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Friday, June 29, 2012

Beautiful space pictures from the National Geographic

Here are some beautiful pictures from the National Geographic (see: Photos and description taken from the article. Please refer to the article for acknowledgements.

Suspended Stars

Seen from a New Zealand observatory, the young star cluster NGC 6193 (center) appears suspended within the nebula NGC 6188. The nebula itself is littered with thousands of dimmer, colorful stars in this image recently submitted to National Geographic's Your Shot photo community.

NGC 6188 is a large-emission nebula some 4,000 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Ara.


The German Aerospace Center's unmanned SHEFEX II spacecraft takes off from the And√łya Rocket Range in Norway on June 22. Ten minutes later the 43-foot-tall (13-meter-tall) rocket landed safely west of Spitsbergen, Norway.

As it re-entered the atmosphere, SHEFEX (SHarp Edge Flight EXperiment) endured temperatures over 4,500 degrees Fahrenheit (2,500 degrees Celsius), and its 300 sensors sent measurement data to a ground station.

"The SHEFEX II flight takes us one step further in the road to developing a space vehicle built like a space capsule but offering the control and flight options of the space shuttle much more cost-effectively," project manager Hendrik Weihs said in a statement.

Glorious View

A rainbow-like optical phenomenon known as a glory glimmers atop clouds in a satellite image taken from over the Pacific Ocean on June 20.

Glories, which usually appear as concentric rings of color in front of mist or fog, form when water droplets within clouds scatter sunlight toward a light source—in this case, the sun.

The most vivid glories form when an observer looks down on thin clouds with droplets between 10 and 30 microns wide, according to NASA's Earth Observatory.

Dwarf Galaxy

Lacking the sweeping arms of spiral galaxies like our own Milky Way, the dwarf galaxy DDO 82 (pictured in a recent Hubble Space Telescope image) looks like a cloud of vapor.

Located in the constellation of Ursa Major, about 13 million light-years away, DDO 82 is a Magellanic spiral galaxy, named after the Large Magellanic Cloud, a dwarf galaxy that orbits the Milky Way.

Mickey Mouse Craters

Disney hasn't opened a theme park on Mercury (yet). But NASA says these craters on the planet—shown in a MESSENGER-spacecraft picture released June 3—bear a "striking" resemblance to Mickey Mouse.

"Vast Beauty"

The "vast beauty" of the Milky Way shines over Queensland, Australia, in a picture submitted to National Geographic's Your Shot photo community by Russ Benning.

"The shot was taken as an experiment, but I am very happy with the result," Benning write in his submission.

From end to end, the Milky Way's starry disk spans 120,000 light-years.

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