Very faint planetary nebula Abell 7 is some 1,800 light-years distant, just south of Orion in planet Earth's skies in the constellation Lepus, The Hare. Surrounded by Milky Way stars and near the line-of-sight to distant background galaxies, its generally simple spherical shape, about 8 light-years in diameter, is outlined in this deep telescopic image. Within its confines are beautiful, more complex details enhanced by the use of narrowband filters. Emission from hydrogen is shown in reddish hues with oxygen emission mapped to green and blue colors, giving Abell 7 a natural appearance that would otherwise be much too faint to be appreciated by eye. A planetary nebula represents a very brief final phase in stellar evolution that our own Sun will experience 5 billion years hence, as the nebula's central, once sun-like star shrugs off its outer layers. Abell 7 itself is estimated to be 20,000 years old. Its central star is seen here as a fading white dwarf some 10 billion years old.


Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 Launch

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft aboard launched from Space Launch Complex 41, Thursday, May 19, 2022, at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) is Starliner’s second uncrewed flight test and will dock to the International Space Station as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program. OFT-2 launched at 6:54 p.m. EDT, and will serve as an end-to-end test of the system's capabilities.

Get mission updates.

Image Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky


Source: www.nasa.gov
Picture of two beekeepers tending to beehives in California

Busy Beekeepers

Migratory beekeepers transfer bees from a thriving hive to a weaker one in Dos Palos, California. A story in the May 1993 issue documented the careers of beekeepers who transport hives all across the country to pollinate crops.

Photograph by Maria Stenzel, Nat Geo Image Collection



This serene sand and skyscape finds the Dune of Pilat on the coast of France still in Earth's shadow during the early morning hours of May 16. Extending into space, the planet's dark umbral shadow covered the Moon on that date. From that location the total phase of a lunar eclipse had begun before moonset. Still in sunlight though, the International Space Station crossed from the western horizon and Earth's largest artificial moon traced the bright flat arc through the sky over 400 km above. Simply constructed, the well-planned panoramic scene was captured over a 5 minutes in a series of consecutive images.


Picture of a young Japanese-American woman smiling as she stands on her family's car as it enters an internment camp in California in 1942

Before Detention

A story in the October 2018 issue looked at Japanese-American internment during World War II. In this photo from 1942, a young woman smiles as her family enters the Santa Anita racetrack—then a temporary detention center—not realizing what was to come.

Photograph by National Archives, Nat Geo Image Collection



Recorded on May 15/16 this sequence of exposures follows the Full Moon during a total lunar eclipse as it arcs above treetops in the clearing skies of central Florida. A frame taken every 5 minutes by a digital camera shows the progression of the eclipse over three hours. The bright lunar disk grows dark and red as it glides through planet Earth's shadow. In fact, counting the central frames in the sequence measures the roughly 90 minute duration of the total phase of this eclipse. Around 270 BC, the Greek astronomer Aristarchus also measured the duration of total lunar eclipses, but probably without the benefit of digital watches and cameras. Still, using geometry he devised a simple and impressively accurate way to calculate the Moon's distance in terms of the radius of planet Earth, from the eclipse duration.


Picture of young Vietnamese Buddhist priests standing outside a temple in Sydney, Australia

Buddhist Temple

Young Vietnamese Buddhists stand outside the Phuoc Hue Temple in Sydney, Australia. To correlate with Sydney hosting the 2000 Summer Olympics, the August 2000 issue's cover story was about the city and its cultural diversity.

Photograph by Annie Griffiths, Nat Geo Image Collection



Cloudy skies plagued some sky watchers on Sunday as May's Full Flower Moon slipped through Earth's shadow in a total lunar eclipse. In skies above Chile's Atacama desert this telephoto snapshot still captured an awesome spectacle though. Seen through thin high cirrus clouds just before totality began, a last sliver of sunlit crescent glistens like a hazy jewel atop the mostly shadowed lunar disk. This full moon was near perigee, the closest point in its elliptical orbit. It passed near the center of Earth's dark umbral shadow during the 90 minute long total eclipse phase. Faintly suffused with sunlight scattered by the atmosphere, the umbral shadow itself gave the eclipsed moon a reddened appearance and the very dramatic popular moniker of a Blood Moon.


