Sometimes, in a way, Chicago is like a modern Stonehenge. The way is east to west, and the time is today. Today, and every equinox, the Sun will set exactly to the west, everywhere on Earth. Therefore, today in Chicago, the Sun will set directly down the long equatorially-aligned grid of streets and buildings, an event dubbed #chicagohenge. Featured here is a Chicago Henge picture taken during the last equinox in mid-September of 2017 looking along part of Upper Wacker Drive. Many cities, though, have streets or other features that are well-aligned to Earth's spin axis. Therefore, quite possibly, your favorite street may also run east - west. Tonight at sunset, with a quick glance, you can actually find out.

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An automobile with 2 men and 2 children in Paris, France, 1910.

Earth from space

On Jan. 25, 2018, NASA’s Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD) instrument was launched. GOLD is designed to track big events in the lower atmosphere, such as hurricanes or tsunamis, that create waves that can travel all the way up to this interface to space, changing wind patterns and causing disruptions. From the space side, flurries of energized particles and solar storms carry electric and magnetic fields and have the potential to disrupt Earth’s space environment. This combination of factors makes it difficult to predict changes in the ionosphere.

GOLD is novel in two ways: it marks the first time that a NASA science mission is flying an instrument as a commercially hosted payload, and it is the first time scientists will monitor the daily and hourly weather of the uppermost parts of Earth’s atmosphere where it meets the edge of space.

Roughly the size of a mini fridge, the 80-pound GOLD instrument is an imaging spectrograph that breaks light down into its component wavelengths and measures their intensities. Specifically, it measures far ultraviolet light, creating full-disk ultraviolet images of Earth from its geostationary vantage point above the Western Hemisphere. GOLD will collect observations with a 30-minute cadence, much higher than any mission that has come before it. From these images, scientists can determine the temperature and relative amounts of different particles—such as atomic oxygen and molecular nitrogen—present in the neutral atmosphere, which is useful for determining how these neutral gases shape ionospheric conditions. These data will provide the first maps of the upper atmosphere’s changing temperature and composition all over the Americas.

This image of Earth was taken by the International Space Station crew in December 2017 and has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed.

Credits: Satellite rendering by Chris Meaney, NASA Goddard's Conceptual Image Lab. Caption based on a story by Lina Tran, NASA GSFC


It is considered the oldest known illustration of the night sky. But what, exactly, does it depict, and why was it made? The Nebra sky disk was found with a metal detector in 1999 by treasure hunters near Nebra, Germany, in the midst of several bronze-age weapons. The ancient artifact spans about 30 centimeters and has been associated with the Unetice culture that inhabited part of Europe around 1600 BC. Reconstructed, the dots are thought to represent stars, with the cluster representing the Pleiades, and the large circle and the crescent representing the Sun and Moon. The purpose of the disk remains unknown -- hypotheses including an astronomical clock, a work of art, and a religious symbol. Valued at about $11 million, some believe that the Nebra sky disk is only one of a pair, with the other disk still out there waiting to be discovered.

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The spectacular star-forming Carina Nebula has been captured in great detail by the VLT Survey Telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory.

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Hand with 'power stone' bracelets made of gemstones, holding an box with smoking incense.

The Crab Nebula is cataloged as M1, the first object on Charles Messier's famous list of things which are not comets. In fact, the Crab is now known to be a supernova remnant, expanding debris from the death explosion of a massive star. This intriguing false-color image combines data from space-based observatories, Chandra, Hubble, and Spitzer, to explore the debris cloud in X-rays (blue-white), optical (purple), and infrared (pink) light. One of the most exotic objects known to modern astronomers, the Crab Pulsar, a neutron star spinning 30 times a second, is the bright spot near picture center. Like a cosmic dynamo, this collapsed remnant of the stellar core powers the Crab's emission across the electromagnetic spectrum. Spanning about 12 light-years, the Crab Nebula is 6,500 light-years away in the constellation Taurus.

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Church of San Juan el Real in the center of Calatayud, province of Zaragoza, Spain. The baroque church was built in the 17th and 18th century and hosts among others some of the first paintings still conserved by Francisco de Goya in the pendentives of the main dome.


