Periodic Comet 46P/Wirtanen is now the brightest comet in the night sky, but too faint to be seen by eye. From dark sky sites it could just become naked-eye visible though, as it's 5.4 year long looping orbit takes it closest to Earth and the Sun in mid December. Fluorescing in sunlight, its spherical coma is about half the angular size of a full moon in this southern hemisphere telescopic view from November 7. Then the comet was about 2 light-minutes away or 35 million kilometers from Earth-bound telescopes, so the pretty greenish coma seen here is around 150,000 kilometers across. That makes it about the size of Jupiter. The stack of digital images also reveals a very faint tail extending toward 4 o'clock with a distant background galaxy notable at the upper left. As a regular visitor to the inner Solar System, comet 46P/Wirtanen was once the favored rendezvous target for ESA's comet exploring Rosetta mission.


Northrop Grumman Antares rocket, with Cygnus spacecraft onboard, is seen on Pad-0A

Awash in floodlights, the Northrop Grumman Antares rocket, with Cygnus spacecraft onboard, is seen on Pad-0A, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018, at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. This will be Northrop Grumman's 10th contracted cargo resupply mission for NASA to the International Space Station. Cygnus will deliver about 7,500 pounds of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the orbital laboratory and its crew.

Photo Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky


Source: www.nasa.gov
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Northrop Grumman Antares rocket, with Cygnus spacecraft onboard, is seen on Pad-0A

Awash in floodlights, the Northrop Grumman Antares rocket, with Cygnus spacecraft onboard, is seen on Pad-0A, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018 at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. This will be Northrop Grumman's 10th contracted cargo resupply mission for NASA to the International Space Station. Cygnus will deliver about 7,500 pounds of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the orbital laboratory and its crew.

Photo Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky


Source: www.nasa.gov

What's inside this cosmic cave? A stellar nursery 10 light-years deep. The featured skyscape is dominated by dusty Sh2-155, the Cave Nebula. In the telescopic image, data taken through a narrowband filters tracks the nebular glow of hydrogen, oxygen, and sulfur, colors that together form the Hubble Palette. About 2,400 light-years away, the scene lies along the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy toward the royal northern constellation of Cepheus. Astronomical explorations of the region reveal that it has formed at the boundary of the massive Cepheus B molecular cloud and the hot, young stars of the Cepheus OB 3 association. The bright rim of ionized hydrogen gas is energized by radiation from the hot stars, dominated by the bright star just to the left of the cave entrance. Radiation driven ionization fronts are likely triggering collapsing cores and new star formation within.


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Renovation in the attic of the Heiligengrabe monastery, Brandenburg, Germany


Aqua image of Camp Fire

The six day old Camp Fire has already attained the unfortunate title of California's deadliest fire. Last year, the Carr Fire was California's deadliest fire with eight deaths attributed to the fire. The Camp Fire has already led to 42 deaths with a number of residents still unaccounted for.  It is also the most destructive in California history as well with over 7,000 structures destroyed by the blaze.  The fire began on Nov. 08, 2018 and has grown to a staggering 250,000 acres in just under a week. The cause of this blaze is still under investigation. California state regulators are investigating two utility companies that reported incidents close in time and location to the start of the Camp fire.  Over 52,000 people have been evacuated due to the Camp Fire in over 1,300 shelters.  To date the blaze is only 30% contained.

Extremely dry fuels from on-going drought conditions in Caifornia remain coupled with rugged terrain are presenting firefighters with challenging conditions.  Dry conditions with high winds contribute to massive and fast fire growth.  Presently the high winds have abated and fire growth has slowed. Responders from across the country have joined the effort from Wyoming, Washington, Oregon, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, South Dakota and Nebraska.

Animated GIF of the Camp Fire's growth over six days
This animated GIF from the Worldview webpage shows the growth of the Camp Fire from Nov. 6 (
Credits: NASA Worldview, Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS).

Last night firefighters continued to hold established containment lines. Firefighters actively fought the fire and worked aggressively providing structure protection.  Crews will continue to provide structure protection throughout daytime operations. Firefighters will work to put direct and indirect fire lines in while scouting and putting in contingency lines ahead of the fire. Many risks and hazards along with steep terrain in some areas will impede firefighting efforts. 

The forecast calls for continued low relative humidity and the dry fuel combined with steep rugged terrain will continue to impede efforts.

NASA's Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) Worldview application provides the capability to interactively browse over 700 global, full-resolution satellite imagery layers and then download the underlying data. Many of the available imagery layers are updated within three hours of observation, essentially showing the entire Earth as it looks "right now. This satellite image was collected on November 12, 2018. Actively burning fires, detected by thermal bands, are shown as red points. Image Courtesy: NASA Worldview, Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS).  Caption: Lynn Jenner with information from Inciweb and CAFire.


Source: www.nasa.gov

Tonight the Moon is young again, but this stunning image of a young Moon near the western horizon was taken just after sunset on October 10. On the lunar disk Earthshine, earthlight reflected from the Moon's night side, is embraced by the slim, sunlit crescent just over 2 days old. Along the horizon fading colors of twilight silhouette the radio telescope dish antennas of the Very Large Array, New Mexico, planet Earth. The view from the Moon would be stunning, too. When the Moon appears in Earth's sky as a slender crescent, a dazzlingly bright, nearly full Earth would be seen from the lunar surface. A description of earthshine, in terms of sunlight reflected by Earth's oceans in turn illuminating the Moon's dark surface, was written 500 years ago by Leonardo da Vinci.


