Tag Archives: space

The Hubble Telescope Photographs Messier 15, One of the Densest Clusters of Stars Ever Discovered

The Hubble Telescope Photographs Messier 15, One of the Densest Clusters of Stars Ever Discovered stars space NASA

This recently released photograph from the Hubble Telescope captures the spectacular glory of Messier 15 located about 35,000 light-years away. It might be hard to believe, but if you were to look up in the sky and locate the constellation Pegasus, this entire cluster of stars is located inside of it. It is one of the densest clusters of stars ever discovered. Via the ESA:

Both very hot blue stars and cooler golden stars can be seen swarming together in the image, becoming more concentrated towards the cluster’s bright centre. Messier 15 is one of the densest globular clusters known, with most of its mass concentrated at its core. As well as stars, Messier 15 was the first cluster known to host a planetary nebula, and it has been found to have a rare type of black hole at its centre.

Growing up in the Texas hill country, I lived next door to an astronomy buff from the the Austin Astronomical Society named Larry Forrest. Every couple of months Larry would have a thing called a star party and all these other astronomy people would show up with giant pickup trucks hauling telescopes mounted on trailers. Sometimes the group would start drinking as the sun went down and by the time the first stars started twinkling they had a pretty good buzz going. It was a loud, drunken astronomy night, and it was amazing.

On a few occasions I had the opportunity to stay up late and head over to Larry’s place and climb inside this huge observatory he’d built that housed the largest telescope I’ve ever had the chance of looking through. I remember seeing the rings of Saturn for the first time, and seeing details of the moon so vivid it felt like I could touch it. There are few things that put life in perspective as astronomy can. It was a precious early gift and the sole reason you see occasional posts like these here on Colossal. Unfortunately I learned that Larry died last year, and seeing this image reminded of my first peek inside his telescope, and the near instant realization of how vast the universe really is. Shine on Larry. (via Astronomy Picture of the Day)

NASA Releases First Ever Photograph of Saturn, Venus, Mars and Earth

NASA Releases First Ever Photograph of Saturn, Venus, Mars and Earth Venus space NASA moon Mars Earth

NASA Releases First Ever Photograph of Saturn, Venus, Mars and Earth Venus space NASA moon Mars Earth

You might remember earlier this summer when NASA released a striking image taken by the Cassini spacecraft of Earth as it appears from the dark side of Saturn. Yesterday the space agency wowed again with the first ever photograph of Saturn, Mars, Venus, and Earth all in the same shot. The image spans about 404,880 miles (651,591 kilometers) across and is made from 141 wide-angle photos taken by Cassini. You can learn more about the image over on JPL’s site where you can even download some wallpapers. This is a good excuse to watch an interpretation of Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot monologue. Or this one. (via PetaPixel)

Falling from Space: Felix Baumgartner’s Leap from 128,000 Feet

Falling from Space: Felix Baumgartners Leap from 128,000 Feet stunts space

Falling from Space: Felix Baumgartners Leap from 128,000 Feet stunts space

It’s already been a year since daredevil, stuntman and BASE jumper Felix Baumgartner leapt out of a hot air balloon some 24 miles off the ground plummeted at speeds surpassing Mach 1 (761.2 mph or 1225 km/h) back to Earth. The team over at Redbull Stratos finally released footage from the stunt, capturing the view from multiple angles. Ridiculous. (via kottke)

Mauna Kea Heavens Timelapse or Three Minutes of Telescopes Shooting Lasers into Space

Mauna Kea Heavens Timelapse or Three Minutes of Telescopes Shooting Lasers into Space timelapse telescopes space Hawaii

Mauna Kea Heavens Timelapse or Three Minutes of Telescopes Shooting Lasers into Space timelapse telescopes space Hawaii

Mauna Kea Heavens Timelapse or Three Minutes of Telescopes Shooting Lasers into Space timelapse telescopes space Hawaii

Shot over a period of three nights in April of this year, this timelapse from Sean Goebel shows the myriad telescopes at the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii. The clear view at 14,000 feet is the premiere location for astronomy in the Northern Hemisphere. The lasers you see are called laser guide stars and they help astronomers correct the atmospheric distortion of light by creating an artificial “star” to use as a reference point. (via Coudal)

Observing the Earth: Incredible Satellite Photos of Earth from the European Space Agency