This image captures a close-up view of a storm with bright cloud tops in the northern hemisphere of Jupiter.                                                             

NASA’s Juno spacecraft took this color-enhanced image on Feb. 7 at 5:38 a.m. PST (8:38 a.m. EST) during its 11th close flyby of the gas giant planet. At the time, the spacecraft was 7,578 miles (12,195 kilometers) from the tops of Jupiter’s clouds at 49.2 degrees north latitude.

Citizen scientist Matt Brealey processed the image using data from the JunoCam imager. Citizen scientist Gustavo B C then adjusted colors and embossed Matt Brealey's processing of this storm.

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/Matt Brealey/Gustavo B C


Seen as a seagull and a duck, these nebulae are not the only cosmic clouds to evoke images of flight. But both are winging their way across this broad celestial landscape, spanning almost 7 degrees across planet Earth's night sky toward the constellation Canis Major. The expansive Seagull (top center) is itself composed of two major cataloged emission nebulae. Brighter NGC 2327 forms the head with the more diffuse IC 2177 as the wings and body. Impressively, the Seagull's wingspan would correspond to about 250 light-years at the nebula's estimated distance of 3,800 light-years. At the lower right, the Duck appears much more compact and would span only about 50 light-years given its 15,000 light-year distance estimate. Blown by energetic winds from an extremely massive, hot star near its center, the Duck nebula is cataloged as NGC 2359. Of course, the Duck's thick body and winged appendages also lend it the slightly more dramatic popular moniker, Thor's Helmet.

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Eastern wing of the General Staff Building in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

STEVE (Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement) is seen as a thin purple ribbon of light. Credit: ©Megan Hoffman

What's in a name? If your name is Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement aka STEVE, then there's quite bit behind the name.

Glowing in mostly purple and green colors, a new celestial phenomenon is sparking the interest of scientists, photographers and astronauts. The display was initially discovered by a group of citizen scientists who took pictures of the unusual lights and playfully named them "Steve." Scientists have since learned more about the purples and greens, and have given it a more accurate name: Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement, which can still can be shortened to STEVE.

A citizen science project called Aurorasaurus, funded by NASA and the National Science Foundation, wants your help gathering photos so they can learn more about this mysterious phenomenon. Aurorasaurus tracks appearances of auroras — and now STEVE — around the world through users submitting reports and photographs directly on its mobile app and on

Research about STEVE is providing a new visual identifier to help track the chemical and physical processes going on in near Earth space. This information can ultimately help us better understand the space weather near Earth which can interfere with satellites and communications signals. Learn more.

Image Credit: ©Megan Hoffman (Used by permission)


Every journey has first step and every catalog a first entry. First entries in six well-known deep sky catalogs appear in these panels, from upper left to lower right in chronological order of original catalog publication. From 1774, Charles Messier's catalog entry number 1 is M1, famous cosmic crustacean and supernova remnant the Crab Nebula. J.L.E. Dreyer's (not so new) New General Catalog was published in 1888. A spiral galaxy in Pegasus, his NGC 1 is centered in the next panel. Just below it in the frame is another spiral galaxy cataloged as NGC 2. In Dreyer's follow-on Index Catalog (next panel), IC 1 is actually a faint double star, though. Now recognized as part of the Perseus molecular cloud complex, dark nebula Barnard 1 begins the bottom row from Dark Markings of the Sky, a 1919 catalog by E.E. Barnard. Abell 1 is a distant galaxy cluster in Pegasus, from George Abell's 1958 catalog of Rich Clusters of Galaxies. The final panel is centered on vdB 1, from Sidney van den Bergh's 1966 study. The pretty, blue galactic reflection nebula is found in the constellation Cassiopeia.

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Entrance hall of Kammergericht (higher regional court) in Berlin-Schöneberg.

Enhanced color HiRISE image shows several craters in the southern mid-latitudes of Mars

Craters can tell scientists a lot about the surfaces of planets, moons and other bodies. Just by determining how circular a given crater is – using pi and the crater’s perimeter and area – planetary geologists can reveal clues about how the crater was formed and the surface that was impacted.

