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Purple aurora

Photo credit: Göran Strand

Photo credit: Göran Strand

Very beautiful aurora over Östersund, Sweden. We love aurora season!

Best view yet of colliding galaxies in distant universe

A collision that took place between two galaxies when the universe was only half its current age. This picture combines the views from the Hubble Space Telescope and the Keck-II telescope on Hawaii (using adaptive optics) along with the ALMA images shown in red. Image credit: ESO, ALMA (NRAO/ESO/NAOJ); W.M. Keck Observatory; NASA/ESA

A collision that took place between two galaxies when the universe was only half its current age. This picture combines the views from the Hubble Space Telescope and the Keck-II telescope on Hawaii (using adaptive optics) along with the ALMA images shown in red. Image credit: ESO, ALMA (NRAO/ESO/NAOJ); W.M. Keck Observatory; NASA/ESA

Using telescopes on the ground and in space, astronomers have obtained the best-yet view of a galaxy collision that happened when the universe was half its current age.

Pluto-bound New Horizons crosses Neptune’s orbit

Neptune and Triton, as captured by the New Horizons spacecraft on July 10, 2014, about one year before its planned 2015 Pluto encounter.  New Horizons crosses Neptune's orbit on August 25, 2014.

Neptune and Triton, as captured by the New Horizons spacecraft on July 10, 2014, about one year before its planned 2015 Pluto encounter. New Horizons crosses Neptune’s orbit on August 25, 2014. Image via NASA / JHU / APL New Horizons spacecraft.

On August 25, 2014, the Pluto-bound New Horizons spacecraft is crossing the orbit of the 8th planet in our solar system, Neptune. NASA says this is New Horizons’ last major crossing en route to becoming the first probe to make a close encounter with distant Pluto on July 14, 2015. While traveling toward Pluto earlier this summer, New Horizons spacecraft imaged the very distant Neptune and Triton using the LORRI (LOng Range Reconnaissance Imager) camera from a distance of 3.957 billion kilometers / 2.457 billion miles. Triton is visible at the 10 o’clock position in relation to Neptune.

Aurora and reflection

Photo © 2014 Tor-Ivar Næss

Photo © 2014 Tor-Ivar Næss

The aurora borealis moves slowly above Norway’s Lyngen Alps on a beautiful November night.

What is the blue hour?

Blue hour by Marianna Bucina Roca in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

Blue hour by Marianna Bucina Roca in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

When you see a strong blue tone to photographs, it could be that the photographer has taken advantage of the blue hour. That’s a time of day when the sun has just set or is about to rise, when the sky overhead takes on a deep blue color, and when the landscape is suffused with bluish light. The blue hour is a good time to take photos of the moon, because then the moon’s glare isn’t so bright in contrast to the sky. It’s also a good time to take landscape photos, as the photos in this post show.

Wow! Spectacular landscape of star formation

View larger. | Image credit: ESO

View larger. | Image credit: ESO

To get the full awesome effect, view the image larger

The ESO release this image today (August 20) of two dramatic star formation regions in the southern Milky Way. The first is of these, on the left, is dominated by the star cluster NGC 3603, located 20,000 light-years away, in the Carina–Sagittarius spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy. The second object, on the right, is a collection of glowing gas clouds known as NGC 3576 that lies only about half as far from Earth.

Exploring the Trifid Nebula

Componets of the Trifid, by Martin MacPhee

Componets of the Trifid, by Martin MacPhee

The Trifid Nebula is a stellar nursery, a cluster of recently born stars, a bright red hydrogen emission nebula, a lovely blue reflection nebula, and an interesting dark nebula divided into 3 …

Great Venus and Jupiter conjunction of 2014

Venus and Jupiter as captured by EarthSky Facebook friend Stefano De Rosa on Isola d'Elba in Italy.

Venus and Jupiter as captured by EarthSky Facebook friend Stefano De Rosa on Isola d’Elba in Italy.

The sky’s two brightest planets – Venus and Jupiter – staged 2014′s closest planet-planet conjunction before dawn on August 18. Central Europe had the best view of these two bright worlds less than a moon diameter apart, but they have beautiful from around the world for many days … and will stay beautiful for many days more. Don’t miss the planets on August 22 and August 23, when the waning crescent moon will be nearby. Thanks to EarthSky friends on Facebook, who captured these beautiful photos over the past few mornings.

Awesomeness from the International Space Station

Second, the southern half of Orion the Hunter with the three belt blue supergiant stars Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka visible in the Earth's atmosphere. The blue supergiants Saiph and Rigel.  Below the constellation of Lepus the Hare. To the lower left, the constellation of Canis Major, the Great Dog, with the bight stars, Sirius (the brightest object and one of the closest outside of our solar system), powerful blue giant Mirzam, blue supergiant, Adhara (one of the most powerful stars visible from Earth), the huge immensely powerful yellow supergiant Wezen (another one of the most powerful stars visible from Earth) and the blue supergiant Aludra.

View larger. | A crew member of ISS Expedition 40 recorded this nighttime scene on June 23, 2014. Part of the constellation Orion is near the center of the frame.

What would it be like to view the Earth and the sky from the vantage point of the International Space Station? These three photos from ISS tell the tale.

Pemaquid Point lighthouse and Milky Way

Photo credit: Manish Mamtani

Photo © Manish Mamtani Photography

John Quincy Adams commissioned the Pemaquid Point lighthouse in Bristol, Maine in 1827. The lighthouse was built that same year. Due to poor workmanship (salt water in the mortar mix), the lighthouse began to crumble and was replaced in 1835. Today, it’s a popular spot for photographers and sightseers.