Saturday, 6 December 2014


Week's Best Space Pictures: Mars Dust Blows, Stars Glow, and Volcano Explodes
By Dan Vergano,
National Geographic News, 5 December 2014.

Wintry views of the stars lead to vistas of volcanoes, clouds, and contrails in the week's best space pictures.

1. Spirals Above Shemshak


Stars pinwheel above the winter resort of Shemshak, near Tehran, Iran, in this long-exposure view of the night sky.

Polaris, the North Star, anchors the dizzying array in a photo by Amir Abolfath.

2. Island Streamers


The highest peak on Amsterdam Island, a tiny volcanic dot in the Indian Ocean, juts up 2,844 feet (867 meters). In this Landsat image taken from space the mountain splits clouds into streamers much the way a boat creates ripples in water.

3. Dusty Difference


In this NASA illustration released December 2, the young star at left is surrounded by a dusty disk, and the older star at right, which resembles our sun, isn't. Recent astronomical observations confirm that older stars tend to be encircled by less dust, which might make spotting any Earth-like planets orbiting them easier.

4. Fire, Meet Ice


After simmering all summer, the Zhupanovsky volcano on Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula exploded in November, vomiting trails of ash onto its snow-covered flanks, visible in these Landsat 8 views of the remote area. The explosion was violent because the volcano is covered in ice. When fire meets ice, water is instantly vaporized, sending blasts of steam and debris shooting into the sky. (See why similar situations plague Iceland's volcanoes.)

5. Ginormous Eye on the Sky


The European Extremely Large Telescope, shown in this illustration, will earn its name in 2024, when it becomes the world's largest telescope. It will open a 128-foot (39-meter) eye on the sky from the arid Atacama Desert in Chile.

6. Martian Teardrop


Martian winds sculpt the surface of the red planet in surprising ways, as revealed in this view from the NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Winds strip away sand dunes that blanket the surface of Mars, revealing surfaces that have been coloured blue in the image.

7. View From Above


Jet contrails slice lines through the skies over the ocean, as seen from the International Space Station.

Astronaut Chris Hadfield, now retired, captured the image to help researchers studying how aerosol trails, including those produced by airplanes, help shape cloud cover.

Photo gallery by Sherry L. Brukbacher.

[Source: National Geographic News. Edited. Some links added.]

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