Category: space

45 Sizzling Snaps & Pictures of the Year: Smoking Hot Photo Contest in the Commons

April 17th, 2014 Permalink

A decade ago, there were not tons of terrific photos to choose from in the Commons, but photographers have really stepped up by licensing their photos so people can share them along with knowledge. While you may or may not agree with the 12 Wikimedia Commons Picture of the Year winners, most everyone could agree the competition was smoking hot. Categories like animals, plants, people, panoramas, nature, space, architecture and even miscellaneous objects give us a chance to go globe hopping as we celebrate these 45 sizzling snaps. Congratulations winners and thank you to all photographers who make the Commons a fountain of beautiful knowledge! Why don’t you consider uploading your photos to the Commons and maybe we’ll see you listed as a winner next year? [45 Photos]

Wikimedia Picture of the Year 2013 winner, tungsten filament burning with a flame in the light bulb

1st place winner in the Wikimedia Commons Picture of the Year 2013 Contest. The photo description states, “The glass bulb of the lightbulb has been opened, causing the inert gas inside to escape. When turned on, the tungsten filament burns with a flame, due to oxygen entering the light bulb. The light bulb was screwed into a socket, which was replaced with the lamp base using image processing.” Photo #1 by Stefan Krause, Germany

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Beautiful Blood Red Moons: Tetrad of Lunar Eclipses [20 PICS]

April 12th, 2014 Permalink

April 15 is tax day in the USA, but don’t let that get you down. Instead, lift your eyes toward the heavens during the darkness and wee hours of the morning to view the first of four total lunar eclipses, spaced six full moons apart. Those four consecutive total lunar eclipses are called a tetrad. Christian Pastor John Hagee dubbed them “Blood Moons” denoting change for Israel; these total eclipses of the moon occur on Jewish holidays such a Passover in April 2014 and April 2015, and Sukkot, or the Feast of Tabernacles, in September 2014 and September 2015. Some folks are even claiming this series of blood-red moons is heralding the end is nigh. You’ve might have seen “blood red” moons before as the term has previously been applied to the coloring of Harvest moons. One thing that’s for sure, if you live in the USA, then you have a front row seat for a tetrad of lunar eclipses. Here’s a calculator to figure when you can see it from where you live. Here are some beautiful photos of blood red moons, aka total lunar eclipses. [20 Photos]

Tetrad Blood Red Moon, harbinger of end times

So you might have heard about the coming tetrad? This shot of a total lunar eclipse over a church and cross reminded us of the coming four consecutive total lunar eclipses. During such an eclipse, the moon can appear to be reddish in color. Some folks are calling them “Blood Moons,” others are quoting Biblical prophecy of when the moon turns blood red, a harbinger of end times. NASA says if you are in the USA, then you have a front row seat to view the 2014-2015 tetrad. Photo #1 by D. Wood

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Stunning Space Shuttle Atlantis at Kennedy Space Center [51 PICS]

July 1st, 2013 Permalink

The new Space Shuttle Atlantis attraction at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex opened to the public on June 29, but we had the pleasure of a surprise early viewing—a soft opening—on June 20. I was so extremely excited that I felt like a little kid on Christmas morning about to receive a dream gift. Seeing Atlantis, payload bay doors open—a sight that only astronauts could previously witness—was such a moving and inspirational sight that it brought tears to my eyes. Of course it doesn’t hurt that we are big fans of NASA, all things space-related, and Atlantis. If you missed it, then you might be inclined to check out NASA Nostalgia: 42 Favorite Photos of the Space Shuttle Atlantis. Over the course of its 26-year career, Atlantis traveled 125,935,769 miles, completed 33 missions and spend 307 days in space. This amazing craft and her crew helped repair the Hubble Telescope, so there is also a full-size Hubble replica in the building. If you are curious about life on the International Space Station, you can view replicas and learn much more about that as well. There’s more than 60 interactive experiences, with multimedia walls, simulators and augmented reality viewers. Here’s a look at the Space Shuttle Atlantis Attraction, the newest way to be truly dazzled at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, as well as some great shots of the space shuttle in action. [51 Photos]

Atlantis Aerial View

If you love NASA, then you’ll love this. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex has a priceless view in store for visitors: “When guests visit the new Space Shuttle Atlantis attraction at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, they will be treated to a sight previously seen only by astronauts in space – Atlantis tilted at a 43.21-degree angle with its payload bay doors open as if it has just undocked from the International Space Station (ISS). The 90,000 square-foot Atlantis attraction is the marquee element of the Visitor Complex’s 10-year master plan.” Photo #1 by NASA

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Breathtaking Big Marble That We Call Home Sweet Home [22 Pics, 2 Vids]

