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Nightlights in Qeqertaq

Light pollution is usually not a problem in Qeqertaq. In western Greenland the remote coastal village boasted a population of 114 in 2020. Lights still shine in its dark skies though. During planet Earth’s recent intense geomagnetic storm, on November 6 these beautiful curtains of aurora borealis fell over the arctic realm. On the eve of the coming weeks of polar night at 70 degrees north latitude, the inspiring display of northern lights is reflected in the waters of Disko Bay. In this view from the isolated settlement a lone iceberg is illuminated by shore lights as it drifts across the icy sea. via NASA

Daytime Moon Meets Morning Star

Venus now appears as Earth’s brilliant morning star, shining above the southeastern horizon before dawn. For early morning risers, the silvery celestial beacon rose predawn in a close pairing with a waning crescent Moon on Thursday, November 9. But from some northern locations, the Moon was seen to occult or pass in front of Venus. From much of Europe, the lunar occultation could be viewed in daylight skies. This time series composite follows the daytime approach of Moon and morning star in blue skies from Warsaw, Poland. The progression of eight sharp telescopic snapshots, made between 10:56am and 10:58am local time, runs from left to right, when Venus winked out behind the bright lunar limb. via NASA

M1: The Incredible Expanding Crab

Cataloged as M1, the Crab Nebula is the first on Charles Messier’s famous list of things which are not comets. In fact, the Crab Nebula is now known to be a supernova remnant, an expanding cloud of debris from the death explosion of a massive star. The violent birth of the Crab was witnessed by astronomers in the year 1054. Roughly 10 light-years across, the nebula is still expanding at a rate of about 1,500 kilometers per second. You can see the expansion by comparing these sharp images from the Hubble Space Telescope and James Webb Space Telescope. The Crab’s dynamic, fragmented filaments were captured in visible light by Hubble in 2005 and Webb in infrared light in 2023. This cosmic crustacean lies about 6,500 light-years away in the constellation Taurus. via NASA

In the fading darkness before dawn, a tilted triangle appeared to balance atop a rock formation off the southern tip of Sicily. Making up the points of the triangle are three of the four brightest objects visible in Earth’s sky: Jupiter, Venus and the Moon. Though a thin waning crescent, most of the moon’s disk is visible due to earthshine. Captured in this image on 2022 April 27, Venus (center) and Jupiter (left) are roughly three degrees apart — and were headed toward a close conjunction. Conjunctions of Venus and Jupiter occur about once a year and are visible either in the east before sunrise or in the west after sunset. The featured image was taken about an hour before the arrival of the brightest object in Earth’s sky – the Sun. via NASA

This is a gibbous Moon. More Earthlings are familiar with a full moon, when the entire face of Luna is lit by the Sun, and a crescent moon, when only a sliver of the Moon’s face is lit. When more than half of the Moon is illuminated, though, but still short of full illumination, the phase is called gibbous. Rarely seen in television and movies, gibbous moons are quite common in the actual night sky. The featured image was taken in Jämtland, Sweden near the end of 2018 October. That gibbous moon turned, in a few days, into a crescent moon, and then a new moon, then back to a crescent, and a few days past that, back to gibbous. Setting up to capture a picturesque gibbous moonscape, the photographer was quite surprised to find an airplane, surely well in the foreground, appearing to fly past it. via NASA

UHZ1: Distant Galaxy and Black Hole

Dominated by dark matter, massive cluster of galaxies Abell 2744 is known to some as Pandora’s Cluster. It lies 3.5 billion light-years away toward the constellation Sculptor. Using the galaxy cluster’s enormous mass as a gravitational lens to warp spacetime and magnify even more distant objects directly behind it, astronomers have found a background galaxy, UHZ1, at a remarkable redshift of Z=10.1. That puts UHZ1 far beyond Abell 2744, at a distance of 13.2 billion light-years, seen when our universe was about 3 percent of its current age. UHZ1 is identified in the insets of this composited image combining X-rays (purple hues) from the spacebased Chandra X-ray Observatory and infrared light from the James Webb Space Telescope. The X-ray emission from UHZ1 detected in the Chandra data is the telltale signature of a growing supermassive black hole at the center of the ultra high redshift galaxy. That makes UHZ1’s growing black hole the most distant black hole ever detected in X-rays, a result that now hints at how and when the first supermassive black holes in the universe formed. via NASA

M1: The Crab Nebula

The Crab Nebula is cataloged as M1, the first object on Charles Messier’s famous 18th century list of things which are not comets. In fact, the Crab is now known to be a supernova remnant, debris from the death explosion of a massive star witnessed by astronomers in the year 1054. This sharp image from the James Webb Space Telescope’s NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera) and MIRI (Mid-Infrared Instrument) explores the eerie glow and fragmented strands of the still expanding cloud of interstellar debris in infrared light. One of the most exotic objects known to modern astronomers, the Crab Pulsar, a neutron star spinning 30 times a second, is visible as a bright spot near the nebula’s center. Like a cosmic dynamo, this collapsed remnant of the stellar core powers the Crab’s emission across the electromagnetic spectrum. Spanning about 12 light-years, the Crab Nebula is a mere 6,500 light-years away in the head-strong constellation Taurus. via NASA

There’s a new space telescope in the sky: Euclid. Equipped with two large panoramic cameras, Euclid captures light from the visible to the near-infrared. It took five hours of observing for Euclid’s 1.2-meter diameter primary mirror to capture, through its sharp optics, the 1000+ galaxies in the Perseus cluster, which lies 250 million light years away. More than 100,000 galaxies are visible in the background, some as far away as 10 billion light years. The revolutionary nature of Euclid lies in the combination of its wide field of view (twice the area of the full moon), its high angular resolution (thanks to its 620 Megapixel camera), and its infrared vision, which captures both images and spectra. Euclid’s initial surveys, covering a third of the sky and recording over 2 billion galaxies, will enable a study of how dark matter and dark energy have shaped our universe. via NASA

It moved across the surface of Mars — what was it? A dust devil. Such spinning columns of rising air are heated by the warm surface and are also common in warm and dry areas on planet Earth. Typically lasting only a few minutes, dust devils become visible as they pick up loose red-colored dust, leaving the darker and heavier sand beneath intact. Dust devils not only look cool — they can leave visible trails, and have been credited with unexpected cleanings of the surfaces of solar panels. The images in the featured AI-interpolated video were captured in early August by the Perseverance rover currently searching for signs of ancient life in Jezero Crater. The six-second time-lapse video encapsulates a real duration of just over one minute. Visible in the distance, the spinning dust devil was estimated to be passing by at about 20 kilometers per hour and extend up about 2 kilometers high. via NASA

What was that red glow on the horizon last night? Aurora. Our unusually active Sun produced a surface explosion a few days ago that sent out a burst of electrons, protons, and more massive charged nuclei. This coronal mass ejection (CME) triggered auroras here on Earth that are being reported unusually far south in Earth’s northern hemisphere. For example, this was the first time that the astrophotographer captured aurora from her home country of Italy. Additionally, many images from these auroras appear quite red in color. In the featured image, the town of Comelico Superiore in the Italian Alps is visible in the foreground, with the central band of our Milky Way galaxy seen rising from the lower left. What draws the eye the most, though, is the bright red aurora on the far right. The featured image is a composite with the foreground and background images taken consecutively with the same camera and from the same location. via NASA