Cosmic dust clouds and young, energetic stars inhabit this telescopic vista, less than 500 light-years away toward the northern boundary of Corona Australis, the Southern Crown. The dust clouds effectively block light from more distant background stars in the Milky Way. But the striking complex of reflection nebulae cataloged as NGC 6726, 6727, and IC 4812 produce a characteristic color as blue light from the region's young, hot stars is reflected by the cosmic dust. The dust also obscures from view stars still in the process of formation. At top right, smaller yellowish nebula NGC 6729 bends around young variable star R Coronae Australis. Near it, glowing arcs and loops shocked by outflows from embedded newborn stars are identified as Herbig-Haro objects. On the sky this field of view spans about 1 degree. That corresponds to almost 9 light-years at the estimated distance of the nearby star forming region.

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European Brown Bear (Ursus arctos arctos) at Whipsnade Zoo

Wide view of starry sky from science instrument aboard solar probe

Just over a month into its mission, NASA's Parker Solar Probe has returned first-light data from each of its four instrument suites. These early observations – while not yet examples of the key science observations Parker Solar Probe will take closer to the Sun – show that each of the instruments is working well. The instruments work in tandem to measure the Sun’s electric and magnetic fields, particles from the Sun and the solar wind, and capture images of the environment around the spacecraft.

This image shows the first-light data from Parker Solar Probe's WISPR (Wide-field Imager for Solar Probe) instrument suite. The right side of this image — from WISPR's inner telescope — has a 40-degree field of view, with its right edge 58.5 degrees from the Sun's center. The bright object slightly to the right of the image's center is Jupiter. The left side of the image is from WISPR’s outer telescope, which has a 58-degree field of view and extends to about 160 degrees from the Sun. It shows the Milky Way, looking at the galactic center. There is a parallax of about 13 degrees in the apparent position of the Sun as viewed from Earth and from Parker Solar Probe.

Image Credit: NASA/Naval Research Laboratory/Parker Solar Probe


Inside the Cocoon Nebula is a newly developing cluster of stars. The cosmic Cocoon on the upper right also punctuates a long trail of obscuring interstellar dust clouds to its left. Cataloged as IC 5146, the beautiful nebula is nearly 15 light-years wide, located some 3,300 light years away toward the northern constellation of the Swan (Cygnus). Like other star forming regions, it stands out in red, glowing, hydrogen gas excited by young, hot stars and blue, dust-reflected starlight at the edge of a nearly invisible molecular cloud. In fact, the bright star near the center of this nebula is likely only a few hundred thousand years old, powering the nebular glow as it slowly clears out a cavity in the molecular cloud's star forming dust and gas. This exceptionally deep color view of the Cocoon Nebula traces tantalizing features within and surrounding the dusty stellar nursery.

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Torah ark and Bema at the Spanish Synagogue (in Czech Španělská synagoga) in Josefov, Prague, Czech Republic

Serena Auñón-Chancellor

Astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor, a member of the Expedition 56 crew currently aboard the International Space Station, examined her eye with a Funduscope with remote support from doctors on the ground.

The effects of microgravity have many effects on the human body; and after six months spent in space, the effects on eyesight are often permanent. Crewmates Ricky Arnold and Alex Gerst also worked to help doctors understand what is happening to their eyes in the weightless environment of microgravity. 

Image Credit: NASA

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Bas-reliefs of palace guards at the monumental stairs of the Apadana in Persepolis, today Iran. The Apadana was the largest building on the Terrace at Persepolis and was most likely the main hall of the kings. The reliefs of the stairs show delegates of the 23 subject nations of the Persian Empire paying tribute to Darius I along with the here depicted guards. These reliefs are very valuable since the great detail of various of the delegates give insight into the costume and equipment of the various peoples of Persia in the 5th century BC.

ICESat-2 launch

A United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket launches with the NASA Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) onboard, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The ICESat-2 mission will measure the changing height of Earth's ice.

Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)


How could a galaxy become shaped like a ring? The rim of the blue galaxy pictured on the right is an immense ring-like structure 150,000 light years in diameter composed of newly formed, extremely bright, massive stars. That galaxy, AM 0644-741, is known as a ring galaxy and was caused by an immense galaxy collision. When galaxies collide, they pass through each other -- their individual stars rarely come into contact. The ring-like shape is the result of the gravitational disruption caused by an entire small intruder galaxy passing through a large one. When this happens, interstellar gas and dust become condensed, causing a wave of star formation to move out from the impact point like a ripple across the surface of a pond. The likely intruder galaxy is on the left of this combined image from Hubble (visible) and Chandra (X-ray) space telescopes. X-ray light is shown in pink and depicts places where energetic black holes or neutron stars, likely formed shortly after the galaxy collision, reside.

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Ypthima baldus, Common Five-ring, is a species of Satyrinae butterfly found in Asia.

What's happened to our Sun? Nothing very unusual -- it just threw a filament. Toward the middle of 2012, a long standing solar filament suddenly erupted into space producing an energetic Coronal Mass Ejection (CME). The filament had been held up for days by the Sun's ever changing magnetic field and the timing of the eruption was unexpected. Watched closely by the Sun-orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory, the resulting explosion shot electrons and ions into the Solar System, some of which arrived at Earth three days later and impacted Earth's magnetosphere, causing visible aurorae. Loops of plasma surrounding an active region can be seen above the erupting filament in the featured ultraviolet image. Although the Sun is now in a relatively inactive state of its 11-year cycle, unexpected holes have opened in the Sun's corona allowing an excess of charged particles to stream into space. As before, these charged particles are creating auroras.

