Under dark skies the setting of the Milky Way can be a dramatic sight. Stretching nearly parallel to the horizon, this rich, edge-on vista of our galaxy above the dusty Namibian desert stretches from bright, southern Centaurus (left) to Cepheus in the north (right).
Back in 1979, NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft flew past Jupiter and its moons. The images in this mosaic, featuring the moon Io against a background of gas giant Jupiter’s diffuse swirling cloud bands, were recorded by Voyager’s camera from a distance of about 8.3 million kilometers.
The New Moon’s dark shadow crossed planet Earth on September 1. In silhouette the Moon didn’t quite cover the Sun though, creating an annular solar eclipse.
The shadow’s narrow central path was about 100 kilometers wide at maximum eclipse. Beginning in the South Atlantic, it tracked toward the east across Africa, ending in the Indian Ocean.
The bright light at the end of this country road is actually a remarkably close conjunction of two planets. After sunset on August 27 brilliant Venus and Jupiter almost appear as a single celestial beacon in the night skyscape taken near Lake Wivenhoe, Queensland, Australia.
A spectacular vertical panorama from the southern hemisphere, it shows the central Milky Way near zenith, posed on top of a pillar of Zodiacal light along the ecliptic plane.
Of course Mars and Saturn are near the ecliptic too, just below the galaxy’s central bulge. Above and left of a tree on the horizon, fleeting planet Mercury also adds to the light at the end of the road.