A sunset at Lycabettus Hill, Athens
The Comet in Queenstown by Trey Ratcliff
Best Space Pictures of the Week
1. Wow! Spectacular Sun Photos Catch Colossal Solar Storm in Action
Huge string-like filaments of plasma leaped from the surface of the sun recently, and NASA satellites caught the scene on film. [Full Story]
2. NASA’s Dawn Spacecraft Says Goodbye to Giant Asteroid Vesta
NASA’s Dawn probe has left the asteroid Vesta to begin a new journey to the dwarf planet Ceres. [Full Story]
3. Strange Star in Nearby Cluster Resists Aging
A new image from ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile shows the spectacular globular star cluster Messier 4. [Full Story]
Skywatchers around the world were wowed by the northern lights show produced by a recent solar storm. [Full Story]
5. Hubble Telescope Sees Two Galaxies in Cosmic Dance
The Hubble telescope has snapped a stunning new portrait of a pair of peculiar galaxies. [Full Story]
Nightscapes of Armenian Spirit Suren Manvelyan
Nightscapes by Suren Manvelyan
Beyond Earth by Stephen Di Donato’s Portfolio
Astronomy by Suren Manvelyan
All photos taken from Aragats mountain in 3000 m above sea level, Armenia.
1. Aurora australis (11 September 2005) as captured by NASA’s IMAGE satellite, digitally overlaid onto The Blue Marble composite image An animation created using the same satellite data is also available
Sky Show by Tommy Eliassen
Credit: Tommy EliassenThe dazzling Aurora Borealis over Høgtuva Mountain in Norway. The Earth’s magnetic field funnels particles from the solar wind down over the planet’s polar regions. More than 80 kilometres above the ground, these particles collide with atoms and molecules of gas in our atmosphere, causing them to glow in the characteristic colours of green and pale red for oxygen and crimson for nitrogen.
Night Sky Views by Photographer Jeffrey Berkes
1. Twin Sun Planet Kepler 35b: Mark Garlick
An artist’s illustration of Kepler-35 b, a Saturn-size planet around a pair of sun-size stars, as envisioned by artist Mark A. Garlick. The discovery of Kepler-35b and another twin sun planet, Kepler-34 b, was announced Jan. 11, 2012 and represent a new class of circumbinary planets.
2. Twin Sun Planet Kepler 35b: Lior Taylor
An artist’s illustration of Kepler-35 b, a Saturn-size planet around a pair of sun-size stars, as envisioned by artist Lior Taylor. The discovery of Kepler-35b and another twin sun planet, Kepler-34 b, was announced Jan. 11, 2012 and represent a new class of circumbinary planets.
The Dazzling Auroras
Astronomers find 2 alien planets with twin suns, just like ‘Star Wars’
The star and its planets, called Kepler-47b and Kepler-47c, dwell about 5,000 light-years away, in the constellation Cygnus, the Swan.
Extreme Night Sky Targets
The night sky is full of uncountable wonders, as any dedicated stargazer knows. Here’s a brief rundown of some of the most extreme night sky sights, from the brightest planet to the most distant object detectable with the naked eye.
1. The Brightest Planet
Venus is brighter than pretty much any object in our sky apart from the sun and moon, shining at a maximum apparent magnitude of -5 or so. For comparison, the full moon blazes at magnitude -13, making it roughly 1,600 times brighter than Venus. (In astronomy, lower magnitudes signify brighter objects.) [Amazing Photos of Venus and the Moon]
2. The Largest Star
Researchers estimate that VY Canis Majoris could be more than 2,100 times the size of the sun. If placed in our solar system, the monster star’s surface would thus extend out past the orbit of Saturn. But VY Canis Majoris may not even have a discernible surface, since the star appears to be about 1,000 times less dense than Earth’s atmosphere at sea level.
VY Canis Majoris is the source of considerable controversy, since the estimates of its size fall outside the bounds of current stellar theory. Astronomers think VY Canis Majoris will die in a “hypernova” explosion sometime within the next 100,000 years, producing a burst of energy substantially higher than that generated by typical supernovas.
3.The Most Colorful Star
Many stars are known for their beautiful colors, such as the double star Albireo (blue and orange) and Antares (fiery red). But the most colorful of all stars visible to the naked eye may be the reddish-orange Mu Cephei, which is sometimes known as Erakis.
The red giant Mu Cephei — dubbed “The Garnet Star” by famed British astronomer William Herschel — resides in the constellation Cepheus (The King). Mu Cephei is a pulsating variable star and cycles from a maximum magnitude of 3.7 down to about 5.0 before brightening back up again.
And the star’s color can vary, too. Most of the time, Mu Cephei appears a deep orange-red, but on occasion it has seemed to take on a weird purplish tint. While The Garnet Star is slightly dim, its ruddy cast is apparent even to the unaided eye on a dark night, and it’s stunning in good binoculars.\
4. Most Distant Naked-Eye Object
Even through binoculars or backyard telescopes, Andromeda still looks like little more than an elongated fuzzy patch. But that’s still plenty impressive, considering that the galaxy is 2.5 million light-years from Earth.
But it’s getting closer. Astronomers estimate that Andromeda and our own Milky Way will merge about four billion years from now, bringing the once-distant galaxy into spectacular view for any skywatchers still around to look up. [Gallery: Andromeda’s Crash with Milky Way]