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Snowy Mont Blanc is near the center of this atmospheric night skyscape. But high, thin clouds fogged the skies at the photographer's location, looking south toward Europe's highest peak from the southern Swiss Alps. Still, the 13 second exposure finds the faint star fields and dark rifts of the Milky Way above the famous white mountain. Bloated by the mist, bright planet Saturn and Antares (right), alpha star of Scorpius, shine through the clouds to flank the galaxy's central bulge. The high-altitude scene is from the rewarding night of August 12/13, so it also includes the green trail of a Perseid meteor shooting along the galactic plane.

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The minaret of Friday Mosque as seen from Nizwa Fort, Nizwa, Oman.


A long, brown oval known as a "brown barge" in Jupiter's South Equatorial Belt is captured in this color-enhanced image from NASA's Juno spacecraft.

Brown barges are cyclonic regions that usually lie within Jupiter's dark North Equatorial Belt, although they are sometimes found in the similarly dark South Equatorial Belt as well. They can often be difficult to detect visually because their color blends in with the dark surroundings. At other times, as with this image, the dark belt material recedes, creating a lighter-colored background against which the brown barge is more conspicuous. Brown barges usually dissipate after the entire cloud belt undergoes an upheaval and reorganizes itself. Juno is giving us the first glimpses of the detailed structure within such a barge.

This image was taken at 6:26 p.m. PDT on Sept. 6, 2018 (9:26 p.m. EDT) as the spacecraft performed its 15th close flyby of Jupiter. At the time, Juno was 7,425 miles (11,950 kilometers) from the planet's cloud tops, above a southern latitude of approximately 22 degrees.

Citizen scientist Kevin M. Gill created this image using data from the spacecraft's JunoCam imager. The image has been rotated 90 degrees to the right from the original image.

JunoCam's raw images are available for the public to peruse and process into image products at

More information about Juno is at and

Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill

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You've probably seen a circle around the Sun before. More common than rainbows, ice halos, like a 22 degree circular halo for example, can be easy to spot, especially if you can shade your eyes from direct sunlight. Still it's rare to see such a diverse range of ice halos, including sundogs, tangent, infralateral, and Parry arcs, all found in this snapshot from planet Earth. The picture was quickly taken in the late morning of September 4 from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada. The beautiful patterns are generated as sunlight (or moonlight) is reflected and refracted in six-sided water ice crystals in Earth's atmosphere. Of course, atmospheric ice halos in the skies of other worlds are likely to be different.

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Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, Expedition 32 flight engineer, uses a digital still camera to make a photo of his helmet visor during the mission's third session of extravehicular activity (EVA). During the six-hour, 28-minute spacewalk, Hoshide and NASA astronaut Sunita Williams (visible in the reflections of Hoshide's helmet visor), flight engineer, completed the installation of a Main Bus Switching Unit (MBSU) that was hampered last week by a possible misalignment and damaged threads where a bolt must be placed. They also installed a camera on the International Space Station's robotic arm, Canadarm2. The bright sun is visible at left.

Final Orion parachute test

Like ghostly apparitions against a patch of blue, a C-17 aircraft and a mock Orion spacecraft are seen in the sky over Yuma, Arizona on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2018.  The mock Orion was pulled out from the aircraft's cargo bay to perform a test of the spacecraft's parachute system. This final test qualified the parachute system for flights with astronauts, checking off an important milestone on the path to send humans on missions to the Moon and beyond.

Over the course of eight tests at the U.S. Army’s Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona, engineers have evaluated the performance of Orion’s parachute system during normal landing sequences as well as several failure scenarios and a variety of potential aerodynamic conditions to ensure astronauts can return safely from deep space missions.

Image Credit: US Army


Bright enough for binocular viewing Comet 21P / Giacobini-Zinner stands out, even in this deep telephoto mosaic of the star cluster and nebula rich constellation Auriga the Charioteer. On the night of September 9 its greenish coma and diffuse tail contrast with the colorful stars and reddish emission nebulae in the almost 10 degree field of view along the Milky Way. The comet was near its perihelion and closest approach to Earth, about 200 light-seconds away. Riding across the distant background just above the comet's tail are well-known Auriga star clusters M38 (left of center) and M36 (toward the right) about 4,000 light-years away. At the top left, emission region IC 405 is only 1,500 light-years distant, more dramatically known as the Flaming Star Nebula. To its right lies IC 410, 12,000 light-years away and famous for its star-forming cosmic tadpoles. A child of our Solar System Giacobini-Zinner is a periodic comet orbiting the Sun once every 6.5 years, and the parent body of October's Draconids meteor shower.

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Dutch F-16 Fighting Falcon in the livery of the F-16 Demo Team. Photo taken during the 2011 NATO Days in Ostrava. The pilot is Capt. Tobias Schutte (Hitec) representing the 323rd Squadron of the RNLAF.

Hurricane Florence

"Ever stared down the gaping eye of a category 4 hurricane? It's chilling, even from space," says European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst (@Astro_Alex), who is currently living and working aboard the International Space Station as a member of the Expedition 56 crew.

A high-definition video camera outside the space station captured stark and sobering views of Hurricane Florence, a Category 4 storm. The video was taken on Tuesday as Florence churned across the Atlantic in a west-northwesterly direction with winds of 130 miles per hour. The National Hurricane Center forecasts additional strengthening for Florence before it reaches the coastline of North Carolina and South Carolina early Friday, Sept. 14.

Get the latest NASA information on the hurricane.

Image Credit: ESA/NASA–A. Gerst