• Here are some familiar shapes in unfamiliar locations. This emission nebula on the left is famous partly because it resembles Earth’s continent of North America. To the right of the >North America Nebula, cataloged as NGC 7000, is a less luminous nebula that resembles a pelican dubbed the Pelican Nebula. The two emission nebula measure about 50 light-years across, are
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  • This panoramic image of a starry night looks across a dry, desolate landscape. The magnificent view was recorded from Tassili National Park, in the heart of the Sahara desert in southern Algeria. Rising above eroded sandstone cliffs, the celestial menagerie of constellations includes Draco the Dragon, Cygnus the Swan, Aquila the Eagle, and Scorpius the Scorpion. Ruling planet Jupiter shines
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  • This six month long exposure compresses the time from solstice to solstice (~ December 21, 2008 to June 20, 2009) into a single point of view. Dubbed a solargraph, the unconventional picture was recorded with a pinhole camera made from an aluminum can lined with a piece of photographic paper. Fixed to a single spot for the entire exposure, the
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  • From 400 kilometers above planet Earth, the Expedition 20 Crew onboard the International Space Station (ISS) was able to witness a remarkable event from a remarkable vantage point — the June 12 eruption of the Sarychev Peak Volcano. The active volcano is located in Russia’s Kuril Island chain, stretching to the northeast of Japan. Emphasizing the orbital perspective, this stunning
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  • Sometimes it’s night on the ground but day in the air. As the Earth rotates to eclipse the Sun, sunset rises up from the ground. Therefore, at sunset on the ground, sunlight still shines on clouds above. Under usual circumstances, a pretty sunset might be visible, but unusual noctilucent clouds float so high up they can be seen well after
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  • Where did all the stars go? What used to be considered a hole in the sky is now known to astronomers as a dark molecular cloud. Here, a high concentration of dust and molecular gas absorb practically all the visible light emitted from background stars. The eerily dark surroundings help make the interiors of molecular clouds some of the coldest
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  • This rocket is headed for the Moon. Pictured above, a huge Altas V rocket roared off the launch pad last week to start NASA’s first missions to Earth’s Moon in 10 years. The rocket is carrying two robotic spacecraft. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is scheduled to orbit and better map the Moon, search for buried and hidden ice, and
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  • Today, the sun will stay in the sky longer than any other day of the year, as seen from the northern hemisphere of Earth. Named the Summer Solstice, today’s maximum daylight is indicative of the high amount of sunlight this time of year that is primarily responsible for the heat of the summer season. At the north pole and for
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  • This surprising view of the Full Moon rising on June 7 was captured with a telephoto lens from a seaside balcony near Nice, France. The orange Moon’s dark markings and odd shape put the photographer in mind of an alien creature’s face staring down at the passing ship. Of course, the Moon’s distorted appearance is due to the unusual bending
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  • This ancient Chinese map of planet Earth’s northern sky is part of the Dunhuang Star Atlas, one of the most impressive documents in the history of astronomy. The oldest complete star atlas known, it dates to the years 649 to 684, discovered at the Silk Road town of Dunhuang in 1907. A recent analysis that examines the accuracy and projections
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