Northern Lights and Noctilucent Clouds

Luminous skies after the near-solstice sunset on June 17 are reflected in this calm lake. The tranquil twilight scene was captured near Bashaw, Alberta, Canada, northern planet Earth.

Northern Lights and Noctilucent Clouds

Usually spotted at high latitudes in summer months, night shining or noctilucent clouds hang just above the horizon, transfusing light into a darker sky.

Formed near the edge of space, the icy apparitions are condensations on meteoric dust or volcanic ash still in sunlight at extreme altitudes. Also near the edge of space on this short northern night, solar activity triggered the lovely apparition of aurora borealis or northern lights.

Pillars of the Eagle Nebula in Infrared

Newborn stars are forming in the Eagle Nebula. Gravitationally contracting in pillars of dense gas and dust, the intense radiation of these newly-formed bright stars is causing surrounding material to boil away.

Pillars of the Eagle Nebula in Infrared

This image, taken with the Hubble Space Telescope in near infrared light, allows the viewer to see through much of the thick dust that makes the pillars opaque in visible light.

The giant structures are light years in length and dubbed informally the Pillars of Creation. Associated with the open star cluster M16, the Eagle Nebula lies about 6,500 light years away.

The Eagle Nebula is an easy target for small telescopes in a nebula-rich part of the sky toward the split constellation Serpens Cauda (the tail of the snake).