Veil Nebula: Wisps of an Exploded Star

Wisps like this are all that remain visible of a Milky Way star. About 7,000 years ago that star exploded in a supernova leaving the Veil Nebula. At the time, the expanding cloud was likely as bright as a crescent Moon, remaining visible for weeks to people living at the dawn of recorded history. Today, the resulting supernova remnant, also known as the Cygnus Loop, has faded and is now visible only through a small telescope directed toward the constellation of the Swan (Cygnus). The remaining Veil Nebula is physically huge, however, and even though it lies about 1,400 light-years distant, it covers over five times the size of the full Moon. The featured picture is a Hubble Space Telescope mosaic of six images together covering a span of only about two light years, a small part of the expansive supernova remnant. In images of the complete Veil Nebula, even studious readers might not be able to identify the featured filaments. via NASA http://ift.tt/2fckF5B


Long Way From Home

This picture of a crescent-shaped Earth and Moon - the first of its kind ever taken by a spacecraft - was recorded Sept. 18, 1977, by NASA's Voyager 1 when it was 7.25 million miles (11.66 million kilometers) from Earth. The moon is at the top of the picture and beyond the Earth as viewed by Voyager. via NASA http://ift.tt/2fe9adV


Bright Spiral Galaxy M81

One of the brightest galaxies in planet Earth's sky is similar in size to our Milky Way Galaxy: big, beautiful M81. This grand spiral galaxy can be found toward the northern constellation of the Great Bear (Ursa Major). This superbly detailed view reveals M81's bright yellow nucleus, blue spiral arms, and sweeping cosmic dust lanes with a scale comparable to the Milky Way. Hinting at a disorderly past, a remarkable dust lane actually runs straight through the disk, to the left of the galactic center, contrary to M81's other prominent spiral features. The errant dust lane may be the lingering result of a close encounter between M81 and its smaller companion galaxy, M82. Scrutiny of variable stars in M81 has yielded one of the best determined distances for an external galaxy -- 11.8 million light-years. via NASA http://ift.tt/2x9X8bS


Cassini s Final Image

As planned, the Cassini spacecraft impacted the upper atmosphere of Saturn on September 15, after a 13 year long exploration of the Saturnian System. With spacecraft thrusters firing until the end, its atmospheric entry followed an unprecedented series of 22 Grand Finale dives between Saturn and rings. Cassini's final signal took 83 minutes to reach planet Earth and the Deep Space Network antenna complex in Canberra Australia where loss of contact with the spacecraft was recorded at 11:55 UT. For the spacecraft, Saturn was bright and the Sun was overhead as it plowed into the gas giant planet's swirling cloud tops at about 70,000 miles (113,000 kilometers) per hour. But Cassini's final image shows the impact site hours earlier and still on the planet's night side, the cloud tops illuminated by ringlight, sunlight reflected from Saturn's rings. via NASA http://ift.tt/2faTEj8


Cassini End of Mission

Cassini program manager at JPL, Earl Maize, left, and spacecraft operations team manager for the Cassini mission at Saturn, Julie Webster embrace after the Cassini spacecraft plunged into Saturn, Friday, Sept. 15, 2017 at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. via NASA http://ift.tt/2foCj37

100 Steps Forward

A beautiful conjunction of Venus and Moon, human, sand, and Milky Way is depicted in this night skyscape from planet Earth. The scene is a panorama of 6 photos taken in a moment near the end of a journey. In the foreground, footsteps along the wind-rippled dunes are close to the Huacachina oasis in the southwestern desert of Peru. An engaging perspective on the world at night, the stunning final image was also chosen as a winner in The World at Night's 2017 International Earth and Sky Photo Contest. via NASA http://ift.tt/2wYuhaU


Orion Parachutes Measure Up in High Pressure Test

Orion’s three main orange and white parachutes help a representative model of the spacecraft descend through sky above Arizona, where NASA engineers tested the parachute system on Sept. 13, 2017, at the U.S. Army Proving Ground in Yuma. NASA is qualifying Orion’s parachutes for missions with astronauts. via NASA http://ift.tt/2xBoGYR


