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Large white butterfly (Pieris brassicae) resting late in the afternoon on a daffodil (Narcissus) ‘Pimpernel’, in Oxfordshire



The constellation of Orion is much more than three stars in a row. It is a direction in space that is rich with impressive nebulas. To better appreciate this well-known swath of sky, an extremely long exposure was taken over many clear nights in 2013 and 2014. After 212 hours of camera time and an additional year of processing, the featured 1400-exposure collage spanning over 40 times the angular diameter of the Moon emerged. Of the many interesting details that have become visible, one that particularly draws the eye is Barnard's Loop, the bright red circular filament arcing down from the middle. The Rosette Nebula is not the giant red nebula near the top of the image -- that is a larger but lesser known nebula known as Lambda Orionis. The Rosette Nebula is visible, though: it is the red and white nebula on the upper left. The bright orange star just above the frame center is Betelgeuse, while the bright blue star on the lower right is Rigel. Other famous nebulas visible include the Witch Head Nebula, the Flame Nebula, the Fox Fur Nebula, and, if you know just where to look, the comparatively small Horsehead Nebula. About those famous three stars that cross the belt of Orion the Hunter -- in this busy frame they can be hard to locate, but a discerning eye will find them just below and to the right of the image center.


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Valle Arcoiris ("Rainbow Valley"), Rio Grande near San Pedro de Atacama, northern Chile.



In trying times, stars still trail in the night. Taken on March 14, this night skyscape was made by combining 230 exposures each 15 seconds long to follow the stars' circular paths. The camera was fixed to a tripod on an isolated terrace near the center of Ragusa, Italy, on the island of Sicily. But the night sky was shared around the rotating planet. A friend to celestial navigators and astrophotographers alike Polaris, the north star, makes the short bright trail near the center of the concentric celestial arcs.


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A window in the Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital in New York City, USA, closed since 1930. The French artist JR created murals on hospital grounds from photographs of patients taken in the early 1900s.



A drop of water seems to hold an entire galaxy in this creative macro-astrophotograph. In the imaginative work of cosmic nature photography a close-up lens was used to image a previously made picture of a galaxy, viewed through a water drop suspended from a stem. A favorite of many telescope-wielding astroimagers, the galaxy is the Andromeda Galaxy, also known as M31. About 100,000 light-years across that majestic galaxy's spiral arms and dust lanes are curved and distorted in the image contained in the centimeter-sized droplet. Andromeda is some 2.5 million light-years distant, but this project was still carried out while spending time indoors.


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The east side of the Paul-Löbe-Haus in Berlin-Mitte, facing the river Spree, during the blue hour. On the left the Reichstag building can be seen. The Paul Löbe building was built according to plans of architect Stephan Braunfels.



This surreal picture isn't from a special effects sci-fi movie. It is a digital composite of frames of the real Andromeda Galaxy, also known as M31, rising over a real mountain. Exposures tracking the galaxy and background stars have been digitally combined with separate exposures of the foreground terrain. All background and foreground exposures were made back to back with the same camera and telephoto lens on the same night from the same location. In the "Deepscape" combination they produce a stunning image that reveals a range of brightness and color that your eye can't quite see on its own. Still, it does look like you could ride a cable car up this mountain and get off at the station right next to Andromeda. But at 2.5 million light-years from Earth the big beautiful spiral galaxy really is a little out of reach as a destination. Don't worry, though. Just wait 5 billion years and the Andromeda Galaxy will come to you. This Andromeda Station is better known as Weisshorn, the highest peak of the ski area in Arosa, Switzerland.


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Sheathed woodtuft (Kuehneromyces mutabilis) on a beech tree in the grove area of Bamberg



Massive star IRS 4 is beginning to spread its wings. Born only about 100,000 years ago, material streaming out from this newborn star has formed the nebula dubbed Sharpless 2-106 Nebula (S106), featured here. A large disk of dust and gas orbiting Infrared Source 4 (IRS 4), visible in brown near the image center, gives the nebula an hourglass or butterfly shape. S106 gas near IRS 4 acts as an emission nebula as it emits light after being ionized, while dust far from IRS 4 reflects light from the central star and so acts as a reflection nebula. Detailed inspection of a relevant infrared image of S106 reveal hundreds of low-mass brown dwarf stars lurking in the nebula's gas. S106 spans about 2 light-years and lies about 2000 light-years away toward the constellation of the Swan (Cygnus).


