Here is some beautiful time-lapse footage of the earth at night as seen from the ISS (International Space Station). There are some especially beautiful sequences of the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) as seen from space.
Ever wonder what the earth and moon look like from 114 million miles away? You can see it here in this amazing photo taken by NASA’s Messenger deep space probe. (For purposes of comparison, the sun is 93 million miles away from Earth.)
The Earth with Moon orbiting around it from a distance of 114 million miles.
If you missed the Perseid meteor shower a couple weeks back, not to worry. Check out this beautiful time-lapse video of the night skies over Joshua Tree National Park. And for a real treat, be sure to hit the “HD” button on the media player below and then put the video in full screen mode by clicking the four-way arrow icon to the right of the HD button. (Depending on the speed of your internet connection, you may need to pause the video in HD mode for a brief time to let it load.)
Perseid Meteor Shower; August 12-15, 2010 (Video length: 1:05)
This time-lapse was shot over a period of three days by Henry Jun Wah Lee using a 5D Mk II camera at 6400 ISO, with 20 second exposures.
Here is an amazing photo of a rare aurora australis over the Southern Indian Ocean captured from the International Space Station (ISS) on May 29, 2010.
Many people are familiar with the auroroa borealis which takes place near the North Pole (also known as the northern lights), but the Southern Hemisphere has its own version of the atmospheric light show called the aurora australis.
From PopSci: The auroras — aurora borealis near the North Pole, aurora australis near the South Pole — are one of the atmosphere’s most beautiful phenomena, occurring when energetic ions from the sun collide with oxygen and nitrogen in the upper atmosphere, temporarily exciting those particles such that they emit light as they return to their normal states. This particular ribbon of ion activity appears green, the result of excited oxygen atoms at wavelengths near 0.558 millionths of a meter. Other wavelengths produce red, blue, or purple hues (you can see a little bit of red left of center).
A fiery ball of light witnessed by thousands as it swept over the upper Midwest Wednesday night was almost certainly a large meteor that probably left a trail of debris across southern Wisconsin, asteroid experts say. The path of the meteor was tracked by Doppler radar at two National Weather Service stations, in the Quad Cities and at LaCrosse, Wis.
“It has the appearance that is completely consistent with being a bright meteor,” said Mark Hammergren, an Adler Planetarium astronomer who specializes in asteroids, after viewing the Doppler images. The object, which lit up the sky shortly after 10 p.m. Wednesday across parts of Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois and Wisconsin, was very likely a piece of an asteroid, a rocky planetoid formation that orbits the sun, he said. Almost all meteors come from asteroids.
It almost certainly was not from debris trailing a comet or part of a meteor shower associated with a comet, as earlier reports have speculated, Hammergren said. “We won’t know for sure until we get specimens” of whatever the object was, if pieces of it survived the fiery plunge through the Earth’s atmosphere, he said. But it was so large, he said he was fairly certain some may be found. Technically, if pieces of a meteor survive the impact, they are known as “meteorites.”
Update: And here is the video of a similar sighting a couple years ago over Edmonton, Canada.
The Hubble Space Telescope took a closer look at this triple galaxy group on April 1 and 2 after 140,000 people around the world voted on six potential targets. The areas have previously only been photographed by ground-based telescopes. The Arp 274 galaxy group won the competition with more than 67,000 votes …
The galaxies to the right and left show blueish lights, evidence of rapid star formation. Older stars are more yellow. The group is located in the constellation Virgo, 400 million light years away from Earth. The two bright stars at the right of the image are actually located in our own galaxy. (HT: Wired Science)
The Milky Way and Jupiter
This picture was taken in Eastern Utah. Details: The America Southwest is home to thousands of caves that were once home for millenniums of various Indian cliff dwellers. Few are as hauntingly beautiful as “False Kiva”, given it’s name for the round stone circle that normally would have a room below, but in this case does not. This hidden cave sits half way down a mesa cliff and has a stunning “room with a view” of the Monument Valley like rock formations in eastern Utah. One can only imagine the thousands of times individuals through the ages saw this same view of Jupiter and the Milky Way parade across the heavens from their very own back yard. (HT: AstroPics.com)
Eye in the Sky
A spectacular “cosmic eye” has been photographed in space by a telescope in Chile, showing a distant nebula in which Sunlike stars are burning themselves out.
