Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2011 Winners
Saturn’s moon Mimas peeps out from behind the larger moon Dione in this view from the Cassini spacecraft. Mimas (246 miles, or 396 kilometers across) is near the bottom center of the image. Saturn’s rings are also visible in the top right.
This view looks toward the anti-Saturn side of Dione (698 miles, or 1,123 kilometers across). North on Dione is up and rotated 20 degrees to the right. This view looks toward the northern, sunlit side of the rings from just above the ringplane.
The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Dec. 12, 2011. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 377,000 miles (606,000 kilometers) from Mimas. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 56,000 miles (91,000 kilometers) from Dione and at a Sun-Dione-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 42 degrees. Image scale is 1,773 feet (541 meters) per pixel on Dione.
Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute [high-resolution]
2. Voyager 1 took this photo of the planet Jupiter on January 24, 1979, while still more than 25 million mi (40 million km) away.
3. Jupiter as seen by the space probeCassini.
5. This view of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot and its surroundings was obtained by Voyager 1on February 25, 1979, when the spacecraft was 9.2 million km (5.7 million mi) from Jupiter. Cloud details as small as 160 km (100 mi) across can be seen here. The colorful, wavy cloud pattern to the left of the Red Spot is a region of extraordinarily complex and variable wave motion. To give a sense of Jupiter’s scale, the white oval storm directly below the Great Red Spot is approximately the same diameter as Earth.
Approaching the Red Planet
A Martian flying saucer? No, this one is all ours. This is an artist’s conception of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft nearing Mars, the new rover Curiosity inside. This historic landing is set for Sunday, Aug. 5.
On that day, years of preparation will culminate in what scientists call “7 minutes of terror” on Sunday. That’s the amount of time it takes the rover-carrying spacecraft to get from the top of Mars’ atmosphere to its surface. But because it takes 14 minutes for the signal from the spacecraft to reach Earth, by the time NASA scientists hear that the spacecraft has hit the atmosphere, it’s actually been on the surface for 7 minutes. Until those 7 minutes pass, no one will know whether the rover made it down safely.
The Curiosity rover’s mission is to study Mars’ climate and geology, as well as to gather information for a potential manned mission to Earth’s neighboring planet.
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter photographed the Earth’s Moon for calibration information on the color and brightness of its images. (Scientists have been photographing the Moon for a long time and know its brightness and color exactly.)
Area surrounding the stellar cluster NGC 2467, located in the southern constellation of Puppis (“The Stern”). With an age of a few million years at most, it is a very active stellar nursery, where new stars are born continuously from large clouds of dust and gas. The image, looking like a colourful cosmic ghost or a gigantic celestial Mandrill, contains the open clusters Haffner 18 (centre) and Haffner 19 (middle right: it is located inside the smaller pink region — the lower eye of the Mandrill), as well as vast areas of ionised gas. The bright star at the centre of the largest pink region on the bottom of the image is HD 64315, a massive young star that is helping shaping the structure of the whole nebular region.
Image: ESO [high-resolution]
Waxing Gibbous Moon
Earth from Space
1. Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, as seen by the Cassini spacecraft. When we gaze at the moon with the eye, we see only the upper layers of its dense atmosphere. But many mysteries lie beneath.
2. True-color image of layers of haze in Titan’s atmosphere
The moon approached within 357,000 km (222,000 mi) of Earth, in what is scientifically known as a perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system (perigee: closest point of an elliptical orbit; syzygy: straight line made of three bodies in a gravitational system). [24 photos]
A Ring of Fire
An annular eclipse, where the Moon’s apparent diameter is slightly smaller than the Sun’s, blocking all but a ring of sunlight. [26 photos]
Sunny Sunday by John Nassr
The monsoon season’s cloudy weather gave way to a bright sunny morning and a chance for me to capture a few sunspots, prominences, and dark filaments in the Sun.
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Actually, yes, it is a plane.
During the historic Venus transit on Tuesday, one photographer viewing the celestial spectacle at Lowell Observatory snapped a very terrestrial object crossing the sun’s disk when the transit was in full-flow. A passenger jet flew overhead right as Len Bright took his shot. Yes, the aircraft had photobombed the transit.