Dreamy Swirls on Saturn

NASA's Cassini spacecraft gazed toward the northern hemisphere of Saturn to spy subtle, multi-hued bands in the clouds there. via NASA http://ift.tt/2jppZUF

NGC 6334: The Cats Paw Nebula

Nebulas are perhaps as famous for being identified with familiar shapes as perhaps cats are for getting into trouble. Still, no known cat could have created the vast Cat's Paw Nebula visible in Scorpius. At 5,500 light years distant, Cat's Paw is an emission nebula with a red color that originates from an abundance of ionized hydrogen atoms. Alternatively known as the Bear Claw Nebula or NGC 6334, stars nearly ten times the mass of our Sun have been born there in only the past few million years. Pictured here is a deep field image of the Cat's Paw Nebula in light emitted by hydrogen, oxygen, and sulfur. via NASA http://ift.tt/2wUOfn6

Expedition 53 Launches to the International Space Station

The Soyuz MS-06 spacecraft launches with Expedition 53 crewmembers Joe Acaba of NASA, Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos, and Mark Vande Hei of NASA from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017, (Kazakh time) (Sept. 12, U.S. time). via NASA http://ift.tt/2wYcZs9


Expedition 53 Crew Waves Farewell

Expedition 53 flight engineer Mark Vande Hei of NASA, top, flight engineer Joe Acaba of NASA, and Soyuz Commander Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos, bottom, wave farewell before boarding their Soyuz MS-06 spacecraft for launch, Tuesday, Sept. 12. Launch is scheduled at 5:17 p.m. EDT. via NASA http://ift.tt/2xizkTr


So Far from Home

With this view, Cassini captured one of its last looks at Saturn and its main rings from a distance. via NASA http://ift.tt/2eQeBMc


Calm Waters and Geomagnetic Storm

Very recognizable stars of the northern sky are a backdrop for calm waters in this moonlit sea and skyscape off Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Taken on September 7, the photo also records a colorful display of northern lights or aurora borealis triggered by a severe geomagnetic storm. Visible crossing the Sun, the giant solar active region responsible, AR 2673, is much larger than planet Earth. It has produced the strongest flare of the current solar cycle and and the Earth-directed coronal mass ejection in the last few days. via NASA http://ift.tt/2gRH9cN


Geocolor Image of Hurricane Irma

The NOAA-NASA satellite GOES-16 captured this geocolor image of Hurricane Irma passing the eastern end of Cuba at about 8:00 a.m. EDT, Sept. 8, 2017. Created by NOAA's partners at the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere, the experimental imagery enhancement displays geostationary satellite data in different ways for day or night. via NASA http://ift.tt/2wf8UxT

The Great Gig in the Sky

There were no crowds on the beach at Phillips Lake, Oregon on August 21. But a few had come there to stand, for a moment, in the dark shadow of the Moon. From the beach, this unscripted mosaic photo records their much anticipated solar eclipse. In two vertical panels it catches the last few seconds of totality and the first instant of 3rd contact, just as the eclipse ends and sunlight faintly returns. Across the US those gathered along the path of totality also took pictures and shared their moment. And like those at Phillips Lake they may treasure the experience more than any planned or unplanned photograph of the total eclipse of the Sun. via NASA http://ift.tt/2vND1kt


Staggering Structure

This view from NASA's Cassini spacecraft shows a wave structure in Saturn's rings known as the Janus 2:1 spiral density wave. via NASA http://ift.tt/2gKui8n

