Beautiful space imagery

Here are some beautiful space photos and videos that have been posted on the Internet recently. Enjoy!

Here’s a recipe for how to bake scientifically accurate cake planets!

Created by self-taught chef Rhiannon from Cakecrumbs (be sure to check out this link, in addition to the video, for recipe details), these spherical cakes are scientifically accurate representations of the subsurface on Jupiter and Earth, right from the outer atmosphere down through the crust, mantle, and inner core. To see how they did it, watch the video! Continue reading

A celestial break from your taxes!

If you’re up late doing your U.S. federal income taxes the evening of April 14, you might want to take a couple of breaks and go outside to behold some celestial wonders that Mother Nature will display for us over the nighttime of April 14-15, 2014.

Mars, the Moon and Saturn

Mars, the Moon and Saturn will put on a show for late-night tax preparers — and others! — during the overnight period of April 14-15.

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The constellation Orion is visible in the left half of this photo.

by Teresa Hooley

Orion is setting, setting into the west,
Luminous, low;
His tilted torches sink to their golden rest,
Splendid and slow,
Till they seem, like blossoms with Paradise beauty fraught
In the boughs of my budding chestnut tangled and caught.

Wind-flowers are rising, rising out of the earth,
Mystical, pale,
Filling dark woods with the light of their fragrant birth,
Beautiful, frail.
For never a star goes down into infinite space
But another is born with the wonder of God on its face.

Hubble magnifies the distant universe

Hubble MACS J0454.1-0300

Each of the bright spots seen here is a galaxy, and each is home to many millions, or even billions, of stars.

Galaxy clusters are some of the most massive structures that can be found in the Universe — large groups of galaxies bound together by gravity. This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope reveals one of these clusters, known as MACS J0454.1-0300. Each of the bright spots seen here is a galaxy, and each is home to many millions, or even billions, of stars.

Astronomers have determined the mass of MACS J0454.1-0300 to be around 180 trillion times the mass of the sun. Clusters like this are so massive that their gravity can even change the behavior of space around them, bending the path of light as it travels through them, sometimes amplifying it and acting like a cosmic magnifying glass. Thanks to this effect, it is possible to see objects that are so far away from us that they would otherwise be too faint to be detected.

In this case, several objects appear to be dramatically elongated and are seen as sweeping arcs to the left of this image. These are galaxies located at vast distances behind the cluster — their image has been amplified, but also distorted, as their light passes through MACS J0454.1-0300. This process, known as gravitational lensing, is an extremely valuable tool for astronomers as they peer at very distant objects.

This effect will be put to good use with the start of Hubble’s Frontier Fields program over the next few years, which aims to explore very distant objects located behind lensing clusters, similar to MACS J0454.1-0300, to investigate how stars and galaxies formed and evolved in the early Universe.

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Nick Rose

A beautiful stellar nursery in Orion

Monkey Head Nebula

The Monkey Head Nebula reveals a collection of carved knots of gas and dust silhouetted against glowing gas.  The cloud is scupltured by ultraviolet light eating into the cool hydrogen gas.  Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

In celebration of the 24th anniversary of the launch of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have captured infrared-light images of a churning region of star birth 6,400 light-years away in the Name A Star Live constellation Orion.

The collection of images reveals a shadowy, dense knot of gas and dust sharply contrasted against a backdrop of brilliant glowing gas in the Monkey Head Nebula (also known as NGC 2174 and Sharpless Sh2-252).

The image demonstrates Hubble’s powerful infrared vision and offers a tantalizing hint of what scientists can expect from the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope.  Observations of NGC 2174 were taken in February, 2014.

Massive newborn stars near the center of the nebula (and toward the right in this image) are blasting away at dust within the nebula. The ultraviolet light emitted by these bright stars helps shape the dust into giant pillars.

This carving action occurs because the nebula is mostly composed of hydrogen gas, which becomes ionized by the ultraviolet radiation. As the dust particles are warmed by the ultraviolet light of the stars, they heat up and begin to glow at infrared wavelengths.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., in Washington.

For images and more information about Hubble, visit

Moon photos by Katie

One of our Facebook fans, Katie Schmidt, kindly submitted some nice photos of the Moon to share with the Name A Star Live community!  We’re sharing these images with our followers on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and Google+.

Consider sharing your photos as well!  Maybe a photo of the Moon rising over the horizon.  Or a photo of the stars you took on a family vacation.  Or if you’re really into astronomy, a photo you took through a telescope!  Just send your photo(s) along to us at  If we like them, we’ll share them too!

Here are Katie’s Moon photos:

Moon background

What a creative use of the Moon!


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Big star to put on big show over the Big Apple

History will be made during the overnight hours of March 19/20, 2014 when a bright star will briefly disappear over the skies of parts of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Ontario and Quebec. The star, which is much larger than the Sun, is called “Regulus” and is the brightest star in the Name A Star Live constellation “Leo” (the Lion).  Never before has such a bright star disappeared and reappeared over such a highly populated area.

This rare astronomical event can be viewed – weather permitting – by people within a roughly 68 mile (109 km) wide band stretching from the New York City area northwest into Canada.

Occultation path

Observers within the highlighted area should be able to see Regulus blink on-and-off, weather permitting. The map indicates the time of night when the star will temporarily disappear.

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NASA’s Kepler Mission Discovers 715 New Worlds

NASA’s Kepler mission announced Wednesday the discovery of 715 new planets. These newly-verified worlds orbit 305 stars, revealing multiple-planet systems much like our own solar system.  Kepler is studying a part of the night sky that includes parts of the constellation Lyra and the Name A Star Live constellation Cygnus (“The Swan,” a.k.a., “The Northern Cross”).

Nearly 95 percent of these planets are smaller than Neptune, which is almost four times the size of Earth. This discovery marks a significant increase in the number of known small-sized planets more akin to Earth than previously identified exoplanets, which are planets outside our solar system.

Multiple solar systems

NASA image depicting planets orbiting other stars.

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