Picture of Chinese elders at a poetry party

Poetry Party

Guests attend a poetry party in China in the mid to late 1920s. This portrait was taken by Juliet Bredon, who spent most of her life in China and published work with National Geographic under the name Adam Warwick.

Photograph by Adam Warwick, Nat Geo Image Collection



Astronomers turn detectives when trying to figure out the cause of startling sights like NGC 1316. Investigations indicate that NGC 1316 is an enormous elliptical galaxy that started, about 100 million years ago, to devour a smaller spiral galaxy neighbor, NGC 1317, just on the upper right. Supporting evidence includes the dark dust lanes characteristic of a spiral galaxy, and faint swirls and shells of stars and gas visible in this wide and deep image. One thing that >remains unexplained is the unusually small globular star clusters, seen as faint dots on the image. Most elliptical galaxies have more and brighter globular clusters than NGC 1316. Yet the observed globulars are too old to have been created by the recent spiral collision. One hypothesis is that these globulars survive from an even earlier galaxy that was subsumed into NGC 1316. Another surprising attribute of NGC 1316, also known as Fornax A, is its giant lobes of gas that glow brightly in radio waves.


Picture of a group of children standing in front of an enormous cypress tree in Mexico

Montezuma Cypress

Sixth graders line up in front of a Montezuma cypress in Santa María del Tule, Oaxaca, Mexico. This tree, which has a diameter of roughly 38 feet, appeared in a March 2017 story about famous trees around the world.

Photograph by Diane Cook and Len Jenshel, Nat Geo Image Collection



Real castles aren't this old. And the background galaxy is even older. Looking a bit like an alien castle, the pictured rock spires are called hoodoos and are likely millions of years old. Rare, but found around the world, hoodoos form when dense rocks slow the erosion of softer rock underneath. The pictured hoodoos survive in the French Alps and are named Demoiselles Coiffées -- which translates to English as "Ladies with Hairdos". The background galaxy is part of the central disk of our own Milky Way galaxy and contains stars that are typically billions of years old. The photogenic Cygnus sky region -- rich in dusty dark clouds and red glowing nebulas -- appears just above and behind the hoodoos. The featured image was taken in two stages: the foreground was captured during the evening blue hour, while the background was acquired from the same location later that night.


Picture of a person holding up an enormous woolly mammoth tusk in the Russian Arctic

Tusk Hunters

A story in the April 2013 issue followed people who search the Russian Arctic for ancient tusks from woolly mammoths. In this previously unpublished photo from that story, a tusk hunter removes a mammoth tusk from a frozen riverbed.

Photograph by Evgenia Arbugaeva, Nat Geo Image Collection


Picture of a flock of scarlet ibises flying in Venezuela

Scarlet Ibises

A flock of scarlet ibises takes flight in Venezuela. This photo appeared in an April 1998 story that documented life along the Orinoco River.

Photograph by Robert Caputo, Nat Geo Image Collection



There's a black hole at the center of the Milky Way. Stars are observed to orbit a very massive and compact object there known as Sgr A* (say "sadge-ay-star"). But this just released radio image (inset) from planet Earth's Event Horizon Telescope is the first direct evidence of the Milky Way's central black hole. As predicted by Einstein's Theory of General Relativity, the four million solar mass black hole's strong gravity is bending light and creating a shadow-like dark central region surrounded by a bright ring-like structure. Supporting observations made by space-based telescopes and ground-based observatories provide a wider view of the galactic center's dynamic environment and an important context for the Event Horizon Telescope's black hole image. The main panel image shows the X-ray data from Chandra and infrared data from Hubble. While the main panel is about 7 light-years across, the Event Horizon Telescope inset image itself spans a mere 10 light-minutes at the center of our galaxy, some 27,000 light-years away.



Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity, published over 100 years ago, predicted the phenomenon of gravitational lensing. And that's what gives these distant galaxies such a whimsical appearance, seen through the looking glass of X-ray and optical image data from the Chandra and Hubble space telescopes. Nicknamed the Cheshire Cat galaxy group, the group's two large elliptical galaxies are suggestively framed by arcs. The arcs are optical images of distant background galaxies lensed by the foreground group's total distribution of gravitational mass. Of course, that gravitational mass is dominated by dark matter. The two large elliptical "eye" galaxies represent the brightest members of their own galaxy groups which are merging. Their relative collisional speed of nearly 1,350 kilometers/second heats gas to millions of degrees producing the X-ray glow shown in purple hues. Curiouser about galaxy group mergers? The Cheshire Cat group grins in the constellation Ursa Major, some 4.6 billion light-years away.



An almost full moon on April 15 brought these luminous apparitions to a northern spring night over Alberta Canada. On that night, bright moonlight refracted and reflected by hexagonal ice crystals in high clouds created a complex of halos and arcs more commonly seen by sunlight in daytime skies. While the colors of the arcs and moondogs or paraselenae were just visible to the unaided eye, a blend of exposures ranging from 30 seconds to 1/20 second was used to render this moonlit wide-angle skyscape. The Big Dipper at the top of the frame sits just above a smiling and rainbow-hued circumzenithal arc. With Arcturus left and Regulus toward the right the Moon is centered in its often spotted 22 degree halo. May 15 will also see the bright light of a Full Moon shining in Earth's night skies. Tomorrow's Full Moon will be dimmed for a while though, as it slides through Earth's shadow in a total lunar eclipse.

Watch: May 15-16 Total Lunar Eclipse

Picture of dozens of tree frogs stacking on top of each other to mate in a central American rainforest

Mating Party

In a Central American rainforest, a bevy of red-eyed tree frogs engage in mating—with as many as four males trying to attach to one egg-laying female. This picture appeared in a November 2006 story about tree frogs.

Photograph by Christian Ziegler, Nat Geo Image Collection



There's a black hole at the center of the Milky Way. Stars are observed to orbit a very massive and compact object there known as Sgr A* (say "sadge-ay-star"). But this just released radio image (inset) from planet Earth's Event Horizon Telescope is the first direct evidence of the Milky Way's central black hole. As predicted by Einstein's Theory of General Relativity, the four million solar mass black hole's strong gravity is bending light and creating a shadow-like dark central region surrounded by a bright ring-like structure. Supporting observations made by space-based telescopes and ground-based observatories provide a wider view of the galactic center's dynamic environment and an important context for the Event Horizon Telescope's black hole image. The main panel image shows the X-ray data from Chandra and infrared data from Hubble. While the main panel is about 7-light years across, the Event Horizon Telescope inset image itself spans a mere 10 light-minutes at the center of our galaxy, some 27,000 light-years away.


Picture of a crowd of people watching fireworks after a Catholic Mass in Cavite, Philippines

Holy Fireworks

A story in the September 1990 issue retraced the routes Spanish merchant ships took between Mexico and the Philippines. In this photo, Catholic worshippers in Cavite, Philippines, light fireworks after a Mass.

Photograph by Sisse Brimberg, Nat Geo Image Collection



The massive stars of NGC 346 are short lived, but very energetic. The star cluster is embedded in the largest star forming region in the Small Magellanic Cloud, some 210,000 light-years distant. Their winds and radiation sweep out an interstellar cavern in the gas and dust cloud about 200 light-years across, triggering star formation and sculpting the region's dense inner edge. Cataloged as N66, the star forming region also appears to contain a large population of infant stars. A mere 3 to 5 million years old and not yet burning hydrogen in their cores, the infant stars are strewn about the embedded star cluster. In this false-color Hubble Space Telescope image, visible and near-infrared light are seen as blue and green, while light from atomic hydrogen emission is red.