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Muddy road in Akamas Peninsula, Cyprus



What do you see when you look into this sky? In the center, in the dark, do you see a night sky filled with stars? Do you see a sunset to the left? Clouds all around? Do you see the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy running down the middle? Do you see the ruins of an abandoned outpost on a hill? (The outpost is on Askold Island, Russia.) Do you see a photographer with a headlamp contemplating surreal surroundings? (The image is a panorama of 38 images taken last month and compiled into a Little Planet projection.) Do you see a rugged path lined with steps? Or do you see the eye of a dragon?


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The Church of St. Donatus and the belltower of Zadar Cathedral, Zadar, Croatia. Zadar is the oldest continuously inhabited Croatian city. It is situated on the Adriatic Sea, at the northwestern part of the Ravni Kotari region.



Framing a bright emission region, this telescopic view looks out across a pretty field of stars along the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy, toward the nebula rich constellation Cygnus the Swan. Popularly called the Tulip Nebula, the reddish glowing cloud of interstellar gas and dust is also found in the 1959 catalog by astronomer Stewart Sharpless as Sh2-101. About 8,000 light-years distant and 70 light-years across the complex and beautiful nebula blossoms near the center of this composite image. Ultraviolet radiation from young energetic O stars at the edge of the Cygnus OB3 association, ionizes the atoms and powers the emission from the Tulip Nebula.


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Dubrovnik, historically Ragusa, is a Croatian city on the Adriatic Sea, in the region of Dalmatia. It is one of the most prominent tourist destinations in the Mediterranean Sea. Its total population is 42,615 (census 2011). In 1979, the city of Dubrovnik joined the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.



Still bright in planet Earth's night skies, good telescopic views of Saturn and its beautiful rings often make it a star at star parties. But this stunning view of Saturn's rings and night side just isn't possible from telescopes closer to the Sun than the outer planet. They can only bring Saturn's day into view. In fact, this image of Saturn's slender sunlit crescent with night's shadow cast across its broad and complex ring system was captured by the Cassini spacecraft. A robot spacecraft from planet Earth, Cassini called Saturn orbit home for 13 years before it was directed to dive into the atmosphere of the gas giant on September 15, 2017. This magnificent mosaic is composed of frames recorded by Cassini's wide-angle camera only two days before its grand final plunge. Saturn's night will not be seen again until another spaceship from Earth calls.


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Schönbühel Castle (Schloss Schönbühel) in Schönbühel-Aggsbach, Lower Austria


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Asian pied starlings (Gracupica contra) having a good natter. The Series Gossip Girl was first broadcast September 19, 2007



Yes, but can your lightning bolt do this? While flying from Munich to Singapore earlier this month, an industrious passenger took images of a passing lightning storm and caught something unexpected: gigantic jet lightning. The jet was captured on a single 3.2-second exposure above Bhadrak, India. Although the gigantic jet appears connected to the airplane's wing, it likely started in a more distant thundercloud, and can be seen extending upwards towards Earth's ionosphere. The nature of gigantic jets and their possible association with other types of Transient Luminous Events (TLEs) such as blue jets and red sprites remains an active topic of research.


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Far view of Las Lajas Sanctuary and its surroundings, a basilica church located in the southern Department of Nariño, municipality of Ipiales, Colombia. The place is a popular pilgrimage location since the apparition of the Virgin Mary in 1754. The first shrine was built by 1750 and was replaced by a bigger one in 1802 including a bridge over the canyon of the Guáitara River. The present temple, of Gothic Revival style, was built between 1916 and 1949.



Where else might life exist? One of humanity's great outstanding questions, locating planets where extrasolar life might survive took a step forward recently with the discovery of a significant amount of water vapor in the atmosphere of distant exoplanet K2-18b. The planet and it parent star, K2-18, lie about 124 light years away toward the constellation of the Lion (Leo). The exoplanet is significantly larger and more massive than our Earth, but orbits in the habitable zone of its home star. K2-18, although more red than our Sun, shines in K2-18b's sky with a brightness similar to the Sun in Earth's sky. The discovery was made in data from three space telescopes: Hubble, Spitzer, and Kepler, by noting the absorption of water-vapor colors when the planet moved in front of the star. The featured illustration imagines exoplanet K2-18b on the right, its parent red dwarf star K2-18 on the left, and an unconfirmed sister planet between them.