December 8th, 2012 Permalink

NASA has shown us views of the Big Marble, the breathtakingly beautiful planet on which we live because it studies space and the Earth. The first Big Blue Marble photo was released in 1972 and each subsequent release of images have increased in quality so that the newest 2012 release of the Big Black Marble, or Earth at Night, are stunning. The Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite was launched last year by NASA, NOAA, and the Department of Defense. It orbits 512 miles above our planet’s surface and has an extremely sensitive sensor that can detect the nocturnal glow produced by Earth’s atmosphere. In fact, it can see the light given off from a single street light or one glowing light on a boat floating alone on the ocean. The VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite) “carries a low-light sensor that can distinguish night lights with six times better spatial resolution and 250 times better resolution of lighting levels (dynamic range) than before.” NASA added, “A global composite image, constructed using cloud-free night images from a new NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellite, shows the glow of natural and human-built phenomena across the planet in greater detail than ever before.” So here is the series of the Big Marble in Old, New, Aqua, Blue, White and Black Marble. If you stop to think that this is our home, all of us regardless of where on the globe you are located, then it somehow seems possible that we could achieve peace on Earth around this holiday season for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Boxing Day. It also shows why we should protect our environment . . . it belongs to your children’s children and us all. Thank you NASA! You ROCK! [22 Photos, 2 Videos]

North and South America at night twinkling with light in the darkness

“This image of North and South America at night is a composite assembled from data acquired by the Suomi NPP satellite in April and October 2012. The new data was mapped over existing Blue Marble imagery of Earth to provide a realistic view of the planet.” NASA added, “The day-night band observed Hurricane Sandy, illuminated by moonlight, making landfall over New Jersey on the evening of Oct. 29. Night images showed the widespread power outages that left millions in darkness in the wake of the storm.” Photo #1 by NASA Earth Observatory/NOAA NGDC

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28 Absolutely Great NASA Satellite Photos Showcasing the Earth’s Art

December 7th, 2012 Permalink

Wow! NASA has released a holiday treasure in the form of a free Earth As Art ebook that contains 75 stunning images. If you haven’t downloaded it yet, then what are you waiting for? The Earth Science Division of NASA Science Mission Directorate wrote, “In 1960, the United States put its first Earth-observing environmental satellite into orbit around the planet.” These images of Earth were captured with “the Terra, Landsat 5, Landsat 7, EO-1, and Aqua satellites. Sensors on these satellites can measure light outside of the visible range, so the images show more than what is visible to the naked eye.” These images are so beautiful that it will blow your mind. We really don’t know how anyone could resist loving NASA. Their book “celebrates Earth’s aesthetic beauty in the patterns, shapes, colors, and textures of the land, oceans, ice, and atmosphere. The beauty of Earth is clear, and the artistry ranges from the surreal to the sublime.” Here are 28 absolutely great satellite photos showcasing the art of our planet Earth. [28 Great Photos]

Carnegie Lake, in Western Australia

“We must look to the heavens . . . for the measure of the earth ~ Jean-Félix Picard,” quoted NASA. Carnegie Lake, in Western Australia. Photo #1 by NASA via ebook: Earth As Art

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Howling at the Harvest Moon [40 Fabulous Photos]

November 7th, 2012 Permalink

La luna makes folks seem like lunatics, and a bunch of people worldwide definitely cut loose and act crazy when there is a full moon. Harvest moon is real, but it is just as often a name referring to huge, orange moons. Red moons seem a bit like a bad premonition and blood red moons seem to be foretelling the end of the world. It’s a trick of light though. Full moons, supermoons and even lunar eclipses are all known for ‘the locals’ going temporarily looney. There are blue moons, Hunter moons and all kinds of beautiful full lunar moonscapes in these photos. Does looking at a magnificent moonrise in pictures, or only in real life, make you feel like barking or howling at the moon? [40 Photos]

Harvest Moon, Moonrise of the 2012 Supermoon taken from the Toroweap viewpoint at the Grand Canyon's North Rim

Harvest Moon seems to be bigger, brighter, or more colorful than other full moons because the reddish component of the light is what we see. This was a Supermoon, when ‘Earth, Moon and Sun are all in a line, with Moon in its nearest approach to Earth.’ The photographer called this, “Moonrise of the 2012 Supermoon taken from the Toroweap viewpoint at the Grand Canyon's North Rim.” Photo #1 by Jason Hines

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Celebrating World Photography Day with Wikimedia Commons Pictures of the Year

August 14th, 2012 Permalink

August 19, 2012, is World Photography Day. This is great opportunity to say thank you to photographers. Without photographers licensing their awesome captures as Creative Commons, we wouldn’t be able to share so many awesome works of art. Once upon a time there were not nearly so many quality images licensed under Creative Commons, but that continues to change. We wanted to celebrate World Photography Day by showcasing the Wikimedia Commons Pictures of the Year, decided at the last part of June 2012. There were all sorts of categories in this Sixth Annual Wikimedia Commons POTY Contest, so here are extremely varied subjects that were declared Picture of the Year winners. Congratulations! [31 Photos]

WORLD PHOTOGRAPHY DAY, Wikimedia Commons Picture of the Year 1st place: View of Lake Bondhus in Norway, and in the background of the Bondhus Glacier, part of the Folgefonna Glacier

Wikimedia Commons Picture of the Year 2011 #1 with 143 votes in Final. A view of the lake Bondhus in Norway. In the background a view of the Bondhus Glacier as a part of the Folgefonna GlacierView of Lake Bondhus in Norway, and in the background of the Bondhus Glacier, part of the Folgefonna Glacier. Photo #1 by Alchemist-hp (

