Posted by: Nar Williams | December 31, 2008

2008’s Top 5 Photos from Space!


1. Oh yeah — this definitely makes the best screen saver of the year. It’s planetary nebula NGC 6543, aka The Cat’s Eye nebula. And seeing as I love cats and space photos, this is a natural pick for my astro pic of the year. This composite picture combines Hubble false-color optical images with x-ray data from Chandra Observatory. The beautiful swirls are gas expelled from a dying star. It is believed that our sun is destined for the same planetary nebula fate — in about 5 billion years. This photo makes me want to start a rock band called Cat’s Eye so I could use it for the album cover. 


2. This is an image from a northern hemisphere Messier Marathon, a term describing an attempt to find as many Messier objects as possible in one night (French astronomer Charles Messier had 110 objects in his 18th century catalog). The perfectly formed circles of this photo are totally hypnotic. Careful, you might find yourself staring for hours.


3. 28 million light-years away, spiral galaxy M104 lies at the southern edge of the Virgo Galaxy Cluster. This is image data from the Hubble Space Telescope reprocessed to improve visibility of details usually lost to glare. Because of it’s shape, M104 is also called The Sombrero Galaxy. It’s very large — 50,000 light years across. That’s a big frakin’ hat.


4. This space ribbon is actually a remnant from a powerful supernova, expanding outwardly like ripples on water.

Back in the year 1006 AD, light reached Earth from a stellar explosion in the constellation of the Wolf (Lupus), creating a “guest star” in the sky that appeared brighter than Venus and lasted for over two years. The supernova, now cataloged at SN 1006, occurred about 7,000 light years away and has left a large remnant that continues to expand and fade today.


5. This is not your usual solar eclipse photo. A composite of 28 digital images ranging in exposure from the August 1st total solar eclipse, it looks almost as if the moon is taking a nap on a nice feather pillow. I love how you can just make out features on the moon (due to reflection from the Earth).

Itv News via Intersection


  1. One small year for a man…
    One, giant, light year across for that nebula…

    And a happy New Year!

    It’s 12:05am in New York right now… Someone threw a bottle at me.

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