Noctilucent Clouds over Denmark

Ruslan: “Wow! Absolutely spectacular display of NLCs this night at their brightest peak at 3:00. The whole sky was filled with the shining silver, stretching from West to East and even right above my head!”

Polar Mesospheric Clouds (also known as noctilucent clouds) are transient, upper atmospheric phenomena observed usually in the summer months at high latitudes (greater than 50 degrees) of both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. They are bright and cloud-like in appearance while in deep twilight. They are illuminated by sunlight when the lower layers of the atmosphere are in the darkness of the Earth’s shadow.

“At 80km above the earth, these are the highest clouds in the atmosphere and are composed of ice crystals. They can be seen in the late spring and summer only when the sun is below the horizon and at latitudes of 50-65 degrees north and south of the equator.” (Source: Wikipedia)

Credit: Ruslan Merzlyakov
Location: Nykøbing Mors, Denmark
Image Date: July 3, 2017

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Our Moon Meets Jupiter


What’s that next to the Moon? Jupiter—and its four largest moons. Skygazers around planet Earth enjoyed the close encounter of planets and Moon during the predawn skies of July 15, 2012. And while many saw bright Jupiter next to the slender, waning crescent, Europeans also had the opportunity to watch the ruling gas giant pass behind the lunar disk, occulted by the Moon as it slid through the night. Clouds threaten in this telescopic view from Montecassiano, Italy, but the frame still captures Jupiter after it emerged from the occultation along with all four of its large Galilean moons. The sunlit crescent is overexposed with the Moon’s night side faintly illuminated by Earthshine. Lined up left to right beyond the dark lunar limb are Callisto, Ganymede, Jupiter, Io, and Europa. In fact, Callisto, Ganymede, and Io are larger than Earth’s Moon, while Europa is only slightly smaller. Last week, NASA’s Juno became the second spacecraft ever to orbit Jupiter.

Image Credit & Copyright: Cristian Fattinnanzi
Cristian’s website: www.cristianfattinnanzi.it
Release Date: July 10, 2016

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NASA’s New Horizons Receives Mission Extension to Kuiper Belt


July 1, 2016: Following its historic first-ever flyby of Pluto, NASA’s New Horizons mission has received the green light to fly onward to an object deeper in the Kuiper Belt, known as 2014 MU69. The spacecraft’s planned rendezvous with the ancient object—considered one of the early building blocks of the solar system—is Jan. 1, 2019.

“The New Horizons mission to Pluto exceeded our expectations and even today the data from the spacecraft continue to surprise,” said NASA’s Director of Planetary Science Jim Green. “We’re excited to continue onward into the dark depths of the outer solar system to a science target that wasn’t even discovered when the spacecraft launched.”

Based upon the 2016 Planetary Mission Senior Review Panel report, NASA this week directed nine extended missions to plan for continued operations through fiscal years 2017 and 2018. Final decisions on mission extensions are contingent on the outcome of the annual budget process.

The Kuiper belt is a circumstellar disc in the Solar System beyond the planets, extending from the orbit of Neptune (at 30 AU) to approximately 50 AU from the Sun. It is similar to the asteroid belt, but it is far larger—20 times as wide and 20 to 200 times as massive. Like the asteroid belt, it consists mainly of small bodies, or remnants from the Solar System’s formation. Although many asteroids are composed primarily of rock and metal, most Kuiper belt objects are composed largely of frozen volatiles (termed “ices”), such as methane, ammonia and water. (Source: Wikipedia)

Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI
Release Date: July 1, 2016

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Earth Sunset | International Space Station


Earth sunset from the International Space Station. NASA astronaut Jeff Williams captured the photos for this composite of the sun falling slowly across the oceans of our planet.

Credit: NASA/JSC, U.S. Astronaut Jeff Williams
Date: June 8, 2016

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