Perseid, Aurora, and Noctilucent Clouds

Perseid, Aurora, and Noctilucent Clouds
Perseid, Aurora, and Noctilucent Clouds

Night skies over northern Sweden can hold some tantalizing sights in August. Gazing toward the Big Dipper, this beautiful skyscape captures three of them in a single frame taken last August 12/13.

Though receding from northern skies for the season, night shining or noctilucent clouds are hanging just above the horizon. Extreme altitude icy condensations on meteoric dust, they were caught here just below an early apparition of a lovely green auroral band, also shining near the edge of space.

The flash of a Perseid meteor near the peak of the annual shower punctuates the scene. In fact, this year’s Perseid shower will peak in the coming days, offering a continuing chance for a night sky photographer’s hat trick.

Colliding Galaxies in Stephan’s Quintet

Colliding Galaxies
Colliding Galaxies

Will either of these galaxies survive? In what might be dubbed as a semi-final round in a galactic elimination tournament, the two spirals of NGC 7318 are colliding. The featured picture was created from images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.

When galaxies crash into each other, many things may happen including gravitational distortion, gas condensing to produce new episodes of star formation, and ultimately the two galaxies combining into one. Since these two galaxies are part of Stephan’s Quintet, a final round of battling galaxies will likely occur over the next few billion years with the eventual result of many scattered stars and one large galaxy. Quite possibly, the remaining galaxy will not be easily identified with any of its initial galactic components.

Stephan’s Quintet was the first identified galaxy group, lies about 300 million light years away, and is visible through a moderately-sized telescope toward the constellation of the Winged Horse (Pegasus). Free Download: APOD 2017 Calendar: NASA Images