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Phimeanakas, Khmer temple constructed in the 10th century, but underwent important modifications as it became the official site of king Suryavarman I, located in the ancient city of Angkor, today Cambodia.


The facade of the Washington National Cathedral at nightfall with celestial galaxy projected on bricks in brilliant reds & blues

The Washington National Cathedral is seen lit up with space imagery prior to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Spirit of Apollo event commemorating the 50th anniversary of Apollo 8, Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018 in Washington, DC. Apollo 8 was humanity's first journey to another world, taking astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and William Anders to the Moon and back in December of 1968. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)
Source: www.nasa.gov

Is there a waterfall in Orion? No, but some of the dust in M43 appears similar to a waterfall on Earth. M43, part of the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex, is the often imaged but rarely mentioned neighbor of the more famous M42. M42, which includes many bright stars from the Trapezium cluster, lies above the featured scene. M43 is itself a star forming region and although laced with filaments of dark dust, is composed mostly of glowing hydrogen. The entire Orion field, located about 1600 light years away, is inundated with many intricate and picturesque filaments of dust. Opaque to visible light, dark dust is created in the outer atmosphere of massive cool stars and expelled by a strong outer wind of protons and electrons.

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Madonna (1895–1902) is the usual title given to a composition by the Norwegian expressionist painter Edvard Munch (1863–1944). Color lithograph from Munch Museum.


Sea ice forms in the open water between floes, called leads, in the Bellingshausen Sea. ICESat-2 is able to detect the thin sea

Less than three months into its mission, NASA’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2, or ICESat-2, is already exceeding scientists’ expectations. The satellite is measuring the height of sea ice to within an inch, tracing the terrain of previously unmapped Antarctic valleys, surveying remote ice sheets, and peering through forest canopies and shallow coastal waters.

With each pass of the ICESat-2 satellite, the mission is adding to datasets tracking Earth’s rapidly changing ice. Researchers are ready to use the information to study sea level rise resulting from melting ice sheets and glaciers, and to improve sea ice and climate forecasts.

In this image, sea ice forms in the open water between floes, called leads, in the Bellingshausen Sea. ICESat-2 is able to detect the thin sea ice, allowing scientists to more accurately track seasonal ice formation.

Image Credit: NASA/Kate Ramsayer


Source: www.nasa.gov

Coming close in mid-December, Comet 46P Wirtanen hangs in this starry sky over the bell tower of a Romanesque church. In the constructed vertical panorama, a series of digital exposures capture its greenish coma on December 3 from Sant Llorenc de la Muga, Girona, Catalonia, Spain, planet Earth. With an orbital period that is now about 5.4 years, the periodic comet's perihelion, its closest approach, to the Sun will be on December 12. On December 16 it will be closest to Earth, passing at a distance of about 11.6 million kilometers or 39 light-seconds. That's close for a comet, a mere 30 times the Earth-Moon distance. A good binocular target for comet watchers, Wirtanen could be visible to the unaided eye from a dark sky site. To spot it after dusk on December 16, look close on the sky to the Pleiades star cluster in Taurus.



Why does this galaxy have such a long tail? In this stunning vista, based on image data from the Hubble Legacy Archive, distant galaxies form a dramatic backdrop for disrupted spiral galaxy Arp 188, the Tadpole Galaxy. The cosmic tadpole is a mere 420 million light-years distant toward the northern constellation of the Dragon (Draco). Its eye-catching tail is about 280 thousand light-years long and features massive, bright blue star clusters. One story goes that a more compact intruder galaxy crossed in front of Arp 188 - from right to left in this view - and was slung around behind the Tadpole by their gravitational attraction. During the close encounter, tidal forces drew out the spiral galaxy's stars, gas, and dust forming the spectacular tail. The intruder galaxy itself, estimated to lie about 300 thousand light-years behind the, can be seen through foreground spiral arms at the upper right. Following its terrestrial namesake, the Tadpole Galaxy will likely lose its tail as it grows older, the tail's star clusters forming smaller satellites of the large spiral galaxy.

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Post Tower, Bonn, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany


SpaceX Dragon seen fronm the Station

International Space Station Commander Alexander Gerst viewed SpaceX’s Dragon cargo craft chasing the orbital laboratory on Dec. 8, 2018. Gerst watched as the Dragon approached the station and took a series of photographs, saying "Hard to decide which photo of the approaching SpaceX Dragon 16 is the most stunning."

The Dragon cargo craft contained supplies and experiments, including the Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI), which will provide high-quality laser ranging observations of the Earth’s forests; a small satellite deployment mechanism, called SlingShot to be installed in a Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft prior to its departure from the space station and the Robotic Refueling Mission-3 (RRM3), among others.

Dragon is scheduled to depart the station in January 2019 and return to Earth with more than 4,000 pounds of research, hardware and crew supplies.

Image Credit: ESA/Gerst


Source: www.nasa.gov

Your arm on Mars has unusual powers. For one thing it is nearly 2 meters long, has a scoop and grapple built into its hand, and has a camera built into its forearm. For another, it will soon deploy your ear -- a sensitive seismometer that will listen for distant rumblings -- onto the surface of Mars. Your SEISmomet-ear is the orange box in the foreground, while the gray dome behind it will be its protective cover. Your arm is attached to the InSight robotic lander that touched down on Mars two weeks ago. Somewhat unexpectedly, your ear has already heard something -- slight vibrations caused by the Martian wind flowing over the solar panels. Light from the Sun is being collected by the solar panels, part of one being visible on the far right. Actually, at the present time, you have two arms operating on Mars, but they are separated by about 600 kilometers. That's because your other active arm is connected to the Curiosity rover exploring a distant crater. Taken a week ago, rusty soil and rocks are visible in the featured image beyond Insight, as well as the orange sky of Mars.