The image of the Helix nebula, which lies 700 light years in the constellation Aquarius, was captured with the Wide Field Imager instrument at the European La Silla Observatory.
The Helix is a planetary nebula – a kind of stellar old people’s home, in which stars at the end of their lives shed clouds of gas, often creating intricate patterns that shine with great beauty. The Helix nebula is one of the closest planetary nebulae to Earth but it is hard to see visually because its light is spread thinly over a large area of sky, a quarter of the size of the full Moon. In this image a rich background of distant galaxies can also be seen.
The main ring of the Helix nebula is about two light years across, or half the distance between the Sun and the nearest star. Around the inside of the ring, it is possible to see small blobs that resemble droplets of water, known as “cometary knots”, which have faint tails that extend away from the central star. (HT: Times Online)
– Texas Star Party; Night Sky Time-Lapse Video
– 9:20 PM to 6:43 AM CDT; April 21-22, 2009
– Canon EOS-5D (modified) and EF 15mm Fisheye Lens @ f/2.8
– Camera on Tripod facing East South East
– 20 second exposure each minute per frame; 15 frames per second
“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:3-4)
What was the Star of Bethlehem? There have been many attempts over the years to identify this star. Here are the four most common explanations:
A comet: The early church father Origen was the first to suggest that the star may really have been a comet. Halley’s Comet made an appearance in 12 B.C., but that is much too early for Christ’s birth. Another comet appeared for about seventy days in March and April of 5 B.C. That is closer to the time frame of Christ’s birth, but it does not explain the miraculous movement of the star toward Bethlehem. Also, comets were generally considered bad omens rather than bearers of good news.
A conjunction of planets: Others suggest that the star was a conjunction of planets. Johannes Kepler, one of the fathers of modern astronomy, pointed to the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in 7 B.C. (later joined by Mars in February of 6 B.C.). However, the timing is still not right, nor does it explain the movement of the star. Also, planetary conjunctions are relatively brief events, lasting at the most for several nights and in their most compact configurations for only a few hours.
(Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn as they would have appeared over the western horizon in the constellation Pisces during Feburary of 6 B.C.)
A supernova: Kepler preferred a different explanation – that the Magi saw a star that had gone supernova. A supernova is basically an exploding star. It is a spectacular event as the star suddenly flares up in brilliance and maintains that brilliance over a period of time due to a series of internal explosions. The last supernova that occurred in our own Milky Way galaxy took place in 1604. The star was so bright you could see it in the daytime. The ancients sometimes got comets and novas confused. They often called novas “comets without a tail.” There are reports of a tailless comet in the year 4 B.C. which may actually have been a nova. The timing is close, but once again it does not account for the movement of the star.
A manifestation of God’s glory: Some suggest that the star was a manifestation of God’s glory, similar to the shining cloud that led the Israelites through the wilderness, except higher in the sky. The advantage of this suggestion is that the cloud in the desert is an actual example from the Bible of a shining object that moved and stopped and guided those who followed. This is a good possibility, but then you have to wonder why the Magi called it a star. Perhaps that was the only word they had available to describe what they were seeing.
We cannot really explain the Star of Bethlehem, but when all is said and done, we have something better than an explanation. We have a mystery. We have a miracle. And the miracle of the Star of Bethlehem is one of the many wonders of the Christmas story that draws our hearts to worship the Lord each Christmas season. What do you think about the Star of Bethlehem?
Did you see it last night? I saw it here in Massachusetts, and it was stunningly beautiful — right after sunset, Jupiter and Venus hanging low over the horizon in the southwestern sky with the crescent moon hovering just above. Jupiter and Venus are in conjunction right now, just two degrees apart, and the moon is a waxing crescent. In Australia and other southern latitudes the three celestial objects formed a great big happy face in the heavens, but here in North America it was more of an upside-down frown. Either way, it was a pretty neat display in the sky.
And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. (Genesis 1:14-15)
Here is a neat animation of the sun from The Big Picture. Depending on your connection speed, it might take a minute to load and start spinning for you.
“An animation of the sun, seen by NASA’s Extreme ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (EIT) over the course of 6 days, starting June 27, 2005.” (Courtesy of SOHO/EIT consortium)
“In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.” (Psalm 19:4-6)