Beams of Light on a Golden Lake

This stunning Earth image taken by the Expedition 47 crew on May 31, 2016, from the International Space Station looks from northwestern China on the bottom into eastern Kazakhstan. The large lake in Kazakhstan with golden sun glint is the crescent-shaped Lake Balkhash, the second largest lake in Central Asia. via NASA

The Little Fox and the Giant Stars

Isn’t this one stunning? Such beauty is breathtaking. Like the most amazing sunset. New stars are the lifeblood of our galaxy, and there is enough material revealed by this Herschel infrared image to build stars for millions of years to come. via NASA

Atlantis on STS-101 Mission

Flames from the solid rocket boosters lit up the clouds of smoke and steam trailing behind shuttle Atlantis on May 19, 2000, as it lifted off on mission STS-101. It was the shuttle program’s third space station assembly flight, and first space flight for astronaut Jeff Williams, currently aboard the station as a member of the Expedition 47 crew. via NASA

Stargazing From Space

Isn’t this the most amazing view? It will play a part in some of the Spaceport novels I’m working on. Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) see the world at night on every orbit — that’s 16 times each crew day. An astronaut took this broad, short-lens photograph of Earth’s night lights while looking out over the remote reaches of the central equatorial Pacific Ocean. via NASA

Hubble Spies a Spiral Snowflake

Together with irregular galaxies, spiral galaxies make up approximately 60 percent of the galaxies in the local universe. However, despite their prevalence, each spiral galaxy is unique — like snowflakes, no two are alike. This is demonstrated by the striking face-on spiral galaxy NGC 6814. via NASA

Hubble Spies the Barred Spiral Galaxy NGC 4394

Shown in this Hubble Space Telescope image, NGC 4394 is the archetypal barred spiral galaxy, with bright spiral arms emerging from the ends of a bar that cuts through the galaxy’s central bulge. These arms are peppered with young blue stars, dark filaments of cosmic dust, and bright, fuzzy regions of active star formation. via NASA

Light Echoes

This illustration shows a star surrounded by a protoplanetary disk. A new study uses data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and four ground-based telescopes to determine the distance from a star to the inner rim of its surrounding protoplanetary disk. Researchers used a method called “photo-reverberation,” also known as “light echoes. via NASA

April 14, 1981, Landing of First Space Shuttle Mission

This was one of the central moments in my life. Space felt close, attainable. This ship became a symbol of hope for me. It’s eventual loss broke the hearts of so many. And yet that dream lives on. The rear wheels of the space shuttle orbiter Columbia touched down on Rogers dry lake at Edwards Air Force Base, NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center (then Dryden), California, to successfully complete a stay in space of more than two days. Astronauts John W. Young, STS-1 commander, and…

Computer-Simulated Image of a Supermassive Black Hole

Astronomers have uncovered a near-record breaking supermassive black hole in an unlikely place: in the center of a galaxy in a sparsely populated area of the universe. The observations, made by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the Gemini Telescope in Hawaii, may indicate that these monster objects may be more common than once thought. via NASA

Hubble Peers Into the Heart of the Milky Way Galaxy

Peering deep into the dusty heart of our Milky Way galaxy using infrared vision, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope reveals a rich tapestry of more than half a million stars. Except for a few blue foreground stars, the stars are part of the Milky Way’s nuclear star cluster, the most massive and densest star cluster in our galaxy. via NASA