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NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC'S BEST SPACE PICTURES THIS WEEK CII


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Week's Best Space Pictures: A Pulsar's Technicolor Home
By Michael Greshko,
National Geographic News, 11 March 2016.

Feed your need for heavenly views of the universe with our picks of the most awe-inspiring space pictures. This week, the moon casts an ominous shadow on the Pacific Ocean, NASA's Cassini spacecraft spots two of Saturn's moons, and a dusty disk coalesces around a distant pair of aging stars.

1. Celestial Lighthouse

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The new CHIMERA instrument on the Palomar Observatory’s Hale Telescope snapped this image of the Crab Pulsar, a collapsed, dead star 6,500 light-years away that spins 30 times per second and emits lighthouse-like beams of light.

2. Saturnian Siblings

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NASA's Cassini spacecraft spots Rhea (left) and Tethys (right), two of Saturn's moons. The Saturnian sisters’ names couldn’t be more fitting: They’re named after two sibling Titanesses from Greek mythology.

3. Paint it Black

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On March 8, 2016, NASA's Aqua satellite spotted the reddish shadow of the moon over the South Pacific Ocean during a total solar eclipse - the last one before an August 21, 2017, total solar eclipse that will be visible in much of the U.S.

4. Far-Out Focus

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This Hubble image shows Abell 2744, a galaxy cluster about four billion light-years away also known as Pandora’s Box. The cluster’s mass acts like a lens to warp passing light - allowing astronomers to peer deep into the universe’s past.

5. Brilliantly Bruised

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NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory spots the solar corona in this false-color composite. The image's three colors (red, green, and blue) correspond to different wavelengths of UV light emitted by excited iron ions.

6. Let's Have Some More

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Astronomers at the European Southern Observatory sharply imaged the dusty disc around IRAS 08544-4431, an aging pair of stars about 4,000 light-years away. It might provide material for a "second round" of planets.

7. Curiosity's Neighborhood

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NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captures the unique texture of Gale Crater's southern surface. The Curiosity rover is investigating the 96-mile-wide crater, but not the area photographed.

[Source: National Geographic News. Edited. Some links added.]

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