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Stunning Star Trails from Space & Incredible ISS Astronaut Photography [27 Pics, 2 Vids]

June 22nd, 2012 Permalink

ISS astronauts continue to shoot spectacular images and send them back to Earth to share the stunning sights. [27 Photographs, 2 Videos]

More timelapse star trails as seen from ISS Expedition 31

This is stargazing mixed with stunning long exposure photography while orbiting the Earth at about 17,000 miles per hour. These star trails from space were captured by astronaut photographer Don Pettit. This is a composite of a series of images photographed from a mounted camera on the Earth-orbiting International Space Station, from approximately 240 miles above Earth. Photo #1 by ISS Science Officer Don Pettit

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37 Out-of-this-World Photos: Earth from Above

March 22nd, 2012 Permalink

Aerial photography can give us awesome perspectives, but when we zoom out and then observe the Big Blue Marble from high above, such as the breathtaking views of Earth from the ISS, it’s an eye-opening experience for most of us. Internationally, many countries have satellites and spacecrafts with their unblinking eyes focused on the Earth. These amazing photos offer us a unique window overlooking our world; viewing the Earth from above offers a stunning opportunity to see our wonderful planet in out-of-our-world ways that most humans will never experience in their lifetime. [37 Photos]

Aurora Australis and Daybreak

Aurora Australis and Daybreak. The Aurora Australis, seen at right on Earth’s horizon, and daybreak (left) highlight this ‘busy’ photograph taken by one of the Expedition 30 crew members aboard the International Space Station. Photo #1 by NASA

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Beyond Brrr! 45 Photos of the Real North Pole and Arctic

December 23rd, 2011 Permalink

When most folks hear ‘North Pole,’ they tend to think of Santa Claus and his home. But it would be difficult to build a residence or workshop at the North Pole since it is located in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. You could, however, walk on water at the North Pole since it is surrounded by waters that are almost permanently covered with constantly shifting sea ice about 2 to 3 m (6 ft 7 in to 9 ft 10 in) thick. The Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean along with portions of Canada, Russia, Greenland, the United States, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland. NOAA describes the Arctic as “a vast, ice-covered ocean, surrounded by tree-less, frozen ground, that teems with life, including organisms living in the ice, fish and marine mammals, birds, land animals and human societies. Persistent warming and record-setting changes are occurring throughout the Arctic environment with resultant impacts on Arctic ecosystems.” Here’s a look beyond Polar Express or St. Nick at the real North Pole, the Arctic Circle, the Arctic and its brave explorers who dared to adventure in a land beyond brrrr! We hope you have a very happy holiday season! [45 Photos]

Arctic portal Eielson Air Force Base Alaska-—-The Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights shines above Bear Lake

Arctic portal on the way to the North Pole has amazing auroras. These Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, shine above Eielson Air Force Base, Bear Lake, Alaska. USAF Photo #1 by Senior Airman Joshua Strang

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Star Light, Star Bright: Stunning Star Trails by Ben Canales [40 PICS]

November 30th, 2011 Permalink

Ben Canales has astounding skills as a night photographer, capturing the child-like wonder and awe of our world as we stare up at the stars. When he was younger, he lived in an urban area where a starry night means maybe seeing a maximum of 20 stars. Now he lives on the West Coast “nearby some very dark, much less light-polluted night skies. It’s been a thrill and a treasured experience to look up and see a literal field of diamonds in the stars above.” Besides photographing the stars for personal enjoyment, Ben does it for us so we can feel the wonder of the sky as if we are standing under it ourselves and gazing up. He snaps glittering starry shots in amazing natural landscapes and also captures the night sky nearby abandoned houses way out in the middle of nowhere. He climbs mountains and pitches a tent far away from civilization to better bring us these amazing images of the stars. Ben quotes Van Gogh: “For my part I know nothing with any certainy, but the sight of the stars make me dream.” We were blown away, absolutely dazzled, when we saw his breathtaking photos on The Star Trail. Wowza! We love these pics! [40 Photos]

Crater Lake under the Stars

Crater Lake under the Stars. Photo #1 by © Ben Canales

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Kaleidoscope of Autumn Colors is Heaven on Earth [46 PICS]

October 7th, 2011 Permalink

There is no doubt that ISS astronauts have enviable and breathtaking views of Earth, but when the fall season transforms foliage into a kaleidoscope of colors–rich hues of reds, yellows, oranges and browns, autumn is heaven as seen on Earth. As fall bursts upon the forests, changing them from green to vivid autumn colors, the tantalizing seasonal change can be seen from space. Yet astronauts may envy us for our beautiful view. Here’s a look autumn as seen from high above Earth, then zooming down to enjoy Indian Summer and the kaleidoscope of autumn colors that make our great planet a bedazzling fall spectacular. [46 Photos]

Autumn Waterfall at Sunset

Waterfall during an autumn sunset. When scenes are as beautiful as this, it makes us want to dive right into the picture to live in that captured moment. Photo #1 by Forest Wander

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