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Scanned image of thin section from Siilinjärvi apatite ore in cross polarised transmitted light. Actual sector size about 37 × 20 mm.



What happens to a star that goes near a black hole? If the star directly impacts a massive black hole, then the star falls in completely -- and everything vanishes. More likely, though, the star goes close enough to have the black hole's gravity pull away the outer layers of the star, or disrupt the star. Then most of the star's gas does not fall into the black hole. These stellar tidal disruption events can be as bright as a supernova, and an increasing amount of them are being discovered by automated sky surveys. In the featured artist's illustration, a star has just passed a massive black hole and sheds gas that continues to orbit. The inner edge of a disk of gas and dust surrounding the black hole is heated by the disruption event and may glow long after the star is gone.


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Exemplar of Lilac-breasted roller (Coracias caudata), Kruger National Park, South Africa.



If you stare at an interesting patch of sky long enough, will it look different? In the case of Pleiades and Hyades star clusters -- and surrounding regions -- the answer is: yes, pretty different. Long duration camera exposures reveal an intricate network of interwoven interstellar dust and gas that was previously invisible not only to the eye but to lower exposure images. In the featured wide and deep mosaic, the dust stands out spectacularly, with the familiar Pleaides star cluster visible as the blue patch near the top of the image. Blue is the color of the Pleiades' most massive stars, whose distinctive light reflects from nearby fine dust. On the upper left is the Hyades star cluster surrounding the bright, orange, foreground-star Aldebaran. Red glowing emission nebula highlight the bottom of the image, including the curving vertical red ribbon known as the Eridanus Loop. The pervasive dust clouds appear typically in light brown and are dotted with unrelated stars.

Almost Hyperspace: Random APOD Generator

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Sunrise over Lake Wanaka from Boundary Creek, Otago, New Zealand


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World Water Day is an annual event celebrated on March 22. The day focuses attention on the importance of fresh water and advocates for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. This day was first formally proposed in Agenda 21 of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro. In 1993, the first World Water Day was designated by the United Nations General Assembly and since, each year focuses on a different issue. This image shows the Blautopf pond in Blaubeuren, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.



Comet ATLAS C/2019 Y4 was discovered by the NASA funded Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System, the last comet discovery reported in 2019. Now growing brighter in northern night skies, the comet's pretty greenish coma is at the upper left of this telescopic skyview captured from a remotely operated observatory in New Mexico on March 18. At lower right are M81 and M82, well-known as large, gravitationally interacting galaxies. Seen through faint dust clouds above the Milky Way, the galaxy pair lies about 12 million light-years distant, toward the constellation Ursa Major. In bound Comet ATLAS is about 9 light-minutes from Earth, still beyond the orbit of Mars. The comet's elongated orbit is similar to orbit of the Great Comet of 1844 though, a trajectory that will return this comet to the inner Solar System in about 6,000 years. Comet ATLAS will reach a perihelion or closest approach to the Sun on May 31 inside the orbit of Mercury and may become a naked-eye comet in the coming days.


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Ferris wheel at the funfair Send in Münster, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
Wikipedia: MünsterNorth Rhine-Westphalia



Dawn's early light came to Montreal, northern planet Earth, on March 18, the day before the vernal equinox. At the end of that nearly equal night the Moon stands above a dense constellation of urban lights in this serene city and skyscape. Of course the Moon's waning crescent faces toward the rising Sun. Skygazers could easily spot bright Jupiter just above the Moon, close on the sky to a fainter Mars. Saturn, a telescopic favorite, is just a pinprick of light below and farther left of the closer conjunction of Moon, Jupiter and Mars. Near the ecliptic, even Mercury is rising along a line extended to the horizon from Jupiter and Saturn. The elusive inner planet is very close to the horizon though, and not quite visible in this morning's sky.


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The Lenbachhaus is a major art museum in Munich's Kunstareal. A new wing, designed by Foster and Partners, was opened 2013.


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