The Big Corona
Most photographs don't adequately portray the magnificence of the
first-hand during a total
can adapt to see coronal
that average cameras usually cannot.
Welcome, however, to the
The featured picture is a combination of forty exposures from one thousandth of a second to two seconds that, together, were
to highlight faint features of the
total solar eclipse
that occurred in
August of 2017
Clearly visible are
and glowing caustics of an ever changing mixture of hot gas and
in the Sun's corona.
appear bright pink just past the Sun's
Faint details on the night side of the
can even be made out,
illuminated by sunlight reflected from the dayside of the
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
At the time, the expanding cloud
was likely as bright as a crescent Moon
visible for weeks to people living at the dawn of
Today, the resulting supernova remnant
, also known as the
, has faded and is
only through a small telescope
of the Swan
The remaining Veil
is physically huge, however, and even though it lies about 1,400
distant, it covers over five times the size of the
The featured picture
Hubble Space Telescope
mosaic of six images together
covering a span of only about two light years,
a small part of the expansive
In images of the
complete Veil Nebula
might not be able to
identify the featured filaments
Orion above Easter Island
Why were the statues on
No one is sure.
What is sure is that over 800 large stone statues exist there.
The Easter Island statues
, stand, on the average, over
twice as tall as a person and have over 200 times as much mass.
Few specifics are known about the history or meaning of the
unusual rock sculptures
but many believe that they were created about 700 years ago in the
of local leaders of a lost civilization.
Featured here, one of the ancient
was imaged in 2016 before
the constellation of Orion
, including the famous line of
three belt stars
and brilliant stars
(far left in red) and
appears, however, to be
the brightest star in the night sky (far right):
Bright Spiral Galaxy M81
One of the brightest galaxies in planet Earth's sky is similar in size
to our Milky
Galaxy: big, beautiful M81
can be found toward the northern constellation of the Great
reveals M81's bright yellow nucleus, blue
spiral arms, and sweeping cosmic dust lanes with a scale comparable to
Hinting at a
a remarkable dust lane actually runs straight through the
disk, to the left of the galactic center,
contrary to M81
may be the lingering result of
a close encounter
and its smaller companion galaxy, M82
Scrutiny of variable stars
has yielded one of the best
for an external galaxy -- 11.8 million light-years.
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
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
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.
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
near the end of a journey.
In the foreground, footsteps along the
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
The World at Night's 2017
International Earth and Sky Photo Contest.
Flare Well AR2673
Almost out of view from
our fair planet
rotating around the Sun's western edge giant active region
AR2673 lashed out
with another intense solar flare followed by a large
coronal mass ejection
on September 10.
The flare itself is seen here at the right in an extreme
ultraviolet image from the sun-staring Solar Dynamics Observatory.
This intense flare was the fourth
AR2673 this month
The active region's most recent associated coronal mass ejection
collided with Earth's magnetosphere
2 days later
Say farewell to the mighty AR2673, for now.
For the next two weeks, the powerful sunspot group will be on the Sun's
NGC 6334: The Cat's Paw Nebula
Nebulas are perhaps as famous for being identified with familiar shapes as perhaps
are for getting into
Still, no known cat could have created the vast
Cat's Paw Nebula
visible in Scorpius
At 5,500 light years distant, Cat's
with a red color that originates from an abundance of
Alternatively known as the
Bear Claw Nebula
stars nearly ten times the mass of our
have been born
in only the past few million years.
a deep field image of the
Nebula in light emitted by
A Total Solar Eclipse Close-Up in Real Time
How would you feel if the Sun disappeared?
Many eclipse watchers
across the USA
surprised themselves with the awe that they felt and the exclamations that they made as the Sun momentarily disappeared behind the Moon.
Perhaps expecting just a brief moment of dusk, the spectacle of unusually rapid darkness, breathtakingly bright
around the Moon's edge,
, and a strangely
stretching across the sky
caught many a curmudgeon
Many of these attributes
featured real-time, three-minute video
last month's total solar eclipse
The video frames
were acquired in
with equipment specifically designed by Jun Ho Oh to track a close-up of the Sun's periphery during eclipse.
As the video ends, the
is seen being reborn on the other side of the
from where it departed.
Cassini Approaches Saturn
What would it look like to approach Saturn in a spaceship?
One doesn't have to just imagine -- the
did just this in 2004, recording thousands of images along the way, and
hundreds of thousands more
since entering orbit.
Some of Cassini's early images have been digitally tweaked, cropped, and compiled into the
featured inspiring video
which is part of a larger developing
movie project named
In the concluding sequence,
looms increasingly large on approach as
in the background, Cassini is next depicted flying over
, with large
Saturn's majestic rings then take over the show as Cassini crosses Saturn's
Dark shadows of the ring appear on
Finally, the enigmatic ice-geyser moon
appears in the
distance and then is approached just as the video clip ends.
The Cassini spacecraft
itself, low on fuel, is
scheduled to end
on Friday when it will be directed to approach so close to Saturn that it falls in and melts.
Swirling Around the Eye of Hurricane Irma
Why does a hurricane have an eye at its center?
No one is yet sure.
happens in and around a hurricane's eye is well documented, though.
