The launch of the first American in space.
Shepard-Freedom-7 (by BooWow)
Lightning Eclipse from the Planet of the Goats
Thunderstorms almost spoiled this view of the spectacular June 15 total lunar eclipse. Instead, storm clouds parted for 10 minutes during the total eclipse phase and lightning bolts contributed to the dramatic sky. Captured with a 30 second exposure the scene also inspired what, in the 16 year history of Astronomy Picture of the Day, the editor considers may be the best title yet for a picture (title credit to Chris K.). Of course, the lightning reference clearly makes sense, and the shadow play of the dark lunar eclipse was widely viewed across planet Earth in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. The picture itself, however, was shot from the Greek Ikaria island at Pezi. That area is known as “the planet of the goats” because of the rough terrain and strange looking rocks.
Backdropped by a night time view of the Earth and the starry sky, the Space Shuttle Endeavour is photographed docked at the International Space Station on May 28, 2011. The STS-134 astronauts left the station the next day on May 29, after delivering the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer and performing four spacewalks during Endeavour’s final mission. (Photo via NASA)
The “Hand of God” Nebula is powered by a small neutron star, only 12 miles in diameter, a pulsar known as PSR B1509-58.
Taken by: NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope
Transferring the AMS
In the grasp of the International Space Station’s Canadarm2, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2 (AMS) is transferred from space shuttle Endeavour’s payload bay for installation on the station’s starboard truss.
Photographed from a shuttle training aircraft, space shuttle Endeavour and its six-member STS-134 crew head toward Earth orbit and rendezvous with the International Space Station. Liftoff was at 8:56 a.m. (EDT) on May 16, 2011, from Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
The starboard truss of the International Space Station is featured in this image photographed by an STS-134 crew member while space shuttle Endeavour remains docked with the station. The newly-installed Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2 (AMS) is visible at center left. The blackness of space and Earth’s horizon provide the backdrop for the scene.
Cosmic pillars of cold molecular gas and clouds of dark dust lie within Sharpless 171, a star-forming region some 3,000 light-years away in the royal constellation Cepheus. This tantalizing false-color skyscape spans about 20 light-years across the nebula’s bright central region. It also highlights the pervasive glow of emission from atomic gas using narrowband filters and a color palette made popular in Hubble Space Telescope images. Powering the nebular glow are the young, hot stars of a newly formed cluster, Berkeley 59. Of course, this star-forming region is entry number 171 in the famous 1959 catalog of emission nebulae compiled by astronomer Stewart Sharpless.
Arkhangelsky Crater Dunes
This observation shows dunes on the floor of the large, degraded Arkhangelsky Crater in the Southern hemisphere of Mars.
Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
Mimas and The Blue Rings
Credit: Cassini/ NASA/JPL
When the red supergiant V838 Monocerotis suddenly brightened for several weeks in early 2002, it showed it was cloaked in a never-before-seen cloud structure. The burst of light reflecting off the clouds, called a light echo, was captured by the Hubble Space Telescope.
Photograph courtesy NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
The Southern Cliff in the Lagoon
Undulating bright ridges and dusty clouds cross this close-up of the nearby star forming region M8, also known as the Lagoon Nebula. A sharp, false-color composite of narrow band visible and broad band near-infrared data from the 8-meter Gemini South Telescope, the entire view spans about 20 light-years through a region of the nebula sometimes called the Southern Cliff. The highly detailed image explores the association of many newborn stars imbedded in the tips of the bright-rimmed clouds and Herbig-Haro objects. Abundant in star-forming regions, Herbig-Haro objects are produced as powerful jets emitted by young stars in the process of formation heat the surrounding clouds of gas and dust. The cosmic Lagoon is found some 5,000 light-years away toward constellation Sagittarius and the center of our Milky Way Galaxy.
Ground-based telescopes make the nebula pictured here look rectangular in shape, hence its name: the Red Rectangle. But images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope revealed that it should more accurately be called the “Red X” nebula. The nebula’s unique shape comes from gas and dust emitted in cone-shaped bursts from the dying star at its center. This star, which began shedding its outer layers about 14,000 years ago, will slowly become smaller and hotter and begin to release a flood of ultraviolet light.
Photograph courtesy NASA/ESA/Hans Van Winckel (Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium)/Martin Cohen (University of California, Berkeley)
The Victoria Crater in the Meridiani Planum region of Mars.