The Flash Spectrum of the Sun

In clear Madras, Oregon skies, this colorful eclipse composite captured the elusive chromospheric or flash spectrum of the Sun. Only three exposures, made on August 21 with telephoto lens and diffraction grating, are aligned in the frame. Directly imaged at the far left, the Sun's diamond ring-like appearance at the beginning and end of totality brackets a silhouette of the lunar disk at maximum eclipse. Spread by the diffraction grating into the spectrum of colors toward the right, the Sun's photospheric spectrum traces the two continuous streaks. They correspond to the diamond ring glimpses of the Sun's normally overwhelming disk. But individual eclipse images also appear at each wavelength of light emitted by atoms along the thin, fleeting arcs of the solar chromosphere. The brightest images, or strongest chromospheric emission, are due to Hydrogen atoms. Red hydrogen alpha emission is at the far right with blue and purple hydrogen series emission to the left. In between, the brightest yellow emission is caused by atoms of Helium, an element only first discovered in the flash spectrum of the Sun. via NASA http://ift.tt/2gLHEEU


Prospecting from Orbit

The combination of morphological and topographic information from stereo images from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. via NASA http://ift.tt/2xOVHxu

Expedition 53 Qualification Exams

Expedition 53 crew members: Joe Acaba of NASA, left, Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos, center, and Mark Vande Hei of NASA answer questions from the press outside the Soyuz simulator ahead of their Soyuz qualification exams, Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017 at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center (GCTC) in Star City, Russia. via NASA http://ift.tt/2wHF3zZ

The Climber and the Eclipse

What should you do if your rock climbing picture is photobombed by a total eclipse of the Sun? Rejoice -- because your planning paid off. After months of considering different venues, and a week of scouting different locations in Oregon's Smith Rock State Park, a group of photographers and rock climbers led by Ted Hesser, Martina Tibell, and Michael Shainblum settled on picturesque 100-meter tall Monkey Face tower as the dramatic foreground for their images of the pending total solar eclipse. Tension mounted as the eclipse time approached, planned juxtapositions were scrutinized, and the placement of rock climber Tommy Smith was adjusted. Right on schedule, though, the Moon moved in front of the Sun, and Smith moved in front of the Moon, just as planned. The solar eclipse image displayed here actually shows a diamond ring, an eclipse phase when a bit of the distant Sun is still visible beyond the Moon's surface. via NASA http://ift.tt/2vIebmd


Voyager 1 Launches Aboard Titan III/Centaur

The Voyager 1 aboard the Titan III/Centaur lifted off on September 5, 1977, joining its sister spacecraft, the Voyager 2, on a mission to the outer planets. via NASA http://ift.tt/2gJoEad


A Waterspout in Florida

What's happening over the water? Pictured here is one of the better images yet recorded of a waterspout, a type of tornado that occurs over water. Waterspouts are spinning columns of rising moist air that typically form over warm water. Waterspouts can be as dangerous as tornadoes and can feature wind speeds over 200 kilometers per hour. Some waterspouts form away from thunderstorms and even during relatively fair weather. Waterspouts may be relatively transparent and initially visible only by an unusual pattern they create on the water. The featured image was taken in 2013 July near Tampa Bay, Florida. The Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida is arguably the most active area in the world for waterspouts, with hundreds forming each year. Some people speculate that waterspouts are responsible for some of the losses recorded in the Bermuda Triangle. via NASA http://ift.tt/2xFhdVC


Hubble's Megamaser Galaxy

MCG+01-38-005 (below) is a special kind of megamaser; the galaxy’s active galactic nucleus pumps out huge amounts of energy, stimulating clouds of surrounding water. via NASA http://ift.tt/2epVgS0

A First Glimpse of the Great American Eclipse

Making landfall in Oregon, the Moon's dark umbral shadow toured the United States on August 21. Those gathered along its coast to coast path were witness to a total eclipse of the Sun, possibly the most widely shared celestial event in history. But first, the Moon's shadow touched the northern Pacific and raced eastward toward land. This dramatic snapshot was taken while crossing the shadow path 250 miles off the Oregon coast, 45,000 feet above the cloudy northern Pacific. Though from a shorter totality, it captures the eclipse before it could be seen from the US mainland. With the eclipsed Sun not far above, beautiful colors appear along the western horizon giving way to a clear, pitch-black, stratospheric sky in the shadow of the Moon. via NASA http://ift.tt/2wUvjFu