Warm air rises around the eye's edges, cools, swirls, and spreads out over the large storm, sinking primarily at the far edges.
air also sinks and warms -- which causes
calm, and clearing -- sunlight might even stream through.
Just at the
, the area of the highest winds.
It is particularly dangerous to go outside when the
passes over because you are soon to experience,
's violent eyewall.
is one of the most
s yet taken of an eye and rotating eyewall.
The time-lapse video
was taken from space by NASA's
last week over one of the
most powerful tropical cyclones
in recorded history:
Hurricanes can be
and their perils are not
to the storm's center.
Calm Waters and Geomagnetic Storm
stars of the northern
sky are a backdrop for calm waters in this moonlit sea and skyscape
off Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
on September 7
, the photo also records a colorful display of
northern lights or
triggered by a severe geomagnetic storm.
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
The Great Gig in the Sky
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
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.
The Flash Spectrum of the Sun
In clear Madras, Oregon skies, this colorful eclipse
composite captured the
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
at the beginning and end of totality brackets a
silhouette of the lunar disk at maximum eclipse.
Spread by the
the spectrum of colors toward the right, the Sun's
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
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
an element only first discovered
flash spectrum of the Sun
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
Smith Rock State Park
, a group of
and rock climbers led by
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
approached, planned juxtapositions were scrutinized, and the placement of rock climber
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
Europa and Jupiter from Voyager 1
What are those spots on Jupiter?
Largest and furthest, just right of center, is the
Great Red Spot
that has been raging on
's likely notation of it
352 years ago
It is not yet known why this
Great Spot is red
The spot toward the lower left is one of Jupiter's largest moons:
Images from Voyager
in 1979 bolster the modern hypothesis that
Europa has an underground ocean and is therefore a
good place to look for extraterrestrial life
But what about the dark spot on the upper right?
That is a shadow of another of Jupiter's large moons:
Voyager 1 discovered
to be so volcanic that no
s could be found.
Sixteen frames from
1's flyby of Jupiter in 1979 were recently reprocessed and merged to create the
Forty years ago today,
1 launched from Earth and started one of the
Saturn's Rings from the Inside Out
What do Saturn's rings look like from Saturn?
Images from the robotic
with this unprecedented vantage point as it nears the completion of its mission.
Previous to Cassini's
Grand Finale orbits
all images of
Saturn's majestic ring
system were taken from outside of the rings
Pictured in the inset is the
while the spacecraft's positions are depicted in the surrounding animation.
Details of the
are evident as
the short time-lapse sequence begins, while the paper-thin thickness
of the rings becomes apparent near the video's end.
The featured images were taken on August 20.
only a few more
orbits around Saturn left before it is directed to
dive into the giant planet
on September 15.
A Waterspout in Florida
What's happening over the water?
is one of the better images yet recorded of a
a type of tornado that occurs over water.
are spinning columns of rising moist air that
typically form over warm water.
can be as dangerous as
and can feature wind speeds over 200 kilometers per hour.
s form away from thunderstorms
and even during relatively fair weather.
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
The Atlantic Ocean
off the coast of Florida is arguably the most active area in the world for waterspouts
, with hundreds forming each year.
that waterspouts are responsible for some of the losses recorded in the
Milky Way Voyager
Launched in 1977
on a tour of the outer planets of the Solar System,
Voyager 1 and 2 have become the longest operating and most distant
Nearly 16 light-hours from the Sun, Voyager 2 has reached the edge of
the heliosphere, the realm defined by the influence of the solar wind
and the Sun's magnetic field.
Now humanity's first
ambassador to the Milky Way
, Voyager 1 is
over 19 light-hours away, beyond the heliosphere in
Celebrate the Voyagers' 40 year journey toward the stars with
NASA on September 5.
A First Glimpse of the Great American Eclipse
Making landfall in Oregon, the
dark umbral shadow
toured the United States on August 21.
Those gathered along its coast to coast path were
to a total eclipse
of the Sun, possibly the most
widely shared celestial
But first, the Moon's shadow touched the northern Pacific and
raced eastward toward land.
This dramatic snapshot was
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.
Lunar View, Solar Eclipse
Orbiting above the
on August 21,
the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter turned to
look back on a bright, Full Earth.
As anticipated its Narrow Angle Camera
scanned this sharp view
of our fair planet, catching the shadow of the Moon racing
along a path
across the United States at about 1,500 miles per hour.
In fact, the dark lunar shadow is centered over
at 1:25:30 Central Daylight Time.
From there, the New Moon blocked the Sun high in clear skies for about
2 minutes and 40 seconds in a
Panoramic Eclipse Composite with Star Trails
What was happening in the sky during last week's total solar eclipse?
, double time-lapse,
digitally-fused composite captured celestial action
during both night and day from a single location.
In this 360x180 panorama
, north and south are at the image bottom and top, while east and west are at the left and right edges, respectively.
During four hours the night before the eclipse,
were captured circling the
north celestial pole
(bottom) as the
During the day of the total eclipse, the
was captured every fifteen minutes from sunrise to sunset (top), sometimes in partial eclipse.
All of these images were then digitally merged onto a single image taken exactly during the
total solar eclipse
Then, the Sun's bright
could be seen flaring around the dark
simultaneously became easily visible (top).
The tree in the middle, below the camera, is a
The images were taken with care and