Space flowers, auroras and stars captured in pictures of unlimited beauty

Stellar explosions, red, blue or green auroras, blooming space flowers, nebulas, unicorn, Christmas and moons – these are phenomena of an unlimited beauty immortalised in snapshots.

National Geographic’s Space Pictures This Week demonstrate once again the magnificence, fascination and splendor of the space. Fortunately, there were some people lucky enough to witness it; they’ve taken advantage of the moment and by pressing the shutter button they made it possible for us to enjoy it as well.

Here are some of the best space pictures recently submitted to National Geographic’sMy Shot.

Blooming Iris. Image courtesy T. A. Rector/UAA, H. Schweiker/WIYN, and NOAO/NSF

Blooming Iris. Image courtesy T. A. Rector/UAA, H. Schweiker/WIYN, and NOAO/NSF

Spring hasn’t come only on Earth, but even in space, where flowers are blooming building together the Iris nebula, also known as NGC 7023. The picture was taken from Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona.

The cosmic flower is actually what’s known as a reflection nebula. The interstellar cloud of dust and gas glows not because its material is being heated, but because it’s reflecting light from nearby stars,” according to National Geographic.

Artistic Aurora. Photograph by Tommy Eliassen

Artistic Aurora. Photograph by Tommy Eliassen, My Shot, National Geographic

This picture was taken from Norway in 2011, when the show in the sky had been triggered by a geomagnetic storm “that spawned auroras across the Northern Hemisphere—including blood-red auroras seen in the U.S. South.”

Cactus Night Photograph by Swee Ong Wu

Cactus Night Photograph by Swee Ong Wu, My shot, National Geographic

These giant cacti seem to reach for the stars in this long-exposure picture taken from Isla de Pescado, which is an island within the Bolivian salt flats of Salar de Uyuni.

Being the world’s largest expanse of salt flats, the salar covers approx 3,100 square miles (8,028 square kilometers) of the high Andean plateau – the Altiplano, more than 11,800 feet (3,600 meters) above sea level.

Several isolated islands in the flats are made from fossil coral reefs covered by volcanic rock“, according to NASA.

Supernova Factory. Image courtesy T. A. Rector/UAA, H. Schweiker/WIYN, and NOAO/NSF

Supernova Factory. Image courtesy T. A. Rector/UAA, H. Schweiker/WIYN, and NOAO/NSF

The  Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona has recently released another photo of a glittering spiral of stars in the arms of the galaxy NGC 6946.

Although it’s hard to understand the scientific part of the way the universe works, it is always fascinating to see pictures from outside galaxies where stellar explosions take place. Some of the best pictures have been released by the famous Hubble telescope.

Delicate Swan. Image courtesy Caltech/NASA

Delicate Swan. Image courtesy Caltech/NASA

Hot dust, gas and a background of stars come together to build the swan in the constellation Cygnus. Situated about 1,500 light-years away, the nebula is the remnant of a supernova that occurred between 5,000 and 8,000 years ago.

The pictured was released by NASA’s Galaxy Evolution Explorer, or GALEX. “The spacecraft’s ultraviolet vision allows scientists to study space objects across ten billion years of cosmic history,” according to National Geographic.

Christmas in March. Image courtesy Louie Atalasidis, My Shot

Christmas in March. Image courtesy Louie Atalasidis, My Shot, National Geographic

You wouldn’t believe it, but this is how Christmas looks in March..in space.  “The bright stars of the Christmas Tree Cluster light up the diffuse dust and gases of the Cone Nebula in a newly released picture taken by a backyard astronomer in Australia.”

National Geographic explains: “Also known collectively as NGC 2264, the star cluster and nebula lie about 2,700 light-years away in the constellation Monoceros, the unicorn.”

On the Ball. Image courtesy Caltech/SSI/NASA

On the Ball. Image courtesy Caltech/SSI/NASA

This is Saturn’s largest moon Titan, which is the only object, other than Earth, with stable bodies of liquid on its surface – lakes of liquid methane.

Titan seems to hover in space like a ball caught mid-bounce in a recently released picture from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft.

Photograph by Babak Tafreshi, TWAN

Photograph by Babak Tafreshi, TWAN

Probably one of the most known, yet superb phenomena in the world – Aurora Borealis – caught in an 8mm fisheye lens. “The bright green auroras shimmer over a small Sami village in northern Sweden in a picture taken March 16.”

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