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What are those colorful rings around the Moon? A corona. Rings like this will sometimes appear when the Moon is seen through thin clouds. The effect is created by the quantum mechanical diffraction of light around individual, similarly-sized water droplets in an intervening but mostly-transparent cloud. Since light of different colors has different wavelengths, each color diffracts differently. Lunar Coronae are one of the few quantum mechanical color effects that can be easily seen with the unaided eye. The featured lunar corona was captured around full Moon above Turin, Italy in 2014. Similar coronae that form around the Sun are usually harder to see because of the Sun's great brightness.


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Illumination of the Wiesmann exhibition hall (Wiesmann gecko) for the final concert of the Dülmener Sommer 2018, the since 1989 first as Dülmener Sommertheater offered street theater.
Dülmen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany



It was one of the largest and longest lived storms ever recorded in our Solar System. First seen in late 2010, the above cloud formation in the northern hemisphere of Saturn started larger than the Earth and soon spread completely around the planet. The storm was tracked not only from Earth but from up close by the robotic Cassini spacecraft currently orbiting Saturn. Pictured here in false colored infrared in February, orange colors indicate clouds deep in the atmosphere, while light colors highlight clouds higher up. The rings of Saturn are seen nearly edge-on as the thin blue horizontal line. The warped dark bands are the shadows of the rings cast onto the cloud tops by the Sun to the upper left. A source of radio noise from lightning, the intense storm was thought to relate to seasonal changes when spring emerges in the north of Saturn. After raging for over six months, the iconic storm circled the entire planet and then tried to absorb its own tail -- which surprisingly caused it to fade away.


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Amphitheatre Bay after a storm, Akamas Peninsula, Cyprus



Of course this little planet is really planet Earth in a digitally stitched 360 x 180 degree mosaic captured high in the Chilean Atacama desert. The seemingly large domes house the 1-meter diameter telescopes of the SPECULOOS Southern Observatory. With a name creatively inspired by a sweet biscuit treat, the SPECULOOS (Search for habitable Planets EClipsing ULtra-cOOl Stars) telescopes really are hunting for little planets. Their mission is to search for the telltale dimming that indicates the transit of terrestrial exoplanets around the population of nearby, tiny, dim, ultracool stars. On the not-so-distant horizon, adaptive optics laser beams are firing from ESO's mountain top Paranal Observatory. The central Milky Way and Magellanic clouds also shine in this little planet's night sky.


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Agora of Ancient town of Kourion, Cyprus.



Famed in festival, story, and song the best known full moon is the Harvest Moon. For northern hemisphere dwellers that's a traditional name of the closest full moon to the September equinox. In most North America time zones this year's Harvest Moon will officially rise on Friday, September 13. In fact the same Harvest Moon will rise on September 14 for much of the planet though. Of course the Moon will look almost full in the surrounding days. Regardless of your time zone the Harvest Moon, like any other full moon, will rise just opposite the setting Sun. Near the horizon, the Moon Illusion might make it appear bigger and brighter to you but this Harvest Moon will be near lunar apogee. That's the closest point in its orbit, making it the most distant, and so the smallest, full moon of the year. On August 15 a wheat field harvested in south central France made this a harvest moon scene too, the full moon shining on with beautiful iridescent clouds at sunset.


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Old rotting pillars which used to support a pier, Sidney Spit (part of Gulf Islands National Park Reserve), Sidney Island, British Columbia, Canada


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Panoramic view of the interior of the Pula Arena, an amphitheatre located in Pula, Croatia. This Roman edifice was constructed between 27 BC and 68 AD and is among the largest surviving Roman arenas in the world. At the same time, is the best preserved ancient monument in Croatia and the only remaining amphitheater having all four side towers with all three Roman architectural orders entirely preserved.