So much more than a belt of three stars, the constellation of Orion is rich in nebulae, as seen in this painstaking composite of extremely long exposures captured on clear nights in 2013 and 2014. To wit:
After 212 hours of camera time and an additional year of processing, the featured 1400-exposure collage spanning over 40 times the angular diameter of the Moon emerged. Of the many interesting details that have become visible, one that particularly draws the eye is Barnard’s Loop, the bright red circular filament arcing down from the middle. The Rosette Nebula is not the giant red nebula near the top of the image — that is a larger but lesser known nebula known as Lambda Orionis. The Rosette Nebula is visible, though: it is the red and white nebula on the upper left. The bright orange star just above the frame center is Betelgeuse, while the bright blue star on the lower right is Rigel. Other famous nebulas visible include the Witch Head Nebula, the Flame Nebula, the Fox Fur Nebula, and, if you know just where to look, the comparatively small Horsehead Nebula. About those famous three stars that cross the belt of Orion the Hunter — in this busy frame they can be hard to locate, but a discerning eye will find them just below and to the right of the image centre.
Now growing brighter in northern night skies, the comet’s pretty greenish coma is at the upper left of this telescopic skyview captured from a remotely operated observatory in New Mexico on March 18. At lower right (top image) are M81 and M82, well-known as large, gravitationally interacting galaxies. Seen through faint dust clouds above the Milky Way, the galaxy pair lies about 12 million light-years distant, toward the constellation Ursa Major. (…/) Comet ATLAS is about 9 light-minutes from Earth, still beyond the orbit of Mars. The comet’s elongated orbit is similar to orbit of the Great Comet of 1844 though, a trajectory that will return this comet to the inner Solar System in about 6,000 years. Comet ATLAS will reach a perihelion or closest approach to the Sun on May 31 inside the orbit of Mercury and may become a naked-eye comet in the coming days.
Behold: Messier 13 – the Great Globular Cluster in the constellationn of Hercules – one of the brightest in the Northern sky. To wit:
In 1716, English astronomer Edmond Halley noted, “This is but a little Patch, but it shews itself to the naked Eye, when the Sky is serene and the Moon absent.” (…/) Sharp telescopic views like this one reveal the spectacular cluster’s hundreds of thousands of stars. At a distance of 25,000 light-years, the cluster stars crowd into a region 150 light-years in diameter. Approaching the cluster core upwards of 100 stars could be contained in a cube just 3 light-years on a side. For comparison, the closest star to the Sun is over 4 light-years away. The remarkable range of brightness recorded in this image follows stars into the dense cluster core and reveals three subtle dark lanes forming the apparent shape of a propeller just below and slightly left of centre. Distant background galaxies in the medium-wide field of view include NGC 6207 at the upper left.
An image taken in Guatemala in late 2019. Lights from small towns are visible in the foreground behind the huge Pacayavolcano. But why does Saturn appear so big? To wit:
It doesn’t — what is pictured are foreground clouds on Earth crossing in front of the Moon. The Moon shows a slight crescent phase with most of its surface visible by reflected Earthlight known as ashen glow. The Sun directly illuminates the brightly lit lunar crescent from the bottom, which means that the Sun must be below the horizon and so the image was taken before sunrise.This double take-inducing picture was captured on 2019 December 24, two days before the Moon slid in front of the Sun to create a solar eclipse.
Beginning its return to a landing zone about 9 kilometers from the launch site, the Falcon 9 first stage boostback burn arcs toward the top of the frame. The second stage continues toward low Earth orbit though, its own fiery arc traced below the first stage boostback burn from the camera’s perspective, along with expanding exhaust plumes from the two stages. This Dragon spacecraft was a veteran of two previous resupply missions. Successfully returning to the landing zone, this Falcon 9 first stage had flown before too. Its second landing marked the 50th landing of a SpaceX orbital class rocket booster.