Observing the Earth: Incredible Satellite Photos of Earth from the European Space Agency space Earth
Namib Desert / October 5, 2013

Observing the Earth: Incredible Satellite Photos of Earth from the European Space Agency space Earth
Ganges’ dazzling delta / July 31, 2009

Observing the Earth: Incredible Satellite Photos of Earth from the European Space Agency space Earth
Scandinavian snows / February 1, 2013

Observing the Earth: Incredible Satellite Photos of Earth from the European Space Agency space Earth
Mississippi River Delta / May 25, 2012

Observing the Earth: Incredible Satellite Photos of Earth from the European Space Agency space Earth
Clearwater Lakes, Canada / May 17, 2013

Observing the Earth: Incredible Satellite Photos of Earth from the European Space Agency space Earth
Peruvian landscape / July 4, 2013

Observing the Earth: Incredible Satellite Photos of Earth from the European Space Agency space Earth
Plentiful plankton / September 14, 2009

Observing the Earth: Incredible Satellite Photos of Earth from the European Space Agency space Earth
Swirling cloud art in the Atlantic Ocean / June 11, 2010

Observing the Earth: Incredible Satellite Photos of Earth from the European Space Agency space Earth
Agricultural crops in Aragon and Catalonia / November 26, 2010

Though I don’t have a homepage set, the first page in my daily rounds is always the Astronomy Picture of the Day (site currently down), a website launched by NASA and the Michigan Technological University way back in 1995, a nearly continous publication run of 18 years. Unfortunately due some minor, uhm, budget cuts in the U.S. government, all NASA websites are currently down due to a crushing 97% cut in workforce, including the humble Astronomy Picture of the Day.

Luckily there’s at least one space agency still publishing photos of space (and space from Earth), the European Space Agency. The ESA has an incredible Observing the Earth archive that’s updated every week and each satelitte image is usually accompanied by a brief essay to explain a bit about what you’re looking at. Collected here are some of my favorite images from the last few years taken with too many different satellites to mention, and you can search photos back through 2005 here. (via Devid Sketchbook)

One Giant Leap: Frog Photobombs NASA Spacecraft Launch Photo

One Giant Leap: Frog Photobombs NASA Spacecraft Launch Photo  space NASA

One Giant Leap: Frog Photobombs NASA Spacecraft Launch Photo  space NASA

In one one of the more bizarre photobombs ever, NASA released a photograph of what appears to be a frog that may have attempted, and subsequently failed, to hitch a ride aboard a Moon-bound rocket. The shot was captured on September 7th during the launch of the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE), and NASA’s photo team confirms the image is genuine, but stated “the condition of the frog, however, is uncertain.” (via PetaPixel)

The Earth’s Seasonal “Heartbeat” as Seen from Space

The Earths Seasonal Heartbeat as Seen from Space timelapse space seasons NASA ice gifs

We all know that as the seasons change on Earth, temperatures rise and fall, plants grow or die, ice forms or melts away. Perhaps nobody is more aware of this than NASA’s Visible Earth team who provide a vast catalog of images of our home planet as seen from space. Last month designer, cartographer, and dataviz expert John Nelson download a sequence of twelve cloud-free satellite imagery mosaics of Earth, one from each month, and then created a number of vivid animated gifs showing the seasonal changes in vegetation and land ice around the world.

Despite having encountered numerous seasonal timelapse videos shot here on Earth, this is the first time I’ve ever seen anything like this visualized on such a large scale from space. It really looks like a heartbeat or the action of breathing. Read more over on Nelson’s blog, or see a much larger version of the gif here. (via Co.Design)

NASA Releases Photo of Earth Taken from the Dark Side of Saturn by the Cassini Spacecraft

NASA Releases Photo of Earth Taken from the Dark Side of Saturn by the Cassini Spacecraft space Saturn NASA Earth

NASA Releases Photo of Earth Taken from the Dark Side of Saturn by the Cassini Spacecraft space Saturn NASA Earth

Yesterday NASA published a new photograph taken on July 19, 2013, by a wide-angle camera on the Cassini spacecraft that shows a view of Earth from the dark side of Saturn. In the photo Earth is 898 million miles away and the moon appears as just a tiny protrusion off to the right (you might need to see it up close). According to NASA this is only the third time that Earth has ever been photographed from the outer solar system.

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