Each year across the globe, people celebrate Pi Day. On March 14 (3/14 in the month/day date format, since 3, 1, and 4, or 3.14, are the first three significant digits of π, we sing the praises of this mathematical constant. Here at NASA, whether it's sending spacecraft to other planets, driving rovers on Mars, finding out what planets are made of or how deep alien oceans are, pi takes us far. Here are 18 ways that pi helps us explore space.

Image Credit: NASA


What might you see in the night sky over the next few months? The featured graphic gives a few highlights. Viewed as a clock face centered at the bottom, sky events in March fan out toward the left, April toward the top, and May 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. Sky highlights this season include a bright Venus in the evening sky during March, the Lyrids meteor shower during April, and Jupiter entering the evening sky during May. As true in every season, the International Space Station (ISS) can be sometimes be found drifting across your sky if you know just when and where to look.

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Fractal forms on the coverside of a microwaved DVD

Billie Robertson

Not everyone gets to become a part of history, but mathematician Billie Robertson is one of the lucky ones. In this image taken on Nov. 27, 1972, she was running a real-time simulation of Translunar Injection (TLI) Go-No-Go for the Apollo 17 lunar landing mission.

Originally intending to become a math teacher, Robertson took a job with the Rohm and Haas Company at Redstone Arsenal in 1951, calculating the thrust of rocket engines. In 1952, she accepted a position with the Army and the Wernher von Braun rocket team. Over the course of her storied career, Robertson worked with on a variety of projects, including the guidance and control computer software for the Jupiter C program (which launched the first U.S. satellite, Explorer I, into space). 

After the 1960 transfer of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency team to NASA, she developed the manual for computer models related to launches during the Apollo, Skylab, and Apollo Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) programs. During the ASTP program, Robertson served as the coordinator for all support requirements from the Computer Services Office related to ASTP launch Information Exchange Facility/Huntsville Operations Support Center activities. Throughout her career, Robertson visited schools where she spoke to young women about professional opportunities in the aerospace industry.

Image Credit: NASA/Moss


Is it possible to capture the entire plane of our galaxy in a single image? Yes, but not in one exposure -- and it took some planning to do it in two. The top part of the featured image is the night sky above Lebanon, north of the equator, taken in 2017 June. The image was taken at a time when the central band of the Milky Way Galaxy passed directly overhead. The bottom half was similarly captured six months later in latitude-opposite Chile, south of Earth's equator. Each image therefore captured the night sky in exactly the opposite direction of the other, when fully half the Galactic plane was visible. The southern half was then inverted -- car and all -- and digitally appended to the top half to show the entire central band of our Galaxy, as a circle, in a single image. Many stars and nebulas are visible, with the Large Magellanic Cloud being particularly notable inside the lower half of the complete galactic circle.

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RhB Ge 4/4 III with a Regio Express train from St. Moritz to Chur on the Landwasser Viaduct. The locomotive carries advertisement for the UNESCO world heritage Albula and Bernina lines. The stylized viaduct pictured on the locomotive is the very same that it is currently passing over. Also note the two first coaches of a train have panoramic windows. This type of panoramic coach is normally used on the Bernina line, but because there's less traffic on that line during winter the coaches are used on other parts of the network.


Cassini captured this striking view of Saturn’s moon Dione on July 23, 2012. Dione is about 698 miles (1,123 kilometers) across. Its density suggests that about a third of the moon is made up of a dense core (probably silicate rock) with the remainder of its material being water ice. At Dione's average temperature of -304 degrees Fahrenheit (-186 degrees Celsius), ice is so hard it behaves like rock.

The image was taken with Cassini’s narrow-angle camera at a distance of approximately 260,000 miles (418,000 kilometers) from Dione, through a polarized filter and a spectral filter sensitive to green light.

The Cassini spacecraft ended its mission on Sept. 15, 2017.

The Cassini mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit and The Cassini imaging team homepage is at

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute