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Ice-covered lighthouse in Michigan

Photo credit: Joshua Nowicki

Photo credit: Joshua Nowicki

Wow! A fearsome ice king! Outer lighthouse in St. Joseph, Michigan on Friday night.

Looking for meteors? Try to get away from city lights

Image credit: NASA

The inset boxes show the general location of two International Dark Sky Association (IDA) ‘gold-tier’ parks —the highest dark sky designation — where the full array of visible sky phenomena can be seen with the unaided eye. Image via NASA

About 80 percent of people in the United States live in urban areas. In these areas, the glow of artificial light sources blot out the night sky. The annual Leonid meteor shower will reach its peak early Tuesday morning. Will you see any meteors? Conditions are optimum this year. The sky is cooperating! But, as much fun as it is to see a meteor zing by in your suburban backyard – or even from an urban balcony – we all know that city lights drown all but the brightest stars, planets, and fireballs. This post offers some tips on how to find a dark sky, and talks about dark sky parks, designated by the International Dark Sky Association.

We’ve landed on a comet!

We've landed on a comet!  Image via @universetoday on Twitter.

We’ve landed on a comet! Image via ESA

New images from the Philae lander are expected on Thursday, November 14. In the meantime, despite many challenges … a cause for celebration!

Light pillars over northern Sweden

Light pillars in northern Sweden, November 7, 2014, by Birgit Boden

Light pillars in northern Sweden, November 7, 2014, by Birgit Bodén

EarthSky Facebook friend Birgit Bodén shared this photo. It’s a sign of wintry weather already appearing at far northern latitudes. These streaks in the sky are called light pillars. They form when sunlight (or another bright light source, such as the sun) reflects off the surfaces of millions of falling ice crystals associated with thin, high-level clouds.

Moonset behind trees

Setting moon on November 2, 2014 by Ken Christison

View larger. | Time-lapse photo of setting moon on November 2, 2014 by Ken Christison

Ken Christison posted this photo to EarthSky Facebook and wrote:

Watching the moon set behind the trees. I always liked to get clean images of the moon, but this morning I just kept it running through the trees. I think it does add to the whole atmosphere.

Three cool images of a comet’s night side

The night side of Comet 67P.  The resolution of this image mosaic of four NAVCAM images is about 2.68 meters, and the mosaic covers roughly 4.6 kilometers by 3.8 kilometers.   Image via Andrew R. Brown; read more about this image.

Here we are looking ‘down’ onto the top of the ‘head’ of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, which is in darkness, along with the Philae landing site. The lander is scheduled to set down on the comet on Wednesday, November 12! Some outgassing is also visible.

The dayside images of Rosetta’s comet have been fantastic. Now, thanks to backscatter of sunlight from the comet’s coma, we’re seeing amazing nightside images.

Cold has come to the north

Photo credit: Art by T.Richardsen

Photo credit: T.Richardsen

An image of a far northern latitude, where it’s beginning to look a lot like winter.

East Tennessee early snow

Photo credit: Peter Montanti/Mountain Photographics

Photo credit: Peter Montanti/Mountain Photographics

Snow fell in the east Tennessee hills on the first day of November.

Extraordinary shot of moon’s far side and Earth, from Chang’e

View larger. |  Chinese Chang'e 5 test vehicle captured this extraordinary view of Earth over the far side of the moon on  October 28, 2014.

View of Earth over the far side of the moon on October 28, 2014, via Chinese Chang’e 5 test vehicle. Image via CNSA (China National Space Agency)

The Chinese Chang’e 5 test vehicle captured this extraordinary view of Earth over the far side of the moon on October 28. From Earth, the phase of the moon was a waxing crescent. From the moon, the Earth was in a waning gibbous phase. More detail about features visible on this photo on the far side of the moon, inside.

2014 Antarctic ozone hole holds steady

This image shows ozone concentrations above Antarctica on Sept. 11, 2014. Image credit: NASA.

This image shows ozone concentrations above Antarctica on Sept. 11, 2014. Image credit: NASA.

The 2014 The Antarctic ozone hole reached its annual peak size on September 11. According to scientists from NASA and NOAA, the size of this year’s hole was 24.1 million square kilometers (9.3 million square miles) — an area roughly the size of North America.