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The majestic Lagoon Nebula is filled with hot gas and the home for many young stars. Spanning 100 light years across while lying only about 5000 light years distant, the Lagoon Nebula is so big and bright that it can be seen without a telescope toward the constellation of the Archer (Sagittarius). Many bright stars are visible from NGC 6530, an open cluster that formed in the nebula only several million years ago. The greater nebula, also known as M8 and NGC 6523, is named "Lagoon" for the band of dust seen to the left of the open cluster's center. The featured image was taken in three colors with details are brought out by light emitted by Hydrogen Star formation continues in the Lagoon Nebula as witnessed by the many dark dust-laden globules that exist there.


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Lake Stappitz in the Seebach Valley near Mallnitz, High Tauern National Park, Carinthia, Austria



What would it be like to explore the Moon? NASA's Apollo missions gave humans just this chance in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In particular, the Apollo 15 mission was dedicated to better understanding the surface of the Moon by exploring mountains, valleys, maria, and highlands. Astronauts David Scott and James Irwin spent nearly three days on the Moon while Alfred Worden orbited above in the Command Module. The mission, which blasted off from Earth on 1971 July 26, was the first to deploy a Lunar Roving Vehicle. Pictured in this digitally stitched mosaic panorama, David Scott, exploring his surroundings, examines a boulder in front of the summit of Mt. Hadley Delta. The shadow of James Irwin is visible to the right, while scrolling to the right will reveal a well-lit and diverse lunar terrain. The Apollo 15 mission returned about 76 kilograms of moon rocks for detailed study. In the future, NASA and other space agencies plan to continue to lead humanity's exploration of the Moon, Mars, and beyond.


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Droste effect with red ligthing as part of the Interference visual effects event in the Tunis Medina, Tunisia.



Tonight the Moon is young again, but this stunning image of a young Moon near the western horizon was taken just after sunset on October 10. On the lunar disk Earthshine, earthlight reflected from the Moon's night side, is embraced by the slim, sunlit crescent just over 2 days old. Along the horizon fading colors of twilight silhouette the radio telescope dish antennas of the Very Large Array, New Mexico, planet Earth. The view from the Moon would be stunning, too. When the Moon appears in Earth's sky as a slender crescent, a dazzlingly bright, nearly full Earth would be seen from the lunar surface. A description of earthshine, in terms of sunlight reflected by Earth's oceans in turn illuminating the Moon's dark surface, was written 500 years ago by Leonardo da Vinci.


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The western facade of Schloss Falkenlust. The Augustusburg and Falkenlust Palaces form a historical building complex in Brühl, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, which has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984.


Tiny bright green plots of land torn through the middle by an overwhelming dark navy Nueces River

On Nov. 1, 2018, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 captured a false-color view of flooding along the Nueces River in a series of storms that have delivered historic amounts of rain to central Texas. The remnants of the category 3 storm, Hurricane Willa, weakened Texas dry terrain, pushing in a stream of moisture and rain. The deluge saturated soils, overfilled lakes and reservoirs, and pushed rivers over their banks. One river even flowed backwards. Dallas Fort Worth Airport recorded 39.77 centimeters (15.66 inches) of rain in October 2018, making it the wettest October on record there, according to the National Weather Service. 

Annotated images: NASA Earth Observatory

Image Credit: NASA/Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey and IMERG data from the Global Precipitation Mission (GPM) at NASA/GSFC
Story by Adam Voiland


Source: www.nasa.gov

Don't panic. This little planet projection looks confusing, but it's actually just a digitally warped and stitched, nadir centered mosaic of images that covers nearly 360x180 degrees. The images were taken on the night of October 31 from a 30 meter tall hill-top lookout tower near Tatabanya, Hungary, planet Earth. The laticed lookout tower construction was converted from a local mine elevator. Since planet Earth is rotating, the 126 frames of 75 second long exposures also show warped, concentric star trails with the north celestial pole at the left. Of course at this location the south celestial pole is just right of center but below the the little planet's horizon.


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Panoramic view from the Hagener Hütte at the mountain pass Niederer Tauern near Mallnitz (Carinthia) towards Naßfeld Valley, High Tauern National Park, federal state of Salzburg, Austria


Curling frozen waterways sprawling across the Dnieper River

Curling snow drifts are magnified by the terrain around the 1,400 mile Dnieper River, flowing from Russia to the Black Sea.

European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet, a member of the Expedition 50 crew, captured this image from the International Space Station on "Feb. 9th, 2017, saying, "winter landscapes are also magical from the International Space Station: this river north of Kiev reminds me of a Hokusai painting." 

Each day, the International Space Station completes 16 orbits of our home planet as the crew conducts important science and research. Their work will not only benefit life here on Earth, but will help us venture deeper into space than ever before. Crew members on the space station photograph the Earth from their unique perspective, hovering 200 miles above us, documenting Earth from space. This record is crucial to how we see the planet changing over time, from human-caused changes like urban growth, to natural dynamic events such as hurricanes, and volcanic eruptions.

Credits: NASA/ESA/Thomas Pesquet


Source: www.nasa.gov

This composite of images spaced some 5 to 9 days apart, from late April (bottom right) through November 5 (top left), traces the retrograde motion of ruddy-colored Mars through planet Earth's night sky. To connect the dots and dates in this 2018 Mars retrograde loop, just slide your cursor over the picture (and check out this animation). But Mars didn't actually reverse the direction of its orbit. Instead, the apparent backwards motion with respect to the background stars is a reflection of the motion of the Earth itself. Retrograde motion can be seen each time Earth overtakes and laps planets orbiting farther from the Sun, the Earth moving more rapidly through its own relatively close-in orbit. On July 27, Mars was near its favorable 2018 parihelic opposition, when Mars was closest to the Sun in its orbit while also opposite the Sun in Earth's sky. For that date, the frame used in this composite was taken during the total lunar eclipse.


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Ploskaya Tower of the Kremlin in Pskov, Russia.