Enjoying EarthSky? Subscribe.

221,590 subscribers and counting ...

Pillars of Creation 1995, via Hubble

The awesome beauty of the Eagle Nebula

Here is the famous Pillars of Creation photo taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. It’s one of the features within the Eagle Nebula.

The world watched on television as Neil Armstrong took the first steps on the moon's surface on July 20, 1969.  It was the first time humans walked another world.  As he stepped onto the lunar surface, Armstrong said, "That is one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind."

Today in science: 1st footsteps on moon

Today is the 47th anniversary of humanity’s historic first steps on the moon. The story in pictures, here.

Mammatus clouds in New Jersey. June 21, 2016. Image via Phil Chillemi.

Check out these mammatus clouds

Mammatus clouds can appear ominous. But, in a way that’s so common in nature, their dangerous aspect goes hand in hand with a magnificent beauty.

This new Hubble image shows IRAS 14568-6304, a young star that is cloaked in a haze of golden gas and dust. It appears to be embedded within an intriguing swoosh of dark sky, which curves through the image and obscures the sky behind. This dark region is known as the Circinus molecular cloud. This cloud has a mass around 250 000 times that of the Sun, and it is filled with gas, dust and young stars. Within this cloud lie two prominent and enormous regions known colloquially to astronomers as Circinus-West and Circinus-East. Each of these clumps has a mass of around 5000 times that of the Sun, making them the most prominent star-forming sites in the Circinus cloud. The clumps are associated with a number of young stellar objects, and IRAS 14568-6304, featured here under a blurry fog of gas within Circinus-West, is one of them. IRAS 14568-6304 is special because it is driving a protostellar jet, which appears here as the "tail" below the star. This jet is the leftover gas and dust that the star took from its parent cloud in order to form. While most of this material forms the star and its accretion disc — the disc of material surrounding the star, which may one day form planets — at some point in the formation process the star began to eject some of the material at supersonic speeds through space. This phenomenon is not only beautiful, but can also provide us with valuable clues about the process of star formation. IRAS 14568-6304 is one of several outflow sources in the Circinus-West clump. Together, these sources make up one of the brightest, most massive, and most energetic outflows ever reported. Scientists have even suggested calling Circinus-West the "nest of molecular outflows" in tribute to this activity. A version of this image was entered into the Hubble's Hidden Treasures image processing competition by contestant Serge Meunier.

Golden veil cloaks a newborn star

This beautiful new Hubble image shows a young star just emerging from its cloud of gas and dust.

Smoke trail from a bright fireball, whose sightings were centered on Arizona, via David Adkins via American Meteor Society.

Smoke trail from fireball over Arizona

NASA said the June 2 meteor was the largest seen by its camera network in 8 years. It identified this smoke trail as what the meteor left behind. Video of the fireball here.

Sunrise Stripe Hospital Hill, Mutare Zimbabwe 5-28-2016 Peter Lowenstein sq

Sunrise stripes on Hospital Hill, Zimbabwe

A rare combination of light and shade over a hillside in Mutare.

Photo by Roberto Porto.

International Space Station over Tenerife

Plus a tajinaste rojo, a strange and very large plant endemic to the island of Tenerife.

Niko Powe in Illinois called this image S.A.M.N. for
Saturn, Antares, Mars, and Niko! :-)

Best Mars photos, May 2016

These past weeks have been a fabulous time to view Mars, which swept closest to Earth on May 30. Best photos from the EarthSky community!

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Saturn’s south polar vortex

A monstrous vortex sits at Saturn’s south pole. It’s not just beautiful. It also lets astronomers peer deep into Saturn’s dense atmosphere.

Mosaic image of Africa, contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2016), processed by Brockmann Consult/ Université catholique de Louvain as part of ESA’s Climate Change Initiative Land Cover project

Cloud-free Africa

The European Space Agency used 7,000 satellite images – acquired from late 2015 through early 2016 – to make this mosaic of Africa.

Photo by Yuri Beletsky in the Atacama Desert.

Sunrays seen from Chile

Crepuscular rays, sometimes called sunrays, above the famous volcano Licancabur on the border between Chile and Bolivia.

comet-252PLINEAR-jet-4-4-2016-sq

Hubble spies a comet’s rotating jet

In March, Comet 252P/LINEAR passed exceedingly near the Earth. These images show the closest celestial object Hubble has observed, other than Earth’s moon.

View larger. | This image shows our neighbouring planet Mars, as it was observed shortly before opposition in 2016 by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Some prominent features of the planet are clearly visible: the ancient and inactive shield volcano Syrtis Major; the bright and oval Hellas Planitia basin; the heavily eroded Arabia Terra in the centre of the image; the dark features of Sinus Sabaeous and Sinus Meridiani along the equator; and the small southern polar cap. Image via NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage Team, J. Bell, M. Wolff.

New Hubble image of Mars

New Hubble Space Telescope image of Mars, in honor of the planet’s May 22 opposition, when our planet Earth will sweep between the Red Planet and the sun.

Photo by Jeff Berkes Photography.

Milky Way over the Outer Banks

Jeff Berkes captured this image earlier this month, during a night sky photography workshop.

Photo taken May 13, 2016 by Yuri Beletsky in Chile.

Moon halo, stars, planet over Chile

Haloes around the moon happen when moonlight shines through tiny ice crystals in the upper air. Here’s a moon halo, with bright stars and Jupiter nearby.

View larger. | This is one of the most colorful places on Mars, as seen by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on February 5, 2016.  It's the The Nili Fossae region, located on the northwest rim of Isidis impact basin. Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona.

Where red Mars looks blue

Most images of Mars show colors homogenized by red dust and regolith. This infrared-red-blue color image shows Mars’ bedrock … and many colors.

May 9, 2016, transit of Mercury from Megastar Carpentier Photography in France.

See it! Monday’s transit of Mercury

Photos from the EarthSky community of the May 9, 2016, transit of Mercury across the face of the sun. Thanks to all who posted!

Photo taken May 8, 2016 by Helio C. Vital.

Airplane crosses sun’s face

While preparing on Sunday to watch today’s transit – an event Mercury crosses the face of our sun – Helio C. Vital caught an airplane doing the same.

Long meteor caught during the peak of last week's Eta Aquarid meteor shower, May 6, 2016.  Photo by Darla Young.

Long meteor over Arkansas

Meteor showers happen when Earth passes through a stream of icy debris left behind by a comet. The famous Comet Halley spawned last week’s Eta Aquarids.

Photo by Hector Rafael Vazquez Rispoli.

A mix of dark dust and bright stars

Vast dust clouds stretch across a rich starfield in near the northern boundary of the southern constellation Corona Australis, the Southern Crown.