As if Pluto hasn't impressed our socks off already this year, today NASA revealed an amazing discovery. No one could have guessed this distant tiny object would have skies of blue! The first color images of Pluto’s atmospheric hazes, returned by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft last week, reveal that the hazes are blue.
You may not know him, but if there was ever a kid destin for the stars it is this young man. While other boys his age are playing video games, he is studying the stars, receiving awards for discovering brand new asteroids, and presenting inspiring astronomy lectures to kids all over the world. He is only 14 and hitting the astronomy community by storm.
These aren't your average everyday selfies. Each photo is unique and creative because the photographer captured their own image against the ultimate backdrop, our Milky Way. When one spends so much time under the big open night sky, there is no escaping contemplating the deeper meaning of the universe. Whether we star gaze alone, with friends, or with the one we love, we can't help but feel small and humbled in the grandeur of the cosmos. We come to the understanding we are part of something so incredible and so much larger than ourselves. It was hard picking just one photo from each talented photographer. Please click the link under each name to see more captivating images of our night sky. Thank you to all the photographers who contributed images. The last image is an open invitation for anyone who would like to experience a front row seat to the most amazing show this planet has ever seen. We invite you to go out and enjoy the magic of the night as the Milky Way puts on an unforgettable cosmic show!
This bright galaxy is one of the most famous examples of an edge-on spiral galaxy, oriented perpendicularly to our line of sight so that we see right into its luminous disc. NGC 4565 has been nicknamed the Needle Galaxy because, when seen in full, it appears as a very narrow streak of light on the sky. It is amazing to see such beautiful detail in a galaxy 50 million light years from Earth both from the ground and in astonishing close ups by Hubble.
The extraordinary image you are looking at is not an image from the Hubble Telescope or any huge observatory on Earth. This image was taken in a backyard in an ordinary neighborhood in western Michigan by a very talented astrophotographer named Terry Hancock. What is even more impressive is that he used a tiny 3.6" refractor telescope to achieve it. This is the famous Helix Nebula and some have nicknamed it "The Eye Of God".
At first glance this image taken by Hubble immediately invokes mind-blowing awe and wonder. THIS is out there in our universe. Hubble tells us the story of the galaxy in which it focused it's gaze. This is galaxy NGC 4522. It is one of about 1,300 galaxies racing around each in the Virgo galaxy cluster. Speeding through space it is being stripped of it's gas content. Every one of the galaxies visible in this incredible image has it's own story. Each one is filled with hundreds of billions of other suns with perhaps trillions of planets. What are their stories?
"I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day." -Vincent van Gogh
For astrophotographer Mike Taylor in central Maine, that quote is very true. When most people are fast asleep Mike is out capturing stunning and surreal night sky photos so incredible van Gogh himself would have been in awe. Featuring millions of sparkling stars and vibrant curtains of color, his images look more like a fantasy painting than a photograph. Some say he is lucky because each night he captures something magical; a vivid fireball that appears from nowhere, a captivating aurora dancing with the Milky Way or airglow illuminating the dark sky.
It's hard to believe the captivating and gorgeous nebula in this image was created by one tiny sun-like star that exploded. Planetary nebulas are kind of like snowflakes, they are extremely intricate and beautiful and no two are exactly alike. Scattered throughout the universe these dazzling cosmic marvels give scientist a glimpse into our own star's distant future.