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Interior of Neuberg Abbey Church in Neuberg an der Mürz, Styria, Austria



Some night skies are serene and passive -- others shimmer and flash. The later, in the form of auroras and meteors, haunted skies over the island of Kvaløya, near Tromsø Norway on 2009 December 13. This 30 second long exposure records a shimmering auroral glow gently lighting the wintery coastal scene. A study in contrasts, the image also captures the sudden flash of a fireball meteor from the excellent Geminid meteor shower of 2009. Streaking past familiar stars in the handle of the Big Dipper, the trail points back toward the constellation Gemini, off the top of the view. Both auroras and meteors occur in Earth's upper atmosphere at altitudes of 100 kilometers or so, but aurora caused by energetic charged particles from the magnetosphere, while meteors are trails of cosmic dust. Nine years after this photograph was taken, toward the end of this week, the yearly 2018 Geminids meteor shower will peak again, although this time their flashes will compete with the din of a half-lit first-quarter moon during the first half of the night.

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A typical courtyard on Vasilievsky Island in Saint Petersburg, Russia.


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Winged altar at the pilgrimage church Maria Gail, municipality of Villach, Carinthia, Austria. Anonymous master of the Villach Workshop, around 1515.


Astronaut Anne McClain's first photo from the Space Station

"Putting this journey into words will not be easy, but I will try. I am finally where I was born to be." So said @AstroAnimal, NASA astronaut Anne McClain, of her first voyage to space. Currently stationed aboard the humanity's only orbital laboratory, the International Space Station, McClain is slated for a six-month stay. McClain and crewmates David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency, and Oleg Konenenko of Roscosmos launched at 6:31 a.m. EST from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on December 3, 2018. McClain, Saint-Jacques and Konenenko docked to the space station’s Poisk module at 12:33 p.m. after a four-orbit, six-hour journey.

Image Credit: NASA


Source: www.nasa.gov

Coming close in mid-December, Comet 46P Wirtanen hangs in this starry sky over the bell tower of a Romanesque church. In the constructed vertical panorama, a series of digital exposures capture its greenish coma on December 3 from Sant Llorenc de la Muga, Girona, Catalonia, Spain, planet Earth. With an orbital period that is now about 5.4 years, the periodic comet's perihelion, its closest approach, to the Sun will be on December 12. On December 16 it will be closest to Earth, passing at a distance of about 11.6 million kilometers or 39 light-seconds. That's close for a comet, a mere 30 times the Earth-Moon distance. A good binocular target for comet watchers, Wirtanen could be visible to the unaided eye from a dark sky site. To spot it after dusk on December 16, look close on the sky to the Pleiades star cluster in Taurus.


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Dome of the Malek Mosque, the oldest and biggest mosque in Kerman, Iran. It's reminiscent of the rule of Malek Touran, the Seljuq king, and it was the sole mosque in the city until Mozaffari Grand Mosque was built. The mosque was built between 477 and 490 AH and is 101 metres (331 ft) long and 91 metres (299 ft) wide.


SpaceX CRS-16 launch on Dec. 4, 2018

Experiments in forest observation, protein crystal growth and in-space fuel transfer demonstration are heading to the International Space Station following the launch Wednesday, December 5, 2018, of SpaceX’s 16th mission for NASA under the agency’s Commercial Resupply Services contract.

The company’s Dragon spacecraft lifted off at 1:16 p.m. EST on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, carrying more than 5,600 pounds of research equipment, cargo and supplies that will support the crew, station maintenance and dozens of the more than 250 investigations aboard the space station.

Space Station Commander Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency) and NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor will use the space station’s robotic arm to capture Dragon when it arrives two days later. NASA astronaut Anne McClain will monitor telemetry during the spacecraft’s approach.

Image Credit: SpaceX (Used by permission)


Source: www.nasa.gov

Large spiral galaxy NGC 1055 at top left joins spiral Messier 77 (bottom right) in this cosmic view toward the aquatic constellation Cetus. The narrowed, dusty appearance of edge-on spiral NGC 1055 contrasts nicely with the face-on view of M77's bright nucleus and spiral arms. Both over 100,000 light-years across, the pair are dominant members of a small galaxy group about 60 million light-years away. At that estimated distance, M77 is one of the most remote objects in Charles Messier's catalog, and is separated from fellow island universe NGC 1055 by at least 500,000 light-years. The field of view is about the size of the full Moon on the sky and includes colorful foreground Milky Way stars along with more distant background galaxies. Taken on November 28, the sharp image also includes newly discovered supernova SN2018ivc, its location indicated in the arms of M77. The light from the explosion of one of M77's massive stars was discovered by telescopes on planet Earth only a few days earlier on November 24.


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A variegation grasshopper (Zonocerus variegatus) from Ghana. Tomorrow is Farmer's Day, a public holiday in Ghana.



What can you see in the night sky this season? The featured graphic gives a few highlights for Earth's northern hemisphere. Viewed as a clock face centered at the bottom, early (northern) winter sky events fan out toward the left, while late winter events are projected toward the right. Objects relatively close to Earth are illustrated, in general, as nearer to the cartoon figure with the telescope at the bottom center -- although almost everything pictured can be seen without a telescope. As happens during any season, constellations appear the same year to year, and, as usual, the Geminids meteor shower will peak in mid-December. Also as usual, the International Space Station (ISS) can be seen, at times, as a bright spot drifting across the sky after sunset. Less usual, the Moon is expected to pass nearly in front of several planets in early January. A treat this winter is Comet 46P/Wirtanen, already bright, will pass only 36 lunar distances from the Earth in mid-December, potentially making it easily visible to the unaided eye.