and dust is appropriately found just off the "east coast" of the North America Nebula (NGC 7000), another surprisingly familiar looking emission nebula in Cygnus. Both Pelican and North America nebulae are part of the same large and complex star forming region, almost as nearby as the better-known Orion Nebula. From our vantage point, dark dust clouds (upper left) help define the Pelican's eye and long bill, while a bright front of ionized gas suggests the curved shape of the head and neck. This striking synthesized color view utilizes narrowband image data recording the emission of hydrogen and oxygen atoms in the cosmic cloud. The scene spans some 30 light-years at the estimated distance of the Pelican Nebula. via NASA http://ift.tt/2frkU7N