Tag Archives: moon

Behold: Europa –  fourth largest of Jupiter’s 79 moons and fictional forbidden location of future intelligent life in Arthur C. Clarke’s ’2010: Odyssey Two’ (1982) and Peter Hyam’s 1984 film adaptation ‘2010: The Year We Make Contact’.

Looping through the Jovian system in the late 1990s, the Galileo spacecraft recorded stunning views of Europa and uncovered evidence that the moon’s icy surface likely hides a deep, global ocean. Galileo’s Europa image data has been remastered here, using improved new calibrations to produce a color image approximating what the human eye might see. Europa’s long curving fractures hint at the subsurface liquid water. The tidal flexing the large moon experiences in its elliptical orbit around Jupiter supplies the energy to keep the ocean liquid. But more tantalizing is the possibility that even in the absence of sunlight that process could also supply the energy to support life, making Europa one of the best places to look for life beyond Earth. What kind of life could thrive in a deep, dark, subsurface ocean? Consider planet Earth’s own extreme shrimp.

Larger image here.

(Image: NASA, JPL-Caltech, SETI Institute, Cynthia Phillips, Marty Valenti)


Behold: the sunlit crescent of da Vinci glow caused by earthshine (light reflected from a bright planet Earth) on the moon. To wit:

..a description of earthshine in terms of sunlight reflected by Earth’s oceans illuminating the Moon’s dark surface was written over 500 years ago by Leonardo da Vinci. One lunar month ago [this] da Vinci glow was captured in stacked exposures from the Badain Jilin Desert of Inner Mongolia, China. This year marks the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death.

(ImageLikai Lin)


Earlier this week, on its monthly trundle around the Earth, our moon passed directly in front of Saturn from the viewpoint of the Southern hemisphere.To wit:

The featured image from SydneyAustralia captured the pair a few minutes before the eclipse. The image was a single shot lasting only 1/500th of a second, later processed to better highlight both the Moon and Saturn. Since Saturn is nearly opposite the Sun, it can be seen nearly the entire night, starting at sunset, toward the south and east. The gibbous Moon was also nearly opposite the Sun, and so also visible nearly the entire night — it will be full tomorrow night. The Moon will occult Saturn again during every lap it makes around the Earth this year.

(ImagePeter Patonai)


Behold: two detailed views of Mimas, one of the major moons of Saturn. To wit:

Peering from the shadows, the Saturn-facing hemisphere of Mimas lies in near darkness alongside a dramatic sunlit crescent. The mosaic was captured near the Cassini spacecraft’s final close approach on January 30, 2017. Cassini’s camera was pointed in a nearly sunward direction only 45,000 kilometres from Mimas.

The result is one of the highest resolution views of the icy, crater-pocked, 400 kilometre diameter moon. An enhanced version better reveals the Saturn-facing hemisphere of the synchronously rotating moon lit by sunlight reflected from Saturn itself. Other Cassini images of Mimas include the small moon’s large and ominous Herschel Crater.

(ImageCassini Imaging TeamSSIJPLESANASA)


Last week’s full moon or Buck Moon (captured during its partial eclipse by Cristian Fattinnanzi) was very full. How full, you ask?

…it fell almost exactly in a line with the Sun and the Earth. When that happens the Earth casts its shadow onto the Moon. The circularity of the Earth’s shadow on the Moon was commented on by Aristotle and so has been noticed since at least the 4th century BC. What’s new is humanity’s ability to record this shadow with such high dynamic range (HDR).

The featured HDR composite of last week’s partial lunar eclipse combines 15 images and includes an exposure as short as 1/400th of a second — so as not to overexpose the brightest part — and an exposure that lasted five seconds — to bring up the dimmest part. This dimmest part — inside Earth’s umbra — is not completely dark because some light is refracted through the Earth’s atmosphereonto the Moon. A total lunar eclipse will occur next in 2021 May.

Giant image here.

UPDATE: a deliciously moony mashup from 2013.